A Pop Video ‘More Dangerous Than Polio’? Could It Lead Iran’s Children To Porn? | Iran International

A Pop Video ‘More Dangerous Than Polio’? Could It Lead Iran’s Children To Porn?

Controversy over a 30-second video teaser of a new song by California-based Iranian pop star Sasy, featuring the adult film actress Alexis Texas, has not only swept through Persian-language social media but reached Iranian television including state-run IRIB.

Sasy’s new song Tehran-Tokyo is to be released next Wednesday but the teaser in which Texas appears first in a coat and headscarf, Iranian style, and then strips them to show a revealing costume was this week published by the Iranian application Rubika. Texas, 35, is one of America’s most popular porn performers, with an Instagram following of around 3.8 million.

SATRA (the Iranian AudioVisual Media Regulatory Authority), which is affiliated to IRIB, on Tuesday banned the video clip and sued Rubika for publishing it online on grounds that featuring a porn actress violated the rights of children.

Not only hardliners but many critics of internet filtering have been angered by the video. While the clip does not contain nudity or explicit sex, they say Sasy’s popularity among teenagers would lead them to search out the work of the new face in Sasy’s music video. Pornography is readily accessed as nearly everyone in Iran, including children, use VPNs and anti-filtering software to access websites blocked by the authorities.

“A shiver runs through my back when I think children will find out [Alexis Texas] is a porn star and start searching for her [on the internet],” Iranian journalist and writer Emily Amraee tweeted on March 1. “Because of [the state filtering] all of them have access to anti-filtering software and parenting control software are not available here…This song is really more dangerous than polio.”  

But thousands of Sasy’s followers on social media are sending him videos showing them and their children dancing and lip syncing to the song’s teaser with the catchphrase “Why are you leaving, Somayeh?” Sasy, who has promised to publish these videos on Instagram, has adopted the catchphrase from Life and a Day,  an award-winning 2015 film by Saeed Roustaee in which a brother tries to convince his sister Somayeh not to marry someone she does not love and instead to care for their ill mother.       

The spread of the video clip − which had been viewed 6.5 million times on Sasy’s Instagram alone by mid-day Thursday − will encourage Iranian principlists to push for stricter internet restrictions, wrote the moderate Asre-Iran news website Tuesday. “[Filtering] is the only solution that they can think of to deal with such phenomena,” the article said, blaming state-run TV for programs that “drive people who are tired of such monopolization to [expatriate] satellite TV channels.”

Hardliners have jumped on the Sasy teaser to accuse Mohammad-Javad Azari-Jahromi, Minister of Communications, of allowing “cultural onslaught” by resisting tighter internet restrictions. “Our enemies couldn’t defeat us in direct war and want to overcome us by waging a cultural war… Mr. Jahromi, what happened to the one billion [tomans] that you spent for filtering?” ‘Zahra’ tweeted on March 2.

Sasan Heidari-Yafteh, 33, who goes by the stage name Sasy, has been a controversial figure in the Iranian pop and rap music scene for over a decade. He supported Mehdi Karroubi’s bid for the presidency in 2009 including making a campaign song.

The following year he was arrested for “disrupting public peace” after dancing and performing at a shopping center in Kish Island, a holiday resort in the Persian Gulf. Sasy is hugely popular in Iran and his hit song Gentlemen has had over 100 million plays on Persian music online station Radio Javan, where he will also release the new song. Sasy left Iran in 2012 and lives in the United States.

A British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National and journalist at Iran International
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