close button
Switch to Iranwire Light?
It looks like you’re having trouble loading the content on this page. Switch to Iranwire Light instead.

Presidential Campaign Videos Show Candidates Arrogance and Timidity

June 7, 2024
5 min read
Pharaoh like Larijani's video shows a self-absorbed candidate with little regard for ordinary people
Pharaoh like Larijani's video shows a self-absorbed candidate with little regard for ordinary people
Ahmadinejad may be the only candidate who know how to interact with ordinary Iranians
Ahmadinejad may be the only candidate who know how to interact with ordinary Iranians
Vahid Haghanian's campaign video reminds one of ISIS hostage videos
Vahid Haghanian's campaign video reminds one of ISIS hostage videos

IranWire has launched a daily video series providing in-depth analysis and commentary on Iran's upcoming snap presidential election.

The unscheduled polls were triggered by the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash last month.

The video series features a number of IranWire contributors and experts, aiming to offer viewers credible and unfiltered information amid the charged political atmosphere surrounding the expedited election process.

IranWire's team of journalists and political analysts plans to dissect the latest developments, assess the qualifications of approved candidates, and explore the broader implications for Iran's domestic affairs and international relations in the post-Raisi era.

This allows them to reach audiences within the Islamic Republic despite its severe media censorship and restrictions on free press.

In the latest video, IranWire contributors talked about the promotional videos released so far by potential candidates.

Maziar Bahari, filmmaker and founder of IranWire, said that most of the campaign videos lack basic elements of effective filmmaking, such as character development and storytelling. "For me, the most important aspects missing are compelling storytelling, narration, and character development, which we do not see in the majority of the released videos so far," Bahari explained.

Bahari argued that former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be the only potential candidate capable of producing promotional clips with an engaging personal narrative woven throughout. "Ahmadinejad, a charlatan and a crook, holds a rather unique place in the Islamic Republic, and that's why he’s managed to attract people by telling his life story in his clips since 2005," Bahari said.

"He knows how to inject himself into the center of the dramatic political theatre in Iran and simply does not care what the other officials think about him," he added.

As Iran's vetting body, the Guardian Council has not yet released the names of the final candidates, former Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has also released a series of promotional videos.

Larijani, a prominent conservative politician, was disqualified from running in the 2021 election.

"Exactly opposite of Ahmadinejad is Larijani," Bahari said. "In the videos, Larijani does not even interact with a few supporters where he could hold their hands or hug their kids. All we see are his bodyguards, intentionally angled in choreographed shots to present him as spectacular."

In the conversation, Bahari highlighted the staged, disconnected nature of Larijani's videos, devoid of the kind of personal connections and storytelling that could resonate with Iranian viewers. "The clips seem produced to portray Larijani as a powerful, almost regal figure through careful camerawork and the visible presence of security details more akin to a head of state than an election candidate."

Bahari compared the Iranian videos to the one released by Ed Davies, the leader of the British Liberal Democrats, in which he interacts with his severely disabled son and talks about his parents. “I’ve watched that video four or five times by now. And I’ve cried every time,” Bahari said. “But in the Iranian videos, you don’t learn anything about the candidates, who they are, and what are their objectives. They just repeat a set of cliché slogans.”

IranWire journalist Aylar Faturechian highlighted the backlash already brewing on Iranian social media over Ali Larijani's widely panned promotional video for his presidential candidacy. "Many Iranians are criticizing Larijani for the arrogant, elitist optics of his video," Faturechian said. "They’re saying he's portrayed like a Pharaoh, looking down on regular people, trying to show himself as part of an untouchable elite far removed from Iranian society," she added.

She revealed that many online commentators have been making comparisons between Larijani's video production values and the more authentic, if controversial, clips released by his rival Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "People were comparing Larijani's visuals to Ahmadinejad's videos, and even those saying they wouldn't vote still felt the former president did a better job connecting with viewers through a more relatable depiction," Faturechian added.

Another IranWire journalist, Solmaz Eikdar, pointed out the similarities between the tone-deaf campaign videos released by presidential hopefuls Ali Larijani and Saeed Jalili, the former nuclear negotiator. "Jalili's promotional videos mirror the same disconnected, elite-centric approach as Larijani's," Eikdar said. "The content and messaging in these videos seem entirely detached from the realities and concerns of everyday Iranian society," she explained.

Adding to the unorthodox mix of candidates vying for Iran's presidency is Vahid Haghanian, a former Revolutionary Guards commander currently under US sanctions. Haghanian has already released an awkward promotional video that has raised eyebrows among observers. In the clip, Haghanian is seen stiffly reading from a prepared script, a stark departure from the norms of engaging modern campaign videos.

"Haghanian's video reminds me of the forced confessional videos produced by terrorist groups like Hamas or ISIS, showing their hostages forced to read propaganda statements under duress," Bahari said.

In the bizarre video showing only his close-up, Haghanian claims he sought and received permission directly from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei before recording the promotional segment. Such an assertion could be an attempt by Haghanian to tout his hardline revolutionary credentials and loyalty to the velayat-e faqih system of clerical rule.

IranWire journalist Atta Mahamad said that Haghanian's promotional video was a calculated response to the backlash he faced for even registering as a presidential candidate. "Haghanian likely made that video to directly rebut criticism over his controversial candidacy," Mahamad said. "By claiming he had the Supreme Leader's explicit permission and filming himself in that darkly-lit, disembodied manner showing his hands, he wants to send a chilling message to his opponents."

According to Mahamad's analysis, the visuals and production choices were deliberate signals aimed at flexing Haghanian imposing proximity to power. "It conveys that 'I'm coming from an untouchable place that none of you can reach or challenge,'' he said.

At the end of the session, Aida Ghajar asked Bahari about the possibility of the candidates taking notes and learning from the IranWire discussion. “I don’t think so,” Bahari replied. “Their problem is that they don’t have much imagination and are too afraid of what other officials, especially the Leader and the people around him, think of them. They are also too detached from the ordinary people. So, they continue to produce these arrogant and superficial videos without much regard to what potential voters would think of them.”



Iranian Activist Faces Espionage, Insult Charges

June 7, 2024
1 min read
Iranian Activist Faces Espionage, Insult Charges