Iran censors cover Michelle Obama's cleavage

Left, the first lady at the Academy Awards ceremony; right, as she appeared in a still shot on Iranian TV. Not the best idea, perhaps, when you're trying to bring attention to Argo's historical inaccuracies!


  1. I think a minimum amount of cover-up to reflect local standards is OK.  In the US, we bleep out words which are allowed to be broadcast in the UK; I see this example as a similar action.  However, there should be a notation at the bottom of the screen/photo to indicate that there has been such a change (just like the audible beep makes it immediately evident that a word or phrase has been censored).

    If she had been put in full cover-up, or deleted from the scene, or the event not covered at all by the “news” station because it involved a woman….that would be a different story.

    1. This is less like bleeping swear words and more like rebroadcasting a Scottish comedian’s routine but dubbing in “sheep finding” for “sheep fucking” and not telling anyone.

      But I guess you’re right — if they had used a blurred square, the uncertainty of what might be under it might have been even more titillating…

      1. That is exactly what U.S. networks have to do with movies with swearing in them. Watch an R rated movie on network tv sometime to see all the hilariously bad overdubs.

        One of the classics is watching Fast Times at Ridgemont High on regular tv:  “Yooooooooooou DICK JERK!!!”  “jerk” in horribly overdubbed voice that sounds nothing like Sean Penn….

        1. That is exactly what U.S. networks have to do with movies with swearing in them.

          For fiction, yes—but rarely in any program that purports to be “journalism.”

          1. Reread the op’s comment. He wasn’t talking about news, he was talking about comedy (“sheep finding” for “sheep fucking”), but now that you mention it they don’t do that on the news either. If they’re recounting some kind of dialogue they usually refuse to say the word and say “explicative” instead. This goes for print a lot of the time as well. I wonder what the Iranians (or anybody who’s not a scum) thinks about Newscorp putting lurid bikini photos of Reeva Steenkamp on the front page of its newspapers?

          2. Sure, but the difference is that in journalism you’re not supposed to hide the fact that you censored something. If a naked person ends up in the news in the U.S. they’ll generally blur or black out the offending bits but they won’t photoshop in some extra clothing.

          3. U.S. msm would just leave out the parts that are inconvenient altogether, or push the neoliberal narratives of special interests as if they’re news and not somebody else’s talking points. Hell, you only have to see the way they’ve painted Iran as a nuke crazy aggressor to see that. Pick your poison….

        2. My co-worker and I used to joke about these:
          “You’re gonna look pretty funny tryin to eat corn on the cob with no T-E-E-E-E-E-TH”and”Looks like you’re really up the creek!”

    2. If they didn’t like what she was wearing, they should have put a black box over her, not edited her dress.

  2. For them, that’s actually a pretty good job.  I remember back when I worked in an academic library and we received subscriptions from a couple of Iranian magazines.  Usually they just filled in women’s bare shoulders, chests and upper arms with black.  It never looked convincing.

    1. Back in the mid 90s I used to get Western magazines (think Vanity Fair, Newsweek, etc) brought from Saudi Arabia by a friend who was working there and the cover ups seemed to be done with a sharpie and they were very crudely executed. Moreover, I was always amused by the fact that there was at least one person whose job was to browse through magazines and deface them before distribution. I always wondered what the requisite was to fill in that vacancy (i.e. did the person have to be very righteous? not easily influenced by “impure” thoughts? etc).

    2. My thoughts too.

      The military hack jobs must be bad on purpose, like it’s another odd way people are finding attention on the internet.

  3. This is still much better than the Orthodox Jewish newspaper that completely removed Hillary Clinton from the Osama Bin Laden kill-meeting photo. Not intending to be anti-Semitic, just noting that there are multiple levels of this kind of thing all over the place.

    1. Having it in for religious assholes doesn’t make you anti-semitic.  A whole lot of less religious or non-religious Israelis really hate those people.

  4. Think of all the earthquakes, guys. Think of all the earthquakes caused by cleavage. Prevention is the best tool, the Iranians have it covered.

