"The film is an insult to the rich Iranian culture it is surprising that Hollywood has begun to propagate hatred and terror in the world." Press release from the Iranian embassy in Paris, March 22
Over the past few years, the Iranian government has produced films, TV movies, and music videos about Israelis stealing the eyeballs of Palestinian Arab children, the Statue of Liberty as Satan, and President Bush as the reincarnation of Hitler, among countless others in the same vein.
Hollywood is another popular target of Iranian state-controlled films. A recent notable example was a special on the "Tom and Jerry" cartoons as a Zionist conspiracy.
The Iranian News Channel on July 27 did a report on Hollywood as a "weapon" of the Zionist lobby, with Disney being its leader. The report cited "Pirates of the Caribbean" as an example.
Other Iranian government programs about Hollywood have been devoted to the "reality" of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," as well as claims that "The Diary of Anne Frank," "Schindler's List," "Driving Miss Daisy," and "The Matrix" are Zionist propaganda. Steven Spielberg is a frequent subject, as are what the government calls the "ugly Jewish actress Barbra Streisand" and the "deceptive Woody Allen, who confuses people about the Jews."
Therefore, Iran's response to the recent Hollywood film "300" an adaptation of Frank Miller's comic book account of the Battle of Thermopylae between the Greeks and the Persians, 480 years before the common era was interesting, to say the least.
Iranian government-controlled press outlets have gone berserk over the movie, which grossed more than $100 million within eight days. A sequel is already in the works.
Iranian members of parliament condemned it. According to the Mehr News Agency of March 13, they sent a letter to the Iranian Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance stressing the necessity for "measures" to prevent the screening of the movie throughout the world.
An Iranian government spokesman, Gholam-Hossein Elham, said "300" is part of an extensive cultural aggression against Iranian culture. Iran's representative to UNESCO demanded a denunciation of the movie by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the Group of 77.
In an interview with the Fars News Agency on March 11, an art adviser to President Ahmadinejad of Iran, Javad Shamqadri, said: "Following the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Hollywood and cultural authorities in the U.S. initiated studies to figure out how to attack Iranian culture. Certainly, the recent movie is a product of such studies."
The Fars Art Bureau in southern Iran was quoted in the Mehr News Agency on March 13 as saying: "No doubt, it is hard for the hegemonic powers to see a firm, religious Iran that has pricked their bubbles."
According to a March 13 report by the Islamic Republic News Agency, "The movie fabricated history. No Greek king dared to stand up to the Persian Empire."
An editorial in Taliya News on March 9 called the movie an attack by the "U.S. propaganda machine against Iran, its culture, and civilization." The article reported that some Iranians have begun petitions against Warner Bros., which released the film.
Iran's largest circulation newspaper, Hamshahri, contended that "300" is "serving the policy of the U.S. leadership" and predicted it will "prompt a wave of protest in the world."
"Hollywood Declares War on Iranians" was a headline in the March 14 edition of the Ayende-No newspaper. The article reported: "In Iran, the movie hasn't opened, but bootleg DVDs are already available on the streets. Iranian state-run television has run several commentaries calling the film insulting and has brought on Iranian film directors to point out its historical inaccuracies."
One such commentary aired on IRINN TV on March 13 and purported to "shed more light on the conspiracy behind the screening of this anti-culture Hollywood film." It said: "The Zionist Warner company is also pursuing a propaganda front against [the] ancient and historical roots of Iranians. This film tries to increase the international political pressure on Iran."
The Iranian response to "300," while entertaining, shows that the Iranian government lacks self-confidence.
Mr. Stalinsky is the executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute.