I was born an American. I have one of those shiny little blue passports with the gold writing that some illegal immigrants would kill or die for, but my heart has remained Iranian over the years. When I was younger, there were family members who used to nickname me “The Human TV Guide” and I took that as a compliment.
If there is one thing in life that I know inside out (other than the game of soccer) it is the magical world of television. In my eighteen or so years of existence, I have seen it all, the best and the worst. From Dynasty to the Cosby Show, Saturday Night Live to General Hospital to Sesame Street, there is not one show that I have never seen or heard of and there is not one review that I have not read.
I am not only the Human TV Guide, I am also the Human TV Critic. It is with this very rich background in the world of the Boob-Tube and the Idiot Box, that I attempt to counter all the arguments made against Iranian Satellite television, most of which is broadcast from the wondeful city of bright lights and money-driven stars that is Tehrangeles.
Sure, we don't have a Barbara Walters or a John Madden, but think about it: How many Iranians are encouraged to enter the world of broadcasting? Ha! Hehe! Hihoohahaha! None! Why? Because we all being led around the necks by the rope towards medical and law and dentistry school. Those of us who really aren't smart enough to become a doctor opt for business school.
Can you honestly imagine some little Iranian Ali or Shadi's parents encouraging their kid to enter the world of entertainment? It's just not really acceptable in our culture for our younger generations to become singers or musicians or talk show hosts. The furthest your parents would go to accept you would be to enroll you in tar and kamanche lessons. Woohoo!
Now, back to Satellite Tv: I admit we don't have the best shows, but how can people except the best when they don't even lift a finger to help? I do not want to sound disrespectful or anything, but most Iranians pay 300 bucks for a satellite, watch Iranian channels day and night, and then refuse to lift a finger to dial in and help out whenever a program decides to have a telethon.
I find it shameful to see that more people in Iran are willing to give what little they have to these television stations, but we who have the means and the abilities, choose to turn a blind eye. If so many people in Iran are overjoyed by watching a music request show with some young kids, why can't we just donate about $20, less than it costs for two movie tickets these days, and hope that everyone does the same?
If so many people in Iran, from the villages to the high rises, are delighted by the laughter and wit that Ali-Reza Amirghassemi brings to them in his variety shows, why are we so quick to put it down? Is it not strange that millions of our countrymen, in this time of poverty, are willing to wait on hold for hours just to speak with Hamid Shabkhiz, the kind and handsome host who mostly answers telephones with a smile? No, to me it's not strange. It's heartwarming.
We must remember, my fellow Iranians, that we are still Iranians, not Americans. We should not always strive to bitch and scream about why our own pop culture doesn't mirror America's. Who wants to be like America? Not me!
I have had enough of mindless talk shows where people stab their own family members in the back. I refuse to watch another eppie of Beverly Hills 90210. Baywatch makes me want to hurl. I want the simple stuff, and that is what Iranian TV can provide for us for the time being. We can tune in and laugh a little, or remember the past with a nice music video. If we want education and intellectual enlightenment, let us go to the library.
Television has never been about education, and anyone who says it should be has forgotten the point. Television is a bridge that connects two lands, it is the link between where we are and where we dream of being. For those of you who don't have satellites, I suggest you get one.
And for those of you who have them, watch them, don't donate to the station you watch, and just criticize instead, I suggest that you sit down and listen to the love that Iranian people from Varameen to Panama have in their voices when they realize that they are talking to their favorite host after hours of hearing busy signals into the late hours of the morning. I suggest you tune into Mikki Mohajer's English-language program Spotlight on Monday afternoons.
If you are not impressed by his intelligence and respectful tone as he teaches your children how important it is to be Iranian while seeking spiritual enlightenment, I don't know what it will take to impress you. And if you are wondering about the future of Iranian television, please try to watch an hour of Farzad Aghili's Future Mix.
I honestly believe that in the end, no politician, or old man with a dusty old flag, or businessman, or anyone else will be able to save us and help us build a brighter tomorrow. Farzad is the type of person I choose to put money on when the bets come in. In this world where every one is so preoccupied with talk of the past to see the present passing them by, he is looking into the future and he represents my generation. The generation of Iranian kids who are not lost or brainwashed.
We know who we are, and we know what we need to do. And unlike our parents before us, we are not afraid of voicing our beliefs or the consequences of the truth. And there are many truths to be told. If you are looking for bright lights and expensive sets, go to ABC or CNN. I am Iranian, and I choose to see the good in things and I choose to work towards bettering that in which I find fault.
If you are too busy or too cynical to accept Iranian satellite TV, too bad. Don't watch. But if you are not willing to be part of the solution, please don't become a part of the problem. Long Live Iranian TV!