Argo provides the uninitiated Westerner with a crash course in the nature of the Iranian people as if out of some kind of hawkish fairy tale. Not just the regime, the people. In Argo, somewhere amid the exciting escape of six sympathetic American victims, we are treated to hordes of hysterical, screaming, untrustworthy, irrational, bearded and lethal antagonists. Some of them are pivotal characters that advance the plot. Others are just bystanders in seething crowds. It doesn’t seem to matter. The point is, these are the villains. Or more specifically, the Iranians. All of them. There is not one positive Iranian subject in the entire story.
When CIA operative Tony Mendez (the hero, played by Affleck) and the American escapees are trying to make their way through a bazaar in the crowded streets of Tehran, the omnibus nature of the hate-spitting Iranians is reminiscent of costumed characters from a professional wrestling league. In a subtler, earlier scene in which Mendez lands at the Tehran airport, the film makes it clear that every Iranian in sight – from an old man to a young woman – is to be treated with suspicion.
This is to say nothing of the more incendiary moments, such as that of a barking flock of Iranians stomping on an American flag. Scenes like that are clearly meant to arouse the emotions of a Western audience. And in a fiction-meets-reality kind of kismet, here’s a Hollywood movie that finds convenient kinship – and symbiotic validation – in today’s news cycle, as American politicians hammer away at the message that Iran and its people represent the greatest threat to global peace. (Read more)