Academic journal article Global Media Journal

Cinema as an Alternative Media: Offside by Jafar Panahi

Academic journal article Global Media Journal

Cinema as an Alternative Media: Offside by Jafar Panahi

Article excerpt


This study inquires whether cinema is an alternative media or not. In our age, when the mainstream media is dominating the entire world, new types of media such as the internet can alternatively serve beyond the traditional mass media .Where does the cinema, the seventh art, stand against the existing order and status quo? To what extent is it an alternative means of showing the condition of the minorities in a society? This study addresses to the status of women, who are condemned to a secondary status in Iran and who can be categorized as a minority, through the film Offside by Jafar Panahi (Offside, 2006), emphasizing the fact that minority media reflects the status of political - social minorities. Offside by Panahi is an alternative voice of women in Iran, and considered a milestone in Iran's minority media as women are seen as a minority in Iran.

Keywords: Alternative media, Minority media, Women as minority; Alternative cinema


Mass media influences the lives of people, creating special worlds of information, emotions, thoughts, entertainment, curiosity, excitement and many other elements. These dream worlds created by the mass media, develop in parallel with the spirit of capitalism. Media creates its own majority and minorities, making the masses get used to it. Trying to see the situation in a country through the images of mass media and the pictures which are most likely nothing like the truth, people are led to think that those shown as the majority by the media are indeed the majority and those looked down upon and denigrated by the media are the minority.This study focuses on the representation of women as a minority in Iranian society through the film Offside by Jafar Panahi (2006), considers how the minority's media is shaped and ruled by broadcast policies. Although Islam and Islamic dynasties have played a determining role in the traditional socio-cultural texture of Iran, a 150 year period under the influence of westernization and modernization accelerated with the constitutional revolution2 has caused serious gaps in the social life governed by the Islamic rules. Although the relationship between the "modern-secular Iran" image which strengthened following the World War II and the women's issue (which had differentiations on the basis of class) evolved into another stage when political Islam virtually declared its victory by suppressing women as the relatively free female profile (which was the product of such image) was repressed by the Islamic Revolution of 19793. This study sheds light upon the "status of women" issue in Iran, departing from the fact that Islamic culture adds a unique yet deep dimension to the universal issues of womanhood. It also focuses on the position of women in the Iranian society, their status in the public sphere and the representation of the Iranian women through a film, associating this problem with Islam.

This study answers to these questions through Panahi's Offside:

Ø How is cinema used as an alternative media?

Ø How are women represented as a minority in a film?

Ø How does a film become an alternative media to show the status of minorities?

In Iran, religion is the main influential element of the political, social and daily life. Religion also serves the interests of authority, which prioritize men or women in both public and private spheres. It pushes women aside, affording them an unequal status. For the common opinion of society, women are prevented from acting freely, especially in public areas. Such situations are examined by Iranian directors such as Ashgar Farhadi, Abbas Kiyarüstami, Mohammed Sirvani and Jafar Panahi.

Alternative Media or Non Dominant Media

Alternative media, in its briefest definition, is the media that is not "dominant". Alternative media is the media that positions itself as distant from any power relationship (Köse, 2007:58) Opposition to the mainstream media and the prevailing order makes it necessary to use the media networks in different manners and with different methods. …

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