What does it mean when the Iranians teased and taunted their recent British prisoners with the name “Mr. Bean?” It means two things: 1. The iconic comedy character has worldwide appeal, and 2. It’s an appeal that may not always flatter the British people. For The Guardian, Patrick Barkham investigates how Mr. Bean became an unofficial amabassador for the country, as the latest Bean movie opens to big box-office in the U.K. before coming stateside on August 31. From the article:
It is not surprising that the Iranian guards used Mr Bean with satirical intent. The character has been popular across the Middle East, from Israel to Iraq, for years. The new film is currently the No 1 box-office attraction in Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. There have been more than 14m Mr Bean videos sold worldwide; many have been sold in Tehran’s shops and stalls. In 2001, Mr Bean’s legacy in Iran even got legal protection, of sorts, when an Iranian court sentenced two members of a radical Islamist group to flogging and prison for causing a small riot at a theatre show entitled Iran’s Mr Bean. It starred rubbery-faced Iranian comic Hami Reza Mahisefat doing a routine inspired by the British character. Mahisefat is one of Iran’s most successful comedians. Mr Bean may be a comic masterpiece made in Britain, but the joke is often on him – and us.