Infowar

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Living in the age of information means that access to the latest news is both cheap and easy, different news outlets are at hand and choice is abundant. It means the flow of information is unblocked, freedom of speech and freedom of perception prevails and the media can no longer manipulate the masses. But is this the reality of our world or merely an allusion we wish to believe in? In fact the perception of the free flow of information and access to untainted, unbiased information for the public is only a façade. Information can be controlled and organized by a complex web of media outlets to create an image or argument that favors their particular interests. In this documentary we take a look at the mechanisms behind mass media. In Infowar we examine the Western media’s representation of Iran, and look into a pattern of propaganda now well-established in the mainstream media against Iran.

TIME CODE :00:00_05:00

Narration :

  • 1979. A new state exploded onto the world stage. In the Islamic Republic of Iran the media found a new bogeyman, striking fear into ours homes through television images of violent mobs and burning flags. Soon the news showed their enemies as our friends/ and later their friends became our enemies. Communication breakdown.
  • Worse, now we’re told they they’re have a secret plan to make a bomb that could destroy whole countries. A nuclear Iran we’re told could lead to a Third World War.
  • Today the country seems to be bursting with a strange hatred towards us. More of those angry mobs, this time storming the British embassy, smashing pictures of our Queen.
  • Why all this fear?
  • My name is Edmund. In this programme I intend to examine our media’s representation of Iran and map the various ways we are informed about this country.
  • This is recent Hollywood blockbuster Argo, directed by Ben Affleck. It tells the story of 6 members of the US embassy who managed to avoid capture during the takeover by Islamist students following the revolution of ’79.

    It won Best Picture at this year’s Oscars. The film received positive and negative reviews,

    Plenty of opposition came from Canada, as the film downplays the Canadian role in the rescue.

    Outrage was also expressed by Britain and New Zealand for the depiction of their respective embassies in the film.

    Raiomond Mirza is a film critic, producer and composer. He feels strongly about Hollywood’s take on history.

    Raiomond Mirza:

    There is a line and every filmmaker knows when they cross that line, its not in the same place for everybody for every story but each person themselves knows when they crossed that like between truth and lies to an extent its actually damaging so from the revolution, and specially because of the anti American sentiment that brought it to power, the Iranians immediately the easily identifiable enemy

    History of ANTI-IRANIAN FILMS:

    Argo is just the latest of numerous Hollywood dramas in which Iranians feature as the enemy.

    Perhaps the most damaging in terms of cultural impact was 1991’s ‘Not Without My Daughter’, which cemented a Western image of Iranians as brutal and fanatical.

    Scott:

    There is no agenda there is no star chamber of guys sitting together in a room, deciding this week we are going write all the stories that vilify Iran, or all the stories that vilify North Korea. Its just part of the public psyche, and its been created by wrong minded people who have projected their own ideas about who is good guy and who is the bad guy. If Putin releases the Snowden and makes it possible for him to get out of Russia he would be the bad guy, right? This week he would be the bad guy, then they make movies about how Putin is the bad guy, and the other side of all the CIA stories, its flavour of the month man, Iran is the flavour of the month this month, sorry!

    Ben Affleck :

    What time she would be back tomorrow? If I call tomorrow she would be in? we sent number of emails haven’t got reply yet we wanted to interview ben Affleck ,

    -Are you paying for this?

    -We could do yes,

    -Let me take on your information and I will be sure that I pass on the message and he get back to you,

    -Ken Sunshine,

    -Okay you are gone email his assistant Jason Lee,

    -Hello could I speak to Amanda Montiolony

    Ben Affleck :

    I tried many ways to contact Ben Affleck and hear his side of the story but he did not want to talk to me, I was passed from one corner to the other till I gave it all up,

    This Western perspective reached its perhaps most extreme expression in 2007’s 300, in which the barbaric monsters depicting Iranians contrast starkly to the heroic white Greeks defending Western civilisation.

    The film was seen by some as a historical analogy for current antagonisms between Iran and the West and as arguing for an attack on Iran. It’s also been criticised for its historical inaccuracies.

