Monday, August 27, 2012

The Green Wave

Up next in our series of revolutions-by-Twitter documentary is The Green Wave, the story of the Iranian revolution, as told through interviews, some recorded footage, and animated segments of blog posts and tweets.

Unlike Never Sorry, there's no plucky hero of this movie. You get a pretty good idea of the repression and just outright thuggery of the Iranian government. The Chinese government seems to have a certain smugness, a confidence that allows them to tolerate some dissent, while the Iranian government is either very insecure or just run by sadists.

But there's so much not explained here. Clearly the 2009 elections, which should've unseated Ahmadinejad were badly and baldly rigged—but why? Given that the ruling clerics obviously run the show, why go through all the trouble? The challenger wasn't really an outsider, either, so whose power was threatened?

On top of that, the whole "the challenger leads"—whoops, blackout!—"And Ahmadinejad wins by 70%!" is really pretty insulting. I mean, I know American politicians regard The People as stupid but this is just rubbing their noses in it.

And maybe that's part of what leads to the protests.

A few days of protesting and things get surreal. The clerics send out their mooks, which are literally motorcycles ridden by two guys, where the guy on the back has a baseball bat or something.

They bash in some heads, they round up and brutally torture a few hundred people—no real rhyme or reason, just thuggery and terrorism and a kind of "Oh, yeah?! We'll show you!" from the government.

In between the representations of the crackdown, they have various Iranians talking confidently how the regime can't last, and so on, but it's somewhat dispiriting to note that this stuff happened three years ago.

The Boy was in a dark mood after seeing this. Though the bureaucratic incompetence on display in both Iran and China is essentially the same beast, in Iran there appears to be no consideration for, say, world opinion. China wants to be respectable and a world leader, no matter how many people they have to crush to do it; Iran doesn't care about respect, only fear, inside and out.

There's no plucky artist dogging the mullahs in Iran, presumably because they'd just kill him and a whole bunch of random other people.

As a documentary it lacks the focus and backdrop of "Never Sorry" but it's still a compelling story. I just wish it gave more reason for optimism.

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