UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

“Argo” is Not Just Terrible, It’s Inaccurate

Iran was less than impressed with the award-winning film “Argo”



“If I’m going to make a fake movie, it’s going to be a fake hit,” — an irony-laden line from the award-winning movie “Argo.” It would have been completely apropos if director Ben Affleck had used these words to describe how he went about making “Argo.” If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me explain.

“Argo” is a political (and supposedly historical) drama set in 1980 about a secret CIA operation to extract six American diplomatic personnel from a very revolutionary, anti-American Iran. The six took refuge in the Canadian ambassador’s home after escaping the Iranian takeover of the American Embassy, which saw 52 Americans held hostage for 444 days.

The rescue of the six Americans is a footnote in the story of the Iran Hostage Situation, but it is a true story.  On the other hand, the way the story is depicted — not so true. There are huge, engaging scenes in the movie that are completely fictional. I hate being a spoiler, so I won’t tell you the fictional scenes. I will tell you this: the scenes which drive the movie are all bullshit.

Let me try and explain how fraudulent this movie is with an analogy. Imagine a story about a man who got a flat on the way to a job interview and was thus forced to put in a spare, enabling him to make it just in time. No more, no less.

Now imagine someone took that story and turned it into this: the man got a flat tire because another candidate for the job he was applying for sabotaged him by setting up nails on his route. After managing to put in the spare tire, he then raced his competing, diabolical candidate to the interview, who rammed him repeatedly with the blades which protrude from his wheels. Nevertheless, our hero valiantly escapes, making it to the interview fifteen minutes early. He is promptly hired on the spot. This is the same level of exaggeration the movie “Argo” gives to the actual story of the rescue.  

The big deal about this sensationalism is that it helped the movie win the Academy Award for Best Picture, an honor that should be given to films that are provocative, unique, and whose characters exude realism. This is now impossible due to the report on how fictionalized the film is.

Not only are scenes completely made up, but “Argo” has been criticized for the manner in which it depicts all Iranians — as evil and inept. The movie’s even been described as nothing more than an homage to the CIA and Hollywood.  

According to The Guardian, Iran plans to sue Hollywood over a series of movies, including our very own Oscar-winning “Argo.” The controversy around this film is just sad because the film represented Iranians one-dimensionally. No one has been bettered by the screening of the film, except its makers.

The only conversations this movie will start are now going to be how phony it is. Conversations about how Ben Affleck gave the impression that he tried to make a movie that was biographically and historically accurate when it was not.  Affleck has interviews in Rolling Stone, with Bill O’Reilly, and many other media outlets where he makes this claim.

In an interview from huffingtonpost.com, Affleck was asked, “What change from the real story did you wrestle with the most?” To which Affleck answered, “I definitely had the sense that I had a very strong ethical obligation to tell the story truthfully.”  With the report about how fictionalized the movie was, Affleck, frankly speaking, sounds like a boob in those interviews.

I personally did not think the movie was good, and not just because of the made up scenes. To be fair, I went to the movie without knowing what was true and what was fiction, though in the back of my head I was thinking about it. This is why the movie won’t go down in history as great, but as a misjudgment by Hollywood. All these revelations will cast a shadow on the movie whenever someone sees it.

I’m not saying “Argo” should not have been made the way it was. What I’m saying is that it does not deserve such prestige. You can make an argument on how the Oscars is a mockery, but the fact of the matter is that the majority of the world sees winning an Academy Award as validation of a good film. “Argo” was mediocre, and mediocrity surrounded by so many lies should never be awarded.