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"Argo" Reconsidered: Ben Affleck is a Right-Wing Propagandist

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by Anthony Kaufman
October 14, 2012 9:51 PM
63 Comments
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Aside from a pro-Jimmy Carter coda and a few asides that show America's support of the repressive Iranian monarchy of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Ben Affleck's "Argo" is essentially and overwhelmingly right-wing, pro-American propaganda, demonizing Iran as backward, barbaric, and fanatical--which is particularly problematic considering the United States' rising tensions with Iran.

Sure, Affleck is depicting a moment of national crisis in Iran, when the country was gripped with an extremist Islamic fervor, but I suspect Iranian historians would have told Affleck's production team that not every single Iranian was a screaming, violent, fundamentalist--as they seem to be depicted in just about every scene of the film. We get angry Iranian mobs on the streets, in bazaars. in the airports. Is this really any better than that Chuck Norris' Iranian hostage exploitation film "Delta Force" from the 1980s?

The one token "good" Iranian character is so insignificant she barely shows up in the film. I'm sorry, but one 5-second shot showing the sympathetic Iranian's sad plight as a refugee into Iraq doesn't discount the dozens of images of crazy-ass, fist-throwing Persians, each one looking as ominous and dangerous as the next, whether the chador-wearing women or the mean-looking bearded men.

At one point, an American man at the U.S. embassy says he's going to "reason" with the Iranian crowd outside. But, of course, Iranians--the film suggests--aren't capable of reason, and he's practically strung up on the spot.

I don't intend to be an apologist for the 1979 hostage-takers, or the barbarous actions of the current Iranian President, but to depict the Iranian people as a scary mob is an injustice of media representation.

Affeck's excuse is that he was just trying to make a movie "that is absolutely just factual," he has said. "That's another reason why I tried to be as true to the story as possible -- because I didn't want it to be used by either side. I didn't want it to be politicized internationally or domestically in a partisan way. I just wanted to tell a story that was about the facts as I understood them."

But this statement is naïve, at best, and directly misleading, at its worse. When you have a movie that ends with a heroic patriotic resolution--carried out by a C.I.A. Operative--and the reintegration of the American family unit, complete with a waving American flag in the background, you don't have a movie that's "just factual." You have a movie that is deeply and fundamentally conservative American propaganda.

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63 Comments

  • j | December 20, 2013 10:04 AMReply

    Breidis Prescott owns Amir Khan.

  • bring borders back | October 27, 2013 2:53 PMReply

    Could you please explain what wrong with Iran President Current actions - by the U.S Jewish media.
    After the U.S government finance and black mail their allies the saddam/iraq government military attack on Iran) - the only country an artificial country in the middle east to have nuclear weapons is ..... Israel u guess it
    Now it Syria turn.......after middle east is under an imperialist U.S government they call this a democracy will their be any independent country left apart from russia and china.
    Europe turning into a multicultural shit hole like U.S with elite banking government/jewish media - worry about that instead of protecting 5 million jew terriosts in middle east

  • Maria | September 18, 2013 5:42 PMReply

    Seeing how Hollywood is absurdly left leaning I would call him simply sane. He isn't right or left...he makes up his own mind issue by issue...I had no idea that was a crime now.

  • Mark | May 11, 2013 7:28 PMReply

    I'd call it more middle of the road, sorry your political views of left and right are a bit jaded.

  • Steve | April 1, 2013 2:52 PMReply

    Anthony... excellent and spot-on look at this thinly-veiled piece of jingoistic fluff.

  • Buch Fugly | March 23, 2013 1:10 AMReply

    whatever, man.

  • Tim | March 2, 2013 2:39 PMReply

    So, are you saying that Iran was and is not "backward, barbaric, and fanatical"????????

