Visualing Iran Through Satrapi's Persepolis

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Visualizing Iran
It is debatable that most people of western societies especially here in the U.S share a common perspective about the country of Iran having a reputation for terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. In the media today, Iran is accused of having nuclear weapons and various politicians have made references to its contribution to the constant violence in Iraq. The information that we absorb everyday from news reports adds to our biases and enhances our negative opinions of Iran as a country. Through the help of the media, people of our culture stereotype the Iranians based on an ethnocentric viewpoint without developing a clear sense of understanding or the reasons behind their beliefs. In the graphic novel Persepolis, the author Marjane Satrapi, provides a viewpoint of the Iranian society far different from the widely perceived stereotypes. She depicts the Iranian people as much more than fundamentalists, fanatics, and terrorists by incorporating a humane atmosphere within her family and visualizing events that conveys to all people regardless of ethnicity and culture. One impression that I held about the people of Iran prior to reading Persepolis was that they lived their lives in torment and oppression from their strict religious practices. Satrapi does an effective job of convincing her readers that such was not always the case. She presents her family in a progressive approach while retaining the morals and values of their culture. She assimilates several common stereotypes of her own about people of western culture within her narrations to illustrate similarities between both culture and at the same time, the differences. For example, early in the novel, Marji speaks of her father’s ownership of a Cadillac. In both cultures, owning a Cadillac signified a high social class but the difference emphasized by Satrapi was that to Marji herself, it was more of an embarrassment to be seen riding in the car rather than a thing of pride. In other...
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