After acquiring a massive following on the Iranian black market though Internet downloads and illegal DVDs, the U.S. sci-fi drama Lost has been approved for official distribution in the Islamic Republic. The Guardian reports:
Other long-running US dramas – including 24, Prison Break and
Desperate Housewives – have been widely distributed on Iran's black
market, but none has been given official approval.
distribution and broadcasting rights to Lost would mark a policy
reversal after officials previously criticised the series and warned
media outlets against publicising it.
Saffar-Harandi, recently sacked as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's culture and
Islamic guidance minister, lambasted it for displaying "Zionist
concepts". However, others insisted the programme was suitable for an
Iranian audience because it has "eastern" themes.
of this story, due to our classic literature, is familiar to Iranian
and eastern viewers," Saeed Ghotbizadeh, a TV and cinema critic, told
the Tehran-e Emrooz newspaper. "Eastern viewers can understand it
better and would naturally like it.
Granted I gave up on watching Lost after about the first season but the themes seemed pretty western to me -- lots of Christian redemption vignettes and characters not-so-subtly named after enlightenment philosophers. Guess I missed something.
The officially distributed Iranian version of the show will be edited to "exclude "un-Islamic" scenes such as those featuring scantily clad women or male-female physical contact" -- so the authorities' decision might be less about exposing Iranian viewers to Lost's exploration of spirituality than preventing them from seeing Evangeline Lilly in a bikini. Somehow I think the bootleggers are going to stay in business.
As a side note, I would love to hear an Iranian viewer's take on 24.