    Raimond:

    300 is got to be the most fanciful film ever, it made the battle of marathon seem like this massively tidal turning event which pretty much brought down the Persian empire, did nothing of the kind, the Persian empire continued for hundreds of years, and the way they characterized the Persians , the way they portrayed the Persian emperors and the soldiers as these sort of half mythical CGI beasts, was just appalling, and if white people depicted this way by a Persian film they would openly would be called racist and they would openly called anti Christians and all kinds of things.

    TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

    Narration:

    History and examples of games anti Iran

    Another front of anti-Iranian sentiment, one that actually encourages consumers to enact killing Iranian characters, is the first-person shooter video game. The global interactive entertainment industry itself is estimated by some to be worth over $100 billion, with top games consistently outperforming Hollywood blockbusters in revenue.

    It’s not only anti-Iranian games that stir controversy. In 2010 Cuba denounced a “Call of Duty” game in which US special operations soldiers are directed to kill a young Fidel Castro.

    A recent Argentine version of online game ‘Counter Strike’ that saw Argentine police storming the Falkland Islands and repelling British ‘terrorists’ caused outrage in the UK, with British hackers launching a successful cyber attack on the game.

    Still Iran is a most prominent target of video game assaults.

    I wanted to meet the people involved in the games industry, People who turn ideas into some powerful mediums

    Adrian Hon:

    It is interesting that Its always seem to be the same country , either its Iran or north Korea, and why the people use these countries because if you just open a newspaper any day you know the sort of antagonistic countries to the US will be either Iran or North Korea maybe Russia maybe china, so they are getting their influences from the news media,

    Narration:

    Adrian Hon is the founder of SIX TO START games company,I asked him if he thought Iran was singled out for special abuse.

    Adrian Hon:

    If you live in a culture where, the sort of prevailing sentiment is that we should be worried about middle eastern terrorism there, then all the media all the mass media that you see is going to suttely reference that or suttely re-enforce that I don't think is quiet hard honestly if you live in that culture to sort of break out of that mind set, that does not mean that you don't have responsibility of question that, I think you do, but its something that we are all vulnerable to, honestly I’m sure I have my own biases you know that sort of emerge in the work we do,

    Narration:

    I visited a video game retailer in London run by two Iraqi brothers. Avid computer game players – and particular fans of the first-person shooter – they told me what it was like to shoot Iranians in Tehran, (the apparent enemy of their country during an 8-year war) in popular game Battlefield III.

    Mojtaba:

    Your going to the city you have to capture certain part of Tehran, you have to find the leader of insurgency and yeh,

    -And how Iranians are portrayed?

    The only issue I had was the pepper bombing at the beginning, its not realistic not everyone’s collateral damage, and the way they displayed that was if there is no value to human life, you know when it comes to the mission of war, basically

    -And how when you come across Iranian soldiers the enemy what are they like?

    Shouting and thronging grenades everywhere, Spraying everywhere,

    Narration:

    Highly anticipated first person shooter Splinter Cell: Blacklist is set to be released later this year amid much fanfare. It’s the latest in a series of games based on characters created by far-right military pornographer Tom Clancy. Early commercial teasers indicate that the mission is against a terrorist organization headed by Iranians attacking US domestic and international interests

    We are interested in why, the context at times why Iran was chosen as a target, asked the press officer of the game’s maker Ubisoft why Iran was targeted in this way.

    EMAIL THE COPANY PRESS

    The emailed response was that despite the enemy characters all having Iranian names, speaking Farsi and having a generally Iranian appearance, as well as the group’s base being on the Iran-Iraq border, Iranians are not the enemy in the game.

    P_Yes I appreciate that, I just wanted to ask you again just because I got a bit confused by what you said I just wanted to you said it was not about Iranians and I looked at it and it was, I thought maybe you did not know,

    TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00

    Ubisoft:

    I said the engineers are not based in a specific country,

    P_Okay, but they are Iranian let organisation

    Narration:

    The relationship between us and news media is a complicated one,Freedom for press on one side and state control and regulations on the other weighs and evaluates our glowing pride for western democracy With all that prejudice though we still feel home alone when it comes to media and propaganda, This is the Propaganda: Power and Persuasion exhibition at the British Library.

