Reading Marjane Satrapi interviews

A hand-animated movie version of Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi’s two-part graphic novel about growing up in Iran during the 1980s Islamic Revolution, will apparently be out on December 25. I’m curious about this movie. I read the first of the two books quite awhile ago, and I remember liking it, but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and learning since then and I wonder how I’d find it now. I think it has promise.

Out of this curiosity, I’ve been reading a bunch of interviews with Marjane Satrapi. She’s pretty opinionated and direct, so even though the same topics come up over and over, I like to read her responses.

Most press I’ve seen about her is by writers who see her books as “complex,” because she writes about “good” people who do bad things and “bad” people who do good things. In interviews, she talks a lot about dealing with people as individuals rather than making assumptions based on their culture or race (that really doesn’t sound complex). But in this recent promo interview in the NY Times, the journalist seems to want Satrapi to act as an anti-fundamentalism or anti-Islam spokeswoman, rather than taking the usual “complex,” general progressive stance.

All that intro (hmm…) so that I can announce: I love the turn that interview takes, right here.

Your books denounce Islamic fanaticism, particularly as it curtails the rights of women. Is that your main theme? Oh, no, not at all. I don’t consider myself as a feminist but more a humanist.

Still, in your work, you are constantly contrasting your love of food, smoking and sensual pleasures with the acts of self-denial demanded by the mullahs, like wearing a chador. It’s a problem for women no matter the religion or the society. If in Muslim countries they try to cover the woman, in America they try to make them look like a piece of meat.

Are you suggesting that veiling and unveiling women are equally reductive? I disagree. We have to look at ourselves here also. Why do all the women get plastic surgery? Why? Why? Why should we look like some freaks with big lips that look like an anus? What is so sexy about that? What is sexy about having something that looks like a goose anus?

I never really thought about goose anatomy. I looked when I was on a farm in France.

I am making an effort to barf more on this blog, and to write long-winded, feelings-based rambles like when I first started making the vagina website, ages ago. But I am still self-conscious about it. I have realized that even though I was always in favour of keeping my various websites fairly integrated and putting the vagina website on my resume etc, it’s been a really long time since I wrote anywhere that I actually expected my friends might read, rather than just writing for internet strangers. Not as fearless as I thought. So, working on that. Fewer “this sure is long” disclaimers in the future.