I can only imagine that Jafar Panahi's ordeal in prison would be
intensified if and when he learns that his cause is being exploited by American
right wingers in an attempt to malign "liberal" Hollywood.
In an item entitled "Tale of Two
Directors Part One: Hollywood Supports Child Rapist, Ignores Imprisoned Iranian
Filmmaker Jafar Panahi" on Andrew Breitbart's "Big Hollywood"
website, blogger John T. Simpson compares "A list Hollywood's" immediate
support for Roman Polanski when he was detained by the Swiss pending
extradition to the US on a 1977 charge of statutory rape to their seeming
indifference to the plight of Panahi, imprisoned in Tehran since March 1.
"Somehow that keen leftist Hollywood sense of
moral outrage regarding the mistreatment of renowned film directors is
Well, not entirely. As Powers points out later:
"Fortunately, many prominent voices in film around the world are
speaking out loudly on Mr. Panahi's behalf, even a few in Hollywood. Veteran actor Brian Cox, to his great
credit, has not only signed onto a petition
demanding Mr. Panahi's release, he even added an eloquent statement and the
prestige of his C.B.E on Mr. Panahi's behalf. American filmmakers William Farley, Rob Nilsson, Tristam Powell, film
Oh, and then there are the National, Boston,
and other critics groups, which he neglects to mention.
But let's face it, he has a point. There should be much more of
an outcry from the film industry, and I'm disappointed and dismayed that there
is not. And if Simpson's article results in more attention and more protests to
Panahi's situation, all the better.
But I doubt if the reason for Hollywood's relative silence has much to do
with left wing politics or support for pedophilia, as Simpson suggests. It
probably has more to do with the bottom line, money: Hollywood stands to lose a lot more money if
Polanski goes down than if Panahi does. Also, Polanski's predicament is a lot
closer to home than that of Panahi. Wherever you stand on merits of Polanski's
case, pro or con, it is a case of American justice, and Americans should be
interested and express their opinions. It's part of our democratic system, for which we are all responsible.
Meanwhile, one area from which any outcry for justice for Panahi
has truly been non-existent has been the right wing. Where are the petitions
and statements of protest from Republicans, Tea Partiers, conservative
religious groups, and the like? I'm not
aware of any, and I've been following this ongoing tragedy closely. Nothing, that
is, until Simpson and other right-wing websites deemed this a good opportunity
to take bogus potshots at "liberal Hollywood."
I wonder also whether Simpson has even seen any of Panahi's
films. They are dramatizations of injustices committed by the powerful against
women, the poor, and the helpless. If they had been American movies set in
American society, I suspect that rightwing critics would be the first to
denounce them as propaganda from the "leftist Hollywood