    Here we see how states have communicated with their population over the centuries; the creation of a national citizen, directing public thinking and behaviour … and the demonization of enemies, I asked the curator of the exhibition if the anti-Iranian sentiment in the media is grass roots or state or corporate led.

    Curators:

    I think its both, you get sort of both activities happening, some would argue and I’m not sure how when I would go with this personally, but some would argue that there are some structural elements at work within media as well, so that its easier say, for kind of elite opinion to get access to mass media so leaders of states or kind of think tanks and international groups who have a particular agenda may have easier access to media or its kind the way that argument goes and sort of reporting on things that seems unpopular draws flag and attention .

    Narration:

    This exhibition gives a real sense of the link between totalitarian regimes of the 21st century and our current society

    The crude posters of Nazi Germany have given way to more insidious less obvious form of propaganda .One powerful tool that flawlessly used to manipulate the public opinion is the surveys and opinion polls.

    Curator 2:

    We actually had a series of events at the library where we tried to get people to get to think about who is this evidence from, why do they want me to believe it? What does it actually say? What is the source of it, are the statistics valid or not? So trying to get people to re thinking the evidence that underpins the opinion or the fact that they are trying to be told we did an event, a little exhibition on the senses here, in 2011, one of the statistician talked about how, you should never believe statistics, you should always question where they come from.

    Narration:

    The 2013 BBC World Country Report found Iran to be the most negatively viewed country in the world.. The Pew Country Attitudes survey has a similar finding, with 59 of the world’s population viewing Iran negatively.

    Ubisoft:

    I wanted to speak to the BBC about why they thought Iran came out so badly in their survey and what role they played in shaping this opinion but they declined to comment.

    The survey was conducted by Globescan A Survey company that gathered the report for and on behalf of the BBC, I wanted to know why news networks invest in such reports?

    Holme:

    The main reason for media wanting to do polls and survey like this are going to be to inform, and to generate interest and to generate circulation or sorry audience figures

    - How do you think your surveys or surveys generally influence public opinion not that only take public opinion also influence it?

    They have certain amount of influence because they are going to be, I mean people like to sit certain norms so say if we are going to a country and we ask people, we find out that 80 percent of people believe that human rights are important and that's kind of publicized then people like to feel that they sit within that norm they wanting to agree with that if they know that the vast majority of people sit there.

    - I think I touched at the beginning but if you could sort of say again how might a survey be used to promote an agenda?

    Its very possible, its really around the way thy question are worded primarily so they are going to be quiet leading questions perhaps its to do with how the sample is approached, so it might be speaking to just certain people who you know are going to agree with your views and it might be just sharing part of what people said So its not just in the way the questions are asked but in how they are reported on and how they are analysed and presented .

    TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00

    Narration:

    This dual role of polling – where opinions are taken but are also shaped – gives it the potential for abuse by interest groups.

    One organisation that has employed polling for such ends is Realite EU, a pro-Israel group seeking to direct media workers about the countries in the middle east in line with Israeli policy.

    Tom Mills is a researcher at New Left Project and has written extensively about the organization…

    Tom Mills:

    They actually spent 2.7 million on strategic communications over the course of three years so we are talking big big money which they spend and I think further few million on polling and focus groups and so on so there is big money and their function seems to be two fold one is what they call backgrounders which is briefings you know producing reports to distribute to different people on analysis of the middle east particularly focusing on Iran, and the other one was a recommended group of experts European experts security experts who they are essentially recommended to experts as analysts on the middle east and on Iran, so they seem to have had, so they seem to have had two basic function as far as we can tell, one is to get experts into the media and to presumably to push certain political agenda and the other one was to distribute briefings backgrounders as they call them to encourage or push certain understanding or perspective on middle eastern geopolitics.

    Narration:

    In July 2007 PressTV hit the airwaves to be Iran’s first English News Channel in the world. Since its launch it has received substantial criticism from the west, particularly in relation to content covering the Israel-Palestine conflict.

