The Making of Exile Cultures: Iranian Television in Los by Hamid Naficy

By Hamid Naficy

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Discrepancies between expectation and actuality were felt deeply. What made these deprivations and discrepancies unresolvable was the Shah's firm control of all forms of public expression and participation in the political life of the country, which limited serious political discussion and curtailed genuinely free political parties, trade unions, elections, and mass media. In these circumstances, ordinary individual actions seemed inadequate and futile, thus ushering in the cataclysmic emergence of an antimonarchy revolution, which, with the rise of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, became a messianic, charismatic movement with a Utopian component.

There is a story told of a visit by then-premier Amir Abbas Hoveyda to a southern region of the country, where he was served the national dish, chelo kabob (grilled filet mignon, rice, raw onions, and garnish). Hoveyda congratulated his host on the deliciousness of the meal, whereupon the unsophisticated provincial cook responded by saying, "Mr. , and the onions from Pakistan" (Faruqi 1979:71). But syncretism was not limited to manufacturing of goods alone; rather, it extended to the realm of ideas, ideology, and the way people produced meaning.

25 When cultures are forced upon each other, conditions become ripe for borrowing. For syncretic absorption and borrowing to take place, however, there must exist parallels in the two cultures; otherwise syncretism will not oc- Exile Discourse 19 Fig. 4. Syncretic characters: Haji Firuz (left) and Uncle New Year, from Giti's 1992 music video New Year's Gift. cur, and the newly introduced culture is likely to remain an unabsorbable foreign body. Two performance figures—Haji Firuz and Amu Noruz (Uncle New Year)—traditionally associated with the Persian New Year (Noruz), can illustrate the dynamics of the parallels.

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