Monday, October 19, 2009


I got back a little while ago from Santa Barbara and have not had the time to put into a piece about Obama being a wimp on the public option.

While up there, my friend and co-writer Rinde on our honor killing script, had me watch
Persepolis, an animated feature by Marjane Satrapi, based on her graphic novel, and Vincent Parannoud that was nominated for a 2008 Academy Award for best Animated Feature. The English version stars the voices of Gena Rowlands, Sean Penn and Iggy Pop.

The story is based on Ms. Satrapi’s life beginning with her childhood in Iran before the fall of the Shah and how the changing Iran affected her life and the lives of those around her. It is funny, and sad and enlightening.

Neo-cons and other idiots, like John Bolton, would have us go to war with Iran because of the religious regime and the nuclear power/bomb controversy, Persepolis allows one to identify with people in Iran, through the story of Marji. Her ups and downs and fears, doubts and confusion mirror our own. But what Marji survives, we in America could never comprehend because we have not been controlled by a ruthless dictator, nor have we had a strict religious government control every aspect of our society and our country—yet (give the tea baggers another four-five years)—and we have never been at war and had our family members killed by the authorities simply for their beliefs.

As told from the perspective of little Marji, beginning as a little girl and growing into adulthood in Teheran and abroad in Austria, it is very charming and endearing, especially as the more serious themes of the film are presented.

Normally Americans seem to have problems enough with French culture by itself. However, Persepolis adds another culture to the mix and makes the world thrice smaller. The humor is universal and transcends any cultural barriers real or perceived to the individual viewer.

The visual style is minimalist but powerful. The animation is constantly clever and inventive.

The world becomes smaller and the people in countries we are told are our enemies become our friend through popular cultural endeavors like Persepolis. As the east and west come together through conflict and tension in many circles, a film like Perspolis can make the fear go away.

We in America need as many Persepolises as possible—especially when it comes to people in Muslim countries—especially right now. We need to know that people are people.