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January 20, 2006

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Luke

I'm not so sure that I agree with Braude. While I do have limited experience with the Iranian blogosphere, mostly in the shape of teenagers and college students.

While Braude notes a relaxation of public behavior in 1998, he misses out on the shift rightwards that began in 2002/3, and culminated in the current president, charming fellow that he is; in certain respects _Lipstick Jihad_ covers that shift, as well as the malaise within Iran's population. It's almost like the impact of Cromwell on the English populace; the mullahs hate dogs, people get dogs, that sort of thing.

Most interestingly, the bloggers I've read who responded to the clamping down on Western Music on the radio, etc. offered an ironic "Good" as it would help undermine the president and the hard-liners.

What bothers me most is that he seems dissmissive of the consumption of Western pop culture with that pithy bit of world play about Jefferson, etc. While the younger generation is tech savvy and won't watch C-SPAN right now, he's neglecting things like techno Eid, Ghadir Khum, and the crazy debutant balls that have proliferated. The first two are public rituals of defiance of the regime, mixing of the sexes, hand holding. The latter are absurd parties that'd feature readily in any American movie, say _Animal House_ cum _Gone with the Wind_, with a tremendous amount of money thrown at it; kids acting like Carson Daley, that sort of thing, in expensive, and revealing, Western clothes.

These, combined with the wildly popular "Victoria's Secret" and porno-rental vans, well. It gives me hope, in a weird way.

It's a culture that sees stuff, and wants to consume it, live it. Right now, that's MTV and stuff, but imagine 30-somethings who would be drawn, eventually, to download episodes of _West Wing_, or whatever else has been popular in America; there's everying from "Pride and Prejudice" to "Hills Like White Elephants" available in E-text, not to mention all the obviously seditious tracts on liberity and democracy.

Let's call it Google Diplomacy. Whether or not consuming stories and video clips, and reality TV from the US and Europe will draw people toward democracy is dubious, based on your last post about Arab reality TV, but it will open a wider gap between the regime and the people, most of whom are in this young, tech-savvy generation. If Iran manages to build an internet aparatus as good as China's in repression, though, this may not go anywhere. If it doesn't, the spread and growth of a culture that watches, "Project Runway" or "America's Next Top Model" or whatever, and wants to consume various products therein and publicly, will eventually find itself moving against the regime; sort of like the late-era Soviets trying to cage Levis off American tourists.

All of this is why we should flood Iran with DVDs of "Glitter" and "Honey" with, perhaps, some "Buffy"

Cheers

L

the aardvark

Fascinating - I should have just let you blog about it. Thanks!

Luke

Haha; that ended up being much longer than I'd intended it to be. But do go out and buy _Lipstick Jihad_ and _Reading Lolita in Tehran_. They offer very different snapshots of Iran; _Lipstick_ tends to be oriented on what it is to be a young person in the Islamic Republic, having grown up as an expat in California, and grapples with a lot of the stuff that interests you in the Arab world. It's good, and it's a quick, engaging read, that I've gone back to several times.

_Lolita_ tends to be more cerebral, and somewhat less engaged with the country's pop culture, but it does advocate strongly for the power and appeal of banned literature in an authoritarian state; the intrusions of the state are less regular and less obvious than in _Lipstick_ which is an indication of how withdrawn the author had become; but when the state, or its various police show up, it's with a staccatto pace that upends everyone's life.

As for blogging that; I haven't gotten my Farsi wings yet, so I'm really in no position to speak. And even though I've got a big, squishy frontal lobe, I'm merely an undergraduate.

Cheers

L

opit

Wouldn't it be ironic if a significant impediment to Iranian access was to be DRM ?

Nur al-Cubicle

Debutante balls? Can one say that for every revolution, there is a Jeunesse Dorée?

Nell

One can certainly say that for every revolution there has been a hell of lot of some kind of jeunesse, doree or no....

Very high proportion of the demographic is a precondition. Not sufficient by itself of course.

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