Hollywood and misrepresentation of cultures

by choghok

The movie plot is similar to his old comedies like liar liar where the main character has to improve himself by changing his attitude. So in this movie he instead of rejecting all the opportunities he starts to embrace them by saying yes. One of the opportunities is a spam he  is constantly getting from persianwomendating.com (or something similar). When he accepts it then is set up on a date with a strange looking woman in unusual scarf even for Hizbollahis with a slightly arabic accent.

Now I know that in US you could probably find scarfed iranian women unlike in Europe (except some crazy Mojahedin followers), but still I would have thought that in USA (and especially in California) the vast majority of Iranian women are liberated and so how does it come that the screen writer would describe the Iranian women as such? Hollywood is from being very Anglo-Saxon and Jewish. So any other culture is like unknown and at its best faulty described.

In a movie like the insider I remember the Al Pacino character would talk english to a translater who talked Persian to a 3d guy who answered arabic back and translater would then answer back with English in arabic accent.

In Valkyrie all German characters in the movie would speak English with American accent except Adolf Hitler who would speak with a thick German accent.

There are some movies though where Hollywood has tried its best to do justice to the culture it tries to describe like A house of sand and fog. But these movies are very rare and are not what you call blockbusters.


more from choghok
anonymous fish

workless actor

by anonymous fish on

ok... of the top 10 sitcoms... tell me which ones are about jews or the majority of the actors are jewish.  of the top 10 actors and actresses... tell me which ones are jewish.

and yes, i DO live in the US. 

iranian man.  your question is confusing.  you're mixing a religion (jewish) with a nationality (german).  what sort of job are you referring to?  are you referring to a job in the movie business?  if so, why would you expect a GERMAN to get a part in an american movie over an american jew?  or in the business world?  is this german a US citizen?  sorry... you just don't make sense.

i'm not suggesting that anyone... all races, gender, creed or nationality should not do their part to educate and correct faulty impressions. 


Thanks for your comments!

by choghok on

Thank you all for your comments. I did not intended to make a political debate here. I was wondering why the intelligent script writers in California where you have a very big Iranian population would describe Iranians as such, is this part of the jokes in the movie that I did not get or is it made intentionally? The script writers in Hollywood are pretty smart and usually would not make that mistake.

Also about the Jewish comments. If you look at the history of Hollywood then as I have read it was really set up by eastern european jews. The biggest distribution companies are owned and headed by jews (WB for example). Many Hollywood stars are jews, and according to a joke all Hollywood producers are jews. Now I do not mean there is a jewish conspiracy but of course there is what Iranians call party bazi here. If you are jewish and equally or a little less talentedas as say a muslim guy then of course you are going to be picked.

Also how hollywood depict jewish history is funny,Usually european looking people are chosen to play jews and dark skinned people are chosen to play arabs, sometimes they use european looking people with a dose of shoepolish :-). The funny thing is that the Hebrews and Arabs were actually the same people and share the same gene pool. They lived virtually in the same area.


/Bidar bash ke ma bekhabim



by Iranyvaliazad on


You said, " I like Mr. Ahamednejat because he is strong willed and believes what he says" ... Ahamghinejad says not much more than what it is dictated to him and once in a while when he says something, it is so bizzar ... like, 16 year old girl producing nuclear power or fusion in her basement and there are no gays in Iran and so on.

You said, "In India no one cares about the other at all, everyone only looks to fill their own pockets and if they are ministers or high ranking officials then they can kill and no one can touch them." .. when did ISLAMIC revolution take place in India?!  My sympathy to you and your country folks. 


I agree with the fact

by Dogol (not verified) on

That even here in France people are sick of the Jewish power in politics and twisting the facts to fit for their own benefit. I am worried to have said that because I believe it is illegal here to talk in a questioning way about the Jewish power.


Hello Parsis

by Amit (not verified) on

I live in New Delhi and want to encourage you to watch Ballywood movies. The Hollywood has had the agenda to represent the Jewish lobby in the United States for a long time now. We are clear of all political agenda. Iranians probably feel closer to Indians than they do to their Western neighbors. We are the same culture and people after all.

