December 20, 2005

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad bans Western music.

No more Western music on radio and TV in Iran. Inappropriately, the CNN report begins in a way that seems to invite us to joke that Ahmadinejad has a pretty good idea:
Songs such as George Michael's "Careless Whisper," Eric Clapton's "Rush" and the Eagles' "Hotel California" have regularly accompanied Iranian broadcasts, as do tunes by saxophonist Kenny G.

But the official IRAN Persian daily reported Monday that Ahmadinejad, as head of Iran's Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council, ordered the enactment of an October ruling by the council to ban Western music.
Very sad. I hope this inspires people to push back. Music is important, and taking people's music away should strongly impress them that the government is repressive beyond reason. If only Western music were better, the impression might be stronger. Unfortunately, I can understand the feeling that the music of the outsiders is eroding your culture. I've felt, as a traveler, that the music of my own culture was eroding the culture of the foreign place I wanted to experience.

Ahmadinejad's newest effort in cultural repression extends beyond music:
The latest media ban also includes censorship of content of films.

"Supervision of content from films, TV series and their voice-overs is emphasized in order to support spiritual cinema and to eliminate triteness and violence," the council said in a statement on its Web site explaining its October ruling.

The council has also issued a ban on foreign movies that promote "arrogant powers," an apparent reference to the United States.
I have to assume the people in Iran are sharp enough to see the irony in his referring to the United States as an "arrogant power."

Quite aside from this exclusion of Western influence, there's this notion of eliminating triteness from TV and movies. Well, I'm rather opposed to triteness myself, but you know if you try to make a law against triteness, triteness itself becomes a political protest. (Remember Mu Mu?) I love the idea that playing "Careless Whisper" and acting like an idiot on television are now subversive acts. The government, purveying seriousness, can now be affronted with silliness. Now there is risk and passion in foolery.


Mark the Pundit said...

They are banning films too, eh?

Oh well, I guess that midnight showing of Schindler's List at the Tehran Cinema 10 is off...

Brian O'Connell said...

It's like Flashdance only more so. Flashdance was pretty trite too, come to think of it.

This will cause a backlash and move more moderates to actively oppose the govt. (I predict.)

lakema said...

And now it appears these will be the guys taking over Iraq as well. Super.

From the NYT:
"Early voting results announced by Iraqi electoral officials today, with nearly two-thirds of the ballots counted, indicated that religious groups, particularly the main Shiite coalition, had taken a commanding lead."

bill said...

Inappropriately, the CNN report begins in a way that seems to invite us to joke that Ahmadinejad has a pretty good idea. Yep. I'm against a flag burning amendment, but banning Kenny G? What say you, Pat Methany?

Sounds like the actions of a scared regime, scared of losing control. I'm also wondering if Ahmadinejad was never a parent. Otherwise, he'd know that out right banning something makes it more desirable.

AnechoicRoom said...

Ah yes, violence in Iranian media .....

Myself, I don't meander much anymore the hardcore gwot sites. It can be a little numbing. But, I had the thought the other day about the total invalidity of militant radical Islamic preaching. Of saying your G*d tells you to avoid music (or Western). That it is evil and decadent.

I guess their G*d knows something our's doesn't?

Sloanasaurus said...

"....and now it appears these will be the guys taking over Iraq as well. Super....."

Oh the despair! The defeatism! At every corner a critic. Nothing is ever good enough.

Ron said...

Unfortunately, I can understand the feeling that the music of the outsiders is eroding your culture. I've felt, as a traveler, that the music of my own culture was eroding the culture of the foreign place I wanted to experience.

I tend to think if the music of outsiders takes over, it means the culture has already eroded before it got there; they've lost interest in their own music, and now George Michael, or what?, Damn Yankees, or Warrent are firing them up! Go figure. And who are we to tell them they must listen to what our Frommer's told us they listen to? If somebody in Outer Mongolia is in dead-on Love for the Beach that's more bloggable than trite tales of Genghis and yurts!

P_J said...

Come on. How many of you haven't ever wanted to ban really bad music? I think Ahmadinejad just finally had enough. If you could get away with it, you wouldn't ban "Careless Whisper" or "The Pina Colada Song"?

In Jeffristan, I'm outlawing "Achy Breaky Heart," all non-Eminem rap, sappy 70s love songs, most of Elton John's work, and that section from "Wind Beneath My Wings" where Bette Midler sounds like she's pushing the notes uphill into the wind.

