Saturday, October 5, 2013


I started to write this post about five years ago, and I haven't seen the movie Persepolis in probably three years, but let's just go ahead and write about it anyway.

For me, the part of Persepolis that endures is the part where the young narrator, Satrapi, starts going to punk shows where men in mohawks scream profanities and unintelligible rage.  Prior to these shows, she had been an uninvested participant of Iranian life following the ousting of the Shah.  She was sent off to the west to be educated in a world not completely fucked, and basically discovered drugs, sex, and punk.

What makes this particular segment memorable to me, despite lasting only momentarily on screen, is the way in which it shows noise and anger as a temporary release from an oppressive world that criminalizes the most mundane of human expressions.  Morality police have been a constant presence in Satrapi's life, using outlandish punishment to dictate how men an women interact, and more pressingly, how women present themselves publicly.  The punk shows neatly shortcut the beauty and sadness of the typical sort of art that flows from suffering and privation (which does, in fact, mark much of Satrapi's work here), and lets us get directly to the part that is ugly and destructive.  It acknowledges a wrong and a feeling of rejection, but doesn't wait for a poet's soul to interpret it.

It just says FUCK really loud into a microphone over a sick guitar riff.  It is a much more nihilistic point of view than what preceded it: nobody is offering a better political alternative, nobody
has the answer for what will fix society's ills, they're just saying "fuck this place", basically.  I dig.