Jun 25 2009

Jacko’s Death Heralds End of Iranian Opposition?

Dramatization of a conversation I’m likely to hear on my way to work in the morning: “I vaguely remember something in the news, something about a lady in a Persian rug store who got shot. I don’t know. But Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett died on the same day? I better catch Larry King interviewing their friends and family members. Let’s see, if I don’t see it tonight, I can probably catch the show tomorrow, or Saturday morning, or later that weekend, or any day next week…”

Not to take anything away from those who mourn the Prince of Pop and that lovely woman who acted in the original Charlie’s Angels TV series, but you’ve really got to feel bad for the Iranian opposition. The news cycle of celebrity-obsessed North American media will ensure that the next seven days are filled with stories about Michael Jackson’s musical talent and enjoyment of sleepovers with young boys and Ms. Fawcett’s courageous battle with cancer (with some choice stills of her early TV appearances thrown in for good measure).

Iran’s brave protesters will not be entirely ignored, but neither will their wounded and fallen get the attention that they very much deserve. Instead, news consumers will be fed a steady diet of celebrity news that we don’t particularly want, but which major media outlets think we need.

Until now, the opposition may have been buoyed by the robust support across the globe for their drive to bring real democratic change to Iran. The protesters certainly haven’t been getting any support from the censored and browbeaten (or just plain beaten) media in their own country (Reporters Without Borders calls Iran the world’s biggest prison for journalists). How disappointed and demoralized they’ll feel when the world’s attention shifts to eulogizing a famously talented man who couldn’t stop grabbing his crotch.

The mullahs in Iran must be loving it. Our evening’s broadcasts were clear proof that the decadent Westerners have the attention span of children. We decry political tyrants, but we knowingly accept and immerse ourselves in silly cults of personality so long as the icons are celebrities.

I hope I’m wrong. Canada and our allies have a huge stake in the Middle East. Right next door in Afghanistan, we’re helping an embattled new democracy remain on an upward path in the face of unrelenting violence by religious fundamentalists. Americans of course have an immense stake in the progress of democracy in Iraq, also right next door. Now we see a very rare glimmer of democratic change in Iran, which is under attack from more unrelenting violence from a similar breed of religious fundamentalists. It’s essential for responsible media broadcasters to keep our eyes on the news stories that continue to matter this week.

For the Tweeting Crowd
Some local Vancouver Tweeps who have noticed this disappointing trend:
FarFromSubtle Phew, I’m so glad Michael fixed that whole Iran thing before he died.
TeddysTogs Have you noticed with all of the celebrity deaths today—no Iran in the news?
BrandiCowen @accessd Priorities are screwed up. (Ex. Roommate’s friend came over crying about MJ, needed detailed explanation of situation in Iran. )
amiressy I didn’t give a fuck about MJ when he was alive and I sure don’t give a fuck now.There is a revolution going on in #iran people.FUCKIN HELL.

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3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Jacko’s Death Heralds End of Iranian Opposition?”

  1. Aldrichon 25 Jun 2009 at 11:01 pm

    Do Iranian freedom fighters know of the death? Theirs and Michael’s?

  2. Skinny Dipperon 26 Jun 2009 at 2:14 am

    Unfortunately, I think you are right about the deaths of Jackson and Fawcett taking over the Iran crisis in the media.

  3. Earnest Canuckon 26 Jun 2009 at 2:31 am

    Interesting — and doubtlessly necessary — linkage of topics here, Jon. Or shall I call you Jon-O, since with your piebald rival dead, you’re now indisputably the King of Pop??

    Couple points. Theocrats and anti-Western fundamentalists can always make use of guys like Jackson, and/or Madonna, or/and Tom Cruise to argue the futility and degeneracy of free societies — look at what freakish celebrities *do* with their unfettered individualism, a Tehrani mullah might point out; you want this for Iran? And Joe Persia might feel compelled to say, well, obviously not.

    But rich and powerful people everywhere engage in lunatic and self-indulgent behaviour, ya know; it’s just that in authoritarian societies they do so undetected. In the free Iran that is coming, tabloid reports on the unsavoury proclivities of religious chieftains and public officials will be *de rigeur*; and if the private lives of Arafat, Gadhafi and Saddam’s sons are any guide, Iran’s doomed strongmen will prove out three times wackier than any splotchy pop-star pederast.

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