Monday, January 31, 2011

Persepolis does not need a sequel!

First off, this is not a movie review, though I do plan on mentioning a few movies in the paragraphs to come. This is a commentary on the Egyptian revolt currently happening half a world away, yet somehow it all seems familiar?

It seems familiar because I’ve seen the movie “Persepolis (2007)”. It is an animated film, based on the true story of a young girl who is just outspoken enough during the Islamic revolution in Iran that her family sends her to France for her own safety. She eventually returns only to find she does not fit in where her now fundamentalist Muslim countrymen.

While I usually reserve the phrase “unnecessary sequel” for movies with words like “Harold and Kumar” in the title, the lack of need for this sequel is more pressing as it pertains to the world stage.

In Persepolis the Shah, the western supported leader of Iran, is overthrown by popular opinion of the Iranian people. However what ensues is the rise of what we now know to be a theocracy of fundamentalist Islam. You may not think that as recently as 1979 that Iran was a progressive city with vibrant culture and tourist destination, but guess what. It was!

Young Marji, through whose eyes the story is told, is excited to learn that the communists were gaining a foothold to take power from the Shah. However, the communists, never acting out of the interest of the population in general, see their best chance at consolidating power by using the predominant religion of the region.

There may be a young Marji in Egypt right now. Much like the Shah’s regime was supported by the west, so is Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. Much like Iran was a tourist destination where westerners found generally the same freedom they find at home, so was Egypt. In fact I just saw Facebook photos of a friend of mine at the great pyramids just before the rioting started.

The question is, what type of sequel will history write to this story? Keep in mind not all sequels are bad. For instance Rocky II was a much more moving story than the first Rocky movie. But what my biggest fear is for Egypt is that we will get Teen Wolf Too.

Following the success of the Michael J. Fox film Teen Wolf somebody had the bright idea to do another. With either Fox’s skyrocketing success, or his good sense not to be in the second film, we get a half-assed rewrite of the original script with new star Jason Bateman. Essentially Teen Wolf Too is just the same basic plot, with many of the same characters in place and only the location and central character change. It can only be described as a completely unnecessary sequel.

Egypt does not need to be Iran Part Two. Meaning the exact same thing that happened to Iran does not need to happen again only five hundred miles Southwest. The people of Egypt, who will likely not rest until there is regime change, must be prudent in their next steps. Even the people of Iran asked for Regime change in 2009. The government was much more swift to put down that protest and there was no change. However, Mubarak’s administration did shut down the internet as did Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Unless Egypt gets a true democracy, expect more of this oppressive activity, and for it to only get worse.

What will expatriate Egyptians say about their homeland ten years from now? Will they be like Marji and, with a heavy heart, eventually return to post revolution home? Or will there be peace and prosperity in Egypt for years to come?

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