This week, OIF Director Barbara Jones is blogging about her experiences at her first SXSW in Austin.
March 14, 2012
Two SXSW programs about free speech were especially provocative and VERY controversial. In both cases, the projects use humor to present the impact of censorship in closed societies. They both experiment with how far they can push the limits to free expression—one in Iran, the other in Sharjah (UAE).
Parazit means “static”—what viewers experience when the Iranian government jams the television signal. Thus is named a popular TV show broadcast on Voice of America’s Persian service: http://parazit-parazit.blogspot.com/. Coverage of the SXSW presentation, “Iranian Outlaws: Satire Vs. Censorship“, is available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/13/sxsw-2012-saman-arbabi_n_1333036.html.
Saman Arbabi and Kambiz Hosseini, two Iranian expats, designed a type of Jon Stewart Daily Show for Iranians. (They have indeed appeared on Stewart’s show.) Though the Iranian government has declared watching the show “illegal,” people use illegal satellite dishes and the Internet. Over 800,000 have “liked” the show on Facebook worldwide and Arbabi receives dozens of photos and videos showing Iranians watching it in crowded living rooms, in a traditional tea and multigenerational get-together. Episodes are posted on You Tube. Arbabi receives his inspiration ...