Asshole Of The Week - Iran
Javad Shamaqdari, gigantic asshole.
Sometimes an artist with a reputation for brilliant and eccentric works, average Netflix ratings, and a handful of festival awards will get it in his head that Nazi jokes and anti-Semitic comments are just “fun” and that he is immune from ridicule and pariah-status because of his self-contained brilliance, quirks, and Euro-indie cred. After watching the video of von Trier's transgression it’s pretty obvious he fell victim to his brain’s faulty wiring in handling awkward and unnatural (for him) public situations. Considering certain semantic idiosyncrasies, one could forgive von Trier for his poor translation of Danish slang—he says he called himself a Nazi because he is of German stock.
OK, so von Trier was banned and peacefully accepted his persona non grata status at future Cannes festivals. Then, after everyone was beginning to move on, the Iranian Culture Ministry actually took the effort to write a letter protesting Von Trier’s Cannes Ban. Deputy Culture Minister Javad Shamaqdari wrote in a letter that “Perhaps it is necessary to provide a new definition of freedom of speech for encyclopedias” and “The Cannes Film Festival left a dark stain on its history.” This, quite simply, makes them assholes. Not just run-of-the-mill assholes like von Trier himself, but gaping, dripping-wet-with-the-perspiration-of-irony assholes.
Iran, of course, is the same country that sentenced filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof, whose works were entered in Cannes, to six years in prison and barred them from filmmaking for twenty on charges that they made propaganda against the regime. The two directors are currently free pending their appeals but not allowed to leave the country. Panahi’s film This Is Not a Film actually had to be smuggled into France. These are also the same fuckers who killed and imprisoned their own citizens during an uprising in 2009—an uprising caused by claims from opposition leaders that the election was rigged—opposition leaders who are now under house arrest. These are the same whack jobs who express their democratic principles while rounding up their own political elites in a power struggle between the nominal leader, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the Supreme Leader (aka guy with all the authority), Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a true son of a bitch if there ever was one. Much like the Pope, Khamenei has the job for life and wants nothing but to maintain his tyrannical and ultimately autocratic stranglehold on power.
Fortunately, the piece of paper the letter of protest was written on will no longer be earmarked for execution orders, but one imagines the Iranian regime has developed a computer system to streamline that process anyway.
And so it is decided. For their absurdly overt hypocrisy, for their idea of judgment in the court of public opinion being a cell block in Evin Prison, and for the artifice of their diplomatic pageantry, the Iranian Government and, The Iranian Ministry of Culture in particular, are this week's assholes.