An Iranian agency in Tehran announced Monday that Bart, Homer, Marge, Lisa and all the other Simpsons characters have joined Barbie on a growing list of Western pop icons to be banned in Iran. Although the show has always been banned there, now the sale of Simpson dolls and other merchandise has also been forbidden.
Promoters of Western culture
The Iranian independent newspaper Shargh reported the ban on Monday. Mohammad Hossein Farjoo, secretary of policy-making at the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, said of the Simpsons merchandise:
“The Simpsons dolls are merchandise from an animated series, of which some episodes are even banned in Europe and America … We don’t want to promote this cartoon by importing the toys. These dolls are promoters of Western culture.”
Farjoo did not go into details about which episodes were banned in America. This reporter could find no such reference.
Superheroes are allowed in Iran
According to the Associated Press, Iran does still allow the figures of Western superheroes like Superman and Spider-Man to be sold. Farjoo explained the difference:
“Although they are dolls and characters in American films, they help oppressed people and they have a positive stance.”
Toys that play Western-style music or songs and toy kitchen sets containing glasses that the agency deemed as being used for the consumption of alcohol were also banned.
Barbie dolls were being sold
The move comes after several Tehran toy stores were closed down in January for selling Barbie dolls. The iconic American fashion doll was specifically banned in the 1990s. Barbie is seen as decadent for her fashionable wardrobe that contains miniskirts and bikinis, but no burqa.
A losing war against Western culture
Islamic Iran has waged a war on Western pop culture’s steady creep into the nation since 1979, when the Islamic Revolution overthrew the Shah. However, a quarter of the nation is under 15 years old, and many are avid enthusiasts of Western music and culture. Illegal pop contraband is commonly traded in a thriving black market.
Iran imported $57 million worth of toys from other nations in 2011. Iranian officials estimate that an additional $20 million worth is smuggled in on an annual basis.
Growing tensions of Iranian nukes
The ban comes at a time of growing tension between Iran and Western nations. Rumors of the Middle Eastern nation’s proximity to nuclear capabilities continue to flourish, escalating the tension.
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