IFC's Vadim Rizov Trashes Big Hollywood For Supporting Filmmaker Jafar Panahi

Gee, we Hollywood conservatives can’t get a break. Over at IFC’s The Independent Eye, in a short piece titled “The disingenuousness of Jafar Panahi’s right-wing advocates,” contributing writer Vadim Rizov takes Big Hollywood to task for our support of courageous Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, only recently released on bail from captivity in Iran. In a tortured phrasing, Rizov criticizes (I think) Big Hollywood as “a website that doesn’t hesitate to basically label everyone ‘leftist propaganda’ doing something constructive.” He grudgingly finds our support “unlikely but welcome,” saying we have nonetheless “done it for the wrong reasons.”

Panahi-i-Berlin

Vadim Rizov’s Trash Big Hollywood Pawn: AKA: Jafar Panahi

In the most hilarious, whopping understatement of the new millennium, Rizov sets the stage for his vaporous assault by noting, “Everyone’s aware that lately Islam is more of a hot-button issue than usual.” I’m unsure what he means by “lately” – since 9/11/2001? Since the ongoing parade of Islamist assaults and thwarted or botched attempts in the last year? Since the “South Park” Muhammad cartoon controversy? Since the “Ground Zero mosque” controversy? In any case, that’s like saying the BP oil spill is more of a hot-button environmental issue than usual.

Apparently Big Hollywood‘s collective motivation, as insinuated by Rizov, who moonlights as a mind reader, was not to defend a fellow filmmaker imprisoned by a repressive, fundamentalist regime, but to reduce Panahi to a symbol with which we could bludgeon Islam as a whole. Because as everyone among the self-congratulating leftist intelligentsia knows, we conservatives are an Islamophobic, bigoted bunch who get our kicks from bombing innocent brown people, and the Left is tolerant and inclusive and wouldn’t think of smearing and demonizing an entire group.

Rizov also claims, without citing a single name, that “many of these people agitated about Panahi could care less about him as a director or person or representative of a larger film culture. And with that mentality, one day you wake up and feel it necessary to endorse ‘Sex and the City 2‘ for criticizing Islam.” I believe Rizov means “couldn’t care less,” and if I were Panahi I would be peeved at being mentioned in the same breath as Sex and the City 2. But in any case, aside from his utterly empty, insulting generalization, Rizov even gets it wrong about the Sex and the City 2 link; that article (not even a Big Hollywood piece) doesn’t endorse the movie, it merely points out that a reviewer had called the movie “blatantly anti-Muslim” when in fact it is not. But Rizov is on a roll and can’t be bothered to slow down for those inconvenient speed bumps called facts.

He asserts that Jafar Panahi is…

“…a director from a country whose best and brightest are regularly refused entry into the US because Homeland Security seemingly has no clue who they are, or how to tell one Iranian from another. And I’m dead certain that these same conservative advocates would approve.”

This leaves it unclear which it is that we supposedly approve of – refusing entry into the U.S. of Iran’s best and brightest, or Homeland Security’s cluelessness – I’m guessing both, but why Big Hollywood or conservatives in general would heartily approve of either, I have no idea and Rizov doesn’t explain. What makes him so “dead certain?” We don’t know because Rizov offers no proof, and we’re not part-time psychics. I’ll take a stab at it, though – it’s because, if I may paraphrase him, Rizov and his leftist cohorts don’t hesitate to label conservatives as bigoted and Islamophobic “for doing something constructive” – like confronting Islamic fundamentalism.

Speaking of constructive, I would be curious to know what Rizov has done on behalf of Panahi that comes close to matching Big Hollywood contributor John T. Simpson‘s efforts. If he’s done his share, then I not only applaud him, but wouldn’t slander him with accusations of base motives.

Fair enough, Mr. Rizov?

It would also be helpful for him to point out where Big Hollywood has used Panahi to bash Islam, since Rizov provides not a single specific in his confused piece. The closest he comes is sneering at “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day,” which he derides as the Right’s attempt at “a courageous intellectual stance.” Actually, considering that there are millions of Muslims worldwide who will kill you for sketching their prophet, and that free speech is under assault on many fronts from fundamentalist Islam, it was a courageous intellectual stance and a grass-roots defense of free speech, not a gratuitous slap at all Muslims, which Rizov is implying it was.

I’m no palm reader, but are we to assume that Rizov prefers silence or appeasement as a courageous intellectual stance?

Rizov piles on his straw man arguments: “…in the Big Hollywood universe, it’s the same thing. One day you’re standing up to the terrorists by going on hunger strike, the next you’re shooting off your mouth about the evils of Islam and posting JPEGs.” Sigh. No one ever said it was the same, Mr. Rizov. But in the leftist universe, one doesn’t need actual evidence to condemn conservatives, even when we’re on the same side of an issue.

I don’t claim to be a psychic, but it seems that in his IFC piece, the one who is exploiting and using Panahi to bash an entire group is Rizov.

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