“Jersey Shore” Targets Iranians: Reaction and Concern – Continue
Should Iranian Americans Be Seen and Heard?
The Ongoing Struggle of Image within our Community
By PAAIA Editorial Staff
Let’s be honest, while the Iranian American community is one that is proud of its heritage and culture, it is also one fractured by divisions as to what it even means to be Iranian American. As if this internal puzzle isn’t enough of a brainteaser, our community has had to simultaneously fend off the negative stereotype that Iranians are fanatical, Muslim fundamentalists and terrorists. Well folks, this debate over our image is about to get even more interesting with the recent announcement by 495 Productions that they are casting “proud Persian Americans who rule the Hollywood nightlife and own Beverly Hills” for a “Persian Version” of the popular MTV reality show, Jersey Shore.
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“Jersey Shore” Targets Iranians: Reaction and Concern
By Nakkisa Akhavan and Mehrdad Bokhour
A press release has recently surfaced stating that a “Jersey Shore” like reality show, produced by the same production company, Doron Ofir Casting, is in the works casting Iranian-Americans for “The Persian Version.” While this may at first seem humorous and innocent, in reality this may produce some unintended consequences. This community has been working to alleviate stigmas against it since at least the 1980s, and to allow such a television show to make as big a splash as Jersey Shore did would be a huge step backward.
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“Jersey Shore” Targets Iranians: Reaction and Concern – The Community Writes Back!
The Persian Version Perversion(Tehran Bureau)
By: Arash K.
By: Bijan E.
To the PAAIA Editorial Staff –
First let me thank you for your efforts in promoting and supporting the Iranian American community. As pointed out in your article, there is a great stereotype that Iranian Americans continue to face and as you point out, there is a large “gap” in American society as to the education of Iranian culture, history and values that would go a long way in bridging this gap. While I could write extensively about my opinion of this topic alone, I will focus on the topic as addressed in the latest newsletter.
Strangely, an American friend of mine is the one who first notified me of the show. I tend to look at these situations with a sense of humor and think it is best we all try to do so as well. I do not believe American society, even those who actually watch the show, will then assume anyone in the US who has Iranian heritage will act the same way.
However, I do agree as Iranian Americans we do have a greater challenge in regards to perception. Whether these perceptions are based on comments from members within the regime, flashbacks to the hostage crisis or inaccurate assumptions that all in the middle east carry the same beliefs and ideologies, Iranian Americans are inaccurately portrayed on many occasions. As the newsletter points, the news media contributes to this as it is the sole source of knowledge regarding Iran for the vast majority of Americans. In my opinion, the responsibility for addressing and challenging these misconceptions lies at an individual level. While organizations such as PAAIA are important in our efforts, communications have a limited audience. It is up to the Iranian community as a whole to make more outreach and inclusion efforts so that Americans can see what a kind, generous and loyal people Iranians are.
While the show may eliminate some stereotypes such as all Iranians are religious fanatics (I’m sure the cast will be void of religiously pure individuals), I do not believe it will reach a large enough audience to have any notable level of impact on perceptions in the US as a whole. So in the end, to me, it is just entertainment and our hopes of “transforming” a widespread view of Iranian Americans should not be left to a group of 20 something partiers who are being placed on tv.
With deepest regards and appreciation for your efforts.
Views on the Jersey Shore article
By: Saber Z.
I wanted to express my views on the idea that there might be a possible Persian version of the “Jersey Shore”. In my opinion any type of commercial is good commercial. This show will shed light on a community that outside of L.A. not many people know about. Most people will watch the show for the entertainment factor. I think that a minority of the people will watch the show to dissect and analyze our community. If the people who want to form an opinion on Iranian-
Americans through this show are smart they will know that this is not a representative sample size. They should know that this will be a group that was chosen to enhance the entertainment aspect of the show.
They should know that the show is about ratings and that it is not a documentary on the history and migration of Iranian-Americans to the U.S.A.. I respect the opinion of those who oppose the show because of what they suspect will be a negative portrayal of a community so in need of a positive showing. I truly believe the strength of a community can’t be damaged based on one show. If anything, this show will attract more people to our community to either find out if we are
comparable to that which is shown on the show or if we are different.
