Liberal critics stone ‘Soraya’

Liberal critics stone ‘Soraya’


How dare a filmmaker shed light on an atrocity commited in an Islamic country?

Don’t they understand how the system works? You can make the U.S. military the bad guy, or a redneck, or a Bible thumper, but you simply do not cast blame on people of Muslim faith.

Even if it’s all based on a true story.

What other message can be found from some reviews of the new film “The Stoning of Soraya M.,” which tells the true story of an Iranian woman stoned to death by her fellow villagers for committing adultery.

Let’s let Jan Stuart of The Washington Post hurl the first stone:

” … the worst kind of exploitive Hollywood melodrama, presented under the virtuous guise of moral outrage.”

The New York Times, a bastion of fair and balanced reportage, allows Stephen Holden to let his ideological blinders guide the way:

“Mr. Negahban’s Ali, who resembles a younger, bearded Philip Roth, suggests an Islamic fundamentalist equivalent of a Nazi anti-Semitic caricature.”

You’d think Holden would give the filmmakers courage points after pointing out this hard truth:

“… filmed in an unidentified location to avoid possible reprisals,”

Nope. “Courageous” remains a label exclusively for actors who repeat exactly what their fellow actors think, but do so loudly.

Let’s wrap things up with The Onion, the satirical paper which can’t summon the stomach to mock the new president – talk about cowardly behavior from alleged humorists – but allows its film reporters to wax ideological whenever they feel like it. (hat tip: Threedonia)

“It takes zero political courage to speak out against the obvious barbarism of public stonings or the oppressive patriarchy of sharia law, but the film whips out the megaphone anyway, eager to extrapolate the martyrdom of an innocent woman into a broader condemnation of the Muslim world.”

If it takes no political courage to speak out … then why is this arguably the first film to do so?

Good thing Oscar winner Michael Moore doesn’t “whip out the megaphone” with his nuanced documentaries.

It’s exhausting swatting away such phony criticisms, but it’s instructive all the same.

UPDATE: To read a fair – and critical – assessment of the film that doesn’t devolve into ideology, check out The Denver Post’s take on the film.

(Photo: Shohreh Aghdashloo plays an Iranian woman out to stop a barbaric execution in “The Stoning of Soraya M.”)

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{ 2 trackbacks }

Ed Driscoll » The Stoning of Soraya M: A Must-See
June 30, 2009 at 9:29 pm
The Movie Some Leftie Critics Want You to Ignore « The Rhetorican
July 2, 2009 at 10:22 pm

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

JohnFNWayneNo Gravatar June 27, 2009 at 11:23 pm

Hey, if she was a lesbian they would have loved it.

KensingtonNo Gravatar June 28, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Yeah, I noticed that Ebert couldn’t write about this film without also taking the opportunity to attack Christians for burning witches back in the day. God forbid that we focus away from Christian atrocities of centuries past for one film review.

JesuslandNo Gravatar June 28, 2009 at 8:10 pm

You didn’t get the memo? We can judge and draw conclusions about christianity based on events that happened centuries ago, but don’t you dare do the same about islam based on events happening today.

wnaegeleNo Gravatar June 29, 2009 at 12:02 am

The density of these so-call liberals — really progressive-fascists — is unfathomable…

cftotoNo Gravatar June 29, 2009 at 1:40 am

Well put, Jesusland … and thanks for the head’s up on Ebert’s review. Am reading it now …

spiroNo Gravatar June 29, 2009 at 6:43 am

I can understand why all these big newspapers panned this movie, it missed the point of the stoning!
Because the medical technology is so rudimentary in the Middle East, “stoning” is the best and most effective method of “voluntary” contraception.
The NYT and others, being much more worldly and educated than you or I, appreciate the *nuance* of this incident. Soraya wasn’t killed by Muslim zealots for committing adultery, she died “accidentally” during a routine (and certainly voluntary) abortion.
The TRUE tragedy of this story is GWB’s and Cheney’s continued efforts to block the access to proper abortion doctors/procedures for Muslims in Iran.
Nuance people, nuance.
It’s like the difference between E-E-Evil corporations like Wal-Mart, and good ones like Starbucks.

MarkNo Gravatar June 29, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Re: The Onion.

Please, please, please, please PLEASE do not write about what you do not know. The Onion is NOT the same as The Onion AV club (although they ARE related). The AV club is NOT satirical, and carries legitimate reviews of movies, TV, music, and books.

Also – you’re obviously not a reader of The Onion, which is fine, but again: know what you write about before putting words down. You indicate The Onion “can’t summon the stomach to mock the new president.” Wrong again:

…shall I go on?

cftotoNo Gravatar June 29, 2009 at 1:34 pm


Thanks for writing.

A. I understand the AV Club and The Onion serve two diff purposes. I’m quite a fan of both and understand where each is coming from.

I critique the AV Club often because it hits readers over the head with its ideological perspective. To me, it should serve as an entertainment guide for all … not an entertainment guide for liberal movie/tv/music lovers. I’m a journalist, and a blog can be chock full of opinion. A mainstream news outlet shouldn’t be (unless its purpose is obvious like The Nation or The Weekly Standard).