  • sonatherun | February 27, 2013 12:26 PMReply

    Sorry, Kaufman, but your views of the roles of the liberal and conservative wings of American politics in national defense are just wrong. We revolted to establish a liberal democracy, expanded the vote to eliminate property ownership as a condition of the franchise leading up to and through Jacksonian democracy, a President elected because of his hero status from the War of 1812, and waged a Civil War over slavery resulting in its elimination and at least technically, and for a time in reality, voting rights for black men, all of which were liberal progressions of our democracy, notwithstanding what we view in hindsight as the deeply conservative limitations of each generation. Future liberal president Teddie Roosevelt lead the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War, liberal Presidents Wilson and FDR lead us into and through World Wars I and II, Truman lead us into Korea, which Ike settled, and JFK lead us in the Cuban Missile Crisis, and, notwithstanding many of us believe the record shows he would not have gone farther, he did dip his toe into Viet Nam, including regime change, before LBJ lead us in full bore. In all but the Civil War, once in, these conflicts were waged in a broadly bi-partisan fashion. Liberals did turn against the War in Viet Nam, and our own liberal President, for good reason, it was an ill-advised, counterproductive war from the start, for which we were to blame, but our change of heart did not somehow turn all liberals into across the board pacifists even if those liberals which it did managed to have us all painted the same. President Clinton lead Nato and a broader supporting coalition, excepting Russia and China, in the War in Kosovo to end genocide, the first ever war waged and won entirely by air power, and liberals broadly supported both President Bush's wars in Iraq. President Obama continued the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan till succeeding in ending the former and bringing us to the verge of concluding the latter. In short, national defense has been primarily bi-partisan, with the liberals of the day more often leading the way than historically more isolationist conservatives, with both successes and mistakes or worse on both sides. Argo accurately depicts what all of us saw nightly on our television screens, with a great many of us understanding the Iranian outrage, yet more outraged by the taking of our fellow citizens as hostages. The film accurately depicts that the angry crowds were not entirely everywhere, but that they were large and full bent against us. Still, posing as Canadians, the escapees were hindered but not stopped by the crowds or officials, demonstrating constraint. Any other depiction would have been propaganda, and in my view a disservice to the degree of pent up frustration and hostility we had earned from the Iranians by thwarting their democracy for our own interests. Other than the license taken in the escape itself, for dramatic purpose, the film's depiction of cause and effect is neither liberal nor conservative, just American, and a useful history lesson for us all as we all sit on the brink of what may (or may not) prove an essential, though regrettable for its genesis, war.

  • FreeSpirit | February 26, 2013 3:59 PMReply

    When a Jewish American in Jewish-dominated Hollywood makes a movie that puts Iran in a negative light, , one has to question the timing. Why now (32 years later), at a time when Israel and supporters of its right-wing agenda want to attack Iran?

    I really like Ben Affleck as an actor. I loved him in state of play. I really liked Good Will Hunting. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that his was only telling a "factual story" when he makes an equally “factual” movie about one of many atrocities committed by Israel (take you pick, there are so many)!

  • bob | August 4, 2014 1:53 PM

    Did Afflek direct or write the script? Who put up the money for the movie?

  • Jack | March 10, 2013 11:46 PM

    Freespirit: when you opine that "[w]hen a Jewish American in Jewish-dominated Hollywood makes a movie..." I assume you're referring to Affleck? FYI, Affleck is Episcopalian. The name Affleck is Scottish. This makes you a Jewish conspiracist anti-Semite.

  • JGandhi | February 26, 2013 12:20 AMReply

    If Ben Affeck is interested in producing historical/factual films based on attack on American citizens, then can he produce a film based on the bombing of USS Liberty? But then would you expect an ardent zionist produce something that may be against his master's (Israel) interests?

  • Ben Shalom | February 25, 2013 1:10 AMReply

    Hey. As far as I can tell, Affleck just made a movie. Nothing against that. But it's the fucking heebs in Hollywood that gave it an Oscar. So, put your blame in the right place.

  • hugo | February 24, 2013 7:54 PMReply

    Got to agree with you, isnt it clever how they can make a properganda film about using the film industry to support their causes. Makes you wonder how much of the the rest of the crap they churn out has political agendas.

  • Then Again | February 24, 2013 3:01 PMReply

    The film re-writes history. The rescue of the hostages was 90% due to the work of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor, who heroically protected them for months. At enormous personal risk, Taylor secretly transferred them from place to place. Taylor arranged for Canadian Passports. Taylor arranged the flights out. Agent Mendez spent a total of 36 hours in Iran and flew out with them. It's true that Mendez came up with the movie crew story, but that was never actaully needed at the airport. The truth is that America found a friend in Canadian Ken Taylor, at a time when America was very short on friends. To deliberately alter the story now is a sad discredit to Afflick and his nation.

