Iranian media has condemned Darren Aronofsky‘s The Wrestler, claiming that it shows the West’s ignorance and prejudice towards Iran. The scene in question is where Mickey Rourke, who plays Randy “The Ram” Robinson, has to fight Earnest “The Cat” Miller, who plays a character named The Ayatollah, who dresses in Middle Eastern garb and waves the Iranian flag before attacking Robinson with the pole. What the Iran press don’t seem to understand is that The Ram and The Ayatollah are wrestlers from the 1980′s wrestling boom.
The Ayatollah is clearly a fictional take of The Iron Sheik, a popular wrestler in the 1980′s who drew heat from the real-life politics of the time, notably the Iran hostage crisis, and the animosity Americans had for the country of Iran. Was it politically correct? Hell no, but we weren’t living in politically correct times.
The film begins in modern times, and The Ayatollah is no longer a wrestler, but instead a used car dealership owner. The match in question is a 20th anniversary rematch. So in other words, these are two cartoon characters from the 1980′s, who are returning to the ring for one last go, one last payday. It would make no sense to present a politically correct Iranian professional wrestler, because that is not what wrestling gimmicks of the 1980′s were all about. I feel stupider for responding to this claim, but I felt it needed to be said.