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March 16, 2007

Souresrafil on Campaign against "300"

On 15 March in his regular program on PARS satellite TV Behrouz Souresrafil reacted strongly to the Iranian government's current campaign against the film 300. He called the film a "computerized cartoon with absolutely no importance" and objected to Iranians reacting to it as if were an important political statement, especially in response to government propaganda, propaganda he labeled as a "calculated plot."

Souresrafil believes the "plot" is to draw the people of Iran into a process similar to the 2004 failed referendum drive led by Mohsen Sazegara. Souresrafil believes the Iranian government supported this movement and then used it to destroy the opposition, and that it is seeking to do something comparable now in its campaign against 300. He didn't explain how he thinks this is going to play out.

Souresrafil told his audience that the Islamic Republic is trying to exploit patriotic Iranians who have their hearts in the nation's history, by drawing them into the "game of protest against this film." He complained that the Islamic Republic wants to mobilize inappropriate protest to use for its own purposes, such as diverting attention from Iran's real political needs and lending legitimacy to the present Iranian government, which he called essentially anti-Iranian.

While Souresrafil acknowledged the film's historical inaccuracy, as others have done, he said this is to be expected from a popular film such as this one and also that history does not always put Iranians in a favorable light. He noted that many Greeks despise Iranians for what they did to their country in the period depicted in the film, and that Iranians ought not to take this film--or the Islamic Republic's objections to it--seriously enough to sign petitions against it.

He read faxes from viewers and played video clips from Iranian satellite TV to amplify his points.


My own view is that what really offends the Iranian government is the role reversal. The film depicts Iranians as tyrants and invaders in an era when a key validation for Iranian government ideologies and policies is the image of Iranians as brave underdogs taking a righteous stand against the evil American imperialists.

It is an insult to the Iranian government to have a popular film appear that portrays Iranians, but not as the heroic sworn enemies of an unjust behemoth, as they believe themselves to be. To make matters worse, the Iranian government sees the film as hostile propaganda that is better made, more entertaining and far more popular than their own.

Iran doesn't want to complain about this propaganda role reversal. To do so would be to admit an enemy propaganda success, and that would never do because another article of faith in Iran's revolutionary ideology is that the enemy is not clever enough to match wits with the Holy Islamic Republic. Without the option of speaking directly, Iran's government can only nitpick about historical nuances--all of them issues of pride that go to character, personality and national identity.

Does it matter if Xerxes I wasn't a perverted and bloodthirsty maniac? That would soothe a few nationalistic Iranian egos, but it would not change the historically accepted belief that he led a massive invasion into another country intending to ravage its territory. Were the ancient Iranians imperialists? For completely different reasons, Behrouz Souresrafil and Mahmoud Ahmadinejed would both say it doesn't matter at all.

(crossposted from Satellite News)

Posted by John at March 16, 2007 9:11 AM

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