    After the post election riots of 2009 when international journalists rushed to report the events, the News Week reported Maziar Bahari was arrested.

    He was interviewed by PressTV and part of his interview aired from the channel, in December 2009 Bahari filed a complaint with Ofcom claiming the interview was conducted under duress.

    PressTV was fined and its UK licence was revoked We asked Ofcom for their comment but they declined and send us their statement,

    “Ofcom was engaged in a sanctions case with Press TV regarding an interview obtained under duress from Maziar Bahari while in an Iranian prison which Ofcom had held to be a serious breach of the Broadcasting Code” in the wake of banning Press TV, all Iranian state channels were banned across Europe.

    It all took place in 2012 In April , Munich-based regulator BLM removed Press TV from SES ASTRA Satellite.

    In October, Eutelsat and Intelsat stopped the broadcast of several Iranian channels ,

    In November Asia Sat took off all Iranian channels off air in East Asia,

    And in December, HISPASAT stopped providing services to Iran’s Spanish language channel Hispan TV.

    The question arose on why all Iranian channels were punished for the alleged misdeeds of one, we wrote to all these companies to find some answers but we reciece no reply we approached one satellite company ARQIVA as potential customers and asked about the situation with Iranian channels the email response was that as the consequence of sanctions impose by the EU that led to drop of IRIB channels ,

    This was the email response of another satellite company Globecast

    “the US laws prevent satellites to be used by any person or entity located in or from Iran European parliament refused to comment on the issue but the European commission did confirm that the EU sanctions on Iran do not relate to a media ban “

    Michael Mann Audio:

    The fact that satellite providers have been taken off sorry the television companies have been taken off satellites have nothing to do with the European unions sanctions regime there is not a link, I mean some of these companies have claimed that is the case but in fact there is no direct link between the European union’s sanctions regime and the fact that certain television services had been taken off certain satellite providers

    - Are doing anything to sort of telling them that?

    Some companies may believe that they are required to do so, but that is not the case legally speaking

    - Would you be rectifying the miss understanding of the situation?

    Don't worry there has been long between our sanctions experts and a number of these companies so they should be well applied to that by now.

    TIME CODE: 20:00_25:00

    Narration:

    The relationship between the blatant propaganda and secret efforts to undermine Iran remained a blurry one, hoping for some clarity I approached david miller professor of sociology at the university of Bath, he is written extensively on propaganda and political spin and is a founding member of Spinwatch an organization reporting on political corruption and campaigning for lobbying and transparency he told me that the response I had received from satellite providers was typical of companies that had acted in response to lobbying

    David Miller:

    You need to go back and look at , what were the think tank was saying about this, where is the think tank campaigns who funded those this tanks and where is that come from?

    Always in these circumstances not always right? Mostly in these circumstances, you can trace the ideas back, so there would have been some king of campaign launched by one of these think tanks to cut off the hate propaganda from the Iranian regime as they called it right? And that is where it comes from no doubt the US foreign policy is on board with that no doubt that some elements of MI6 are more curious because they got the tradition of understanding they got to negotiate with the enemy so I had imaging that is what is go on there in terms of understanding Iran this is only one small step strategy for isolating Iran and trying to narrow the potential information sources that people can have to contradict the lies and deception that they are putting out about Iran’s threat.

    Narration:

    Lobbying is a significant aspect of political decision making in the uk the house of commons public administration select committee has stated quote:

    “The practice of lobbying in order to influence political decisions is a legitimate and necessary part of the democratic process”

    This is the letter sent by UANI to Hispasat the satellite company that provided services for the Iranian Spanish channel.

    A not for profit advocacy group that seeks to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons,

    Its being funded by some former American ambassadors to UN and a former CIA Director Jim Woolsey,

    With this letter the UANI is

    “calling on Hispasat to take responsible action and end all business activities in Iran”, and then frighten the Hispasats of the “potential legal ramifications of providing services to Iran”

    And threatening the company by saying “UANI will join others in shining a light on Hispasats callous and irresponsible business practices by educating US policy makers and the US Public alike”.

