New Right Wing cause celebre: Jafar Panahi

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 curiously nonexistent."

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 critic Jonathan Rosenbaum..."

Oh, and then there are the National, Boston, L.A, Toronto 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 establishment."

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