  • sonatherun | February 27, 2013 12:37 PM

    That the film the film is viewed from the far left as right wing, and from the right wing as liberal, says to me that the film is relatively centrist, though as a proud liberal my honest view is that it is liberal bent.

  • MikeA | February 24, 2013 7:08 AMReply

    You are an idiot. Apparently, anything that shows an American bright spot is right wing propaganda to you. If anything, the movie leans far left (just look at the opening sequence, which is full of revisionist history).

  • TruthSpeaks | February 17, 2013 8:06 AMReply

    "the barbarous actions of the current Iranian President"

    What "barbarous actions" ? I think you're mistaking Ahmadinejad with war criminals like Bush Jr (Afghanistan and Iraq war of aggressions) and Obama (drone strikes in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen).

  • One American | February 13, 2013 4:39 AMReply

    Why does this have to be considered American propaganda. I lived during the 1980s and saw the movie, and with a few small parts showing some over the top scenes (like the chase at at the end), this movie shows the general pulse of the radical movement in Iran at that time. The Iranian government was impotent at that time to hold up their International obligation to protect those diplomats and should be embarasssed.

    But, to calls this basically true story propaganda is just "copy and paste" mentality for those wishing to slight the US government, and Americans in General.

    I support the film, as a proud American and if some people in the U.K. think otherwise, then so be it, and also know that I support your Falklands issues too. So, why not just man up and support the team, instead of whining about Americans. We're on the same team Geez.

  • FYI | February 11, 2013 1:01 PMReply

    Not the biggest fan of Argo, but to be fair I think you're bringing some of your own assumptions to this. I'm half-Iranian, was born in Tehran, and was there during the revolution - too young to remember anything, but I know my parents (anti-Shah but also anti-Khomeini) had some pretty scary scrapes.

    The stuff you're seeing in 'Argo' has nothing to do with 'extremist Islamic fervor' and everything to do with being caught up in a revolution, which is a pretty terrifying time to be in a country and when a lot of moderate people can be afraid to go outside. It could be a tricky time to be an American or a Brit, since both countries had been supporting the Shah's secret police - a lot of Iranians had friends or family members who had been imprisoned, tortured or 'disappeared' (check out the wikipedia article on SAVAK) and had plenty of anger towards the West.

    So: yeah, the CIA back-slapping is a problem for me personally, given the organization's culpability in the events leading up to the revolution. But I don't think that the film's inherently guilty of painting Iranians as blood-thirsty maniacs any more than reading 'A Tale of Two Cities' makes you think the French are all savages. That said, the assumptions you bring with you can certainly color your interpretation.

  • TheMiddle | February 5, 2013 12:52 PMReply

    What this article fails to "consider", much less "reconsider", are the facts. Affleck (who I have no love for) got it right when saying he was going after a fact-based storytelling approach. And what facts are those? The person called MomOfThree who commented here presented them. Americans are deluded or ignorant if they believe that the barbarism and violence of Islam is "extremist". It is at the very core of their fundamental beliefs. Anyone with an open mind (e.g. not already entrenched in a liberal or conservative worldview) who studies the beliefs and writings of Islam can only come to the same conclusion. So, yeah, it's possible that the movie showed so much barbaric crowd mentality because the fact is that when Islam is the religion of the state, it demands blood and instills a culture of anger and violence in its people.

  • Momofthree | February 3, 2013 12:57 PMReply

    Get real. Take a good look at what the Muslim religion really is. Not the "fanatical" view.... but the real deal. They really do want to snuff out those who disagree with them. LOOK at their own beliefs! LOOK at their own writings! Geez. Talk about propaganda.

    When U.S. citizens grow up and study what is what, then they can make truthful comments on subjects. Instead... so many hoards of Americans just keep buying what the media says. And "Muslims" who are all lovey dovey.... either don't respect their own faith or they don't know what it is. Major deceptions are abounding.

  • Unknown | January 30, 2013 10:45 PMReply

    Hi...I just wanted to mention something that you didn't mention at all in your article. There are totally some Pro-American stuff in the movie BUT believe it or not, it is actually Pro-Canadian. Affleck said himself that it was suppose to thank Canada for their role. He even said something along the lines of "America is hiding behind Canada. That's what we are". So...Affleck can't really be "right-winged" and junk in the movie if it isn't actually about the US I guess. I don't know. That's just how I feel. Good bye.

