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Things We Saw Today: Why Can’t This Fake John Oliver/James Van Der Beek Podcast About Iranian Politics Be Real?

And, as Oliver says, “If you didn’t think that James Van Der Beek was an expert in Iranian history, you need to expand your expectations of what people are capable of.”

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Feminism Around the World: Badass Women We’re Thankful For

This week's Feminism Around the World column is dedicated to the amazing women alive right now — activists, artists, athletes, politicians, and more — who are doing great things and working to move the needle toward parity and justice in their respective fields. for whom we're eternally grateful.

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Eight Women Arrested in Iran for Instagram Photos Considered to Be “un-Islamic”

Eight women who work for online modeling agencies in Iran have been arrested for the "un-Islamic" photos they had posted to Instagram.

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Iranian Newscaster Sheena Shirani Outs Alleged Workplace Sexual Harasser

Sheena Shirani, a former newscaster at Press TV, a state-run, English-language Iranian network, is reportedly in hiding after alleging that she was harassed at her workplace "for years."

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Cut Video Looks at 100 Years of Hair and Makeup in Iran

For their third installment in the awesome "100 Years of Hair and Makeup" series, Cut Video and their model Sabrina take a look at how fashion has evolved in Iran over the past century.

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The Mary Sue Interview: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night Director Ana Lily Amirpour & Star Sheila Vand

Talking Iranian lady vampire flicks is always the best.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is one of the coolest movies of the year. Written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, the film stars Sheila Vand as a chador-wearing vampire preying on the men of Bad City in a mash-up of western and vampire film, which is also surprisingly funny and romantic. Vand and Amirpour were in New York this week for the release of the film, and talked about their mysterious character, dangerous love, and the benefits of working with a cat on set.

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Review: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night Is Weird, Wild Stuff

A cult classic in the making.

If the title A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night sounds like the set-up for a joke, you’d be right. The new Iranian-language, American-produced, western-inspired vampire movie is one of the weirdest and funniest movies of this season - which also happens to have a surprisingly compelling love story. The movie is one of the most interesting movies of the year, which features a star0making performance by Sheila Vand and a stunning feature film debut by writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour.

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Iranian Police Arrest Online Music Video Dancers for Getting “Happy”

Pharrell videos are protected by the right to the pursuit of "Happy"-ness.

Iran is apparently a whole lot like that town in Footloose (which Wikipedia tells me is called Bomont), because they've arrested 6 people for dancing in a music video. While we in the U.S. have the luxury of suffering infinite numbers of Pharrell music videos, Iran doesn't take so kindly to people getting "Happy."

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A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, an Iranian Vampire Western

Bloody Good Fun

Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night will premiere at Sundance this month, claims it is a mix of spaghetti western, comics, horror film, and Iranian New Wave. It also promises a vampire riding a skateboard. We are very, very intrigued. AICN has a poster and some pages of a tie in comic.

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Iran Wants to Send Cats to Space

And Now For Something Completely Different

Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency has announced that they may be doing the internet a giant favor by putting a cat into space. It wouldn't be the first time one of our feline friends has made up and back. Well, actually they're not doing it for the internet. They're doing it because they want to reach the goal of manned spaceflight by 2018.

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Iranian League of Legends Tournament Bans a Bunch of Female Characters for Being Too Revealing

Nobody let these dudes see a picture of what Lara Croft looked like in the '90s.

For a fighting game, League of Legends has a surprisingly decent ratio of female champions to male -- at 39 out of 104 it's not completely even, but it's better than the standard "token broad" you get in most fighting games. So it's a pretty huge bummer that an unofficial LoL tournament in Iran felt it necessary to ban most of the female champions from the tourney.

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Iranian Women Practice Parkour Despite Obstacles, Make Us Feel Lazy [VIDEO]

Today in Awesome

Parkour is a growing trend in Iran, where more and more males and females alike are learning of the sport through illegal satellite TV broadcasts. Speaking to France 24, a 20-year-old college student explains how Iranian women, like the ones seen in the video above, have a tougher time of it. But they still do it. Because they're awesome like that. (OK, that last part was all me).