I also want to say that I like Mr. Ahamednejat because he is strong willed and believes what he says. I wish that the Indian people would stand like Iranians. In India no one cares about the other at all, everyone only looks to fill their own pockets and if they are ministers or high ranking officials then they can kill and no one can touch them.

Kaveh Nouraee

And Here We Go Again

by Kaveh Nouraee on

It's all about the Jews.

If Jews really had all the power and the clout, then the solution is simple: Convert. The odds are much better than playing the lotto, and it's safer than taking steroids.

If Mel Gibson were indeed such a great director, for example, then the studio heads will all be begging him to direct, wouldn't they? Two of Gibson's films, Apocalypto, and The Passion of the Christ, were essentially foreign language films, something Hollywood studios typically have little if any interest in. He has only directed four films. To call him a "great director" is nonsense. That's like saying the Jonas Brothers are great musicians after one record.

As to the assertion that Hollywood is run by the Jews:

I had no idea that successful directors like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh, F. Gary Gray, Clint Eastwood, Gus Van Sant, Ron Howard, John Singleton, M. Night Shyamalan, The Farrelly Brothers, Spike Lee, and Ridley Scott are all Jewish!


Hollywood vs. Reality

by Iranyvaliazad on

I am not sure if Hollywood portrays Iranians in more negative light or if the government of Iran does it more.

I don't know, for 30 freaking years, each news broadcast from Iran shows flags of countries, particularly USA, being burnt, stepped on, used to carry garbage in ... for 30 years, every Friday, at the minimum, Iraians chant death to other countries, particularly USA and lately, each time any so called leaders of Iran open their big mouth, they talk about wipping a country off the map, slapping countries, punching them in the mouth, tens of missles flying and so on.

Again, I don't think Hollywood really needs to portray us in negative way, we are doing a good job of it already.  Anyhow, Americans love their countries as much as Iranians love theirs ... so my guess is that one way or another Americans will get even for insults, Hollywood could have been one avenue to get even.

Anyhow, what movie is choghok talking about?


RE:Anonymouse fish

by IranianMan (not verified) on

"American Jews have as much right as any other citizens of the United States to work in the motion picture business, in the entertainment industry, and in any other legitimate businesses. Moreover, it bears repeating that those Jews who involve themselves in the motion picture industry do so as individuals, not as representatives of their religious group"

I disagree with you. If you had applied in an organization and were rejected because you were not "one of them" then you would have not been so open minded and defend their "American way"! You make no sense and anti Semite stuff is getting old. two people go for the same job, one Jewish and the other German, which do you think gets it? Be honest with your answer.
But hey, in the long run you have to deal with it not I. So ask me if I care ;)


Anonymouse fish

by WorklessActor (not verified) on

That is not correct. Once you dominate an industry, you choose who enters and who exits. Do you think that it's only Jewish actors that are talented. Do you honestly believe that other races are not trying to enter as hard? How can you possibly not know this? Do you live in the US?
I watch sitcoms and almost all of them are Jews, besides once in a while they throw a few non Jewish. As if the entire US are made out of Jews.
That's not possible.
It's no accident that the major actors, directors, and the rest of the industry are Jewish. They only pass the stick to their own.
You don't have to believe me, it won't change anything anyways.

anonymous fish

however, i'm aware that nothing will change your mind. :-)

by anonymous fish on

In an essay headed "Who Says Jews Control Hollywood?" published in the February/March 1995 issue of Midstream magazine, Steven G. Kellman, a professor at the University of Texas in San Antonio, wrote: "Boosters and antisemites agree: Jews have been prominent and predominant in all phases of the [motion picture] business: production, distribution and exhibition." He noted that, at the time, "Of the 100 most powerful people in the industry according to a recent survey by Premiere, most, including the top 12, are Jewish," but observed, "Though individual Jews control Hollywood, Jewishness does not." In fact, Hollywood studios are publicly owned corporations and motion pictures are made by the efforts of individual men and women, some of whom are Jewish, many of whom are not.