  • andy | January 28, 2013 3:53 PMReply

    finally somebody get the point of this crap movie!!!! it's pure propanganda,bad directing too.the final scene in the airport is simply ridicoulous, the narrative structure s actually taken from "stagecoach",he only put iranians instead of indians! good job,good article.You,americans,go to see your best movie director,Paul thomas anderson,and the magnificient "the master".But you are,less or more,all doomed

  • Dave | January 26, 2013 7:40 PMReply

    In my view Argo depicted that messing in foreign countries affairs leads to trouble for you. I wasn't in Iran in 1980 but I have been to middle eastern countries and a lot of the people on the streets where the same type of crazy that is portrayed in the film, especially the market traders. I'm pretty sure its the Muslim version of narcissism. All it takes is one person to start the violence then the rest follow like the sheeple they are. Pro American film? Yes as all American films are pro American and as all Iranian films are pro Iranian but not right or left or center just a story of everyday people caught up in the grand designs of leaders making very tough cold decisions.

  • A1rh3ad | January 15, 2013 7:40 PMReply

    I thought I was liberal for years but the more you nutcases talk the more conservative I become. What they have been saying to me for years is coming true, you people are indeed libtarded.

  • Peter | January 14, 2013 3:34 PMReply

    "Israel is trying very hard to get the US to attack Iran."
    --Noam Chomsky, Feb 14, 2012, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts
    Argo is s propoganda film, intended to cull American support for a US attack of Iran.
    Ben Affleck and his Golden Globe, Best Director Award are tools of the propagandists.

  • Ridiculous | January 4, 2013 1:36 PMReply

    This may be the dumbest article I've ever read. I'd go into why, but it would just be a waste of time.

  • UBU | January 25, 2013 3:00 PM

    Dear Ridiculous,

    Sadly, I must agree with you... Such a dumb article that there's just no point commenting.

  • NAME | November 30, 2012 8:32 PMReply

    "..the barbarous actions of the current Iranian President.."

    What actions are those? Making our leaders look like the dim witted, bold faced LIARS that they are in comparison to a humble, highly educated and respectable man that actually practices what he preaches and lives a life of dignity - who happens to be a capable leader and popular among his constituents, despite all the utter BS that circulates about his "barbarous actions" in our press. Disgraceful quote.


    Since we're on the topic of this hostage crisis, it might be worth mentioning that the only reason they were kept as long as they were is because Reagen. You can go ahead and dismiss that as some sort of conspiracy, but I know what's true. As for how the "human bargaining chips" were ACTUALLY treated in captivity... Well lets see... How much weight did they lose while captive? Oh what's that? They didn't lose weight? hmm.. odd.. Anything else? Oh, they were given free medical and even dental care while being held "hostage?" ...seems odd.. Oh, some of them even slept in a palace? .. well, there goes that little sod story.

    On a side note, all those with serious medical liabilities or those from OPPRESSED minorities in our disgracefully institutionalized racist nation we not taken hostage. They just took the "white guys" -- sorry for not having compassion for those white guys, despite the fact that all of them are petty liars who never told the truth about what actually happened to them.

  • Maria | September 18, 2013 5:46 PM

    You call a war mongering, anti female, anti semite respectable? And as for lying, or not he is mostly screaming for the blood of non Muslims. Yes, I have heard him. And I think he does mean what he screams. And considering how many non Muslim Arabs they have killed off this whole white guy thing is a joke. I remember the nice videos sent to us of reporters k eeling down and then executed by the "reasonable" man...

  • Mark | February 24, 2013 8:02 PM

    The president of Iran is a homophobic anti-Semite. How can you call him "respectable." I sincerely hope you leave this great Country and return to rule under that "great leader" you admire so. And I hope and pray our leaders take necessary action against the increasing threat a nuclear iced Iran presents to a free world.

  • brian | November 12, 2012 8:17 PMReply

    if this film is "right-wing," then why would Affleck have included the narration that stated pro-West Shah Pahlavi murdered and tortured many of his people? That certainly does not sound like something a right-leaning American filmmaker would put in his biased, right-leaning film considering American conservatives generally like the Shah and his pro-America views. "Argo" is so blatantly left-leaning and tries to make Carter look good...Affleck even had Carter say that self-adulating spiel at the end.