Ignorant people are always going to be ignorant so we can’t be worried about the viewpoint of people who regardless of the show are biased towards us anyways. We need to be strong as a community and embrace this show. We obviously will condemn the extremely unacceptable behavior but otherwise will laugh with the rest and be positive.
Persian ‘Jersey Shore’: Bad timing, in poor taste
By: Dana F. DGF, bafoonery-corporation
Last week, Doron Ofir Casting, the company that, along with 495 Productions, blessed us with MTV’s hugely popular Jersey Shore, announced on its website it was seeking Los Angeles-based Persian-Americans for a new show, tentatively called The Persian Version, according to Entertainment Weekly.
An excerpt from the Doron Ofir Casting website reads as follows:
“You’ve got the means, the money, and the motivation to cut through the velvet rope and rule the VIP! For you life is all about Gucci, Gabbana, Cavalli and Cristal. From BMWs and Bugatis, to Mercedes and Movado and money is no object. You live a lifestyle most people only dream of. In your world, nothing is out of reach… Time to show the world that being Persian-American is about living the true American dream…”
The original Jersey Shore follows the “romantic” conquests and drunken exploits of a group of young men and women living together at a summerhouse along the New Jersey shore. In terms of ratings, the show is king, but has been panned for its negative stereotyping of Italian-Americans as inarticulate boozehounds, concerned only with where and when the next party will be held.
In an industry as fickle as Entertainment, trends go hot and cold in a blink. Whether The Persian Version actually makes its way to the screen is uncertain. What is certain is if it will be anything like the Jersey Shore, it is likely to be embarrassing and cringe-worthy as it chronicles the stereotypic frivolity of club-hopping, Gucci-wearing, young Persians.
This does not sit well. At least not now. Not when thousands of miles away in Iran, another group of young Persians are in a fight for their lives against a brutal regime that has stifled their right to democracy.
Since the questionable re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009, the Iranian government has come under heavy scrutiny for its disproportionate treatment, imprisonment, and execution of demonstrators as a means of crushing pro-democracy uprisings. Demonstrators like 20-year-old Mohammad Amin Valian – who, according to an opposition website had only admitted to throwing stones in a December rally, but is now reportedly awaiting execution for the crime of moharebeh (defiance of God and state).
His death sentence is one of several already handed down to protesters and is indicative of the current climate of extreme fear and repression that has swept Iran. It should also serve as a tragic reminder that while there is a time for trifling, now is not it.
It also begs the question, what if there was a show about these Persians, the ones in Iran? A show portraying their trials, triumphs, and hopes for a democratic future?
In recent history, Persians have been at a disadvantage in terms of how they have been represented to the world at large. Since the late 1970s, thanks in part to the actions of the Iranian government, many Persians have felt unfairly stereotyped as “radicals”. With this type of show on the docket, Persians will have yet a new stereotype to battle.
Why build one more barrier only to have to overcome it?
Like all ethnic groups, there is great variance among Persians. There are those who were born in the US. And there are those born in Iran, who for one reason or another, made their way to America. Some are wealthy. Many are not. Some have easily adapted to life outside of Iran. Many have had to climb tremendous hurdles to assimilate. Some enjoy the luxurious lifestyle while others work endless hours so someday the “American Dream” can be within their reach.
Rather than stereotype a diverse and varied people, perhaps now is time to show the world the Persian culture is a rich, intricate tapestry that cannot be pigeonholed. And in the meanwhile, show our friends in Iran that with each rock and stone they throw, we know why they fight and what they sacrifice.
Maybe then, as a display of gratitude, we should tell their stories… Not our own.
HERE it is good, THERE it is bad
Here in U.S., the contrast will be good as it shows somewhat the opposite of what is shown on news or in the news as the two are opposite ends of the spectrum of what an Iranian is. However THERE (in Iran), it will be negatively used telling folks look how they are over there and that is not good.