Newspapers and websites have alerted readers to
the "anti-Iranian film" by highlighting a scene in which Rourke's character,
Randy "the Ram" Robinson, violently breaks a pole bearing an Iranian flag across
his knee, after his opponent tries to use it to put him in a stranglehold.
Perhaps to avoid offending Iran's clerical rulers, no mention has been made of
the screen name of Rourke's antagonist, the Ayatollah, played by Ernest Miller.
But the Miller character's wrestling attire, a skimpy leotard in the pattern of
an Iranian flag with the alef character - representing the first letter of the
word Allah - emblazoned front and back on his loins, has been condemned by Borna
News, a state-run website.
The pole-breaking scene occurs against the explicitly nationalistic backdrop of
an animated crowd chanting, "USA, USA". It is intended to represent the final
triumph for Rourke's character, who comes out of retirement following a heart
attack for one last confrontation with the Ayatollah, a rival from his wrestling
Iranians have been a little over sensitive in the past with their outrage over
depictions of their people in
and "Alexander." In the case of the former, they even
complained to the UN.
But I do sympathize a bit with them on this one: it does seem a bit offensive if
you ask me.
And all a little bit reminiscent of Rocky Balboa coming out to
fight Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. I wonder if the love interest in "The
Wrestler" works in a pet store.
-- Luke Allnutt
Copyright (c) 2008 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org