Iran to Bart: “No! You eat OUR shorts!”
Iran has recently decided to ban the sale of the Simpsons dolls but will continue to welcome Spiderman and other superheros because they “battle for the oppressed.” Is there something strange about Iran supporting characters that battle the oppressed, or is it just me?
I can’t seem to find their rationale explicitly stated, except to say that some episodes are banned (“even in Europe”!) and this is just an extension of that. I feel like it likely has more to do with Homer being a less than desirable role model, Lisa/Marge baring a lot of skin, sex being a relentless joke in the show and religion being constantly mocked.
Lisa and Marge’s wardrobe are similar to Barbie’s clothes and Barbie was banned because of her provocative nature and tight/sexy clothes.
I’m in the camp that banning most things is wrong. I don’t think that unruly freedom of speech is all that great either (and I know this sets me apart from some people in the skeptics movement). Is it Iran’s sovereign right to stop the infiltration of Western ideas from penetrating the youth via toys? Or is this fundamentally a human rights issue? It seems a bit ridiculous to argue “ALL KIDS HAVE A RIGHT TO A BART SIMPSON TOY!” when some don’t even have access to clean water – but is it actually ridiculous? If Bart and his family were spewing hate speech in their episodes than I would like have a problem with them in general but the most they are guilty of is… being American. I get that Iran isn’t super happy with America right now but even these small infringements on what toys Iranian children have access to is, in my opinion, fundamentally wrong.
However, is this simply my cultural opinion infringing on the culture of an unknown? I don’t think so. There are a lot of things that are culturally relative but there are other things that I think are universally harmful – and the censoring of the Simpsons is one of them. As ridiculous as it sounds, the more I think about it…the more I believe it to be true. The Simpsons demonstrate a culture through their show. A culture of liberal freedoms, children growing up while being a bit bad, empowerment of women, religious critiques and I’m sure most North American families can relate to at *least* one or more of the situations the Simpsons get into.
Iran’s current push to limit “Western intoxication” is essentially limiting the availability of knowledge and information to people in the country. It’s too bad – the Simpsons are rad.