Why did Iran let us in? They actually want to boost Western tourism. I would think this might frighten the Iranian government, since tourists could bring in unwanted ideas (like those that prompted the USSR to restrict tourism). But Iran wants more visitors nonetheless. They also believe that the Western media have made their culture look menacing, and never show its warm, human, and gracious side. They did lots of background research on me and my work, and apparently concluded that my motives were acceptable. They said that, while they'd had problems with other American network crews, they'd had good experiences with PBS film crews.
Not that we were planning to glorify Iran. While I was excited to learn about the rich tapestry of Iranian culture and history, I also recognized that I couldn't ignore some of the fundamental cultural differences. I felt a responsibility to show the reality women face in Iran, and to try to understand why Iranians always seem to be chanting “Death to America.” We wanted to be free-spirited and probing, but not abuse the trust of the Iranian government.
As my plane touched down in Tehran, I felt a wince of anxiety. This was a strange land for me — and therefore frightening. We had considered leaving our big camera in Greece and just taking the small one. Nervous even about the availability of electricity, I had made sure all my electrical stuff was charged up before leaving Greece. And there were questions: How free would we actually be? Would the hotel rooms be bugged? Was there really absolutely no alcohol — even in fancy hotels? Would crowds gather around us, and then suddenly turn angry? I was about to get my answers.
About This Entry
You are reading "Red Tape and Fear", an entry posted on 24 February 2010 by Rick Steves.