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The disingenuousness of Jafar Panahi’s right-wing advocates.

The disingenuousness of Jafar Panahi’s right-wing advocates. (photo)

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It is very, very good news that Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi is out of jail, and equally good news that Godfrey Cheshire (who knows way more about Iranian cinema than almost anyone) has weighed in on the matter at Salon.

The most heartening part of his piece? A quote from Jamsheed Akrami, a film professor in contact with Panahi and family, who thinks the Iranian regime might be so embarrassed he “wouldn’t be surprised if there is no trial at all.” Of course, many Iranians are in jail without the advantage of being globally famous. But it’s something.

The taking up of Panahi’s cause by the right wing entertainment site Big Hollywood was unlikely but welcome, a rare case of a website that doesn’t hesitate to basically label everyone “leftist propaganda” doing something constructive. But they’re doing it for the wrong reasons. And now that Panahi’s free, this is a good time to talk about it.

Everyone’s aware that lately Islam is more of a hot-button issue than usual. Through no fault of his own, Panahi became the prototype of Brave Filmmaker Standing Up To Dangerous Islamic Regime — which is true, but so reductive it doesn’t even begin to address the real issues at stake here.

05252010_sex.jpgI have no idea what Panahi’s religious views (if any) are, but I suspect they don’t include, say, thinking you can make a courageous intellectual stance by participating in “Draw Muhammed Day.” But in the Big Hollywood universe, it’s the same thing. One day you’re standing up to the terrorists by going on hunger strike, the next you’re shooting off your mouth about the evils of Islam and posting JPEGs.

Here’s the problem: we need people to stand up and make a ruckus when this kind of thing happens (although the fact that this is, post-USSR, once more a “kind of thing” is deeply saddening), no matter where they’re coming from. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that Jafar Panahi isn’t a symbol — he’s a director from a country whose best and brightest are regularly refused entry into the US because Homeland Security seemingly has no clue who they are, or how to tell one Iranian from another. And I’m dead certain that these same conservative advocates would approve.

Just keep that in mind: many of these people agitated about Panahi could care less about him as a director or person or representative of a larger film culture. And with that mentality, one day you wake up and feel it necessary to endorse “Sex and the City 2” for criticizing Islam.

[Photos: Jafar Panahi via Wikipedia commons, Magnus Manske/Martin H., 2007; “Sex and the City 2,” Warner Bros., 2010]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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