follow us in feedly
Rich kids and poor kids of Tehran duke it out on Instagram
08:42 am

Class War
Pop Culture


One of the enduring lessons of the Internet, if not life itself, is that if you’re rich you have to take care about how you present yourself. Most people like and admire the wealthy—or at least aspire to their status—but when rich people get together to show off what they have, in virtually no time it can lead to a nexus of pride, envy, and schadenfreude that can turn into a potent brew of ressentiment. In short, rich people got to watch out, it’s super easy to come off looking like an arrogant, clueless asshole, no matter what the original intent was.

Some affluent folks in Iran recently learned this lesson. In mid-September someone started an Instagram account called Rich Kids in Tehran showing wealthy young people posing in luxurious hotels, next to expensive cars, and dolled up in designer duds. In just three weeks, the account caught a little positive attention and blew up to 50,000 followers (it currently has more than 95,000 followers).

As The Daily Beast reported, the site quickly sparked a backlash, despite the purportedly innocent intentions of the Instagram’s creators. As one of the managers of the account wrote, “We are trying to show the good side of Tehran/Iran to the whole world. Iran is always in the news regarding negative things and we are not interested in that. We are just trying to show what they don’t show in the news channels.” There was no shortage of tut-tutting, for instance from Iranian-American author Firoozeh Dumas (Funny in Farsi) who objected to the sensationalization of “a slice of materialistic, shallow and downright embarrassing Iranian culture. I just want to shout, ‘We are not all like that!’”

Some clever person in Iran decided that the best way to fight back was through satire. On October 5 a new Instagram account called Poor Kids in Tehran materialized, showing the bitter reality behind the facade of all of the luxurious escapades the rich kids were enjoying. The account takes a deadpan approach; most of the images are more about squalor than actual want.

Rich Kids of Tehran may shrug off any accusations of ill intent, but they must be feeling more than a little defensive. The following message appeared on the Rich Kids’ Instagram yesterday:

We Love our city of Tehran. We are in no way trying to put a difference between rich and poor. We are trying to show the world how beautiful Tehran and people from Tehran are. The Middle East is always on TV receiving negative attention and we just wanted to show that Tehran is not like that. This page is in no way political and we never had any bad intentions. We never thought the page would make headlines all over the world. Some of the people featured in this Instagram account don’t live in Iran.

I’ve curated a little gallery of images from the two Instagram accounts. See if you can tell which ones came from which account—they’re all from the most recent images, so you can easily check your work.










via Vocativ

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Death-to-America talent show
12:21 pm




Iran, not a fan of the U.S. since ELO were in the Top Ten and bellbottoms were unironically fashionable, is combining the worst of both worlds: amateur talent competitions and state-approved propaganda. This bastardization comes in the form of the Marg bar Amrika (“Down with America”) contest, sponsored by “conservative” Iranian news agencies and television stations. As opposed to all of those progressive, independent, free-thinking media outlets that fill the Iranian landscape.

Oh, wait….

Anti-American posters have been a common sight in Tehran since the late ‘70s, even though city officials have ordered the removal of recent posters implying that President Obama’s diplomatic overture is just an excuse for the U.S. to attack Iran.

Iran has been unequivocally clear about how much it despises the U.S. and everything about us. Thanks to the burned flags, charred effigies of American political figures, explicit placards, angry demonstrations, bitchy speeches, celebration (November 4th) of the 1979 attack on the U.S. embassy in Tehran, and the ever-present “death to America” and “down with America” chants, the message hasn’t exactly been lost on anyone.

And now a grand prize of $4000 will be awarded to whomever designs the best photo, cartoon, or article linking the U.S. to “oppression and lying” and blatantly illustrating what choads we are. A secondary prize of $1200 is for documentaries, hymns and blog posts. Could interpretive dance, video installations, performance art and haiku be far behind?


Simon Cowell and the usual talent-spotters will not be involved in this judging event. Instead, according to The Daily Mail, “Hardline conservative illustrators and artists from Iran will judge submissions, including cartoonists Maziyar Bizhani and Mohammad Hosein Niroomand, both of whom have been published in the Keyhan [conservative] newspaper.”


