Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Tom and Jerry in Iran

I'll be out between today and about April 17.

Meantime, chew on this bit from the Asia Times on how an Iranian is abusing my favorite transnational cat-and-mouse team, Tom and Jerry:

A Jewish conspiracy lurks behind the cat-and-mouse cartoon Tom and Jerry, according to an adviser to Iran's culture minister.

"If you study European history," Professor Hasan Bolkhari told an Iranian television audience in February, "you will see who was the main power to hoard money and wealth, in the 19th century. In most cases, it is the Jews. Perhaps that was one of the reasons which caused Hitler to begin the anti-Semitic trend, and then the extensive propaganda about the crematoria began ... The Jews were degraded and termed 'dirty mice'. Tom and Jerry was made in order to change the Europeans' perception of mice. One of terms used was 'dirty mice'.

"The mouse is very clever and smart," Bolkhari went on. "Everything he does is so cute. He kicks the poor cat's ass. Yet this cruelty does not make you despise the mouse. He looks so nice, and he is so clever ... This is exactly why some say it was meant to erase this image of mice from the minds of European children, and to show that the mouse is not dirty and has these traits."

I have a sort of running gag on Beacon about how easily Tom and Jerry, with their expressive faces and easily understood slapstick, transcend cultures and languages. This idea has run into a brick wall in the case of Professor Bolkhari, who may be too old to take an animated cat and mouse at face value.

Or perhaps he is confusing Tom and Jerry with Art Spiegelman’s Maus.

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