In Part One of this two-part series, I described the widely varying treatment of renowned directors Jafar Panahi and Roman Polanski by the leftist Hollywood establishment vis-a-vis their arrests and incarcerations, Polanski for child rape, Panahi for mere dissent. It is merely the latest chapter in a long and sickening history of the Hollywood Left’s willful blindness to and even profiting from the McCarthyite persecution and dire straits of creative film artists in Iran revolting over a stolen election, while child rapist Polanksi gets the Oscar treatment with regard to calls for his release and freedom.
But before I get into the stomach-churning details of the Hollywood Left’s shattered moral compass vis-a-vis directors Polanski and Panahi and other Iranian film artists, I would like to take a moment to honor more of the true heroes who have spoken out loudly on Mr. Panahi’s behalf and signed petitions for his release. The National Society of Film Critics. The Boston, L. A. and Toronto Film Critics Associations. Arin Paul of the New York Times. Filmmaker Ken Loach. Rutger Wolfson, director of the Rotterdam Film Festival. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. Human Rights Watch. French Minister of Culture Frederic Mitterand. Iranhumanrights.org. The list really is long.
Of course, noticeably absent from those petitioning and publicly calling for the release of Mr. Panahi from his unjust tomb-like captivity in Tehran are all of the prominent Hollywood A-List petitioners for Polanski. So Mr. Polanski’s arrest for child rape is worthy of international pressure and outrage, but famed director Jafar Panahi being tossed into a crypt in Tehran on “unspecified charges” is not? Welcome to Lefty Hollywood. And it only gets worse. The most tragic case of Jafar Panahi is yet one more sorry, perplexing and infuriating chapter in leftist Hollywood’s incredible blind side to any human rights violations in Iran, never mind only those perpetrated against Iranian filmmakers today.
Gay rights zero Sean Penn’s PR jaunt for the Mad Mullahs in Tehran in 2005, praising the Islamists even as then president-elect Mahmoud “No Gays in Iran” Ahmadinejad was jacking up the regime’s barbaric anti-gay pogrom. The sordid and embarrassing Team Oscar trip to Iran in March 2009, in which actress Annette Bening praised the regime’s women’s rights record even as Roxana Saberi rotted in Evin prison across town, and as Iranian-American filmmaker Esha Momeni awaited an Islamist kangaroo court for the crime of filming a women’s rights documentary. She awaits trial still.
The Academy’s posting of the self-aggrandizing Road to Isfahan promo last summer, with no mention that many of the Iranian filmmakers featured in it had been blacklisted by the regime. In essence, the Academy profited from their McCarthyite misery. AMPAS knew, in the same way that you now know. I told them. The Academy’s emailed response? They don’t get into politics, don’t you know. Same with the AMPAS Iran film seminar in L.A. last October. Two blacklisted Iranian film artists, including renowned actress Fatemeh Motamed-Aria, were barred from leaving Iran to attend.
The show went on, the blacklisted whitewashed from the Academy’s program in Orwellian fashion. Also noticeably absent from Hollywood’s list of cause celebres’ is renowned Iranian director and President of the Asian Film Academy Mohsen Makhmalbaf, who now serves as official spokesman for Mir Hussein Mousavi and the Greens outside Iran. Who in Hollywood has invited Mr. Makhmalbaf to speak on the plight of the Greens and Iranian film artists? None I can find. How can you explain any of this to where it makes any sense at all? Why not any peep out of Hollywood on Iran at all?
Theo Van Gogh
Is it the Islamist Fear Factor? Are they just too enamored of blood-drenched dictators like Chavez, Castro and Ahmadinejad that they can’t find it within themselves to say a bad word about them? Or is it just plain endemic Hollywood racism? Polanski is white, after all. Panahi and most Iranians are not. I’d like to believe that, but I don’t really. I just believe leftist Hollywood is so morally corrupt that child rape and cop killing are morally defensible, yet dissent in a fascist dictatorship is not. Perhaps if Mr. Panahi had drugged and raped a tween, he would be getting the rabid and unqualified support of the lefty Hollywood establishment today. How I only wish to God that were a sick joke.
For those of you who do still have some shred of morality and human decency left in your souls (unlike some people), here are two petitions for the release of entombed director Jafar Panahi. One is at Facebook, the other at Petitions Online. Thank you, on behalf of Mr. Panahi and his family. And thanks to the many worldwide voices who have NOT remained silent in the face of this abomination of justice for a cutting-edge director, whose only crime is being cutting-edge in a fascist dictatorship where such innovation is rewarded with the death of a thousand cuts. I can think of many lefty Hollywood film types more deserving of that fate than the brave Jafar Panahi.
Here’s an idea. Why don’t we petition the Iranian government and work out a trade? They send us Jafar Panahi and all their blacklisted film artists, and we send them all the signatories to Roman Polanski’s petition. Let’s Make a Deal! And no, I’m not joking. I would make that trade in a heartbeat. I am at my wit’s end with Lefty Hollywood, people. For over a year now I have been pressing the case of Iranian film artists, and they were all just as dead silent on the subject then as they are toward Jafar Panahi and other persecuted filmmakers in Iran today, some of whom they once called friend.
I have even tried to shame them into action. But how do you shame the shameless? How do you explain morality to moral reprobates who equivocate the drugging and anal rape of a child? Who believe critics of dictator Hugo Chavez should be thrown in jail? Who believe that we were as racist and terrorist as the genocidal Imperial Japanese in the Pacific War? Who believe America is evil and everything it stands for sucks, even as they lead lives of freedom and luxury not possible anywhere else on earth? What happened to the Hollywood heroes of old who made fun of fascist dictators, often at risk to their own lives, instead of jaunting off to run PR campaigns for them?
Maybe it’s time for a new and revolutionary tack, people. Maybe it’s time to found a new Hollywood built on the principles of the old. The Hollywood in which the brave Victor Laszlo was a hero, not the murderous Che Guevara. In which America’s greatness and heroism was praised, not vilified. In which the American people were enlightened with great film stories that made them proud to be Americans, not browbeat with leftist anti-American propaganda. There is a great hunger in America for that brand of storytelling in film. A market of hundreds of millions just waiting to be tapped.
A huge undertaking, no doubt. But nowhere near the task faced by our Founding Fathers, and look at the miracles that ragtag band of rebels wrought. We Americans can do anything we put our minds to. But that is a piece for another time. For now, forget those useless leftist Hollywood idiots. We can deal with them later. Right now, Jafar Panahi and his family need each of us to speak out on his behalf. His life is hanging in the balance. Please sign the petitions at Facebook and Petitions Online linked above. As I have said in Part One, concerted voices raised in outrage have saved lives in Iran before, and can do so again. To save one life is to save the world entire. That is all that matters now. Hollywood lefties can go fuck themselves. History and their silence will damn them for all time.