The Shortsighted History of ‘Argo’
February 25, 2013

Exclusive: The Oscar for Best Picture went to Ben Affleck’s Argo, an escape-thriller set in post-revolutionary Iran. It hyped the drama and edged into propaganda. But Americans would have learned a lot more if Affleck had chosen the CIA coup in 1953 or the Republican chicanery in 1980, says Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

In some ways it was encouraging that several Best Picture nominees had historical themes, whether they tried to stick fairly close to facts as in Lincoln on passage of the Thirteenth Amendment ending slavery or they just used history as a vivid backdrop for an imaginative story about slavery as in Django Unchained.

It’s less encouraging that the Motion Picture Academy selected as Best Picture Argo, which – while based on real events – underscored Hollywood’s timidity about taking on more significant and more controversial events on either side of Ben Affleck’s film about the CIA-engineered escape of six staffers from the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979.

On one end of that storyline was the CIA-orchestrated overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953, a tale involving legendary and colorful American spies led by Kermit Roosevelt. On the other side of the Argo events was the mystery of Republican interference in President Jimmy Carter’s desperate efforts to free 52 embassy employees who were captured in 1979 and held for 444 days.

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