While statistics and studies on the subject are not readily available, the Anti-Defamation League believes that the recitation of numbers and percentages is not the answer to the false charges of Jewish "control" of the motion picture industry, or, indeed, of similar accusations involving the media, banking, finance and other businesses. Reliance on statistics alone plays into the hands of anti-Semites. Generally, Jews involve themselves in non-religious and non-political activity as individuals, not as Jews. ADL takes the position that the number of Jews involved in a particular field bears no relationship to "Jewish power" or "Jewish control" of that industry. ADL does not accept the notion that Jews in any field act in concert with other Jews similarly situated simply because they happen to be Jewish. To believe otherwise is to accept a conspiracy theory that is the anti-Semites' stock-in-trade and relegates Jews to a kind of second-class citizenship.

In other words, American Jews have as much right as any other citizens of the United States to work in the motion picture business, in the entertainment industry, and in any other legitimate businesses. Moreover, it bears repeating that those Jews who involve themselves in the motion picture industry do so as individuals, not as representatives of their religious group or with an aim to act in some coordinated conspiratorial manner.


While Hollywood

by UK-Iranian (not verified) on

does make fun of other races and nations, which Iranians also won't have problems with, they won't demonize the Jewish or other countries (they only did that to the Soviets) as they are doing to the Iranians.

Imagine showing Jews as bunch of savages! IMPOSSIBLE.

See what happened to the great director Mel Gibson, see if he ever makes another movie!

Definitely Hollywood is more concern about the image of the Jews. Making fun is very different than demonizing. If you don't get that then wow..
Iranians would laugh along if they are made fun of, as the Jews do, as they try to portray their "being cool" about it. Yet pass the red line and they will kick your behind from sponsorship and Hollywood for good. Just like politics!

anonymous fish

well join the club people...

by anonymous fish on

because hollywood has misrepresented virtually every dialect, religion, race, and gender in the world.  naturally you take offense which is completely normal, but i hope you don't think iranians are being "picked on" anymore than southerners, blacks, jews, irish, yankees, fat people, intellectually challanged people, or mean girls.


O Hollywood!

by Kurush (not verified) on

I do not know of any other country's film industry which has done so much damage to an interesting and promising artistic medium than that of the good 'ol US of A. Growing up in Iran I watched films by Bergman (watched all of his films many times over), Fellini, Bunuel- films not made with just commercial objective in mind. That was the golden age of the European film which died an untimely death at the altars of Hollywood as the American Mcfilm has become the paradigme universally. Americans have proven to the world that one may use the movies as a means of indoctrination and have the spectators pay to be indoctrinated! The subliminally nefarious Mcfilm is so deep-seated that the propaganda antecedent to the inavasion of Iraq was modelled on the typical Hollywood Mcfilm: good-looking Americans, do-gooders that they be, slinging their guns facing down the bad guys. Did anyone suspect the transmutation of Hollywood Mcfilm into Pentagon orgy of propaganda? Jack Shaheen, in his books (Real Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Villifies a People, & Guilty: Hollywood's Verdict on Arabs After 9/11) elucidates the racist nature of Mcfilm vis-a-vis the Moslems. To liberate the film, as a purely artistic medium, from the blight of Mcfilm, one must begin with Amos Vogel's Film as a Subversive Art. I share Vogel's viewpoint that the film fulfills its artistic petential when it becomes subversive (of the Western & US cultural, historical, moral platitudes & humbugs, etc). Having said as much, I would not withhold praise for the American films which go against the grain, such as Sydney Pollack's They Shoot Horses, Don't they?

Kaveh Nouraee


by Kaveh Nouraee on

has misrepresented cultures since the time of silent films. DK brought up some excellent examples.

I don't care for the way other cultures or ethnicities are sometimes portrayed, but it bears remembering that profits come first in Hollywood, where you are only as good as your last project.


misrepresenting or demonizing...

by IRANdokht on

I agree with you Choghok that recently we've been portrayed in a more negative light in Hollywood and even in the TV series made in US. It's the same way the Russians were portrayed negatively for decades. 