  • JGandhi | February 26, 2013 12:34 AM

    Hey Brian,

    Dont pretend to be a naive simpleton.

    Dont you know that all propagandists portray to be fair by including a tiny weeny bit of reality to deceive their listeners/readers?

  • Rob | January 20, 2013 2:03 AM

    The film may have stated that the Shah was pro-west, but the truth is that the CIA led a coup to oust a democratically elected leader of the country because he wanted to nationalise the oil industry. This omission is what he's talking about and Affleck would be fully aware of the history. The Shah isn't pro-west, he is a puppet of the west.

  • Nick | November 13, 2012 12:56 AM

    Arguing that a movie is blatantly left-leaning for simply making an enstablishment figure such as Carter "look good" (whatever that means) is utterly ridiculous.

  • kay stinitz | November 10, 2012 6:13 PMReply

    Is Anthony Kaufman crazy? It doesn't matter if 99.9% of Iranians were not radical. What does matter is that the Americans were under the control of radical Iranians, and if I remember it correctly they had the tacit approval of the religious rulers. I haven't seen this movie, and I don't particularly want to see it, but I don't understand why you think that this movie is distorting the facts to make an organization, which you apparently think is not sympathetic to liberals, look favorable. If the movie is historically accurate, what else matters? Also, I'm not familar with this website, as I accidently discovered it in doing research on Ben Afflick. It sound to me as if Anthony Kaufman is a radical. Mr Kaufman, why don't you try to promote the cause of bi-partisanship? As for the movie, I can't rate it. As for you, and probably this web site, I give a rating of two huge thumbs down.

  • W | November 7, 2012 12:27 AMReply

    Well said. However don't be a hypocrite in regards to Iran's current President, he should not be blamed for his military. Iran is standing up to the bullies; america and Israel.

  • Nick | October 31, 2012 11:58 PMReply

    If there is a common thread in American movies depicting American foreign policies/foreign wars it is the unflinching impulse (even among liberal "message"-movies) to see the world through a filter of American exceptionalism and global entitlement. Another theme peddled in these movies is the concept of the US having policies that are either being misunderstood by a cynical world or "wrongheaded"/"poorly planned" (a quagmire if you will) and not simply a horrific and calculated act of imperialism no matter what the cost. Not only that, the actual victims in said depicted wars/conflicts are always turned into spectators of their own demise (Green Zone, The Hurt Locker, Syriana etc) or totally uninteresting subjects (like in the docs The Fog Of War, Restrepo et al).

    And yes, I've seen all the movies that I've mentioned.

  • Maria | September 18, 2013 5:49 PM

    Americans should make movies from their own perspective. So should everyone else.

  • brian | October 29, 2012 5:33 AMReply

    'I don't intend to be an apologist for the 1979 hostage-takers, or the barbarous actions of the current Iranian President, but to depict the Iranian people as a scary mob is an injustice of media representation.'


    what barbarous actions of irans current president,,,there are none..a good review is marred by a bit of brainwashing as bad as affleck

  • Arius | October 28, 2012 4:03 PMReply

    Argo is right wing? You have to be disconnected from the historical reality of 1979 to call Argo right wing. Why are there so many on the Left and Right that stretch so hard to spin everything to fit their current demons?

  • Nick | October 22, 2012 9:10 AMReply

    Not shocked by the right-wing narrative on "Argo". Affleck might be a liberal and loyal to the Democratic party but he is not a progressive or on the political left.

  • Phillip | October 21, 2012 10:31 AMReply

    I saw this movie last night.

    It was a great film.

    It doesn't change my political views, nor should it yours. It's a movie set in a different time, different place, and it was good. If you want to suddenly look like the liberal Fox News, then there you are. If not, then don't post stupid shit like this, especially during election years. Pay attention and write about the election, not stuff like this that literally doesn't matter. This isn't going to promote people to vote for your cause.

  • Maria | September 18, 2013 5:55 PM

    So...all that threatening from various Middle eastern leaders is what...just mistranslated? Give me a break. Its not just America thats been victimized by Islamic radicals. Its every European nation, and Russia, and even China agree that Iran is a threat. So don't make it about US vs Iran. Its the world vs Iran. This isn't Obamas idiot strike on Libya so that one of the few non Muslim leaders can be taken over by Al Queada. And I know people who died in 9/11, and spewing shit about it not being Bin Lauden is just disgusting. He happily admitted doing it.

  • brian | October 29, 2012 5:35 AM

    its a film made now...it shows US has not changed

  • openeyed | October 21, 2012 1:44 PM

    Philip.....you seem to miss the point, or perhaps you are hoodwinked into thinking USA has had ample reason to be bombing and doing repressive drone strikes over mid-East countries over past decade, self-destructing our own nation, wasting trillions of taxpayer dollars in the act after a false-flag "terrorist attack" happened 11 years ago with apparent internal plotting (CIA, internal rogue network etc) No, I am not a "conspiracy theorist" I am awake, aware. This is yet another Hollywood attempt at rallying the misplaced anger of my fellow American people, strategically placed just b4 election, so the brainwashed sheeple can think we need to bomb Iran. More self-destructive action for USA. Meanwhile cutting budgets across our chidren's schools. Do you have kids? If so, your daughters will be the next generation of "soliders". Anyone in their right mind know their sons won't be, they are being brought up with the truth and morals. There is nothing pro-American about our wars and anti-Islamic attitude, its all about oil, money in wrong pockets. It did not take earning an MBA and growing corporate ladder for me to realize this, travel to other continents, reading, opening our eyes.

  • Diana H | October 21, 2012 9:58 AMReply

    I normally consider myself fairly liberal and both my husband and I walked out of the theater ready to drop a bomb on Iran. It took us a few hours to calm down before we could even become objective about our own rage. It being a few days since I've seen the movie, I'm shocked that Ben Affleck did this movie. I can't be the only American who feels this way. I'm embarrassed at my own reaction. We have to stop thinking that everyone in the Middle East is backwards and a fundamentalist or these conflicts will never be solved. Otherwise we are going to take the so-called quick way out that can only lead to immense suffering. I don't see how this movie is going to help our political analysis of the situation. Clearly by my own experience, it can only inflame it.

  • anon | November 14, 2012 8:10 AM

    "We have to stop thinking that everyone in the Middle East is backwards and a fundamentalist "

    funny that's the way the the rest of the of the world thinks of some americans... lets be honest you do have your fair share of radicalised fundamentalists, convicted terrorists, and as you put it "backward" people, some are even in government too.

  • brian | October 29, 2012 5:36 AM

    yes the goal of the movie is to do just that...prime americans for a war on iran...its a war crime in the making just to watch it

  • Jake Orlando | October 19, 2012 3:53 PMReply

    This is where we go wrong as liberals. We tend to dole out sympathy where it doesn't belong just because we aren't comfortable that people are getting ganged up on.

    For example, we opposed war with Iraq therefore Saddam Hussein wasn't that bad and Al Qaeda was nowhere to be found there. The same goes with Iran. We don't want war with Iran, therefore Islamic fundamentalists, who control that country, aren't that bad and we're just big bullies for expecting that a country who has threatened war and contributed to regional instability should not be armed with nuclear weapons.

    Why can't we just say--like level-headed people--that we should avoid war by coming to a mutual agreement to tone things down, instead of making excuses for a regime that enjoys hanging gay teenagers, stoning women and suppressing free speech and elections.

    And please, when you get to a point where Ben Affleck seems right wing to you, then there's something wrong with you.

  • Richard Prince | October 15, 2012 1:44 PMReply

    The people this portrayal is most unfair to is the progressive, pro-western, young intelligencia in Iran who have fought non-violently against the extremists in their country. It is sad that in history we alway betray those forces of liberation and voices of freedom in the name of whipping up fervor on which we can focus our violent urges.

  • W | November 7, 2012 12:33 AM

    Grats on proving the unintellectual american stereotype. These pro-islamic Iranians were rioting to overthrow a USA-instated Iranian president: an individual who has caused pain and suffering, torturing those who would question their loyalty to the evil americans. These stupid yanks brought the violence upon themselves, they deserved to be lynched.

    Americand and their double-standards...

  • Joe G. | October 15, 2012 3:34 AMReply

    I just posted Jennifer Epps wonderful review of Argo, with comparisons to A Separation.

    http://politicalfilm.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/target-iran-argos-cia-heroes-vs-a-separation/

    "But throughout the film, the Iran we see in the news clips and the Iran we see dramatized are all on the same superficial level: incomprehensible, out-of-control hordes with nary an individual or rational thought expressed. ... The most important Iranian character in the film is the young and beautiful Sahar (Sheila Vand), the housekeeper to the Canadian ambassador and his wife who secretly harbor the 6 American refugees. But calling her the most important Iranian character is not saying much — and neither is Sahar. Over a handful of scenes she may have a grand total of 3 lines."

  • franzd | October 15, 2012 2:44 AMReply

    I was expecting a biased depiction of the hostage crisis going into the movie but was surprised when I left the theater not feeling this way. The first dialogue in the film puts a lot of blame on the US for causing the revolution. It justifies the protest. I never thought the protest at the start of the film was unjustifiable or over the top. Only a very ignorant American (the scary thing is that there are a lot of ignorant Americans) would leave the theater thinking, "Wow, Iranians are crazy, we should go to war with them."

  • brian | October 29, 2012 5:38 AM

    thats the goal of the film.
    what led affleck, of all people , to make it?

  • No | October 14, 2012 11:29 PMReply

    Duh! What would you expect to come out of the one sector of the US economy that is still dependent on market forces: putting out a product that the public likes or rejects. Hollywood, unlike the financial industry that engages in fraudulent financial manipulations and then protects itself by buying off section of the government, lives and dies by the capitalist credo: produce stuff that people will buy. I have yet to see the film and will do so this week, but to think it would not be a flag-waving valentine to American values is really naive. I must say the ReelPolitik section of Indiewire seems to the the least intellectually challenging aspect of the site. Weeks Sergio attacked D'Souza's anti-Obama documentary without even seeing it, failed to tie it into the larger paranoid style that's course through the nation. This critique of "Argo" is just an attack on Ben Affleck for making a standard Hollywood movie. There's no real analysis or use of the sordid history between the US and Iran in this critique. In short, it's an insult to readers' intelligence and is the sort of lazy kind of writing that really isn't political analysis at all.

  • Chuck | October 14, 2012 11:25 PMReply

    If we search for insults we can find them anywhere. I think, however, that you search a little too hard for political statements in ARGO. I'm not sure when, where, or how you watched the movie, but I will say that during the closing credits there are (rather breathtaking, I'd say) side-by-side comparison shots of stills from the actual protests and stills from the movie...and they match up strikingly.

    This is a movie, and as such, it is a form or art. I would agree with your hidden premise that all art makes a statement whether we (or even the author of the art) knows that it does. After seeing the movie, and reading your post, I'd like to offer up a different interpretation of the film, using the same instances you sight: ARGO is a film about the people caught between the chaotic forces that they cannot control and looking for a way to live despite them. Those protestors are just that: protestors, and the movie did not show them acting in a way that was incongruous to that label and the behavior inherent therein. The violence that spills over is much more a spotlight on human nature and the destructive abilities of the mob mentality -- of aggression with no real outlet -- than some sort of derogatory statement about those specific protestors and that specific mob.

    Furthermore, the movie begins with a short history of the region and points a big fat finger in the direction of America for overthrowing the leader elected by the Iranian people -- the leader who then cut-off American oil interests and turned the profits over to the people of Iran. (BTW: America seems to, sadly, have tendency to overthrow leaders that do exactly that...we've done so many times). So to say that it is pro-America is false. Moreover, America (as a government) doesn't come across as anything shiny and mighty in the film. It comes across as inept and out of touch. Granted, Iran's government doesn't come across much better but both governments are rendered in the film with equally disparaging brushstrokes. America (as a culture) comes across as vapid and materialistic in the Hollywood scenes -- especially in the staged reading of the script sequence -- and angry and violent in the news reel footage. Actually, if you take both segments of news footage (The footage from Iran and the ones from the streets of America) you get the same picture from both sides: that of a citizenry that is unhappy with it's own governments ability to handle the problem and, therefore, those citizens let out their aggression in the form of violence. This further underlines my point about how the film could be interpreted -- that it's really about the people stuck between the powerful governmental forces and their ability to cope in whatever way possible.

    I will grant you that while the mob of protestors were shaking their fists and climbing walls and generally being violent, that there were, without a doubt, Iranian people who were not doing those things. Who were praying and shopping and generally trying to live their lives in peace. And yes, you are correct, ARGO does not show you those people. But, as I'm sure you are well aware, ARGO is a thrilling suspense film, not a documentary or some item to be entered into the historical record. If any and every film took the time to depict the lives of the people that aren't in the film no movie would ever actually get going and each and every film would be 100 hours long.

