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Ben Affleck‘s Argo survived a fierce fight to win the best picture Oscar on Sunday, but Hollywood’s whisper campaigns pale in comparison to the daggers being thrown by the Iranian media.
The film, which tells the story of the CIA’s rescue of six Americans who escaped the U.S. embassy in Tehran at the start of the Iran hostage crisis, has been panned by the tightly regulated media in the country, and its Oscar win set off a new wave of criticism.
Fars News, a hardline, pro-government outlet, blistered the film and its studio.
“In a rare occasion in Oscar history, the first lady announced the winner for Best Picture for the anti-Iran film Argo, which is produced by the Zionist company Warner Bros.”
The outlet also Photoshopped the image of Michelle Obama, who presented the award via video, to cover her shoulders and upper chest.
Affleck’s shout-out to the Iranian people, whom he said were living under “terrible circumstances,” also caused an uproar, with the Mehr News saying that he paints “a bleak picture of Iran.”
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in October, Affleck slammed the government of Iran.
“It feels as though history has quite literally repeated itself in that sense, and it’s repeating itself with our relationship with the regime in Iran,” Affleck explained. “And it’s the same regime, it was Khomeni, now it’s Khamenei — there’s still this Islamist, this Stalinist regime, and that makes me sad. That makes me feel like, yeah, we had this wonderful thing that happened in our movie, where America really did something right, but that we haven’t figured out how to navigate our relationship with countries in the Middle East.”
Not everyone in the country is so upset, however. The media in Iran is heavily monitored and regulated, limiting outlets that express dissent against the Islamist regime and President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. While the film has not played in Iranian theaters, it has become the most popular bootlegged DVD in years, The Wall Street Journal reported in December, selling hundreds of thousands of copies.
By purchasing bootlegged copies, “People are indirectly saying to the government that they are tired of this hostile behavior and it’s time for us to be friends with the world and the U.S. again,” a 28-year old student told the newspaper.
Still, others were not upset so much about how the film depicted the events but that it did so at all.
“I am ashamed of what was done, and the results of the hostage taking were catastrophic for Iran,” an Iranian national, who asked for anonymity, told the Los Angeles Times. “Iran became a lawless country. We were kicked out of the international family, and we were alone when invaded by Iraq. Now an American filmmaker wants to make my traumatized conscience bleed again? Give me a break. I did not even bother to wait for the end of the film. I know what happened in my country. There is no need for me to watch a distorted version from someone in Hollywood.”
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