فرهنگ : The Increasingly Globalized Pop Culture of the Islamic Republic

By Connor J. Wangler
Source: www.cultureofiran.com
Source: http://www.cultureofiran.com

As much as the clerics would like to protest, the culture of Iran has been globalizing at an increasingly fast rate over the past few years. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979 the theocrats tried to put a cap on western influence on Iranian culture by banning many forms of “Western” culture. One example of this was the government’s ban of pop music as it was a symbol of the Shah’s regime and, therefore, considered un-Islamic and un-Iranian. This ban sent a flood of Iranian musicians and singers to the West where they could continue to produce their art. However, despite the government’s efforts, this new LA-style Iranian pop music continued to thrive in Iranian society, including a strong “underground” of illegal audio cassettes. In the mid-1990s, however, there was a resurgence of domestically produced pop, even surpassing the LA-style pop in popularity. Unfortunately, this success was brief; given that domestically produced pop was still censored by the government, it began lose its originality. Due to this, the LA-style pop has regained its status as the preferred form of pop in Iran with domestic musicians attempting to imitate its form. According to the Iran Chamber Society, fortunately for Iranian musicians, the LA-style has received inspiration from its Iranian-based counterpart and has changed alongside it to reflect this interaction.

One example of this exchange of style can be seen in Iranian singer Sirvan Khosravi. Often seen as one of the pre-eminent musicians in Iran, Khosravi has produced several original pieces and has also covered songs of Western bands, such as The Beatles and The Police. After the release of his original song “Hour 9,” he became the first artist from Iran who sees high-rotation airplay on regular radio stations throughout Europe. According to the Tehran Times, Khosravi worked on a remix of Enrique Iglesias’ “Stay Here Tonight” that became widely popular throughout Iran and Europe.

Source: Memento Films
Source: Memento Films
 The Iranian film industry has also seen heavy influence from the effects of globalization. Iran will be returning to the Academy Awards for “The Past” in the Best Foreign Language Film category. This represents an interesting dynamic in Iranian cinema. The international award-winning films, such as “The Past,” known by the West are very different from domestically oriented films. Films created for the domestic Iranian audience focus on two categories: films about the Islamic Revolution and soon-after Iran-Iraq war or are commercialized crowd-pleasers in the comedy and melodrama genres. Both of these styles of film in Iran are popular to Iranians and both see the influence of Western films, which are still seen throughout Iran through illegally pirated DVDs. According to Al Jazeera, however, Iran is seeing a “brain-drain” within its film industry. Given the government’s heavy-handed censorship of cultural products, many filmmakers do not stay in Iran out of artistic frustration. This transfer of culture brings Iranian style to the rest of the world and, through filmmaker’s links to Iran, continue to bring the Western style of cinema back to Iran.
Even the way Iranians spend their free time shows strong influence from the rest of the world. Due to the efforts of the Shah’s regime to “westernize” Iran in the 1960s, many traditionally European aspects exist in Iranian society. Tea time has been especially popular among Iranians, where both rich and poor can enjoy a nice cup of tea. Iranians even prefer to hold a cube of sugar between their teeth while sipping on their tea. Iranians enjoy many natural beauties that are available for families and individuals to enjoy and explore. Shopping, while limited due to economic sanctions, is popular in the many Bazaars throughout the country. Iranians also enjoy many historical centers and museums that celebrate Iran’s long and complex history. Mountainous regions in Northern Iran are also especially popular for skiing, attracting many Western tourists (Source: http://www.travelandleisure.com).
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One thought on “فرهنگ : The Increasingly Globalized Pop Culture of the Islamic Republic

  1. I really enjoyed how you talked about the country’s pop culture in terms of how globalization has affected it. It is strange to think about how broad globalization’s effects are. I found that incredibly interesting. Your blog was also really well written which made it easy to read as well as enticing.

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