Here are the writing prompts for aspiring propagandists keen on entering the contest:

Why do people say ‘down with America’?
Why is the US is not reliable?
The US and broken promises
The US and self-conceit
The US and human rights
The US and oppression
The US and Islamophobia
The US and Iranophobia
The US and global Zionism
The US and neo-colonialism
The US and democracy
The US dictatorship
The US and freedom of speech
The US and the Occupy / 99 per cent movement

Al Jazeera: Iranians react to U.S.-Iran meeting:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
Hijabis sing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’: Though rock ‘n’ roll is banned in Iran, Queen is still king
07:06 pm


Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury
While one more rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” might be enough to drive one to Queen overload (as if that is humanly possibly), when we remember that “Western Music” is forbidden in Iran, and homosexuality is punishable by death, the sight of Iranian men and women (badly) singing a Queen song takes on new meaning.

In 1979, the Islamic Revolution spurred a rejection of all things “Western,” and rock ‘n’ roll was one of its causalities. Until the 90’s, all rock music was banned. Today most Iranian rock bands operate underground or flee to other countries to play (like New York’s own The Yellow Dogs). Some rockers skirt the rules by placing traditional Persian poetry over classic rock melodies. Others play instrumental music (metal is big), or write fairly “safe” lyrics in Farsi and submit them for approval from the Ministry of Culture.

So why were the Iranian representatives for the World Choir Games able to perform Queen? Well, Freddie Mercury, also known as Farrokh Bulsara, was Parsi, a Persian ethnic group that commonly practices Zoroastrianism. Growing up in India and Zanzibar, Mercury’s Zoroastrian funeral was noted after his death, but his ethnic identity was never a secret. Illegal Queen bootlegs have been floating around Iran forever, but in 2004, the first legal classic rock album was released, Queen’s Greatest Hits.

There were even translations of the songs in the liner notes, though “Bohemian Rhapsody” already had the Arabic word for God (“Bismillah”) proclaimed by the protagonist in a plea for redemption. Love songs (and presumably “Fat-Bottomed Girls”) were cut, but Mercury’s heritage and underground Queen fans greased the wheels for the Ministry of Culture. With a bisexual frontman and a sound steeped in American rock ‘n’ roll, Queen’s connection to the Persian world has been lauded by Iranian rockers since the beginning.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Idiot Fox News pundit calls for ‘annihilation’ of Iran
03:39 pm


Tucker Carlson

Idiot conservative goat-boy Tucker Carlson told the panel on Fox’s Red Eye program that he thinks Iran “deserves to be annihilated.”

I think we are the only country with the moral authority [...] sufficient to do that. [The U.S. is] the only country that doesn’t seek hegemony in the world. I do think, I’m sure I’m the lone voice in saying this, that Iran deserves to be annihilated. I think they’re lunatics. I think they’re evil.

“They”? All of ‘em?

That’s a pretty absurd thing to say on the face of it, even if the ruling theocracy in Iran are a bunch of evil lunatics (no argument there from me).

But “annihilated”? The entire country? All 74 million of them? The little kids? The old ladies? The illiterate and the handicapped? Esteemed film director Samira Makhmalbaf? Who are this “they” that Carlson thinks are such evil lunatics that the whole of Iran must be paved over?

The march to war getting drummed up in the media of late—we’ve seen it so many times in the past decade that it’s easy to recognize it happening again—is terrifying.

If you were an Iranian working for military intelligence—or even just someone who had a satellite dish that got American channels—what would you make of someone saying such a thing on a major American news network?

Does the notion of Fox News being a sort of “joke news channel” translate easily into Farsi? Would the Iranians have any sort of past acquaintance with the preposterous person of Tucker Carlson that would cause them to merely groan at the sight of this plonker and turn the channel, like we do?

Or would they “misinterpret” what most Americans see when confronted with the face of Tucker Carlson and overestimate the influence of this twerpy white man of small importance? When I see Tucker Carlson on the tee-vee saying dumb shit like this, as an American, I know that no one gives a fuck what this guy says. He’s Tucker fucking Carlson for fuck’s sake, the wimpiest pundit of all time. However, I don’t think the Iranians, sans context for this dickhead, would know to apply a generous “Tucker Carlson discount” to the importance of his words in the overall scheme of things.