Of course, it’s not easy for girls. While boys practise parkour in the streets, as it is meant to be done, girls often prefer to practise in less-busy places like beaches or natural parks, where there aren’t many people around. We fear getting in trouble with the police or basijis [volunteer militiamen who act as the morality police], who could accuse us of copying a Western fad. We could also get in trouble for practising sports outside designated facilities. Parkour is a not an easy sport to do while wearing a headscarf and a manto [a style of long tunic worn by many Iranian women] over pants. You have to worry about getting your manto caught on things and making you fall, so you can’t move quite as fast as boys. But we have no other choice.
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Iran Rolls Out Teams of Snipers to Battle Enormous Mutant Rats

The Iranian capitol of Tehran is suffering from a pest problem we don't envy -- Rodents of Unusual Size have come to plague the city. While they're not the nearly human sized creatures native to the Fire Swamp, Iranian officials have reported that the "genetically mutated" creatures weigh in at up to 11 pounds. That's larger than some of the cats that prowl the city's streets, and big enough to warrant government backed teams of snipers whose job is to hunt down the voluminous vermin, because of course they're resistant to traditional poison. Of course they are.

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Iranian President Wants To Be Shot Into Space, John McCain Takes Opening For Monkey Joke

Iran's Mehr News agency is reporting that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has volunteered to be the first Iranian citizen launched into space. Say what you will about Ahmadinejad, who is a world-class jag by pretty much any metric you might care to use, but that's a pretty brave move, considering there are significant questions about whether Iran is even capable of launching a monkey into space and retrieving it safely. Representatives of the U.S. government have already responded to Ahmadinejad's orbital aspirations through the accepted diplomatic channels, which in this case is apparently "monkey joke on Twitter."

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Iran Put A Monkey In Space, And Apparently Got It Back Safely, Too

Reuters is reporting that the aerospace arm of Iran's defense ministry has successfully launched a monkey into space and retrieved it alive, thereby pushing Iran's young space program leaps and bounds forward, all the way into the 1950s. We would say welcome to the party, Iran, but frankly, the idea of you having rockets really just makes everyone uncomfortable, so... come in if you have to, I guess?

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Oh Me, Oh My, Rare Tumor Causes Hair to Grow on Man’s Eye

Human hair has that unique quality of being both a blessing and a curse. While it gifts us with luscious locks that can make others swoon, hair also has the inconvenient habit of sprouting out of places we'd rather not have it grow -- typically resulting in the reluctant use of tweezers that leaves us whimpering like a child. Still, perhaps we should be fortunate that rogue strands of hair aren't growing on more sensitive parts of our face, like, say, our very eyes. A 19-year-old man from Iran learned in the most startling way possible that, thanks to a rare tumor known as a limbal dermoid on the surface of his eyeball, hair can grow wherever it damn well pleases.

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Worst. Present. Ever: Christmas Sees New Stuxnet Attack For Iran

This Christmas, Iran -- whose ruling regime is on any number of naughty lists around the world -- got another dose of the gift that keeps on giving. Like a flareup of digital herpes, the Stuxnet virus apparently reared its ugly head once again, with Iranian media announcing on Christmas day that the virus had been causing trouble for industries including  power plants in the south of the nation over the last few months.

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Iran Launches Own Version of YouTube, We Look Forward to Iranian Cat Videos

Iran keeps a pretty tight lock on what they allow on the Internet over there, and sites like YouTube generally don't make the cut. YouTube has been censored there since 2009, but Iran has launched their own version of the video-sharing site called Mehr. The government has not said if, or how heavily censored Mehr will be, but with any luck the Iranian Nyan Cat will have is day.

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Iran Only Blocked Gmail Because They Couldn’t Figure Out How to Just Block YouTube

It appears that Iran has today pulled back the block it had in place on Gmail, which the country put in place a week ago. We'd originally suggested that Iran didn't truly understand the implications of their action, but it seems that they totally did: They just didn't know how to stop it. That anti-Islam clip was the intended target, but the country didn't know how to only block YouTube. To be fair, this type of digital incompetence is present universally, but it's more prevalent in countries prone to censorship.

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Estonia Somehow Tops Internet Freedom Chart, Has Least Amount of Digital Tomfoolery

This is Estonia. For those that might not know, Estonia is a small country that sits on top of Latvia and has Finland across a bit of water directly to the north. According to the most recent assessment by Freedom House, an advocacy group that unsurprisingly focuses on exactly what you might think, Estonia is also the country that provides the best, most unrestricted access to the Internet. That's right: A former Soviet republic tops the charts of digital freedom.

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