عنوان مقاله [English]
نویسندگان [English]چکیده [English]
This paper examines the question of how western media, especially movie industry, constructs cultural elements of Iranian society in order to promote Iranophobic sentiments. "IranoPhobia Project "is the backbone of some psychological operation plans which aims at demonizing Iran. This project has many aspects but its main goal targets Iran’s neighbors and depended on political necessities it later targets other countries around the world. The reasons behind the IranoPhobia project can be considered to be structural and non- structural reasons. Power, geographical affinity and aggressive capabilities can be considered as structural reasons why there is a need for the development of IranoPhobia. Aggressive intentions, spreading the Iranophobic sentiments and making other nations to accept such this discourse can be considered to be non-structural reasons (Shari’ati nia, 2009: 194). Recently IranoPhobia project has affected a wide range of media including cinema which certainly plays a significant role in controlling audiences. This influence can be better understood as means of suggesting certain beliefs and point of views.
We believe Hollywood been following this line of plans since the 1979 Islamic revolution, to make and offer movies to their audience with such subjects as History and civilization of ancient Iran, and Iranian religion. The final objective of such movies is to challenge Iranian cultural identity. Hollywood has produced many movies in the last decade with the above mentioned subjects among which one can refer to Alexander (2004), one night with the night (2006), 300 (2007) and the stoning of Soraya M. (2008).
Here we will try to study elements of the Iranian cultural identity which include religion, language, social system, cultural geography and history using content analysis as the methodology of explaining discourses, approaches and contents used in the selected movies.
Statement of the Problem
The main research question here is how Iranian cultural identity elements (religion, language, social system, cultural geography and history) are represented in movies such as 300, one night with the king, and Alexander? The research secondary question is that "how the cultural history, geography, religion, language and social system elements are represented in 300, One night with the king, Alexander and the stoning of Soraya M. ?"
Theoretical Framework; IranoPhobia and Cultural Identity
Iranian cultural identity consists of intertwined set of ethnic, religious and linguistic elements which have historically taken formed and coexisted. Iran enjoys cultural diversity within a geographical location that has always been identified with such diversity. There have always been tribal differences but each tribe has respected Iranian identity and set their effort to maintain it. Therefore, one of the specificities of Iranian cultural identity is the diversity. Iran has experienced cultural exchanges with other cultural groups throughout its history and this is of course related to its especial geographical location and today Iran still enjoys diversity of cultural identities (Zahiri, 2000: 191). Also it should be noted that there has been variety of approaches which have tried to address elements of Iranian cultural identity. Here, we believe that five elements of language, religion, cultural history and social system need to be selected as most important elements of Iranian cultural identity so to use them for constructing a theoretical claim on how Hollywood uses them to promote IranoPhobia. We came up with these elements after we reviewed the related researches and considered the experts opinions and comments on this issue. This framework is a suitable theory that can explain why Hollywood uses these elements to promote IranoPhobia. This framework follows Edward Saiid’s approach. Edward Said introduces Orientalism as a western method for dominating, restructuring and having authority over the East (Said, 2004: 16). Said emphasizes that using terms such as oriental human as being illogical, deprived and using terms such as European people to describe them as being logical, virtuous and sophisticated constructs an unreal image that is obvious in oriental studies (Said, 2004). In fact regarding American attitudes toward Arabs, Said believes that the American attitude is full of hatred and hostility and it resembles "self and other" theory (Said, 2004). But what now is taking shape is a new "Other" which is contrary to West dominant discourse.
We chose content analysis as the proper research methodology in order to collect the necessary data that can meet the requirements of our theoretical claims. We also used documentary research to cross check our content analysis findings. For analyzing the movies’ contents, a list was designed and applied as follows:
The research results suggest that Hollywood puts a grave emphasis on Iranian kings as well as army and military issues of Iranian cultural history. The movies depict Iranian kings as tyrannical, opinionated, capricious, philander, anti- Jewish, militant, anti-knowledge and anti-science, wealth amassing, cowardly. The movies also depict Iranian army and military as savage, mugger, unreasonable and without any training.
In terms of cultural geography, Hollywood depicts Iran as having a vast territory while at the same time they show that the western states are excluded from such territory. As far as religion is concerned, they show that four issues including spirituality, Islamic orders and devotees should be embedded in the movies’ content.
When showing spirituality, it is indicated as having elements such as immorality, philandered, encouraging theft, greed and fraud. Islamic orders are depicted as anti-human rights, anti- female rights, inefficient in recognizing the right from wrong and believers are also depicted as ugly and uncivilized.
When the language is depicted, Hollywood shows Farsi language as having affinity with Arabic. Also, Hollywood shows social system with the following fourteen issues; illegality, lack of social discipline, violence and barbarism, racism, patriarchy, slavery, violation of women's rights, class differences, poverty, authoritarian and undemocratic, power distances, lack of religious freedom, dissatisfaction with human rights, and the society illiteracy.
From orientalism point of view, Hollywood movies depict Iran as “other” to the West, i.e., another that lacks Western standards. Iran is represented as being underdeveloped, prejudiced, militant, emotional, unreliable, slaveholder, undemocratic, and patriarchy in contrary to developed West which is rational, developed, democratic, and peaceful and it is assumed to be a serious threat to the world.