Marjane Satrapi: Humor, Iron Maiden and the Islamic Revolution

I think I want Capone over
at Ain’t It Cool News to be my new BFF, because he keeps interviewing the coolest women! A few weeks ago
it was Loretta Devine. This week, it’s Persepolis creator Marjane Satrapi.

Scribegrrrl blogged about
in December but, if you missed it, you should go back
and read about this fascinating movie, which
I’m chagrined to admit I still have not seen. (But I just decided I’m
going to remedy that this week!) Also, if you have not seen it, you
should definitely take a moment to watch the Persepolis



Frankly, I don’t know how I’ve
waited this long to see the movie. It looks so incredibly good!

But enough about me. What’s
actually interesting is to read what Marjane Satrapi has to say about
the original graphic novel, the movie and her life. Here are some highlights. (And keep in mind,
as Capone noted, “if her English isn’t grammatically correct, remember
that she is fairly fluent in probably a half-dozen languages.”)

On her childhood in Iran before
the Islamic revolution:

“As much surprising as it would be
for you, my childhood was very much of an American childhood, because
Iran was really Americanized before the revolution. Basically, I would
go with my cousin to Big Boy, have a burger at Big Boy, and then we
would go and play bowling. This is it. That is exactly like a childhood
of an American, going to Big Boy, having a burger, and then going and
play bowling. So, that was what my childhood was about. Playing bowling,
making ice-skating, eating burgers and American pizza, drive through.
All these kinds of things, watching American movies and all of that.
So, it was the way it was.”

For the record, she wanted to marry Steve
McQueen, and also loved Clint Eastwood.

On why her parents took serious risks
(in the book, not the movie) to get her an Iron Maiden poster:

“ … my parents took all this
risk to bring this poster, you know, of these five jerks, you know,
Iron Maiden, because it was just a question of equilibrium, because
they knew that if I had those, I would feel really much better. In this
country, during a war, when the only thing that you could do to make
your child so happy, of course, you would do it.”

On why she returned to Iran
after her parents sent her to school in Austria:

“I don’t know … because I
had enough, because I was also living this … I lived a little bit of
an extreme life [Marjane lived in Morocco for a time as a teenager before
going back to Iran], and this is the moment that I was probably too
broken, and you know, I mean … I had to go back. I didn’t have any way
out. Either I had to stay in the street or go back,. That was the decision.
I don’t know, I don’t know. It’s maybe also because I had too much of
an alternative life. Many of the kids also, they stayed on the right
road. I was lost so much on the right road. I don’t know. It’s choices
that you make in life. I don’t know.”

On why she works in drawing mediums
(graphic novel and animated movie):

“For me, drawing is just
the first language of human beings. Actually, before writing, people,
you know, human beings, they were drawing. So, it’s something extremely
direct …

The fact of being able to have,
you know, puppet scene, and then war scene, and family scene, and the
meeting with God, etc., and all of that seems coherent, and at the same
time is not, is just because it’s animation, especially the black and
white. So, you know, it was extremely possible to make all of that just
because it was an animation. It gave us a lot of freedom …

[Maus] was the first book that they gave
me in France. And then, I was, like, why did they give me a comic book?
Do they think that I’m retarded or something? That was what I thought.
And then, I read the books really. It was a revelation in my life. That
was exactly the idea, like, this is not a genre. This is so good. And,
it’s incredible.”

On why humor is necessary to
deal with tragedy:

“ … the only way to treat
the unbearable situation is either to laugh about them or you die from
them. But, you cannot just sit and complain. You complain when it is
still at the limit of being bearable …

… humor is a question of intelligence.
You know, people with no sense of humor, they’re just stupid people.
So, this is to start with. This life is so short, it’s so unbearable,
we’re all going to die, so if you take it too seriously … I mean, it’s
so serious to start with because you’re going to die. So, if you take
it too seriously, then, what is left?”

See? She’s just cool. I could
read and quote her all day, but I’ll leave it to you to read the entire interview on your own.