After Barbie Ban, Iran Goes After the Simpsons: Are We in the Midst of a Full Blown U.S.-Iran Culture War?

As the rhetoric heats up between Iran and the United States, another kind of war is being waged within Iran: a culture war in which The Simpsons is the latest casualty. Iranian officials have banned dolls based on Bart, Homer, and the rest of the Simpsons clan in an fight against “Western intoxication,” according to Reuters

The show's "destructive cultural and social consequences" makes The Simpsons franchise the latest casualty in a long running soft culture war that Iran has pursued against Barbie, G.I. Joe, and other popular Western action figures.


Mohammad Hossein Farjoo, secretary at the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults in Tehran, cited the Simpsons' irreligious attitudes as offensive, and thus not welcome in Iran. Farjoo explained that dolls with distinguishable genitals, as well as dolls of adults, are prohibited in the country.

In response, Simpson’s executive director Al Jean was quoted by the Los Angeles Times, “This means war.”

For the Iranian regime, the banning of the popular series isn't so much a way of fighting back against the newly imposed Western economic sanctions, but rather a means of slowing Iranian youth's familiarization with the Western culture. 

As Iran prepares for the possibility of real military action with the United States and Israel, it must still overcome a divided society and the lasting impact of the Green Revolution which shook the country's ruling elite in the summer of 2009.

As the failed Green revolution and the also the popularity of the Daily Show in Iran reveal, there is a strong and growing desire, particularly among the youth in Iran, for more open ties with the West. With roughly two-thirds of the population under 25, the Iranian regime faces the considerable challenge of selling its hardline rhetoric to a populace that is already deeply distrustful of its intentions and legitimacy.

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The Iranian leadership is banking on the possibility that cultural war-mongering with the West will unite its country against a common enemy. Should it back fire, however, a new fight over Western imperialism on the Iran's toy store shelves will emerge.

Don't expect The Simpsons to be the last victims of Iran's new campaign.

Photo Credit: Nevada Tumbleweed

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David Dietz

After graduating Georgetown University, David traveled to the Middle East to cover the unrest and revolutions in the region for www.policymic.com and his own personal blog www.TheMidEaster.com. David reported on uprisings and political movements from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Lebanon and Bahrain and contributed to reports for Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist and the Huffington Post. After more than a year in the Middle East David returned stateside to launch Modavanti.com, an online retailer for stylish sustainable fashion. He is also currently a contributing blogger for the Huffington Post where he writes about his experiences as an entrepreneur and creating social impact through business. Besides his interests in the Arab world entrepreneurship and sustainable fashion, David loves sports and enjoys playing golf, tennis and skiing. You can visit his site Modavanti.com for all your sustainable fashion needs. Fun Fact: David has witnessed five revolutions/uprisings during the Arab Spring

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