Friday, June 04, 2004


At about 10:25 every evening almost every television set in Iran is tuned to channel 3 to watch a show that almost everyone calls "Bamshad" but which is actually called Nokhte Cheen (Dotted Line). If you walk down the streets of any city in Iran at that time, you will hear the sound of the show coming from almost every home. If you don't have a tv yourself, all you have to do is open your windows and listen. People with satellites turn to the domestic channel for this program. Advertisers have learned that Iranians watch this show. As a result, it now has the most advertising of any show I have seen in Iran.

The show is funny. Even for me, with my limited understanding of the nuances of Persian and day-to-day culture. Bamshad, while not exactly the star, is irresistible. Fat himself, he wears a very obvious fake belly that accentuates his weight. At first this character annoyed me, but like everyone else, I have grown to love him. Especially when he sings.

Just two nights ago, the topic of the show was the earthquake. The characters ran out into the streets, camped in a park, kept their hands on the walls to anticipate tremors, and pretty much gave us all an opportunity to laugh at our own behavior. We also were treated to Bamshad's singing. He sings one song about how "you" broke "your" promises. You can hear people singing this song themselves in every corner (that I have been in) of Iran.

Before and after Bamshad, there is news and anti-American propaganda. One piece of anti-American propaganda features the statue of liberty spinning against a red background. Her flame morphs into a cup of skulls. Her face morphs into a skull as well. A man sings an anti-American song while the words to the song run along the bottom of the screen: kind of the bouncing ball effect. K's niece was thrilled to discover that the statue actually existed in America.

No comments: