POSTED February 19 2013

What do Iranians think of Argo?

John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Ben Affleck  toasting "Argo..... yourself."

John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Ben Affleck toasting “Argo….. yourself.”

While writing the obligatory pre-Oscar Sunday piece about the front-runners for best picture, wondered whether there was an Iranian reaction to Argo, official or unofficial. For Americans, Ben Affleck’s historical thriller with a snappy screenplay by Chris Terrio essentially says, Iranians hate Americans but everyone loves Hollywood.

Two recent dispatches, one from The New York Times and the other from The Wall Street Journal,  offer distinctly different perspectives. It figures that The Times reports on reactions to the film’s ideological implications while WSJ notes the high volume of bootleg copies being sold in the Tehran black market.

According to the Times, an attendee at a Tehran colloquium where Argo was discussed denounced the film as promoting the ideology of Hollywoodism. And according to the Journal, over a hundred thousand bootlegs with Farsi subtitles have sold, inspiring much discussion about the events of 1979. It also, says the Journal, has inspired one Iranian filmmaker to conceive a movie showing the same events from his nation’s perspective.

What do you think of Argo and of its Oscar chances?


  1. musingteacher says:

    I wondered the same thing when I saw it. We have a new student this year whose parents grew up in Tehran, and I really wanted to ask them about it, but worried that I don’t know them well enough to have the conversation. I thought it was a great movie (and thought it made the case that the behavior of the U.S. prior to the hostage crisis was pretty appalling). I’ll have to check out both the Times and WSJ articles now.

  2. Quora says:

    What do Iranian viewers think of “Argo”?…

    For dispatches from American reporters see:

  3. Here are links to the two best pieces I’ve encountered about the irresponsibility of Argo:

    The fact that Argo is a hot item on the Iranian black market doesn’t necessarily mean that all the Iranians seeing it like it–even though I’m told that many anti-regime Iranians support it simply because it’s anti-regime.

    Any casual visitor to Iran (including myself, well over a decade ago) will tell you that the country is visibly as multicultural and as diversified as the U.S. is–a fact even supported, incidentally, by the figures on the CIA’s web site. But the Hollywood depictions of Iranians that we have are still basically frozen into our 1950s stereotypes, like a good many other American stereotypical images of the remainder of the world. And the fact that people like John McCain still think we were right to invade Iraq suggests that he and many others would also love to invade Iran regardless of the justifications or absence of same–and given that so many Americans still aren’t very clear about the differences between Iraq and Iran, or even that they were at war with one another and speak different languages, suggests that McCain is hardly alone, even if most Americans would probably rather not go to war again.

    Within my experience, most Iranians like this country–a fact that would of course end immediately if we invaded Iran, regardless of what they think and feel about their domestic oppressors. Collateral damage changes everything, as it obviously did when we decided it was okay to bomb and occupy Iraq. And given the size of Iran, the likely collateral damage there would be astronomically bigger.

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