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Tom Tangney

Iran sues Hollywood over 'unrealistic portrayal' of revolutionaries in 'Argo'

After a showing of "Argo," Iranian ministers held a meeting dubbed "The Hoax of Hollywood" and agreed a lawsuit was in order because of film's "unrealistic portrayal" of Iran. Some thought the Iranian revolutionaries who break into the American embassy were portrayed as more violent than they really were. (Image courtesy Warner Brothers film/Argo)

Iran just can't get over "Argo." The Iranian government has been mad ever since the film premiered last fall and it's only getting angrier by the day. And this week, it's been announced that Iran is actually planning on suing Hollywood.

"Argo," as most people must know by now, recounts the top-secret CIA rescue mission of six Americans hiding out during the 1979 Iran Hostage crisis. They concoct a pretty cockamamie cover story - that these six Americans are really a Canadian film crew scouting locations in Iran for a Star Wars rip-off.

The Iranians ultimately fall for the ruse and the Americans fly to freedom. As director Ben Affleck has said, the plot for his film would have made for a lousy movie - except for the fact that it actually happened. And now, almost as outlandish as the CIA cover story, is what Iran is apparently planning to do: sue Hollywood!

It's now in discussion with a high-powered French attorney who specializes in international law about what the charges might entail, who the charges could be brought against and where the case might be tried.

The film, which has already been banned in Iran, was screened privately for the country's cultural minsters and a handful of movie critics on Monday. And, as they might put it in Hollywood, the screening apparently didn't test well in Tehran. After the showing, the ministers held a meeting dubbed "The Hoax of Hollywood" and agreed a lawsuit was in order.

Why? Because of its "unrealistic portrayal" of Iran. They deemed the film "a violation of cultural norms." Some thought the Iranian revolutionaries who break into the American embassy were portrayed as more violent than they really were.

That's it? If that's the best case they can come up with, this is a bigger joke than it even sounded at first blush.

"Argo" has stuck in the craw of Iran since the get-go. First, it's a movie all about how Iran got duped by a bunch of amateurs with a preposterous cover story. Then it goes on to become a box office blockbuster, for all the world to see. Then it starts wracking up award after award after award, culminating in the prestigious Best Picture Oscar. To add insult to injury, who should give out that particular Oscar - in a precedent-setting move? The First Lady, Michelle Obama.

This was too much for Iran. For months, Iranian officials had been dismissing the film as nothing more than pro-CIA and anti-Iran propaganda. The First Lady's Oscar appearance seemed to clinch the deal - the White House was behind "Argo" all along.

Fars News, a pro-government outlet, roundly criticized the First Lady's involvement in celebrating the "anti-Iran film "Argo," which is produced by the Zionist company Warner Brothers."

And they were so upset by Michelle Obama's Oscar night outfit, that they photoshopped sleeves and a higher neckline onto her image as well.

It's rich that a country whose President has denied the Holocaust, proclaimed that 9/11 was an inside American job, and insisted homosexuality does not exist in Iran is actually complaining about standards of truth in a historical thriller out of Hollywood.

The appropriate response to such criticism comes from "Argo" itself. The film's title comes from an old off-color knock-knock joke:

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Argo.
Argo who?
Argo f*** yourself.

Tom Tangney on KIRO Radio

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About the Author


Tom Tangney is the co-host of The Tom and Curley Show on KIRO Radio and resident enthusiast of...everything. As the film and media critic on the Morning News on KIRO Radio, he espouses his love for books, movies, TV, art, pop culture, politics, sports, and Husky football.

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