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Hollywood returns
And Bon Jovi gets star treatment in Tehran cinemas

December 28, 2001
The Iranian

By now it is well known that Iran is one of the youngest nations in the world. Basically a commanding majority of the population is under 30 years of age and it is beginning to make its mark on every aspect of life, politics and business.

This is perhaps the most determining ingredient of Iran's slow but steady turn towards democracy, resulting in semi-free elections and an increasingly open social climate. Since the landslide victory of President Khatami, who was supported in a large part by youth and women back in 1997 and again this past summer, many aspects of life in Iran have changed to become more palatable for the young majority.

There is a junior renaissance in progress in academic, artistic and creative circles. The quality of what's offered by Iran's museums, galleries and film industry is often world class. One is reminded of young artistic circles of Europe and North America. In fact, many political analysts see this artistic and cultural blossoming a prelude to the inevitable demise of autocratic rule in Iran.

A much visible sign of the new opening in Iran's cultural scene is the return of Hollywood films to cinemas. Featured films are generally slaughtered by government censors to eliminate sexually explicit scenes or politically sensitive material. Though most films are dubbed into Persian, some are presented with Persian subtitles.

Films are normally released about a year after their U.S. debut, but still, they do well. They are especially popular among teenagers who, until now, have only watched American movies on bootlegged, low-quality video tapes.

The Iranian marketing of U-571, the American World War II submarine flick, highlights the significance of youth in the country's economy. U-571 was released in the U.S. last year (2000). The film headlines Hollywood heavyweights Mathew McConaughey and Harvey Keitel. However, rock star Jon Bon Jovi is the only name and headshot appearing on the marquee of Tehran theaters, even though he only has a minor role in the film.

Many Iranian youth, especially in large cities, enthusiastically follow American and British music trends. Apparently, the company marketing U-571 in Iran decided that promoting the film with Bon Jovi's good looks and popularity would generate more revenue. I would love to hear McConaughey and Keitel's reaction!

Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment for the writer Ben Bagheri

By Ben Bagheri

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