TEHRAN. (Iranart) – There are some questions that need to be asked over and over again from the IRIB, which claims to be a state television yet never bothers to take criticism or apologize as the so-called flag-holder of Iranian art.
Doing a write-up about the national television network in Iran or the IRIB and its programs is more like flogging a dead horse. Those behind its programs have never bothered to take their critics seriously, which is why they are now mostly at each others’ throats.
The truth is, this is their personal media and business. It doesn’t belong to us. They never bother to show what we like to watch. Just a couple of game shows for fun and nothing else to air about.
Some might say this has nothing to do with you and me, but the truth is this has become our business too, because TV programs are affecting everyone. The IRIB was supposed to be a university. Instead, it has become a joint for celebrities and pop music.
The purpose for this write-up, though: The art page of Hamshahri newspaper published an interview with Deputy Culture Minister Seyyed Mohammad Mojtaba Hosseini after the Iranian New Year (March 21). It was hard to read:
The reporter asked: You invited pop singer Behnam Bani to the Fajr Music Festival. You should also invite someone similar to our traditional music events.
The deputy culture minister said in response: Unfortunately, there are a handful of celebrities in the Iranian traditional and classical music.
He went on to explain: As you said, there are key figures in the classical music. They include Kalhor, Alizadeh and Nazeri. If for some reasons like having a concert they can’t attend a festival, the same misunderstanding would be there. I wish the number of classical music singers was more than the number of our fingers. This would take away the remaining misunderstanding. To judge by reputation, as long as there is Fajr Music Festival and there is a section called pop music, the classical music section will be overshadowed. No matter how hard we try, a pop singer is still more popular than his classical counterpart. The question is which one is more influential and which one famous.
The deputy culture minister has been in office for some 15 months. He should have asked why Behnam Bani is more famous than classical singers and who is to blame? A quick internet search says Bani became famous with his 2016 hit song Special Interest, composed by Hamed Baradaran. How come in such a short period of time he became more famous than Majid Kiani, Raphael Minaskanian, Manouchehr Sahbai, Simon Ayvazian, Mohammad Esmaeli, Saeid Sabet, and Hossein Behroozinia? Who or which foundation made such a taste in music a public trend? Who is to blame?
As such, Hossein Alizadeh said during a recent press conference with the Iranian Philharmonic Association: There is too much entertainment music in Iran.
He likewise failed to ask which organization is behind this new trend in music.
It goes without saying that the Culture Ministry has failed our music. Then again, it’s unfair to argue that only the ministry is to blame for the status of pop music. The same argument could be made about the sudden popularity of pop singers. There is no budget at the ministry to promote pop music. They have already made this clear: Pop music is a regular at the Fajr Music festival because it generates revenues and goes with the spirit of the festivities for the 1979 revolution.
Indeed, which organization does promote and market pop singers, or give them more airtime in extravagant programs? Which organization is the reason why no one knows anything about Iranian classical musicians? How come pop singers are free to give live performances every day and in different hours but not their classical counterparts?
These are the questions that need to be asked over and over again from the IRIB, which claims to be a state television yet never bothers to take criticism or apologize as the so-called flag-holder of Iranian art. No doubt, it has played a key role in undermining the Iranian art. It is the reason why many viewers now have a taste for pop music and not classical. The IRIB has no intention to change course because it just doesn’t want to. We rest our case.
A short version of this write-up was first published in the Hamshahri newspaper.