It’s one of many reasons why Newsweek continues to shrink in size and respect.

As for your links … feh. None of them mock Obama’s policies in any meaningful way. None mock his arrogance, his sense of self importance, etc. They are harmless and toothless and don’t carry an ounce of the true political satire directed dead on against Bush over the last eight years.

The Onion, like just about every other comic outlet today (shows and comedians alike) are utterly chicken to mock him.

You want Obama satire, commentary that cuts through his policies? Check out Rush or a few other righty outlets. They’re doing the job the mainstream critics should be doing … but are too cowardly to do.

Wayne WilsonNo Gravatar June 29, 2009 at 2:57 pm

I saw the film Saturday. It was moving and powerful. Melodramatic? Less so, I would say, than the vast majority of Hollywood films. The acting, especially the ladies, was uniformly excellent. The emotions were real. Most of the film is in Persian with sub-titles, a feature which did not diminish the performances. Are the villains villainous? Yes. This happened. Someone conspired to murder this woman by stoning. They were probably genuinely evil individuals. But the real point of the film is that women in these societies do not have enough standing in soviety to protect themselves or each other. That was true and remains true. I am completely baffled by liberals who refuse to stand up for the weak. I can only think it is because the enemies of America are the bad guys here.

JimmyCNo Gravatar June 29, 2009 at 4:49 pm

“It takes zero political courage to speak out against the obvious barbarism of public stonings or the oppressive patriarchy of sharia law…”

Yeah, no reason for courage there. Just ask the Danish cartoonists, or Theo van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

cftotoNo Gravatar June 29, 2009 at 6:10 pm

or Salmon Rushdie, JimmyC … well said.

ASTNo Gravatar June 29, 2009 at 6:57 pm

1. For film makers to talk about courage just demonstrates their affectation and narcissism, although in this case criticizing people who will put a fatwa on you does take a gut check.

2. The left’s hatred of Christianity, while treating Islam with the same respect it would get from National Geographic or Margaret Mead, is just another of the contradictions of political correctness, like the liberal use of obscenities and profanity every third word they utter while handling “the N world” only with forceps.

3. Is there no longer any part of life that isn’t embroiled in politics, which usually means dragging in some irrelevant reference to conservatism or Christianity just administer some gratuitous castigation? This film isn’t about comparative religion. It’s a stark reminder of how a major religion continues to resist human rights, which the left seems to think America alone specializes in violating. They know that fundamentalist Islam is far worse in thie regard than anything American Jews or Christians have countenanced for centuries, but illustrating it only irritates them because the Crusades and Spanish Inquisition aren’t given equal time.

Or maybe they just want to make it clear that they weren’t among the critics of Islam when the suicide bombers arrive next time. One can almost hear them mutter, “Mustn’t make the crazy man angry. Just keep sidling toward the exits as inconspicuously as possible.” It’s as though they’ve completely blocked out all memory of 9/11 and replaced it with angry demonizations of George W. Bush. They can’t think ill of the radical despots running these countries because to do so might give some justification for removing Saddam Hussein and Bush’s hated policy of encouraging the spread of freedom and self-government. That is the REAL EVIL of our time! Don;t ya know?

cftotoNo Gravatar June 29, 2009 at 7:00 pm

A smart, impassioned rant, AST. Keep it coming …

ThierrionNo Gravatar July 2, 2009 at 5:51 am

Don’t forget Roger Ebert’s snide remarks about what Cyrus learned in film school.

Cyrus has a 30-year-career in television and film. He has actually forged a career in the industry, and the only thing Ebert forged was a butt-groove in his seat in the balcony watching Cyrus’ work.

Roger, you wrote the script for a big-boob movie and spent the rest of your life in the deadest of dead zones: a Sunday late-afternoon TV time slot that’s after the news, before “King of the Hill”, and usually pre-empted by football. None of that is Cyrus’ fault. In the spirit of your book, I’d like to close by saying: Your Review Sucks.

Mike LukashNo Gravatar July 3, 2009 at 10:38 am


To be fair, Ebert did like the movie and recommended it. His opening remarks were :

The Islamic practice of stoning women and the Christian practice of burning them as witches are both born not from religious reasons but of a male desire to subjugate women and define them in terms of sexuality. Is this in dispute? Are there any theologians who support such actions? Of all the most severe punishments of both religions, this is the one most skewed against women, and the one most convenient for men.

He was making a case about how violence is done to women in the name of religion. His ending remarks are really good.

The message is that if a religion requires practices that seem evil to its members, they should resign from that religion. If it condones a death penalty that is visited unequally on members of a specific gender, race or class, it is immoral. There cannot be a reward for following it blindly, because only a thoughtful choice has meaning. At heaven’s gate you cannot say, “I always followed the herd.”

“The Stoning of Soraya M.” has such a powerful stoning sequence that I recommend it if only for its brutal ideological message.

Eberts complaint about the ending, as most of the critics, about the over all movie is this: It’s a powerful story-you didn’t need to oversell it with ham fisted cliché. So it’s not a “Liberal” vs. “Conservative” thing.

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