Of course Ben Affleck is no Islamophobe but does anybody else find the timing of this film to be rather “convenient”?
by Pouya Alimagham (Huffington Post)
The season in which studios begin to roll out their Oscar contenders is upon us. Ben Affleck’s third and probably most important directorial feat, Argo, will certainly receive due attention from the Academy. The film, however, should not receive acclaim for its untimely and unbalanced depiction of Iran and Iranians. Indeed, by revisiting the Iran Hostage Crisis at a critical moment when political hawks are ceaselessly demonizing Iran in their bid for another U.S.-led military conflict in the Middle East, Affleck, giving him the benefit of the doubt, unintentionally aids that effort.
Affleck’s Argo is based on the true story of how six Americans were entangled in the revolutionary storm that gripped Iran in 1979 and managed to flee the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Holed up in the Canadian ambassador’s residence for months, Ben Affleck’s real-life character Tony Mendez, a CIA operative, concocts an elaborate plan to fly to Tehran and facilitate their escape. In doing so, he pretends to be part of a Canadian film crew making a B-level science-fiction film called Argo, which is based in the Middle East, and explains why they are in Iran scouting for locations for a movie that never actually existed.
It’s a gripping political thriller that will keep moviegoers on the edge of their seats and holding their breaths. The problem, however, is the unintended political consequence of the film and its deeply troubling portrayals of Iranians.
In his book Confronting Iran: The Failure of American Foreign Policy and the Next Great Conflict in the Middle East, Ali Ansari writes, “For the U.S., the traumatic scene of Americans being paraded in front of cameras blindfolded, marked the beginning of a U.S. obsession with Iran.” That obsession has led many Americans to view Iran strictly through the narrow scope of the Hostage Crisis, an event that transpired over 30 years ago. So ubiquitous is this trend that when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president in 2005, mainstream American media outlets mistook him for one of the hostage takers! The frenzy dissipated only when one of the actual American hostages, Thomas E. Schaefer, came out and dispelled the accusation.”