Hey there. If this is the first column of mine you’ve read, welcome. If you were one of the people who followed the Bearsleuth team last summer, welcome back. Glad to be doing this again.
It’s awards season in Hollywood once again and the shortlists for the Oscars have been released. Originally, this article was supposed to be mainly about that, but recent events have pushed these things very far into the back of my mind.
What’s really pressing on my mind right now is that director Asghar Farhadi, whose film The Salesman has been nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film category, will not be attending the event. This is because Mr. Farhadi is Iranian, one of the nationalities that, at time of writing, have been barred from entering the USA by the Trump administration under seemingly any circumstance. It has been suggested (though far from confirmed) that special dispensation could have been made for Mr. Farhadi. Whether those rumours are founded, he has declined to attend anyway as he feels allowances being made for him as an individual are hardly the point in the face of a much greater, nonsensical injustice.
To be clear, my anger and shock extend farther than the treatment of Mr. Farhadi personally, as it would seem does his own. I have chosen to focus on him because: A) he provides a link between the currently dominant news-cycle and the world that I am used to commenting on in these articles; B) I need to tether myself to something specific right now so this article doesn’t just devolve into incoherent screaming; and C) banning an artist from entering your country when he has neither done nor been accused of doing anything wrong is one step away from banning the art itself.
Hollywood is a realm of incredible privilege. You won’t hear me denying that; and yes, the preening stars of the red carpet may be not-unfairly seen as flawed idols in a fight against the injustices committed by the faeces-hurling gibbon and his oversized suit. They seem to be so shielded from injustice themselves, after all. However, they are not immune from attacks by those in power and we should all have reason to fear it. The people making acceptance speeches on podia across America this month all know how to make their voices heard in the back. The squatting, alt-right bloggers in the White House know this and recognise it as a threat. That is why ‘Hollywood Liberals’, along with the rest of the media, have become a prime target for their propaganda.
I can’t help but see the treatment of Mr. Farhadi as a dark tiding of things to come in regards to the effect of politics on the arts. It’s true enough that not being able to attend an advertising convention for very rich people is far from the worst individual injustice inflicted by that sagging ape’s Executive Orders. I’m sure this won’t be the only time he will be mentioned here, as he continues to act like the bull to the US Constitution’s china shop. Nevertheless, it matters, and it matters that we fight it.
I hope that on Oscar night, every acceptance speech mentions Asghar Farhadi by name and the Dorito-hued Duterte not once. I also implore everyone reading this to get out and see The Salesman if they can; not because it’s good but because it will be an act of objective good to make Asghar Farhadi a household name in America without him ever having to set foot there. Solidarity matters; and resistance to the, hopefully short, reign of the clammy stench of white-nationalism currently impregnating the White House can take many forms.
When politics seek to regress and when politicians seek to isolate us from each other, art can always seek to render their barriers meaningless. Through it, those who believe in reaching across cultural divides will continue to do so, regardless of the physical barriers put in our way by those undeserving in authority. If their ego requires them to wall themselves off from a world that is bigger than them, a world full of knowledge and experience that they cannot or do not care to know, then on their own heads be it. They will be left behind to wallow in the stagnation they cultivate for themselves. They can tell us what to do, but not what to think, and art will help us keep thinking.
But hey, that’s just my opinion, what’s yours?
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Written by: David Sayers
Edited by: Ivy Miller