x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Three-eyed censorship

When Iran banned Barbie dolls from toy stores, there was at least a shadow of a rationale. Tehran cited a crackdown on "manifestations of western culture", which made sense given the political climate.

But this week, when the Iranian newspaper Sharq reported a similar ban on dolls based on characters from TheSimpsons TV show, something seemed fishy. As in, fishy with three mutant eyes, orange scales and a name that rhymes with "stinky".

Fans of the cartoon show will know that Homer, the family patriarch, is more than a slovenly oaf. He is also the cartoon planet's most irresponsible nuclear plant operator. His employer, the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, has so polluted surrounding waters with radiation that three-eyed fish are in abundance. One of them, named Blinky, has been a regular character since 1990.

These days Blinky is much more than a cartoon; he is something of an anti-nuclear global mascot. Last October, when a real fisherman pulled a three-eyed fish out of a reservoir in Argentina that is fed by water from a nearby nuclear plant, newspapers put Blinky in the headlines.

All of which suggests Iran may have had a good reason for banning The Simpsons. We hope, at least, that there isn't a Homer at Bushehr.