20 July 2013
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“The Iran Job,” is that wonderful kind of documentary that sheds a contrary light on the echo chamber of “common sense” that dominates American media and culture. Of course, Iran is an evil place. They are trying to build nuclear weapons. They hate America because we are a free society. They are religious fanatics. Case closed.
These beliefs permeate our “scareocracy,” even though a little research shows a different truth. Iran has a huge young population that yearns to be free of its repressive government. Just two years ago, there was violent revolution in its streets, sadly extinguished by a well-armed Iranian military.
The frustrated youth haven’t been defeated, they’ve just gone underground. The most up-to-date news from Iran is hopeful. A new more moderate president was recently chosen, probably due to fear of the legions of unemployed and frustrated youth who could force a collapse similar to its neighbor, Syria.
Iran is a simmering cauldron, but the lid is shut tight, so not much information gets out. That is why “The Iran Job” is such a unique film. It shows that Iran’s repressive brand of Islam is not a fearful monolith. Its youth, and especially women, are fed up. Iran has a surprising share of rock ‘n rollers, free-thinkers, and women fervently pursuing education and power. When Iranian artists escape the clutches of the fundamentalists, they create astonishing works of art in music, cinema, literature, dance—even cuisine. 5,000 years ago, Persia (Iran) had a written alphabet, number system, and money. It was the cradle of civilization.
So, here we have “The Iran Job,” where an American basketball player, Kevin Sheppard, is recruited to play in an Iranian pro league, and allows a German camera crew to secretly follow him on his awakening walk through the cradle of civilization. He is obviously an exceptionally brave and curious person, and what he found was a culture bursting with love for America, and especially two precocious young women delighted to guide him through their proud, but sympathetic culture.
This kind of documentary turns your world upside down. It rebels against the autocrats and haters on all sides. It turns the very idea of “bomb Iran” into a reptilian nightmare of shame. It offers rays of hope that we can get along just fine with a little direct human-to-human communication, unfiltered by self-serving pundits, hypocritical scolds, and power-hungry officials.
Yes, the Iranian government forbade the filming, and yes, the U.S. government pressed charges against Sheppard for violating its embargo on doing business with Iran. See this movie, if you want to relish this irony.
Robert Maier’s website