Iran’s official media dismissed the film “Argo” as “an advertisement for the CIA” and its Oscar win as politically motivated. “The film is against Iran” and “lacks artistic value,” Iranian Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Mohammad Hosseini said on February 25, 2013. In news coverage of the Oscars, Fars News Agency also called the film “anti-Iranian.”
Yet Iran’s leading satellite television station had actually interviewed Ben Affleck and John Goodman at a red carpet event shortly after their film was released in late 2012.
Press TV asked Affleck if he understood the context of the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover—and the longer history of Iranian suspicion of U.S. intentions. Affleck noted that the beginning of “Argo” acknowledged the 1953 CIA operation that restored the monarchy and the “tyranny and oppression” of Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi’s rule, he told Press TV’s Faiza Ahmed in November 2012.
Ahmed asked Affleck if he thought “Argo” could be seen as anti-Iran propaganda. “Absolutely not,” he responded. “I really designed this movie to be completely neutral, to not be politicized…I simply wanted to factually tell a story, and if that engenders a genuine and honest conversation, well that’s a good thing.” Press TV’s exchange with Ben Affleck and John Goodman begins about 10 minutes into the following 20-minute Press TV program about cinema.
Garrett Nada is a Program Assistant at USIP in the Center for Conflict Management.