Welcome to Iran, Where It’s a Crime to Be “Happy”

Some young Iranians in Tehran wanted to show the world what it’s really like in Iran. They thought, “You know, most people view Iran as this terrible place filled with hateful people. We want to show them a different version of Iran—one where people are free and happy.”

So they recorded a music video for Pharrell William’s hit “Happy.” It features three young Iranian men and three young Iranian women dancing together to the song on Tehran rooftops and stuff. It’s rated G by any standards. Well, apparently not by any standards.

The young people were all arrested by Iranian officials when the video went viral with over 200,000 views. What were the offenses?

While the video seems innocuous enough, several laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran were apparently broken. Among them: women appearing without hijab head coverings, dancing to Western pop music, and using an illegal web site to disseminate an unlicensed video.


All of these offenses regularly go ignored in Iran.


But this time around, it could be the fact that the video is part of a global pop culture trend and . . . that it had taken off, with tens of thousands of views, that prompted Iranian authorities to take action.

Well, I’m glad we finally got Iran on the Women’s Issues Committee of the UN. Would hate to lose their valuable insight on how women should be arrested for taking off their hijabs and dancing to Western pop music.

I especially love the fact that one of the offenses is “using an illegal web site.” Which one was that? YouTube? I don’t think we’re talking about some shady corner of the dark web here, oh wise and powerful masters of ignorant zeal. If you aren’t allowed to access YouTube, what are you allowed access to in Iran? Turns out, not very much. Over 50% of the most trafficked websites in the world are illegal in Iran. Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus? Nope. Not in Iran.

The bottom line is that Iran is not really a happy place. Ironically, the very young people who were trying to convince the world that Iran was really pretty hip and cool have succeeded only in reconfirming what we all already knew—Iran is a backwards and tyrannical place. There might be some people there trying to be happy, but they sure picked the wrong place to do it.