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An Iranian-American in Defense of Shahs of Sunset

One of the most wonderful things about Iranians is that, though we have no sense of humor and take ourselves entirely too seriously, we are comedic geniuses. We enjoy making ourselves laugh at our misfortunes and the misfortunes of others. Invaders, looters, sackers, and pillagers have come and gone, and our unique kind of humor has helped us remain immovably Persian. Holding on to one’s identity in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty is generally a good thing — and then the Persian conspiracy theory cauldron begins to boil and bubble.

We’re highly ambitious and hard-working people who love bling and all the goodies life has to offer, but, like the Dutch Calvinists and today’s Americans, God forbid some of us get ahead in a way that others deem crass. That’s when a self-appointed faction of the arbiter elegantiarum gets indignant and comes out in droves to proclaim the abject misrepresentation of the Children of Cyrus by opportunist Iranians who sold a bill of goods to some well-meaning but equally opportunistic westerner. They mobilize angry, insulting letter-writing campaigns denouncing the thing to the person(s) in charge (Ryan Seacrest got a raft of how-dare-you letters).

Iranian-Americans want our identity recognized as a minority of self-sufficient, modernist, and assimilating people who add a little cultural zest and sophistication to the American melting pot. So what better way than to be put on a common-denominator display such as reality TV?

One of the interesting factors in proving the fact that Iranians have nicely blended into the melting pot is that the main figures of the show (and their respective circles) show the same ethnic, religious, and even sexual diversities.

Another most fascinating aspect is Reza Farahan’s "gayness," which can be seen from space. The fact that it’s addressed openly in the show is something of a step in the right direction. Though homosexuality has very much existed in the Middle East (and been punishable by execution in some parts), it has been a topic swept under the rug. Reza’s open sexual orientation forces the issue.