Sunday, April 06, 2014
Jihad of the Red Pen
Pakistani Muslim ("Muslim-American") Faran Tahir is an up-and-coming actor, possessing a handsomely brown charisma (with markedly Arabic if not even a touch of African physiognomy), sort of resembling a young and ethnic Sean Connery-meets-Ben-Kingsley. Most notably, he was in the 2008 Iron Man movie (the one with Jeff Bridges), as well as the overblown dud-at-the-box-office sci fi movie from last year, Elysium. His IMDB page indicates a definite upward swing to his film career, with several films and TV roles last year, six this year already, and two films slated for 2015.
In reading a bit about him, I stumbled across a very interesting tidbit of information in a news article online:
But what he counts as an achievement was being able to convince the director and producer of Iron Man to change some parts of the original script which depicted Muslims negatively. Instead of portraying the bad guys as belonging to one religion, the altered version showed them as soldiers of fortune who were in it for the money, Tahir explains.
“After seeing the script, I spoke to them [director and producer] and explained that it was a superhero movie, in which the bad guys can be mercenaries,” he said while speaking at the T2F. “To my delight, they saw the point.”
Although IMDB lists several producers of the movie, perhaps it was the Israeli Jew Avi Arad, or his son Ari Arad, both listed among the producers of that movie, who along with director Jon Favreau were "delighted" to let Tahir have his way and "adjust" the movie's script in order to protect Muslim PR.
That was Tahir's jihad: doing what he can, using his influence, to advance the cause of Islam by actually censoring or bowdlerizing a movie script: Jihad of the Red Pen.
Ironically, back in January of 2005, Tahir played a low-level Muslim terrorist on the blockbuster television juggernaut 24. His character ("Tomas Sherek") had planted a bomb on a train, but was only a foot soldier pawn in some larger plot by the Muslim terrorism mastermind "Habib Marwan" (played by the vaguely ethnic-looking white South African actor, Arnold Vosloo of Revenge of the Mummy fame). Apparently, Tahir didn't have enough clout back then to wield his jihad of the red pen -- though his co-religionists in that regard picked up the slack, when C.A.I.R. pressured the Fox television network to at least have the show's star, Kiefer Sutherland, deliver public service announcements at the start of the show, in which he solemny declared that the show in no way endorses bigotry and that:
“...the American Muslim community stands firmly beside their fellow Americans in denouncing and resisting all forms of terrorism.”
What other groups in the world have ever had the privilege of the star of a hit TV show anxiously cater to their sensibilities on air seconds before the breathless premier of the show and then at the start of subsequent episodes throughout the season? None, of course. Muslims are special that way, don't you know. (For more on 24, see my older essay, Excellently crappy television: Oz, The Unit, and 24.)