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Holy Matrimony! It's the Big Shootout

by CORRESPONDENT in Tehran

29 Apr 2011 18:51Comments

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Savoring those precious memories of the wedding...or the wedding video? (Photos by Maryam Rahmanian/UPI)

[ trends ] "Hey you, yeah you photographing, you should know better," shouts the director, demanding my friend and I exit her frame. Not even the surprisingly famous singer is allowed to consume the scene unless perhaps a low-angled shot finds him between the newly wed's incidental heart-shaped arm formation. I'm simply an extra, eternal evidence that the wedding was -- as they will certainly say -- "explosive," but how can one complain? Like all good extras I am amply catered for and for what? A few seconds of shoulder shuffling, I've done more for a kebab.

Iran affords freedom from many commercialized events, be it Easter one weekend or a royal wedding the next. But as Facebook enters the lives of Iranians -- enthusiastically embraced like Kate Middleton among the upper echelon -- we get closer to the great global monoculture and I find myself being propositioned by somebody who wants to share a part of their life with me. Do I click on T-Mobile's spoof royal wedding viral or not? I do. I'm disappointed. Throughout the last few years, many Iranian friends and family have shared their big days with me and have put on much more impressive performances. T-Mobile flash a bit of pink at the end of their viral and remind me, "life's for sharing." I agree, and thus I would like to share with you a glimpse of those special days that have been shared with me.

I'm sure that those brief moments of me bopping around, simulating some feminine dance moves as a guy sidles up to me, now sit among hours of footage in a DVD box set sandwiched between the complete Lost and a bootlegged copy of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. And for those who might escape the repeat viewings, there's always the enormous airbrushed print on the wall and further variations on the mantel.

I dread moments of silence while visiting a certain cousin of mine. "Shall we watch my wedding DVDs?" she'll ask while prizing open the case, flicking through the menu, and selecting "Dinner Entrance." "Wasn't Maryam so much thinner then?" "He's lost so much hair since." "He was so drunk he threw up, remember?" I've calculated there's over 24 hours of footage for that single wedding day.

Traffic jams can often be attributed to a wedding convoy -- cars weaving around the road, hazard lights flashing in chase of the bride and groom up front in a borrowed Benz. The rhythmic sound of auto horns separate the screams of family precariously leaning out the windows waving anything loose. Off either wing of the couple's car, a camera crew hangs like paparazzi, peeking in at the blushing bride as hero hubby feigns their escape from the pursuing fanfare. On occasion, when the convoy catches up with the couple, a mid-motorway mix materializes. A wave of men exit their cars and with a shimmy of their chests assume the woman's role. They're shortly followed by another flock, who dance like men and with little effort manage to woo them.

I've noticed an evolving arms race between wedding video producers. A spoof of a famous Persian song, shot on the shores of the Caspian, no longer prompts the synthetic eyelashes of the onlooking crowd to flutter. More commonly these days, it goes like this: an enormous airbrushed glossy is presented post-dinner, the lights dim, and the title "Davoodi Films -- 09124567890" flashes on a screen erected above the dancefloor. A perfectly choreographed music video follows, featuring a classic scenario: woman's car breaks down, man pulls over with obvious interest, she rejects his help, he persists, she rebuffs him a couple more times, his begging becomes shameless, they make out on the hood.

But that merely qualifies as introduction. A tempo change invariably follows and the fourth wall crumbles to reveal the behind-the-scenes bits, the bloopers, the footage of the happy couple looking at the footage, holding hands giggling as they watch the fifth take of the groom unable to keep that distant, serious gaze as he appears from behind a tree.

And Davoodi and the like don't stop there. The regress goes one step deeper: Oh! That's me, shoulder shuffling in my shimmy, and that's me, being molested only two hours before. They're broadcasting it, and it's big. Both impressed and embarrassed, I look for the director, and she's not far, she's behind me, filming my reaction, and yes, she was right, I should have known better.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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