I have been reading a lot of backlash about Iran’s backlash against the film Argo that won some award at the Oscars. Without wanting to, god forbid, jump on the bandwagoon, I would just like to point out that any vaguely politically-aware individual (or indeed comic book fan) would be aware from the very instant the film began, in the description of the Iranian revolution, that there was some considerable air-brushing of history at work in Ben Affleck’s latest adventures in celluloid.
Interestingly, other political films such as Lincoln did not suffer so terribly at the hand of critics. Putting aside that Affleck has still a considerable measure to travel before Ben-Lo is an insignificant daub on the pages of history, and that Daniel Day Lewis Can Do No Wrong (the man can fix your shoes, for god’s sake), and the fact that this film is a film about film by filmmakers patting filmmakers on the back, there is still a lot to complain about, about the film and about his directing talents.
But directing talent is not the issue. Like with any film set on the stage of international political affairs, or indeed an international crime adventure, there has to be a Bad Guy, otherwise our tiny minds would not be able to fathom what is going on. And, because we are such supreme morons, the Bad Guys have to be easily identifiable to our provincial western viewers and critics eyes alike. The Bad Guys are going to be either Arabs, Russians or perhaps Chinese. This is just the way Hollywood paints the world… with a big fat brush of bigamy — a brush that stirs up stereotypical, offensive shit and sprays it all over your face, in the manner of a Chris Ofili-Jackson Pollock lovechild. Hollywood doesn’t care about telling the truth, or about over-simplifying the truth to the detriment of international relations, as long as its towing the nationalistic, self-serving line.
The unfortunate and frankly carelessly liberal approach to the truth that Argo brandishes means that the boundaries between the Hollywood flavour of nationalism – that many would consider to be harmless, incidental, simply a product of having to tell a story in 111 minutes (but isn’t) – and the really real complexity of life, is slurred.
And why is that a problem? It is only really a problem for those less aware of what is going on in the world. By being fed a one-sided over-simplified debate, these sorts of films reinforce the petty and quite simply wrong perspectives that are held by the many people who can’t be bothered to pick up a book or even raise their limp wrists and click onto Wikinews or Al Jazeera (well, I’m not sure anymore, given that Al Jazeera is owned by the seventh richest man in the world) or any other relatively unbiased news source. Anyone with an inkling of what the circumstances surrounding the Iranian revolution were would understand that this film is bullshit and hence not take it to heart… and this is the way in which a whole nation is whitewashed in this film.
It is not reality, and we must remember that when we go to the movies. Anyone who is idiotic enough to take what they see on the screen, especially when they read the misdirecting words ‘based on a true story’, as truth is probably beyond help.