Monday, November 22, 2004

Television
K used to complain about the flowers, streams, waterfalls, and mountains that made up a good portion of Iranian television viewing. Now he loves them. After Ramadan's grim and, frankly, nasty programming, we are both happy to watch flowers with Shajarian's voice singing along. Last night we both enjoyed watching birds flying across the tv screen.

During Ramadan our television viewing was dominated by anti-Israel, anti-America marches, war movies, children's war programs, and religious discussions. Iranian tv did show a few decent serials. The best was Mr. Mashallah about the family of a man who decides to find work in Malaysia. He pays some shady character--introduced to him by a member of his family—his entire life savings for a plane ticket and connections in Malaysia. The man cheats him. Mr. Mashallah feels he cannot face his family and pretends to be in Malaysia. It was funny, human, and sweet. There were a couple of other serials in this category as well, but I did not watch them.

Everyone in Iran (except for maybe the diplomats) watched Mr. Mashallah. It was far and away the most-watched program of the year. It was repeated three times each day, so there was a good chance you would get to see it. The most popular showing was about an hour after sunset. It was rare to get or make a phone call during that hour.

Iranian tv also showed the infamous Egyptian serial: Conspiracy of the Elders of Zion. In Persian it was called simply: Conspiracy. A live action children's program made during the Iran-Iraq war and shown during Ramada featured horrific war footage combined with live action animation of US and Israeli tanks running over dolls. A new children's cartoon features children being attacked by Israeli soldiers and tanks. Pretty grim programming for children.

Iranian tv is showing Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 over and over again. The news is a vehicle for showing explosions in Iraq and Gaza. Every act of violence is blamed on a combination of America, Al Qaeda, and the Mossad (working together, I might add). Sports news is still okay. Last night we did see that horrible fight at the Pacers game. "Afghanistan must be okay," K commented. "They never show it."

I have been getting increasingly depressed about the television programming. Maybe it was always like this, and I am depressed only because my Persian has improved. Who knows? Our friend reassures me by saying, "Look the regime has given up on propaganda. It didn't work for the generation born after the revolution, and they don't really believe in it anymore."

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