Oh, and even though it's not music, I'm outlawing every stupid Mastercard "Priceless" ripoff. And Precious Moments figurines.

Slocum said...

I've felt, as a traveler, that the music of my own culture was eroding the culture of the foreign place I wanted to experience.

Aaargh. Why should we have the great freedom to take up the culture of other places without worrying about our own being eroded? How many people feel that American culture has been eroded as, say, the meat-and-potatoes diners of the early and mid 20th century have been pushed to the margins by all manner of ethnic restaurants. Did your grandfather eat sushi as a young man? Szechuan chicken? Hell, even pizza is doubtful. Charles Freund, over at Reason, is excellent on this kind of thing:

Mark said...

Maybe I am missing something, but do you think "Careless whisper" is a bad song? I like it a lot. :) "Hotel California" is not a bad song either, IMHO.

It appears that Iran is following Taliban's footsteps. Our hope should be that finally Iranians will have enough of that and overthrow this dictatorship.

D.E. Cloutier said...

Ten years ago I had lunch in Cairo with two Egyptian Air Force generals. I asked them about Iraq.

"Don't worry about Iraq," one of them said. "Iraq is no threat to the United States. Worry about Iran."

Lakema: "And now it appears these will be the guys taking over Iraq as well."

Generally, Arabs distrust the Persians, regardless of religion.

miklos rosza said...

The next step is to ban all music except prayer, a la the Taliban. It's too bad, because many Middle Eastern countries have great pop music (usually very sexy), from Tarkan in Istanbul (his album "Karma" is a classic) to Amr Diab in Egypt.

It's funny that in France most of the best and most popular rap (you hear it all over the place in Marseille) has political lyrics, usually stopping at "I wouldn't go on jihad myself, but I can understand how you might blah blah blah." Be funny if what they're rooting for, out of fashion, ultimately leads to banning themselves.

tiggeril said...

Wham! is awesome. Philistines.

(Hey, I'd fit in at the Corner now.)

PatCA said...

Life in Tehran from what I read is pretty crazy making, even before President A. It's full of educated passionate people strangled by weird, repressive dogma. See Crimson Gold a good Iranian movie (by someone who left).

P_J said...

On a more serious note, this is just so pathetically outdated. Banning western music was more feasible 25 years ago, but with the Internet, CDs, I-Pods, DVDs, tiny memory cards, and MP3s of today? Not a chance.

P_J said...

Dont' forget to go the CNN article and vote for which group to ban. Kenny G is curently leading George Michael.

This is a good conversation starter. If you'd like to share your list of outlawed music, you can check out my post here and say goodbye to Anne Murray.

goesh said...

geez! It hasn't been that long since Iran openly hung a couple of gay teens - they must be slipping to have waited this long to ban Western music - goes to show they are focusing all their attention on getting nukes - "there's a killer on the road, his brain is squirmin' like a toad.." (Doors)

Brian O'Connell said...

Flashdance? D'oh! I meant Footloose. ...stupid 80's movies... remember the flipped-up collars?


Bruce Hayden said...

The Iranian situation is always interesting. What I think the new Iranian leader forgets is that he is sitting on a knife edge, maintaining power through anti-US rheteric (and, here, actions). But on the other hand, my understanding is that just second to the U.S. etc. in dislike by the young Iranians are the theocrats running the country.

In other words, the only way that the theocrats stay in power is to fan anti-American sentiment. But this sort of thing makes them look more the enemy than we do.

In the long run, I see this as helping, not hurting, us in Iran.

Ron said...

Pastor Jeff, I don't want to ban bad music because the impulse to ban is worse than the worst music...Besides, without bad music what would we make fun of?

Joe Giles said...

Forget Bush. Now this guy is messing with the RIAA. He's doomed.

P_J said...


Yes. It was said tounge firmly in cheek. I'm not really and truly in favor of banning baad music.

Still, I might make an exception for those dogs barking out "Jingle Bells"

reader_iam said...

Since I've been reading "Lolita in Tehran," this story really resonated when I first came across it.

I find the idea that such things are being focussed upon itself to be trite. But then, doesn't that sort of triteness seem to be an inherent element of totalitarianism, dictatorship, fascism etc. etc. etc.?

PatCA said...

Yes, reader, I agree. I loved that book, in the way it so aptly described how such a regime strips away your individuality. One way is to focus on all the detail that manifests a person as unique and not just an instrument of the state, like the way Humbert never spoke Lolita's actual name, but always a pet name. She simply didn't exist as a person for him, but the object of his desire.

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