Iran and “Soft Diplomacy”

That, and other news, in today’s Roundup and Recap.

The most searing image of this weekend’s protests in Iran was that of the 27-year-old woman named Neda, who was killed by a Basji member and, with graphic footage of her death on YouTube, has become a martyr. Because the images come in as a trickle on YouTube and other social networking sites throughout each day, it has had the effect of making it all that much more impactful and personal to those who view it. In other words, you cannot merely ignore it and move on like you can watching on the 24 hour news channels, which are perpetually under the gun to prove that foreign coverage sells.

A number of posts over the weekend highlighted the role of women in the protests, as well as film’s place in capturing misogyny and repression in the country’s recent history.

In Time, James Poniewozik writes of “Persepolis,” the 2007 animated adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s memoirs of growing up in Iran. “Against the backdrop of the news, it’s especially moving to re-watch, because among many other things, what’s going on in Iran is a women’s uprising, against a state that, in Satrapi’s work, she protrays as justifying misogyny in the name of “protecting” women.” The movie was nominated for an Oscar for best animated feature. The Iranian government objected to the movie before allowing an edited screening to be shown in Tehran last year.

That was on full display on Saturday with the screening of “The Stoning of Soraya M.,” the true story of a woman accused of having an affair and stoned and killed in their remote village in 1986. The Wrap’s Amy Kaufman writes that at a screening of the movie as part of the Los Angeles Film Festival on Saturday, “Kite Runner” author Khaled Hosseini, an artist in residence for the festival, said that he initially feared that the movie may reinforce negative stereotypes about Islam.

“After I saw it, I felt like the breath had been knocked out of my chest and I kind of wanted to knock somebody out, too,” said Hosseini, who moderated a panel afterward. “The film is bold and not willing to sanitize the horrific truth.”

On Friday, Mike Medavoy talked about Hollywood’s role in spreading “soft diplomacy” on MSNBC’s “Hardball.” Medavoy and Nathan Gardels authored the recent book, “American Idol After Iraq.”

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Journalists Detained:
The latest reports are that 23 journalists have been arrested, including Maziar Bahari of Newsweek. Over the weekend, Roxana Saberi, the journalist freed five weeks ago, was honored by her alma mater at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.


Big Announcement: Antonio Villaraigosa will announce on CNN’s “Situation Room” today whether he is running for governor of California. Just last month, at the White House Correspondents dinner, Wolf Blitzer, in a tone half serious/half humorous, introduced Villaraigosa as “the next governor of California.” Villaraigosa was CNN’s guest at the dinner. My guess — and just a guess — is that he will not run. He still has not been inaugurated for a second term as mayor. The city is in the midst of a wrenching budget crisis. And a Los Angeles Times poll over the weekend reflected the wish of a plurality of Angelenos who do not want him to run.

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