Hossein Derakhshan at PostGlobal

Hossein Derakhshan


Iranian-born Hossein "Hoder" Derakhshan is a blogger, journalist, and internet activist. Since 2001, he has been based out of Toronto, Canada, running his award-winning weblog, Editor: Myself, which has been among the most influential blogs in the Persian language. Close.

Hossein Derakhshan


Iranian-born Hossein "Hoder" Derakhshan is a blogger, journalist, and internet activist. more »

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'Persepolis' Reduces Iran to Black and White

The movie 'Persepolis' is a refreshing and beautiful black-and-white animation, but it is also built on a black-and-white viewpoint of Iran.

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All Comments (15)


Wow. What is interesting to me here is Mr. Derakhshan's attitude. Most of the publications he is blasting here are the stories of Iranian women, their personal views of the experiences they had living in Iran. Apparently they were supposed to leave Iran, where they felt oppresed, and pusblish "how great it was to be a woman in Iran" propadanda? Or just keep quiet?

I believe that it is the dismissive attitude of Derakhshan's culture towards women which shines through most clearly in his editorial here.


Look at all the propagandizing ex patriots crying at how secular liberalism will save the poor Iranian people from Islam, Persian nationalism, patriarchy, Shia dogma, from artistic censorship, and purple nurples. If only all the perverts and deviants were given their freedom in Iran, then Iran would be safe.

Global capitalism has monstrous potential for Iran. Just as slavery has become endemic to India and sexual slavery has become infamous for Thailand, Iran will not be far behind. It is estimated that there are 27 million slaves worldwide, mostly involved in the booming mega-economies of India, China, and Brazil. Were Neo Cons from America, and ex pat Iranians adept at free market capitalism to gain control of Iran, they would surely submerge Iran into the global marketplace, drowning its people for decades.

As Russia and Iraq have shown, Neo Cons and carpetbagging ex pat capitalists seek to blunder the resources for private profit under the ideological guise of 'freedom' and 'liberty'.

Anyone who seeks to 'liberate' Iran with Neo Con aid from America, world empire with 1000s of military installations worldwide, and Sarkozy's Neo Con France, is setting up utopic dreams for Iranians and is supporting Neo Con imperial colonization of Iran.

Sartrapi's movie plays into this scenerio. Given that she's an artist who merely concocted fanciful images to suit her aesthetic determinants, her movie has been paraded about in Europe and America as cultural propaganda in the Crusade to 'liberate Iran'. Make no mistake, Congress has even made it an official Act to topple the Iranian regime. No other than Joe Lieberman, Neo Con zionist who's efforts have been to steer America to act on behalf of Israel's interests rather than the other way around, now John Mc Cain's advisor, was the coauthor of the Act for Crusade against Iran.


Hossein Derakhshan raises some pertinent, timely and debatable thoughts we really hadn't thought about in his commentary on film 'Persepolis'.

Have heard (via Pacifica radio) several engaging, clever, funny and seemingly ingenuous interviews with the creator-writer-director of 'Persepolis', Marjane Satrapi.

She asserts (winsomely) she is fundamentally more interested in universal artistic and humanistic aspects of her work than political ramifications. It's conceivable she has not thought about film's possibly underlying 'propagandist' aspects from Derakhsan's perspective.

Since Satrapi seems practical-minded enough to grasp the potential PR advantages from greater public recognition of her still-in-release film, she might be amenable to providing WaPo with a response or rumination on Derakhsan's comments; why not ask her to do so?


Hossein Derakhshan's commentary on 'Persepolis' raises highly pertinent, debatable and timely perspective of possibly inadvertent (and possibly counter-productive) 'propagandist' undertones in this artistic work.

Have heard (via Pacifica Radio) several engaging, clever, funny and seemingly ingenuous interviews by creator-writer-director Marjane Satrapi - who asserts she is fundamentally more interested in universal artistic and humanistic concerns than in any political ramifications of her work.

Would be interested to read of her response to or ruminations on Derakhshan's take on her film.

Since Satrapi appears practical-minded enough to grasp the potential PR value of greater public recognition of her still-in-release film, would think she might be amenable to providing such a response to WaPo. Why not ask her to do so?


Oh, what a load of nonsense.

Persepolis is a story of Iran, not the story of Iran. Attacking the former because it is not the latter says more about the lens through which Mr. Derakhsan viewed the story than it does about the story itself.

