Six degrees of (Iranian) separation

By Pepe Escobar – In the end, no one will remember Billy Crystal’s lame jokes, Angelina Jolie showing a tweet-exploding leg, Jennifer Lopez’ monster wardrobe malfunction, Meryl Streep faking surprise, that Macau-casino shtick by Cirque du Soleil, or the designer-enveloped collective narcissism of a bunch of millionaires, part of the cream of the 1%, exchanging gold statuettes.

In fact the best capture-the-zeitgeist line of the night was by an anonymous photographer on the red carpet; “Smokin’ hot! Over your shoulder on the left angle, Jennifer!”

The Artist may have won the 2012 Oscars for Best Movie – and French director Michel Hazanavicius at least had the grace of thanking the great Billy Wilder, three times, as his inspiring angel.

But the real breaking news here is the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for Iran’s A Separation, directed by Ashgar Farhadi. Leave it aside the academy voters’ schizophrenia. A Separation was also a nominee for best screenplay. It would never have become the masterpiece that it is without having being carefully written and composed as a Persian miniature. (For a review of the film, see Family traumas span US-Iran divide Asia Times Online, January 28, 2012.)

And Best Foreign Language Film is also as silly as Robert Downey Jr trying to do Brechtian distance; A Separation is the best movie of 2011 in any language. The Artist is a divertissement. A Separation is about all of us – how we deal, as human beings, with our six degrees of separation.

And then there was Farhadi’s acceptance speech – so un-Hollywoodish and unjaded; and most of all, as elegant and delicately nuanced as his picture.

At this time many Iranians all over the world are watching us and I imagine them to be very happy. They are happy not just because of an important award or a film or a filmmaker, but because at the time when talk of war, intimidation and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of their country, Iran, is spoken here through her glorious culture.

A rich and ancient culture that has been under the heavy dust of politics. I proudly offer this honor to the people of my country, a people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment. Thank you very much.

Eat this – US neo-con and Israel lobby warmongers.

A Separation is an immensely political film – without even referring to politics. It depicts the politics of everyday life, which is trespassed by institutional politics in a complex, seamless way. In Farhadi’s words, “Smaller problems that you can’t really see,” intersecting with big problems. It’s all so seamless, in fact, that Iran’s rigid censors didn’t even detect it.

The characters in A Separation may also be seen as a mirror of Iranians caught in the crossfire of constraints weaved by the military dictatorship of the mullahtariat on one side, and the constraints derived from the non-stop foreign threat of “bombing Iran” on the other; as if the announced deluge of “smart” made in USA bombs was programmed not to produce any “collateral damage”.

A Separation also dispatched to the dustbin of the “news” cycle the drab publicity stunt/marketing booster operated by Sacha Baron Cohen for his upcoming flick The Dictator – which the trailer firmly establishes as some sort of sick Zionist Arab Spring propaganda, crammed with Islamophobia, to be taken as face value (as a lot of people will) or not. Chaplin it ain’t.

We may be all, on average, six steps away from being introduced to any other person on Earth. This, one of the best films of a so far sorry young century, reminds us that there are only six degrees of separation between here and Tehran.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com

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