    The final letter to Hispasat was sent by the UANI to thank and applaud them of their decision to drop Iranian channels.

    I called the UANI, To ask for an explanation for their action.

    Phone calls recorded:

    -Do you think it was as a result of your, direct result of your campaigning that let to the stopping of the broadcast?

    Voice of Nathan Carletoon:

    You know we are happy to play a part in it, what we really care about is that its stops, hispasat I remember that had been around December holiday we had written on them we had called on them to stop broadcasting regime programming and you know they announced they would remove I think it was PressTV and hispan TV and you know and we could say we called on them and in November we wrote to them and now they have and you know typically if you look at our letter with these companies and other companies once they confirm that they had stopped we applaud them you know someone could say we actually did it,

    - And what officials on your board which ones would be directly interested in this issue ?

    TIME CODE: 25:00_30:00

    Voice of Nathan Carletoon:

    Every board member I know supports this, I can not think of specific board member, that is his head project , we have board members in various European companies as well, and we have worked behind the scene with law makers to include certain content in sanctions to draft new sanctions that would apply to this sort of things.

    - I see, can I just ask about the funding of your organization?

    Through the private donation in US they call us 501C3, A non profit organization, and everything we receive is from private donation,

    - I don't suppose you could say what kind of private bodies fund your organization?

    They are Americans that w receive I can not give any names

    Buts is mainly American yes

    Narration:

    In fact there are numerous organizations whose aim is to direct Iran focused media content

    The Israel Project is another non-profit organization that provides resources this time for international journalist!!! Employing a variety of methods to ensure coverage of Iran is largely negative.

    This document is a description of their first Arabic media tour in London.

    Their director of communications accompanied by the deputy minister of Israel’s foreign affairs, gave a tour aimed to expose The Israel projects Arabic media program.

    they meet and brief senior media figures such as,The Head of BBCs Persian Service,Middle east editor for Reuters TV, Arabic Service,Senior producers for Al Jazeera EnglishAnd other senior journalists with strong influence in the media.

    Tom Mills:

    What is wrong with Israel’s lobby groups? I mean Israel is being threatened by Iran, so it needs to bring this out to open let people know about this?

    I suppose that is one argument,One other defences of lobbying activity is that its just the question of get the information out into the public realm and let people know of certain issues so they could be discussed openly I suppose I say two things about that.

    One is that, this was not in fact a declarer of being a pro Israel organisation so one of the problems with the idea that lobbying as a sort of an open exchange of information or political views is in actual fact this is not how lobbying tends to operate there is a lot of covert activity of what you might call political or psychological warfare and so its not just about crafting argument its also often about creating front group getting fouls information or grey propaganda if you like which is half truth with sending certain political agenda into the public realm and affecting public debate or political debate or political decision making in the interest of certain clients or certain interest groups supporting it, just to be clear about what was going on here you have to look at the Israel project which you know this isn’t just a case of people getting together saying Israel under threat and openly saying we need to defend Israel, behind it there is a quiet sophisticated form of PR, they refer to it as strategic communications which was originally a military term but its been adopted by the more sophisticated ends of PR and the lobbying industry, they use quiet as I say sophisticated techniques to craft messages in certain ways that would be agreeable to people

    -What kind of techniques?

    Well for example they spend millions of pounds on focus groups they get people together let’s say you are a client and you approach a lobby group, you are not necessarily interested in persuading people of certain idea but you are interested in pushing for a political agenda now, a professional PR person would tell you ok if this is what you want to do let’s say you want to attack Iran, this is what you want to do, these are the obstacle for doing it, these are the ways your messages will be well received by people these are the things that won’t be received .

    Narration:

    Any attempt to find reports in the British media on the blocking of Iranian channels would produce few results its not only news reporters who are turning a blind eye, Reporters without Borders is a well known charity organization which aims to protect media journalists and media rights one would expect them to report on this ban, however there is absolutely no mention of it on their website, this is heather Blake, the head of the reporters without borders office in London, While speaking to her I was impressed by how well informed she is of the issues facing journalists within Iran, the organization have been quick to criticize satellite providers for taking national channel off air, I asked heather blake, why it remained silent on the Iranian Issue?

