There was a great travelogue, called Danziger’s Travels, published in the early ’90s about traveling the length of the old Silk Road. In the book Nick Danziger winds up in a small Persian town in the middle of the day and in the middle of the observance of Ramadan. Being a somewhat naïve westerner, Danziger, in an effort to quench his unrelenting thirst, buys a ripe melon and starts conspicuously eating it in the street. Little did he realize that one of the main tenants of Ramadan is the practice of fasting all day. Danziger was essentially flaunting his lack of faith in the most scandalous way, as hungry and outraged Iranians looked aghast. It was only later that he learned of his folly.
I was reminded of this little story this past week when I came upon a headline which read, “Facing Soaring Inflation from Sanctions, Iran Weighs TV Chicken-Eating Ban.”
Seems that along with places like Greece, parts of Latin America and the West Indies, Iran is facing its own economic problems with soaring food prices. For instance, just a few weeks ago the price of a kilo of chicken was a mere $2. Now it is soaring upwards of $5. This is cause of great concern and has fueled a bit of class conflict between those who could afford the price increase and those who cannot. All of this has prompted a top Iranian official to propose a ban on images of people eating chicken on television, as a way to not excite the hungry masses, or drive them to violence. According to a report published by the French news agency Le Monde:
“… chicken has become the central symbol of the regime’s inability to provide affordable food, with many people venting their anger on social media websites. One Iranian Internet activist, Vahid online, sarcastically wrote: “This program may contain images of cooked chicken…”
This is one of those stories that is both greatly unfortunate and comically absurd. It is difficult to say whether a chicken image ban will actually be instituted, or the masses will rise up from too much chicken envy. Either way, it is an oddly dire, or odd and dire, situation.
What food images do you think should be stricken from the media? Do you think there are food images that we don’t see in western media that may provide a much-needed perspective that we are sadly lacking?