Many stories only tell only one side of a tale. That is not the fault of the story; it's just the perspective of the story teller. A person gains insight after collecting and analyzing an amalgam of perspectives--unless the person is lazy, and expects the story teller to do all the work for them in the form of a complete, balanced, and likely uninteresting story.

Bill Tetzeli:

"Where in Europe or North America can the son of a blacksmith suddenly ascend to presidency out of nowhere and unhesitatingly start holding the rich and the powerful accountable?"

Does the son of a Kenyan goatherd count? Unlike Ahmadinejad, he'll actually have some real power, not just be the mullahs' sock puppet.

Bill Tetzeli:

Derakhshan - Why aren't you blogging out of Teheran instead of Toronto? Does Canada offer you freedoms that Iran doesn't? Surely you and your blog would be welcome in the "fairly representative, fragmented and diverse" political system of your home country!

Your own address speaks volumes that undercut every word you write. Also, I wonder if your perspective would be somewhat different as a woman in Iran.

Adam Wasserman:

What an interesting article! I saw the movie last year when I was visiting friends in France and enjoyed it very much. I thought it was very moving, especially her relationship with her grandmother. I also found her initial impressions of Europeans very interesting. From an artistic point of view, the style in which the story is told - the way the people are drawn - is extremely evocative. I only had praise for the film.

That having been said, I never took it as a political film, nor did I suspect it had propaganda value. I had enough background information to know that to some degree or other, this story represented the real and very personal impressions of a human being. As you mention, I myself didn't feel she was the "typical" Iranian at the time of the revolution; she must have come from a somewhat more privileged family. But that didn't detract from what I saw as a personal story and the skillful way it was brought to life.

Nor is my impression of Iran a negative one. Politically I don't approve of totalitarian regimes (and I would classify the theocracy as such a regime, since it tries to affect every aspect of its citizens' lives) although black-and-white descriptions don't always fit. Its form is quite republican in the classical sense. Of course, I am an outsider and have never been there, so I can only judge based on the propaganda slung about in western media and films such as this one. At any rate, I don't feel its my business.

I saw another film directed by an Iranian filmmaker that gave quite an interesting insight into Iranian society. I can't recall the name, but it was about a girl who wanted to attend a football match, snuck in, and got caught. I thought it was a very human story and it depicted a softness in the hardline dogma that made the people and the society seem more human. Perhaps it sounds ridiculous, but after a while you have to seek confirmation of such facts, especially when you are subject to a media that paints the enemies of its masters as evil drones.

Anyway, I would be shocked and saddened if Persepolis was intended to play a part in the run-up to a western invasion of Iran. Saddened in myself, perhaps, because I didn't perceive it, but also saddened that the west would once again have engaged in aggressive warfare under the feel-good dissimulation of would-be freedom fighters. I feel, unfortunately, that the last is inevitable. It's only a matter of time. As soon as the situation in Iraq stabilizes (if it ever does), the Iranians are next.

In the nineteenth century, when westerners did horrible things in Africa, they made themselves feel better about it by inventing the notion of "white man's burden"; they were making the barbarians civilized, they told themselves (the ones who required such nonsense) when all they were really after were the natural resources. Now it's a different century and we are freedom fighters. It's still the natural resources we want though. Some things will never change, at least not in the "civilized" west.


As long as Ahmed Batebi is in jail, it's ridiculoous to claim that this regime is "relaxed" and repression "doesn't exist anymore."


Richard, so David (Iran) picked the fight against Goliath (USA). Where have you been the last 55 years? We (the US) have been meddling in Iranian affairs for the past 55 years, since the CIA/MI6 overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran in 1953. We then wholeheartidly supported the Shah, a dictator and were surprise when he was overthrown in a popular revolt. We then tacitly supported Iraq in it's war against Iran, in which chemical weapons were used on Iran (by Iraq) and an Iranian civilian Airbus was shot down (by US). And since then we have constantly prodded them, via the Axis of Evil and have avoided even talking with them. So while there are certainly many issues with the Iranian government, how is it that they are starting hostilities with us? It's not like they invaded Mexico under false pretenses and have 150,000 troops, tanks, aircraft and a navy on our border. Sure Iran is a threat, but I believe people such as yourself are a bigger threat to world peace. And last time I checked the power hungry mullah (George Bush) made a serious power grab in the name of Iraq, previously the world's most dangerous nation and threat to world peace.


