Saturday, May 1, 2010

Avatar comes to Iran

When I first saw this picture of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, fixed up in dark glasses I had thought that Avatar in 3-D had come to Iran. In a burst of optimism I believed that Western culture had pierced one of the “Axis of Evil” and that we would now all be saved. Unfortunately, it turned out that the President was just observing some new technology. Given recent news, probably a nuclear reactor. But, it made me realize that we have a strong belief that Western culture can save the world. If only the people in Damascus could enjoy the The Office, we would have a more peaceful Middle East. In the Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Samuel P. Huntington tell us that “Somewhere in the Middle East a half-dozen young men could well be dressed in jeans, drinking Coke, listening to rap, and between bows to Mecca, putting together a bomb to blow up an American airline.” I know when I travel I find myself being comforted by all those signs for Coca-Cola and Dentyne. Being part of a minority group and the child of immigrants, I always think of myself as superbly multi-cultural. But it is easy to become ethnocentric and believe that your own movies, books, and food have transformative qualities. Hopefully, my mistake in viewing the picture will make me more aware. Although, I am hoping that all those Kenyan runners in the Boston Marathon will start wearing Nikes when they get back home.


  1. Keep your idealism, Sy. Trade between nations encourages good behavior between them as well. Our chief export these days happens to be culture, so it can only be a good thing if this wacko starts enjoying some of it.

  2. Sy,
    My first thought when I saw this photo was why are the 3D glasses in Iran so much higher-end then in the US.