What if they take what he is saying here at face value? What if they thought he was a “big shot”? He’s on television. He’s wearing a tie, even… (You could ask what’s the difference between this and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saying that Israel should be wiped off the map, but one of the speakers in question is a person of some consequence in the world and the other is Tucker Carlson).

Makes you wonder though doesn’t it? It also makes me wonder why anyone would put Tucker Carlson on TV in the first place and prop him up as some sort of “expert” on anything! To me his stupid face is little more than a Pavlovian signal to flip the channel, pronto.

*I didn’t even want to use his name in the title because no one would have wanted to read this blog post.

UPDATE: Carlson tries to backpedal his comments.

Via Think Progress

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Claude Lelouch’s cinematic tone poem ‘Iran’
02:04 pm


Claude Lelouch

Claude Lelouch’s poetic short film Iran was made in 1971. Shot in stunningly beautiful color, perfectly edited, and featuring a musical score by legendary French composer Francis Lai, this 17 minute masterpiece was never widely distributed, despite winning a half dozen prestigious international film awards.

Thank you Internet for giving films like Iran new life.

Click on the HD options on the Youtube channel to watch in higher resolution.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Googoosh: Iran’s Queen Of Pop
11:40 pm

Pop Culture


Googoosh has been Iran’s reigning pop goddess for the past four decades. She recorded, toured and made movies until she was silenced by the Iranian revolution of 1979. From that moment on she was banned, as were all Iranian women, from singing or performing.

She remained in Iran until 2000. Where she currently resides is somewhat of a mystery, though it is rumored that she lives in California.

In the 1960s and ‘70s, Googoosh was on the cutting edge of pop music in Iran. And even though that doesn’t sound like much of an achievement, you’d be surprised. Her music would have held its own against any of her Western contemporaries.

In recent years, there has been a revival of interest in her music among young Iranians who circulate bootleg recordings and upload old VHS performance videos on Youtube. And while she has been touring for the past few years throughout Europe, Australia the USA and the Middle East, she still cannot perform in the country of her birth.

Here’s a collection of four songs by Googoosh. The quality of the videos are funky but considering they are illegal in Iran, it’s amazing they exist at all.


Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The Lives of Lepers in ‘60s Iran: Forough Farrokhzad’s Powerful Film The House is Black

There may be a short film that’s quite as vivid, courageous and intense as poet Forough Farrokhzad’s Khaneh Siyah Ast (The House is Black)—her 1962 portrait of a leper colony in the northwest of her native Iran—but I can’t think of it. Farrokhzad was a Tehran-born female poet born in 1935 to a career military officer and married off to the satiric writer Parviz Shapour at age 16. Farrokhzad divorced Shapour two years later and lost custody of her one-year-old child.

As much as it surfaces the sufferings of a rejected population, the 22-minute Khaneh… (excerpted below) clearly but subtly reflects Farrokhzad’s own attitude about autocratic Iranian society’s disapproval of her as a strong woman poet. The twenty-something scribe weaves her verse in voiceover throughout the footage, and her raw editing style moves agilely between long studies and quick cuts. The film would inspire the Iranian New Wave in cinema that flourished starting in the late’60s.

Farrokhzad would eventually adopt the child of two of the patients in the colony. Unfortunately, she died in a car-crash five years after the film was released, at the age of 32.

Watch: Khaneh Siyah Ast (The House is Black) by Forough Farrokhzad. 1962, 22 minutes B&W 35mm 
Get: Khaneh Siyah Ast (The House Is Black) [DVD]


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
For Neda: Death to Fascism in Iran and Worldwide



Opposition leaders in Iran have called off demonstrations on the anniversary of the contested June 11 2009 national election that led to the unrest that launched the pro-democracy Green movement there. Meanwhile, amidst the speculation as to whether that movement is dead, the Iranian government is doing what it can to squelch the dissemination of For Neda, HBO’s documentary about Neda Agha-Soltan. Agha-Soltan was the young Tehranian woman whose shooting death during a street demonstration was captured on video and became a symbol of the heart-rending struggle against Iran’s authoritarian regime. Here’s the full doc, dedicated to the people’s fight against fascism worldwide.



Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment