Social media is what its users make of it. This is true for Westerners and people in the diaspora. Journalist Masih Alinejad feels that truth as a member of the Iranian diaspora. I don’t know if it’s the diaspora or her or me, but she feels a strong connection to the people back home. Sure, just like any viewer who also uses social media, she feels the toxicity of it all. This is especially true when the Iranian government uses that channel of communication to attack her. This government also forces hijabs on the female members of her family. This drives her to tears as someone who stopped wearing a hijab years after leaving her home country. On the other side of things, she engenders positive energy whether or not she logs on or off. There are scenes of her playing in the rain, which she can’t do back home.
Be My Voice is an interesting confluence of media and message and of subject and method. I write interesting instead of perfect since the documentary shows Alinejad’s imperfections. I’m writing this part too while trying to be professional, but she may or may not ne neuro atypical. This speculation comes from her occasionally erratic actions. The documentary follows her from how sad or how happy she can be. The documentary, in other words, captures her emotions as fast as hers changes. But there’s also a social element to this. Of course someone who sees a government threatening her family isn’t going to take it calmly. Documentaries about subjects like this can go both ways but both she and the film around her know how to introduce her ideas to its viewers. She disregards respectability politics, indicts Western countries for normalizing Iran’s actions, and loves plants. Can’t help but like her.
Be My Voice also screens as part of Hot Docs on May 5.