    Heather Blake:

    Normally if we don't report on things we don't publish names just depends of putting anybody at risk and in Iran, in terms of internet, most Iranians get their news from the television however the internet plays a big part and you have got a lot of internet users in Iran, one of the most internet users in that region,

    - Sure, the situation in Iran is clear with regard to freedom of speech issues, what we are trying to look at is the other side in which the Iranian voice is blocked from having any channel any way into televisions in Europe

    It depends on who that voice is? Again

    - Well its every single Iranian Channel,

    - Would you condemn that? As an organization?

    It depends on what they are saying if its, it depends on why its being blocked but of course we do believe in the free flow of information and the human right free flow of information

    - I wanted to know who funds your organisation,

    Well its on our internet, its on our website, but we are funded by different trusts we are funded by different larger media organisations and yeh, and we got memberships as well,

    - you said it was not strategic reason for not commenting on that

    No we work,

    - the fact that you funded by state department bodies I thought perhaps,

    We are funded by state department bodies?

    - Yes, the national endowment for democracy, centre for free Cuba, is that why, the iran issue is completely being ignored?

    I would say not we have got the most devoted researchers and we would all work and I know the researchers worked to really put forward what is taking place in terms of press freedom and the violations that take place the best they possibly can,

    - Okay, just once more in that context would you comment on the fact that your organisation had been completely silent on this issue?

    I would have to go back to the Iranian researcher, who is the expert, and then probably ask the secretary general of the organisation, and the director of research, but I will reiterate again that it is not strategic, they are not sitting there and thinking we are funded by these people so we are not going to print about that ,

    Narration:

    To find out just how influential this lobbying had been in Eutelsat’s decision to drop all Iranian channels, and to also talk to the Iranian researcher that works for the Reporters without borders, I decided to go to Paris.

    Surely France is the birth place of freedom in the west

    I assumed the capital of French revolution is where I get some answers,

    First I spoke to some French residents to know if they are aware of the banning of Iranian media?

    French Voxpops:

    All Iranian channels have been blocked in France did you know that?

    No no no

    I just say that its very sad,

    -Did you know that In france all Iranian channels are blocked?

    No idea, I just watch TV to watch sports,

    -How do you think of media image of Iran?

    I could not say anything about that,

    Its clear that the blocking of Iranian satellite channels. Isn’t an importance issue here either,

    I met James Overton, I asked him why he thought French journalist won’t take the issue seriously?

    James Overton:

    On issues such as Iran there tends to be a consensual line that is broadly supportive the western powers and the government, that's because perhaps of the media ownership and just also because of a lack of voices that are heard to challenge the general opinion

    -who owns the majority of French media?

    Well the French newspapers are by enlarge owned by major industrial group such as Lagate, Dessau the luxury goods firms and on television, they tend to come under the same industrial groups as well,

    - What are the legal bases of this blocking?

    As far as I understand the EUTELSAT through various intermediaries, its actually controlled fundamentally by the French state, so it has taken the decision to take the Iranian TV channels off, where there that is legal I guess they own it so they can do what they like but its unfair

    TIME CODE: 5:00_40:00

    Narration:

    Our emails to the Eutelsat the French satellite provider was ignored,

    I emailed the reporters without borders office with a follow on call, asking to speak to the Iranian researcher, but Our email was ignored .

    Unable to get a response from the eutelsat or reporters without borders here I contacted PressTV’s Paris correspondent Ramin Mazaheri someone who has had similar trouble trying to get answers.

    Ramin:

    What is the reason reporters without borders does not give us an interview when this is their job, when they are you know, I think sixteen seventeen percent of their funding comes from the French state, they are paid to do this, they are paid to defend Iranian journalist , they certainly have no problem condemning Iran, my God! If you look on their website their boost of their real time violations of Iranian journalist in Iranian press they give real time violations of freedom of press in Iran, but when it came to us saying now we are the ones who are being aggressed we are the ones being taken advantage of we are the ones being oppressed, they are no where to be found,

    - I put the issue of banning Iranian channels to Ramin, to see what he had to say?

