According to many, Argo was poised to win Best Picture because the movie was able to bolster Hollywood and the CIA at the expense of a forgotten tale, the Islamic Revolution.
After it was reported today that, Hollywood hunk, Ben Affleck shaved off his Argo beard, and Michelle Obama made history being the First Lady to announce the Best Picture at the 85th Academy Awards, it becomes clear that the White House loves Hollywood, but at a heavy expense to Iran? Many Iranians both in the United States and around the world certainly think so, even though many will never have the chance to see it.
Argo does a wonderful job promoting the power of Hollywood, that when used properly, can have a deep impact on human perception everywhere. In Argo, just the presents of a Hollywood film crew slowly navigating through the heavily fortified streets of Tehran, with only their lenses and light meters as a form of protection, can cause angry militia men to drop their arms in awe. Further, the movie’s design does a good job rebuilding the tattered reputation of a seemingly dysfunctional CIA, even though that might be a tall order.
The troubling side of Argo, was to the sensitive people of Iran and how they were portrayed in the film, and how the United States was compared and contrasted, on a scene by scene level to country of Iran. Every aspect of film’s texture and audio nuances were magnified as the camera panned back and forth from the United States to Iran. In America, refreshing winds were blowing as brilliantly colored flags proudly flew against a dark blue sky. The dialog of the Americans was positive, upbeat, comical, joking, agreeable, but noticeably sarcastic about the inhabitants of Iran.
In contract, Iran looked miserably gray, with dark vengeful souls traveling the streets, in search of anyone who even smelled American. Instead of colorful flags dancing in colorful skies, there were American corpses dangling high above the city streets. The entire dialog was harsh and distrusting, complete with the fiery eyes and spitting speech, it was as if the environment itself changed all human interaction in to a prison-yard of distrust. The few Iranians who were portrayed as the innocent-minority, owned soft and frightened voices and cowered in the dark shadows of buildings and homes, while the militant majority was seized by transports of political and religious rapture.
The majority of the complaints, by many Iranians around the world, is that while Argo portrays a slice of life in the 1970’s it doesn’t do much good today, for the reputation of a huge country that measures more than 636,000 sq miles, containing a population of more than 75 million people. A country that still has the bragging rights of being, not only oldest civilization in the world, dating back to 2800 BC, but one of the most highly educated countries as well, with more than 70 percent of the population under the age of 30 years old.
With the release of Argo, the movie, for the most part, is unavailable to the very people who are desperately trying to link to the outside world. A huge population of human beings not wanting to be portrayed as hyper-exaggerated mad-men, chasing after airplanes filled with innocent humans, desperately escaping to a safe distance in the skies above Iran. As one Iranian woman who now lives in Geneva, Switzerland put it, “Argo paints the picture of my loved ones with broad strokes of dark colors, a country of lovely people, who don’t want to be sent back in time. It just makes me want to yell!”
There is no debating the fact that Argo was a wonderful movie, creating an edge-of-the-seat drama that never culminates into a testosterone action thriller like the 1983 novel On Wings of Eagles, by Ken Follett, or the 2012 action movie Zero Dark Thirty, where both stories portray the a dramatic United States fixing things in extremely hostile countries.
Realizing today that the world is indeed “flat” and tied together much more tightly by social media, story tellers must carry at least some level of social responsibility with respect to temper. We’ve learned our lesson with regard to human dignity surrounding race and religion, and we all must realize that we can’t produce cowboy and indians movies like we once did. In an industry where we even have to mention the fact that “no animal was insured or harmed during the making of a movie”, it might be time to extend that respect to the millions of wonderfully sensitive people in other parts of the world, outside of Hollywood and the Whitehouse, in countries like Iran, Afghanistan and the far off and forgotten worlds of the mid-east.