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Seven Movies to Quell the Iranian Revolution, and Seven That Won’t

State media masters in Iran are running a Lord of the Rings marathon to keep people occupied. What other movies could work? And which ones to avoid?

Sauron from The Lord of the Rings

Yesterday, an anonymous Iranian posted a missive on Salon about life right now in Tehran. There, the state media is apparently dosing the airwaves with lots of Hollywood movies to get people too engrossed to go outside and protest the stolen election. Take a guess at what movies they chose to put on:

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In Tehran, state television’s Channel Two is putting on a “Lord of the Rings” marathon, part of a bigger push to keep us busy. Movie mad and immunized from international copyright laws, Iranians are normally treated to one or two Hollywood or European movie nights a week. Now it’s two or three films a day. The message is “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Let’s watch, forget about what’s happened, never mind. Stop dwelling in the past. Look ahead.

Never mind that the movie is about overcoming long odds and infinite evil. It makes you wonder: If you were a corrupt state censor, eager to numb the populace into apathy and fully drunk on the idea the media is the solution (and source) of all your problems, what would YOU broadcast on the airwaves?

Here’s a few ideas:

1. Slumdog Millionaire

You know folks, it doesn’t matter if you’re repressed and poor. You could be a MILLIONAIRE!!!

2. Requiem for a Dream

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Compare your life to that of these two heroin addicts. Things are looking up now, yes?

3. Marley and Me

Could one possibly riot after seeing a movie starring a dog? Life has too much soft lighting to get all worked up over politics.

4. Remains of the Day

Life sucks. You can never be too sure if you’re quietly serving your humble trade as a butler, or actually serving a duplicitous Nazi. Better to do nothing, and never let that mask of gentility fall. Also, do what you’re told, Jeeves.

5. Day After Tomorrow/Deep Impact/Titanic

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Sure, you’re about to get killed by crazy climate change/freak asteroids/a chunk of ice. But you can still find love!

6. Grease/Footloose/High School Musical

Problems? What problems? Let’s dance! (Although, these might just foment a really well-choreographed riot.)

7. Terms of Endearment

You know what really puts things in perspective? Cancer.

Then again, in the interest of balance, we thought up movies you’d absolutely want to stay away from, due to the revolutionary fervor they might inspire:

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1. Soylent Green

Is your government feeding you people, in addition to lies? There’s only one way to find out: Riot.

2. Braveheart

If a half-crazy conspiracy theorist with a mullet and a drinking problem can inspire revolution, you’re damn right that millions of Iranians could as well. (See also: basically every other Mel Gibson movie from the 1990s, The Patriot, etc.)

3. V is for Vendetta

This might already be a parable of the Iranian revolution.

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4. Defiance

The movie’s basically a clinic on guerilla tactics.

5. Batman

Please, no more masked vigilantes.

6. 1984

Enough said.

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7. The Matrix

All it takes to overthrow your puppet masters is a little luck, the ability to dodge bullets, and lots of sunglasses.

With thanks to colleagues Chris Dannen, Dan Macsai, Linda Tischler, and Noah Robischon.

[News story via Andrew Sullivan]

About the author

Cliff is director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

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