    To compare ARGO to DELTA FORCE is a accusation that I'm sure is beneath your intellect. ARGO is a film in which no one (at least no one who has even one line) gets killed. [SPOILER ALERT!] No one dies in this film. With the exception of the man hanging from the crane (who died off camera) there aren't even any depictions of death. This is a film in which intellect and guile save the day. Isn't that a good thing? That in ARGO we have a film that is saying: even in the darkest of times, when all manner of shit has hit the fan, intelligence and smarts can be the answer. That we don't have to (as a government official says they're going to do before Mendez decides to finish the job) send in a "black-ops team" with guns a blazing and take these people out by force. You see, as the film depicts it at least, the ultimate credit, hell the only credit, goes to Mendez. He defies his orders and goes through with it. The American government doesn't want to do it his way anymore...and he does it anyway. He's just a man caught in an extraordinary situation and must rely on his smarts and his conscience to guide him. The fact that he's CIA does not lift that organization onto a pedestal because in that moment when he defies his orders, he's just a man. A smart man. The CIA got him there, sure...but he's the one the gets them all back.

    Lastly, the only government that comes out of this whole affair (the movie) still smelling reminiscent of roses is Canada. America looks bad, Iran looks bad. Americans look bad and Iranians look bad. The individual people in the film, the characters, the people who were deemed important enough to be given lines...well they all act like regular people caught somewhere between good and evil. The only true evil in the film is the situation...and America had (as the film depicts) a much larger role in the formation of the situation than anyone else.

    I don't fault you for looking closely at film or art for that matter...but please, for everyone's sake, use your head. Which is the lesson of ARGO as well.

  • Casey Fiore | October 14, 2012 11:15 PMReply

    I see where you're coming from but I have to disagree. I think the film is about as apolitical as it could possibly have been. I think you aren't placing enough value on the prologue's explication of the events leading up to the hostage crisis. It actually would have been easier and equally valid from a historical standpoint if this section of the story began with the overthrowing of the Shah and the demands for his return. But Affleck seems to have put a lot of thought into making it clear that we can't be considered blameless victims, because we overthrew a secular Iranian government in 1952 (for oil interests) and we're responsible for the Shah's rise to power. Again, I think the film did a great job of explaining how badly the people of Iran were abused by the Shah, and I think at one point a character (Cranston maybe?) even makes mention of the dubious motivations of our country's helpfulness toward the Shah.

    All of this would generally lead me to read it as a liberal view of American foreign policy, but as you say, the depiction of the Iranian people is not too friendly. But the fact of the matter is that nothing justifies the violent treatment of blameless American civilians, and that shouldn't be overlooked by politicized sympathizing of characters. This is why I think it is politically neutral, because it can present facts that may on the surface seem to indict one side or the other, while balancing them against one another becomes evenhanded.

  • Maria | September 18, 2013 6:01 PM

    You idiot. Diplomats are invited to be there by the country they are in, thats why killing them is so terribly wrong, and evil. Libya will pay for what they did...eventually. Too bad our current president is set on going after the wrong targets. But diplomats are there with the assurance of safety to persue peace, no matter if you like it or not. if they wanted them out, they could have kicked them out...but they were invited under the pretence of truce and murdered.

  • brian | October 29, 2012 5:40 AM

    thatd be liberal white wash....
    'But the fact of the matter is that nothing justifies the violent treatment of blameless American civilians, '

    only they werent blameless..any more than the former US ambassador to libya..that americans are innocent if naive is a Big Lie that dies very slowly

  • Anthony | October 15, 2012 8:56 AM

    Casey, et. al.
    As I stated above, I believe the film attempts to modulate its xenophobia with the context given about the Shah (in the prologue) and the pro-Carter epilogue, but what's in-between -- the NARRATIVE, about good Americans outsmarting those hysterical Iranians-- is ultimately more swaying than some historical exposition.

  • Casey Fiore | October 14, 2012 11:17 PM

    I should add that including a scene (of found footage if memory serves) that shows American citizens attacking Iranians in America wasn't exactly characteristic of the right wing.

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