Media Post-coloniality and the Ethereal Persian ‘Empress’: How Hollywood Weaponized the Nostalgia of Exile

Sarah Boroujerdi


The osmosis between Iranian exile, Oriental repertoires, and the commodification of nostalgia in film and contemporary1 culture alludes to the Disney reproduction of the East that is capitalized by Hollywood’s invisible hand. The commodification of Orientalist logic via nostalgia of old civilization and Achaemenid grandeur is conveyed by Hamid Naficy’s (1991) reference to Edward Said’s (1978) ‘imaginary2 geography’—the inventive tool of narration that augments tales and anecdotes of exilic narratives, while heightening essentialism of the East. The European modeling of coronation, bejeweled scepters of royalty under the Pahlavi period (1941-1979), and cinematic repertoires of Iranians in film are perpetuated for viewers via fetishization, lust, and enchantment. The televised 1967 coronation of Queen Farah (b. 1938) solidified the trope of the Persian ‘Empress’ through picturesque markers of Achaemenid rulership (550-330 BCE). Media3 propagations of nostalgia in the paradisiacal Pahlavi coronation can be paralleled to current illusions of the Orient presented in the film Paterson (Jarmusch, 2016), starring exiled Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani. I refer to the Pahlavi coronation to expand on the spectacle of ‘nostalgia’, and the desire for a distant homeland. Naficy’s (1991) interpretation of ‘nostalgia’—a factor of exile, expounds how relics and objects induce a longing for the distant and ahistorical. Objects of nostalgia are inexplicably weaponized in Hollywood inventions of Near Eastern characters and serve as palpable symbols of the East via skewed representations of women, sexuality, and the exotic4 (Ahmed, 2006). Poetry, nostalgia, and fictional tales of the Orient in Paterson (Jarmusch, 2016) allude to Said’s (1978) vision of the imperialist project in Orientalism. The inventive and imaginary power of color media in the televised Pahlavi coronation and the fashioning of a politically permanent subject of interest—Iranians and the East, augured a pertinent era of media post-coloniality5 via the preservation of orientalism, rather than the Orient. 

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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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