Iranian TV censors: “Buffaloes walking out of the water from behind is provocative”


On the one hand, this story shows the absurdity of life in the Islamic Republic of Iran: the backside of a buffalo is provocative? To what normal human being? And Reza Shah’s torso can be shown, but not his face? It is no wonder that the people of Iran are fed up with this regime, which backs up this absurdity with appalling bloodlust and brutality. But the other side of this story is good news: the fact that Iranian TV producers are speaking openly now about this absurd censorship is one more indication that the hold of this inhuman regime is weakening. The Iranian people are longing for freedom, and may soon rid themselves of the mullahs altogether.

“Buffalo bottoms prove too much for Iranian TV censors,” BBC, September 5, 2018 (thanks to C):

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You might expect Iran’s state broadcaster to remove images of women eating cucumbers on television – but the backsides of buffaloes and the outlines of ears under headscarves?

Censors in the conservative Islamic republic have banned these from screens over the years and exasperated TV production staff are now taking to social media to laugh about them.
Ear, ear

TV writer Amir Mehdi Jule kicked off a campaign on Instagram with the hashtag #Censorship_and_I, talking about the challenges of depicting women’s bodies.

“One of the problems of displaying women on television, in addition to the [need for them to wear a] headscarf… is the perception or illusion of the size of their body parts underneath their clothes,” he said.

But he never expected feedback asking him to pay attention to the size and shape of women’s ears. “We never realised that an ear covered by a headscarf could be provocative,” he said.
An end to that

Screenwriter and director Mostafa Kiayee, recounted the time he had to edit a nature documentary on water buffalo.

“They sent a list of corrections and the first one was to cut a shot of buffalo walking out of the water. When I asked for the reason, they answered ‘buffaloes walking out of the water from behind is provocative’.”

Mr Kiayee said it was one of many “attractive memories” for him and other colleagues.
Losing your head

Mehrab Ghasemkhani, working on a comedy series set in the early 20th century, was told there should be a portrait of Reza Shah Pahlavi, the country’s former ruler, on the wall – to provide appropriate historical context.

After a few weeks, however, censors appeared to grow uncomfortable with the image of the Shah. His reign is a controversial topic given that the country’s Islamic government overthrew him to take power in 1979.

Mr Ghasemkhani recalled a series of perplexing back-and-forth conversations about showing the Shah’s portrait. “Finally, they came to a conclusion and asked us to show his image, but not his head,” he said. “We realised that the lower body of Reza Shah could be safely aired.”…

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