Hollywood has once again launched a movie that carries overt anti-Iranian messages:

Hollywood film The Wrestler ‘insults Iran’

The “Wrestler” stars Mickey Rourke  (left) standing next to Darren Aronofsky (right) who directed the picture.

The Daily Telegraph article cited above states:

Iran has again accused Hollywood of “anti-Iranian” sentiment, this time due to scenes in The Wrestler, a Golden Globe-nominated drama … The country’s media has reportedly condemned the film in part because of a fight sequence in which Rourke’s character, Randy ‘the Ram’ Robinson, battles an opponent dubbed the Ayatollah…During the fight, the Ayatollah, played by actor and former professional wrestler Ernest “the Cat” Miller, waves an Iranian flag before ramming the pole under his opponent’s neck. Rourke’s character then grabs the flag and snaps the pole over his knee before tossing it into the crowd.

There has been a string of movies with somewhat overt anti-Iranian messages. The Alexander movie (starring Colin Farrell) provided an essentially Orientalist image of Iranians, with a selective and distorted view of history and the Iranian people of antiquity. Farrokh provided an analysis of the Alexander movie.


The Alexander movie gave a number of false portrayals such as Alexander having been a fair-skinned blonde haired warrior. The Pompei mosaic which is probably the closest portrayal of what Alexander the Great would have appeared like in his lifetime contradicts the “Nordic” image that Hollywood often projects of the conqueror.

The 300 movie went further by portraying “The Persians” as subhuman fanged ogre-like creatures of “evil” with king Xerxes as a scantily-dressed gigantic “evil” despot. Farrokh wrote an article on the historical accuracy of the 300 movie.


A Hollywood image of ancient Iranians. Interestingly the 300 movie singularly portrayed the diverse Iranians as Black Africans and equated that image with “evil”. This portrayal could be interpreted as racist.  

More examples may be cited however it is clear that “Iran-bashing” is very much in vogue at this time. It was only recently in July and August 2008 when the Spiegel Magazine and the Daily Telegraph launched their attacks on ancient Iranian history and the Iranian people:

By: Matthias Schulz  (Date: July15, 2008)
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,566027,00.html (English)

Ancient Human Bill of Rights “Just Propaganda”
By: Harry de Quetteville (Date: July 21, 2008)

The Daily Telegraph and Der Spiegel articles attempted to rewrite history by stating that all benevolent classical references to Cyrus the Great are false and that all positive references to the ancient king are simply a product of the “imperial propaganda of the Shah” in the 1970s.  Farrokh responded to Der Spiegel and provided a retort against the Daily Telegraph article.

Other examples of anti-Iranian messages may be found in “Not Without my Daughter” starring Sally Field:


The “Not Without my Daughter” movie, based on a “True Story” provides a series of inaccurate (if not racist) portrayals of Iranians. What is less known is that the main character of the movie, Ms. Betty Mahmoudy, was larger in stature than her husband. In addition, Ms. Mahmoudy had had serious problems in her first marriage prior to marrying Dr. Mahmoudy. These details were conveniently omitted from the picture.  

Hollywood action star Check Norris has also made racist comments in his 1980s movie, the “Hitman“:


In one of the scenes of the movie “The Hitman”, Chuck Norris openly disparages Iranians and their cuisine.  Norris also rejected many Iranian extras to star in his movie because they “looked too Caucasian”.

Popular entertainment personalities such as radio host Howard Stern are on record as having stated “Kill all Iranians, Kill them“.


Howard Stern has made racist statements against Iranians in public

It may be no exaggeration to state that Iranians are the most vilified and negatively portrayed people in the western media today. The majority of North Americans and an increasing number of Europeans hold very irrational and inaccurate views of Iranians. The very word “Iran” evokes a knee-jerk reaction among most North Americans. “Iran” is now associated with abstractions such as “evil“, “terrorist“, or “fundamentalist“.

It is not clear why the Iranian people, their identity, culture, history are being negatively targeted by major media outlets and Hollywood. Perhaps the reasons are politically motivated as Iranians are clearly becoming propaganda targets in the name of wholesome entertainment. In a sense this is a clear violation of the human right of Iranians to have their dignity respected, a right bestowed to all nations, peoples, creeds and religions.

My best Regards

Kaveh Farrokh