My big fat Persian culture
What's wrong with it?
October 2, 2002
Last week I finally convinced three Iranian friends of mine to watch the new
comedy, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding".
I guaranteed that if they don't laugh their heads off, I would give them their money
book. I told them this movie is a real gem.
I was right. The movie was extremely funny and enjoyable and I did not have to return
anyone's money as everyone enjoyed the movie very much. After the movie, after hours
or discussion on reasons that made the movie a big success, we all agreed that the
major factor is probably the fact that everyone -- in one way or other -- can relate
to the story.
I suggested that this could have very well have been an movie on an Iranian wedding.
It probably could have been as funny and successful. We all wondered why no Iranian
film director has thought of making a film in the same lines.
Why is it that most Iranian movies these days are either too artistic (for a limited
audience) or about poverty, depression or despair. Why can't Kiarostami or Panahi
or Makhmalbaf make a simple movie that portrays a positive aspect about our culture?
Take for example the movie "The Circle" by Jafar Panahi. What is the purpose
of this movie other than revealing life in Iran at its lowest point. We are quite
tired of all these directors whose only goal is to collect as many film awards from
different international organizations, disregarding the negative impact that their
movies may have on non-Iranian viewers both inside and outside of Iran.
Remember the famous Chinese proverb "A picture is a thousand words"? It
is extremely difficult to convince a Westerner who sees a movie like "The Circle"
that most Iranians do not share the same lifestyles as the characters in the movie.
We always criticize Westerners for not knowing enough about our country or believing
what they read or see in news media. Can we really blame them when what they read
is pretty much reflected in the movies that our own directors make and show in the
After seeing "Greek Wedding", it seems like
being Greek is hip. Let's remember that Greece, despite its rich history, is one
of the poorest countries in Europe. It is amazing how one movie can so easily change
We Iranians are very good in blaming everyone and everything except ourselves. Before
criticizing foreigners for not knowing much about our culture and way of life, we
should first criticize our own artists and flamers for doing a terrible job themselves.
Dr. Etminan is a pharmaceutical researcher at the University of Toronto. His recent
findings on a new class of drugs that may prevent headache will be published in the
June 2002 issue of the American Journal of Medicine.