Will the Real Iranians Please Stand Up?


Will the Real Iranians Please Stand Up?
by anotheriranianamerican

In the past three decades, American perceptions of Iran have shifted dramatically. The very people who once had an empire, who drafted the first human rights declaration, and who were one of America’s closest allies in the Middle East are now among the most misunderstood and discriminated-against populations in the country.

First, Iran was labeled as a member of the ‘axis of evil’. Then, in the movie 300, Persians were depicted as pillaging, deranged savages wearing rags. Public officials and famous politicians oftentimes make off-hand and flippant comments about killing or hating Iranians.

All of this has led much of the public to equate all Iranians in their minds with terrorists and suicide bombers. (I actually had a World History teacher tell one of the Iranian-American kids in my class to be quiet because “All Iran exports is terrorism.”)

With Prince of Persia, we were finally portrayed in a good light. Our ancient world was being shown in romantic and mythological ways based on revered Persian literature, The Book of Kings and A Thousand and One Nights. For once, my dad said he’d actually sit through a movie without falling asleep. We were all excited.

We should have known that it wouldn’t last long…

Enter: Jersey Shore — The Persian Version.

“Two thousand years ago the Persian Empire ruled the ancient world…but they didn’t have your soundtrack, your style, or your swagger,” reads the casting call for the new reality show, seeking “anyone who uses exotic appeal to get anything or anyone [they] desire.”

For anyone who has not seen Jersey Shore, the show currently consists of a cast of young Italian Americans, whose “reality”-show lifestyle is little more than drinking and partying. They live on the beach, but refuse to tan anywhere but a tanning salon, and take an hour to get ready, with a lot of hair gel and a lot of hair spray involved. The characters either hook up, or attempt to hook up, with a sort of mad desperation.

And now they’re going to do the same thing with Iranian Americans.

A short while ago, the Iranian band Zed Bazi came out with a song called “Iranian of LA,” making fun of the very people who are chosen to represent our community in this show. Now everyone knows that Iranians are the real origin of the hair “poof” and can party as much as anyone else. But honestly, no one wants to be represented by the type of people and lifestyles shown on Jersey Shore.

The sad thing is there are hundreds of amazing Iranian Americans who deserve some recognition: artists, fashion designers, film directors, actors, doctors, website founders, and more. But the quiet dignity with which these people live their lives isn’t considered “good TV.”

For a moment, we thought our reputations might be saved with a last-minute addition to your nightly TV line-up: Funny in Farsi. But sadly, that show was nixed after the first episode.

Silly Iranians, we were told by Hollywood, you have three options only: terrorists, savages, or party animals. Take your pick.



Take five

by comrade on

We all know the substance of your blog goes beyond a movie, or a song, etc.

My question is why on earth should we care about how others see, and try to depict us? Americans, at large, are not very sophisticated; they are still heavily influenced by the propaganda machine run by  Hollywood, and  Rupert Murdoch's empire. for instance:

Back then, in the cold war era, any film footage(video was not common, then) from the Eastern block was deliberately taken by using a "fogging lens" for the purpose of leaving the viewer with a gloomy sensation. Of course all those lenses were removed after the collapse of the Soviet Union, so that people could see how everything is shining in life after the reds are gone. And the Americans simply believed it.

That's the way their social commercial machinery works, which we have to go past it. Living in America, doesn't necessarily mean living for America.

By the way, if we have failed to raise a different generation than the one whose image is on top of your blog, the blame should not be shifted towards Hollywood. They are the product of our own family studios.





by benross on


I believe they are Americanized

by TheEnemyHateMe on

As in Am - muh muh muh muh - icanized




As an Iranian living on the other side of the pond,

by reader1 on

I find this blog a fascinating read. I also equally enjoyed reading eroonmad's counter argument.

Thanks guys


I'll Take Party Animal Anyday....

by eroonman on

First to correct your statement, "in the movie 300, Persians were depicted as pillaging, deranged savages wearing rags.", This is absolutely incorrect.