    The answer is absolutely not to be banning media because when does it end? Then I want to ban US state media, what was it I red recently in the 20th century 20 million people are killed, over their wars, you know, Vietnam, Korea, that is pretty serious, I want to ban French media, they have killed millions, a million people in Algeria how many people in former Indochina lets ban them too, lets ban England of course England worse than france not as bad as the US, lets ban them too, you have complete open discourse and that people are smart enough to make their decisions for themselves if PressTV is broadcasting forced confessions, people are gone know that and they say Presstv is not credible Presstv is propaganda and people are not gone go there and there is gone be informal,

    - the regulatory body has a duty does it ? to make sure that it isn’t allowed to be used that way its platform isn’t allowed to be used in that way?

    Well, I mean who, conducted this investigation, this regulatory body you are talking about in the UK, Ofcom , did they go to Iran, did they investigate, did they talk to other people like any investigation would require or are they relying on the testimony of one person?

    Narration:

    Perhaps ordinary public opinion is of so little significance because of the success of Western propaganda in enforcing one particular perspective. Elite forces can rely on the one-dimensional image of Iran that we’ve looked at sticking in people’s minds.

    I wanted to find out what Iranians know about how they are depicted in the West and how important Iran’s image in the world is for them.

    With all the horror stories, entering Iran is a rather tense experience. I’m suddenly more aware of my behaviour, but the tension begins to fade with the hustle and bustle of life outside the airport,

    It can be surprising to Westerners who visit Iran to learn that Iranians have a very positive view towards them. This taxi driver insisted I look like an actor called ‘Frankie’, who may or may not have been in The Expendables, a film he rated highly. He was very enthusiastic about a number of Hollywood movies, so I asked him if he’d seen Argo.

    Driver:

    -let’s talk about the film "300".

    When we saw the film it made us so upset that we started swearing at the producers.

    This is really our national pride, it shows how pride the young Iranians are.

    We are very proud of our history and culture and specially Cyrus the Great and Darius.

    We don’t accept what was reflected in that film, and it made us so upset and angry, we were shattered.

    Parts of it may be for entertainment, but most of it is political and it’s made to insult and humiliate the Iranian people.

    Is this right if I spoil and hurt you and call it entertainment?

    Can you annoy people and call it entertainment?

    When you undermine a nation, its not fun anymore, its a war, War of words.

    A great war!

    We have a couple of rap singers that responded to the film with their lyrics, one of them is called Yas.

    It says, “Cyrus made the first Human Rights Charter, that is why I have a beautiful pride in my Iran, my body is bounded with the soil of this land”.

    TIME CODE: 40:00_45:00

    Narration:

    Listening to this song I can see that my driver is not the only person angry with the way Iran is represented. His dream of paying back Hollywood with an anti-300 film is something director Ato’olla Salmanian is closer to realising,

    Salmanian :

    Salmanian was recently all over the Western media when it was announced that he would be making an ‘anti-Argo’ film.

    What do you think of Iran is represented in Hollywood?

    If you noticed in the background, there are always fighting going on.

    Everyone is stressed out.

    There is always disrespect toward the women in the background.

    You have been in Iran and seen it for yourself.

    Obligatory hijab is shown in the films.

    They tend to show to the western audience an image that is their own personal view of Iran.

    They say it indirectly.

    They show this in the background and foreground or in the voices that are heard,

    They want the audience to think Iranians are violent.

    - I understand you are making an anti argo film what is that about?

    The themes are very different, but the biggest difference is that my film is telling the absolute truth,

    It tells the story of what really happened, referencing to the memories of the last American ambassador to Iran William Sullivan

    It also confirmed by the British ambassador at the time.

    My film is the story of how in that chaotic situation, at the time of the revolution when everything is out of control, Imam Khomeini finally managed to free the captives, and that is to say, Iran has never been aggressive or hostile to others.or against the rights of human beings.