I am grateful that DK brought up examples. We as a community have to be careful not to allow further damaging attempts. Not only NIAC stopped the honor killing rumor, there are Iranian actors who refuse to play the part of terrorist or the role of the person commiting honor killing (like Maz Jobrani). Some say we went overboard criticizing the movie 300, but I disagree. Any poisoning of the public mind is damaging, remaking history for the purpose of dehumanizing and demonizing a people is part of the political agenda of inticing fear and hate and should be stopped. 

Hopefully with less negative slogans, catch phrases and nicknames that GWB was so good at spreading and making popular, Hollywood's approach will change too. 


Darius Kadivar

FYI/The Hollywood History of the World byGeorge MacDonald Fraser

by Darius Kadivar on

If you are interested in films and history, I highly recommend this very knowledgable and entertaining book by George MacDonald Fraser (Author) called The Hollywood History of the World it is reedited regularly since its first publication. With many illustrations and photos too.

It has a great deal of interesting info notably regarding how Accents were distributed in Hollywood Epics like those Set in Ancient Rome or Greece. Villians often had a British Accent where as the hero or common man had an American accent so that the American viewer could identify himself to the central character like in Ben Hur or Spartacus. Although in the case of Ben Hur, I think Heston's commanding voice and accent is nearly neutral and stands up with elegance against the British accent and tones.

But this book is probably the best book I have read on the subject so far. I highly recommend it for it is enjoyeable and fun to read too.

Best, and VIVE LE CINEMA !


Darius Kadivar

Very True

by Darius Kadivar on

I agree with your assessment. Although I think that the major reason is that in a medium like movies there are so many parameters that have to be taken into account during the different phases of filming and post production that errors always appear. This is why pre production for any movie project is essential particularly for historical films. Old Hollywood was often much more accurate on such details (Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago to name just two by the Great British director David Lean or Ben Hur) than contemporary Hollywood productions particularly after the 1970's. One of the reasons was that many of the directors who made the greatest Hollywood epics and classics also came from Europe ( Hitchcock, David Lean, William Whyler, George Cukor ) and therefor  paid attention to details regarding their country's history and particularly in regard to European History in general. For example films on Napoleon like Desiree with Marlon Brando or Waterloo with Rod Steiger set during the Napoleon Era are all accurate in such details like costumes and sets or chornology of events, even if at times glossy and much better looking than maybe the original. But when it comes to Middle Eastern or other continents Asia ( except for China) in particular little attention is given to such distinctions.

But I also noticed that in TV series like JAG set in Afghanistan or at times on the Iranian or Iraqi Frontier they did a very good job in explaining the different accents or religious and cultural differences but that is probably because one of the actors Catherine Bell is half Iranian.

The more people raise these mistakes the higher the chances of convincing these directors to make that effort.

In most cases its really due to ignorance or laziness at others its just because the director is plain stupid and couldn't care less. One example that comes to my mind is the way Iranians are portrayed in True Lies the film with Schwatzenegger.

The only way to correct these recurrent mistakes or sometimes racist (intended or not) depictions is feedback and knowledge fed into the production crew. And that is why cultural events like Mehregan or Norooz are certainly one way of getting more and more people interested in our culture, language and customs.

NIAC did a good thing once by pressuring the director of The Crossing a film with Harrison Ford about illegal immigration to change part of the movies plot where it was suggested that Honor Killings were common amongst Iranians. As a result the director accepted to change the plot to make it more accurate and respectful. Not that the film was particularly accusing anyone or any community ( in this case Iranians) but they simply had no clue. But this was only possible because of the fact that the film was still in pre production.

So lets hope we can as a community work towards informing medias with more accurate and positive feedbacks on ourselves as a rich cultured , friendly and educated community. The other aspect is to also see more Iranian actors and directors work in Hollywood and in turn influence it from inside just like their European colleagues and Peers. Lets Hope so ...