300 was one of the most artistically elegant films made to date. Not a single depiction of Persians (including the scantily clad harem) wore "rags". I know, I saw the film 5 times in the theater and thoroughly enjoyed the detailed look at an Empire I had only dreamed, heard or read stories about. I came out of the theater telling everyone around me that I was Iranian and that FYI, 3 days after the 300 battle, the Persians conquered every last Greek and ruled there for years! (It certainly was "Good to be the King!")

In the film 300, each cadre of the army had it's own special uniforms and sophisticated weaponry, beasts, vehicles, and special tools and organized specific look. This was by no means "rags", and showed that by then the Persians had transformed war into an art-form of technical brilliant efficient execution and delivery. The special forces called the "Immortals", a 10,000 force (some were even women!) strong elite fighting unit trained to be the fiercest weapon of last resort (used finally on the 300 after multiple attempts at traditional battle failed to break through the strategic barrier of the canyon the 300 valiantly fought from). The Immortals were called that because they had masks to make them appear exactly the same, so if you killed one, there was another one exactly the same behind him (it), giving the illusion of a demon that cannot be killed, hence the name "Immortal". But don't mistake demon for demonization, the Persians did this on purpose to appear demonic to scare the enemy into submission. It was our plan all along. The Immortals were all the same height and weight, and even had their teeth ground to sharp points in case they ran out of weapons. Although the official guard was 10,000 strong, the reality was that there was an additional 10,000 in secret reserve! Truly they were immortal! As the film showed, these were the best of the best, and again they were not dressed in "rags". This concept, is far advanced and not demeaning as you would suggest. I am VERY proud to be from a Persian Empire that thought of this sophisticated approach to war. It shows how advanced our civilization was, and to what levels of complexity we had advanced.

While being the bad guy in the film obviously irked a lot of Iranians, the truth is, the Persian Empire was in fact invading Greece at the time. And we weren't doing it to give them Cyrus the Great's personal copy of human rights. We were doing it to own Greece. Read your history carefully, and try and understand exactly what Persia was at that time. Make sure you add up the dead we left in our wake as well. The Persian Empire was an overwhelmingly aggressor empire, it grew by conquering weaker peoples militarily (which means a lot of killing) and then taking their land, technology, and in many cases making things better for everyone UNDER it's mighty rule. It was NEVER a liberator or an innocent by-stander.

That being said, fast forward to today, we have been "converted" to a country of cowards, told to be afraid of an intangibly absent Allah (if "God is Great", where's all the justice? It seems that especially he has forsaken the very moslems who believe in him, the most.)", follow a ridiculous set of 6 times per day calisthenics and illogical dietary restrictions, told to hide ourselves (especially our women) from view, and obey the corrupt mollahs who intimidate us by fear of death, blindly?

Oh! How far we have fallen! Give me the "negative portrayal" from the film 300, ANY DAY!

I hear your concern for being depicted as decadent via this latest attempt to make Jersey Shore entertainment out of "LA Iranians". But accept this, like it or not, "LA Iranians" are a real modern evolved entity. Direct remnants of "The Persians" and if there weren't real "LA Iranians", there would be no reality show. 

So relax, we have seen nothing in LA Iranians that we have not seen and heard FAR WORSE from "Tehran Iranians".

I think it is time we showed who we really are in a contemporary (not imaginary Islamic) world, whether we like it or hate it. The UGLY truth might not always be pretty but it is always FAR FAR better than perpetrating a WORSE lie.

Great topic. Thanks for writing it! (Sorry for the long history lesson)



by yolanda on

What you said is so true:



The sad thing is there are hundreds of amazing Iranian Americans who deserve some recognition: artists, fashion designers, film directors, actors, doctors, website founders, and more. But the quiet dignity with which these people live their lives isn’t considered “good TV.”


This part is really funny:


With Prince of Persia, ............. For once, my dad said he’d actually sit through a movie without falling asleep. We were all excited.


Thank you for sharing your insight! Great job! A great blog!