Sorry, but I visited Iran three times in the last five years, and each and every time I saw and spoke with the "average" guy - taxi drivers, shop keepers, teachers - they all longed for the days of the Monarchy. That's how much they hate their current government.

At least with the Shah, he actually LOVED his country. He didn't try to sell it to Arab interests like the current regime is doing.

In their opinion, it was the last time when Iran had prestige, respect, and various social and political freedoms that they just do not see today. The biggest mistake, in their eyes, was the Islamic revolution.

Furthermore, the current Iranian Government does not represent the Iranian people, who are NOT traditionally Arabs or Muslims. How could they, when the majority of the members of Government are made up of Lebanese and Syrian Arabs?

Why is the Iranian government sending funding and engineers to rebuild roads in Lebanon, when Tehran itself has potholes big enough to swallow SUVs?

The people of Iran do not want a Theocracy, and they most certainly don't want an oppressive regime telling them what they can wear and whether or not they can hold hands with their lovers.

PLEASE, don't try to tell us that the current Iranian population loves their Government, unless you've only been speaking with the Mullahs.

Olive Oil:

Mr.Hossein Derakhshan falls victim to his own dialectic by assuming the following:(Where in Europe or North America can the son of a blacksmith suddenly ascend to presidency out of nowhere and unhesitatingly start holding the rich and the powerful accountable?)
In fact, he is buying and promoting the current regime's propaganda line.
The fact remains that this regime is as corrupt (if not more) that the previous one. This son of a blacksmith is just a show puppet with no soul and certainly no power.
Messrs. Bush and Sarkozi may have (and certainly propagate) a lopsided view of Iran, but yours, sir, is simply naive. Ms. Satrapi is positing the view of an iranian woman that has been the object of oppression from her male counterpart throughout the history of the people, but even more so under the overtly misogynous Islamic rule.


"...and this flexibility and pragmatism is mainly why [the Iranian regime] it has managed to survive for almost 30 years now."

Really? Is that a fact. No regime could have survived for such a period of time absent internal flexibility? Shall we enumerate the tyrannies that have lasted considerably longer than 30 years and showed not the slightest sign of flexibility? Begin with East Germany; move to Romania; onward to North Korea...

I wouldn't know where to begin in destroying your house of sand. Everything you allege is, to say the least, debatable. You're a propagandist for your point of view as much as Ms. Satrapi is for her own point of view. The difference is she is an artist and you are not. You're merely an apologist with a keyboard and an internet connection. Her power exceeds yours. Be jealous.

Richard F. Kessler:

Iran aspires to establish a "Shiite crescent" in the Middle East under its hegemony. The dream of conquering the Middle East under Persian control has a long history. To achieve this goal, Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Geopolitically, Iran has no neighbors which threaten its security.

Iran is a threat to Amereica's national interest because Iran has deliberately chosen to threaten vital American interests in the Middle East. Where American affairs are concerned, oil dependency is a geopolitical necessity for survival which Iran has decided to challenge. The so-called goodness or badness with indigienous Iranians is completely irrelevant. A discussion of the virtue of Iranians is a consequence of having a fabulist in the White House conducting foreign policy.

The Third World may well see this as the struggle between David and Goliath. However, in this case, it is David who has picked the fight. There is no reason for the United States to sacrifice the good people of the United States to further the agenda of Iran's power hungry mullahs.


I am not an expert on Iran. never been there. But I do know Iranians in America and did I did have the opportunity to personally meet Marjane Satrapi in McLean Virginia on April 2nd.

I blogged this meeting:

First, when I saw the movie and read the book, I did not get the impression that she saw the current rulers as part of "an evil state", the same way that Bush sees them. She is against certain aspects of the government policy, but not against the government per se. The audience of 400 or so that was there seemed to agree. A person who I know who is from Iran and visited the country this past summer told me that she did encounter some policing of dress, but overall people lived a normal life.

My own sense is that if Mr. Derakhshan actually sat down and talked to Ms. Satrapi, they would find more in common than what was stated in the above post.

As a Jewish American, I have an interest in what happens in Iran in the near future, especially in regard to its Israel-Palestine policy. I believe that the people of both countries share common history and values. My hope is that reconciliation is the direction both nations take (as well as reconciliation between the US and Iran). I think all 3 - myself, Ms. Satrapi, and Mr. Derakkhshan would agree on this.

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