  5. The Iranians must have issued an edict towards Tex Avery at some point.
    Animated wolves whistling at dames and gartered legs stopping cartoon traffic must have driven the post revolutionary population to eye popping madness.
    The kids there I’m sure are like ,”What gives?”

  6. While I certainly don’t condone Iran’s shoulder-covering, I suppose that’s their deal, and, in the name of pc, different strokes and all that (trust me, I don’t really believe this).
    However, I’m surprised that no-one here has found it a bit odd that the First Lady, flanked by US military members, presents an award to a cartoonishly anti-Iranian film when tensions are so high between the States and Iran.

    1. I find it odd that you think she had advanced knowledge. She was announcing the award for Best Picture. PricewaterhouseCoopers maintains absolute secrecy until the moment the presenters open the envelopes and reveal the winners live. 

      1.  I’d be surprised if the FLOTUS’ handlers didn’t screen the results in spite of PWC’s desires, in order to preclude any sort of gaffe. Hopefully you’re right, and this is just happenstance, but it still looks rather bad.

      2. There are always a handful of people in the know. How do you think those little trophies just happen to have the right names engraved on them?

        1. They get the names put on them at the engraving table at the Governor’s Ball.  They’re blank when they’re handed out.

          But I can’t imagine that Mrs. Obama would have participated without knowing the outcome.  There’s no way in hell that she would have participated if Django Unchained had won.

          1. Ah, I thought I’d seen some news report years ago about the engravers who took their vow of secrecy very seriously. Maybe it was for some other kind of award.

            Still, I imagine a few people must know. Somebody’s gotta write the winner on that card in the envelope.

  7. Clearly someone working for the Government of Iran has some photoshop talent. I am lead to wonder why whoever “fixed” Michelle Obama’s top wasn’t working to make Iran’s ludicrous  Qaher F313 propaganda ‘shops a bit more convincing…

    1. Damn you!  Now I have an image in my mind’s eye of Michelle Obama with her arms outstretched, Superman style, flying over Damavand Mountain.

  8. If they’re trying to make her look modest, it could be a sign of showing respect, in their own way. I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

    1. They are presenting a fictional version of the First Lady as reality because they find the actual one offensive. That’s not an act of respect and it certainly isn’t ethical journalism.

      If they didn’t approve of her appearance for cultural reasons then they should have just covered her up with a black box.

      1. And covering her up with a black box would be more ethical to you? I can see that it would have the appearance of being a more principled decision, but it clearly does more violence to the First Lady’s appearance. Besides, Iranians aren’t oblivious to the kinds and magnitude of censorship perpetrated by their state, so it’s not obvious that they would’ve been deceived anyway. 

        Your notion of respect here is question-begging too. Perhaps for them, it is a sign of respect to alter someone’s appearance if the person wasn’t dressed in a manner considered dignified by their cultural norms. I’m just saying they may not have *intended* to disrespect the First Lady, even if it might to appear us that they have done so.

        1. And covering her up with a black box would be more ethical to you?

          From a journalistic perspective, absolutely. Any self-described news agency has a responsibility to present the world as it is, not as it should be according to local standards of decency.

    2. Maybe I could show you respect by changing all your comments to read, “I ♥ Justin Bieber”.

        1. You really think that censorship can only apply to words?  Do you support countries that won’t allow women to go in public without being veiled?

          1. The difference here is that the only freedom being infringed is that of the audience to see Michelle Obama’s cleavage, and of her freedom to show her cleavage to the Iranian audience. In a more conservative and religious country like Iran, that doesn’t hurt her message and might even improve the receptivity of the Iranian audience to it. I somehow doubt Michelle Obama would really mind that. It’s not like she was actually forced to cover up her cleavage, it was just edited out. I think editing out swear words, as TV networks here do, might actually be worse than editing out cleavage, as far as free speech is concerned.

  9. It sure is a good thing we live in the good ol’ U S of A where part of an exposed busom on national television has never become a national scandal.

    1.  Well, that was a nipple, and as you know the sight of even a single nipple in the middle of a wildly violent sporting event can cause people to get the vapours.

  10. I think it’s fucking disgusting. You can still see her naked arms!

    Although she does have a right to bare arms, what with being an American.

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