    Narration:

    Masoumeh Ebtekar, spokesperson for the hostage takers in 1979, was portrayed in Argo. I was interested in finding out how she felt about the film.

    Ebtekar:

    What was the actual motivating factor, and the fact that when they realize that shah was gained entrance again, the deposed Shah of Iran was gained entrance into the United States, they felt that this might a signal to go forward for another coupe in Iran against the Islamic revolution to install another pro American government in Iran, and this the fear of another repetition of history and the fear of another crackdown ageist Iranian people exactly like what happen in 1953 and what happened in Chile and Dr Allende, and many other parts of the world because these were the intellectual students, they had reviewed these crucial moments of history many different times in many different instances and they were very fearful and they were always bring up the question that why do anti imperialist revolutions fail?

    -why do you think the western media peruses this antagonistic line of thinking or line of portrayal?

    Let me make again this point, I think that the major problem with the movie Argo was that they would taking us back into that period of history where we were confronting the two nations, the two countries were confronting each other due to the very difficult circumstances that had raised after the revolution and after the entrance of the Shah to Iran but we have to look forward and our expectations was that Hollywood would do something which would take our relationship forward in terms of more understandings between the two nations but that didn't happened

    Narration:

    I have come to Tehran’s computer game festival, where thousands of young Iranians gather to try out the latest games,

    Iran’s National Federation of Computer Games organise this annual event to encourage domestic game playing and development. I spoke to federations director he sees games as an opportunity to build dialogue to between Iran and the west.

    Hasan Salam Zadeh:

    It may be too optimistic to say that game is a medium to create friendship between the people.

    It creates understandings between us and other nations.

    We talk to them and listen to what they are saying.

    It’s remarkable that these games are played in most Iranian homes.

    By playing these games, the Iranian kids hear the messages that come from the game makers.

    We also want them to listen to our words, This would be only possible if we make good games.

    Only then, they would listen to our words, and hear the Iranian youth.

    TIME CODE: 45:00_50:12

    Head Amytis:

    There are some games makers designing games demonstrating Iran’s military strength, in direct opposition to those first-person shooters targeting Iran.

    Narration:

    This is ‘Fight in the Gulf of Aden’, one of the biggest games of its type in Iran. It’s a first-person shooter in which Iranian troops are a force for good. It takes the standard shooter narrative of good guys versus baddies, but in this case the Iranians are the liberators of commercial ships from the evil clutches of pirates.

    The game is commissioned by the Iranian army,

    The game makers are a group of young men passionate about making strong positive image of Iran,

    Shahid Sayad Haghighi:

    In our games we try to respect and avoid harm to the antiquities of the environment we enter.

    By damaging an artifact for example, the player has to go back one point and start again.

    This is the principal ideology in our country.

    Our country’s military strategy is also I think to progress in defense capability,

    and it’s not aggressive or hostile. That means that we are not getting ready for war.

    They were keen to talk to me about the negative image of their country in the games they nevertheless love playing.

    Hamid Reza Nikoofar:

    There is a lot of subjects out there they can make that,

    - why do you think they choose iran?

    Maybe there some political reasons or maybe just they can not come up with new places and they always like to kill people from middle east and I don't know why? The medal of honor, battlefield 3 and call of duty, splinter cell, they all happen in the middle east I don't know why, why there is fun in killing people in the middle east?

    - but you like to playing these games?

    I love the game play of that, but the story, I guess most of the people out there would agree with me that battlefield does have a good story or other shooter games maybe its just my personal idea but I just play it because of the game play I play the online play of battlefield which is a fight between Russia and America so , there is no harm for us!

    Narration:

    Cinema is one way a nation expresses itself internationally. Iranian filmmakers have a long tradition of producing films that portray a true image of the country. Iranians are also avid followers of American and European cinema. Indeed cinema is something of a national passion for the young generation. I spoke to some filmgoers here for their feelings about how Iran is portrayed in Hollywood movies.

    Man:

    If you look at the past, you see that Iran has a very rich culture, and it has shown a very appropriate and respectable behavior in the course of history.

    But films never portray the reality, and with what I know of myself, and my culture, I see this as an insult.  

       

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