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article imageIran may sue Hollywood over 'unrealistic portrayal' in 'Argo'

By JohnThomas Didymus     Mar 12, 2013 in Entertainment
Tehran - Iranian media reports say the country's authorities are planning to sue Hollywood over the Oscar-winning movie "Argo" because of what they consider the "unrealistic portrayal" of the country in the movie.
The Associated Press reports that Iran is apparently planning to sue Hollywood over the movie Argo which stars Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Ben Affleck.
Digital Journal reported that the film won the Best Picture Oscar award this year. It tells the story of the escape of six American hostages from the besieged US Embassy in Tehran in 1979.
Several Iranian news outlets, including the pro-reform Shargh Daily, are reporting that the French Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, lawyer of the notorious Venezuelan-born terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez ("Carlos the Jackal"), who was portrayed in the TV series Carlos, is in Iran for talks with officials about the planned lawsuit.
Iranian authorities are reportedly unhappy with the portrayal of their country in the film Argo. After the movie's Oscar in February, Iranian officials dismissed it as CIA-inspired anti-Iran propaganda. The state television described it as an "advertisement for the CIA," while the Iranian Fars news agency, according to The Hollywood Reporter, echoed official displeasure, saying: "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 Daily Mail reports that the Iranian Mehr news agency also condemned the Academy Award as "politically motivated" and questioned the motive behind having Michelle Obama present the award. Iran's culture minister Mohammed Hosseini, described the film as "distorted history."
According to AP, the decision to proceed with the lawsuit came after a group of Iranian officials screened the film for an exclusive audience of critics in a Tehran cinema.
The Teheran Times reports that officials of the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance held a one-day conference called "The Hoax of Hollywood" on Monday night in which they discussed the technicalities of filing a lawsuit.
The Hollywood Reporter writes that so far it is not clear whether Warner Bros., Ben Affleck or other parties involved in the film would be the target of the planned lawsuit.
The conference secretary Mohammad Lesani, reportedly said: "One of the main aims of the meeting is to unify all cultural communities in Iran against the attacks of the West, particularly Hollywood."
The conference condemned Argo as a "violation of international cultural norms," and said that awarding the "anti-Iran movie" an Oscar was an attack against Iran.
AP notes, however, the the statement was not specific about how the movie was an "unrealistic portrayal" of Iran, but some Iranian officials had reportedly said the movie depicted Iranians as "too violent."
Iranian officials also complained that the movie's director did not consult previous historical documentaries on the incident and did not address the tension between the US and Iran at the time following a 1953 CIA-M16 orchestrated coup against the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. The coup installed an unpopular pro-Western monarchy that was in turn toppled in the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Although the Iranian authorities have banned Argo from Iranian cinemas, smuggled copies of the DVD are availabe in Iran. The film has reportedly sparked off a spirited historical debate in Iran about the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Argo tells the story of the escape of six Americans during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis after the US Embassy in Tehran was stormed by militants who called themselves the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line. The militants held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, and paraded them blindfolded before cameras.
The incident was the culmination of mounting tension between the US and Iran after the exiled Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was allowed to enter the US for a medical treatment.
The Courier Mail reports that this is not the first time Iran has accused Hollywood of portraying the country falsely. Iran had previously complained about the film 300. Many Iranians felt that the movie gave a distorted picture of the ancient Iranian Persian Empire.
Observers note the fact that Western historians have always tended to embellish "Greek democracy" by contrasting it with what they consider the oriental despotism of the Persian Empire.
The portrayal of the Persian Emperor Xerxes as a half-mad despot and his soldiers as half-beast is overtly racist, Hollywood critics say. Critics point out that the US entertainment industry has a longstanding tradition of portraying foreign cultures negatively as part of the legacy of the ethnocentrism of Western culture rooted in its historic racist ideologies and attitudes.
The 1991 film Not Without My Daughter has been similarly criticized as portraying Iranians as "dirty, boorish and cruel, obsessed with Islam and misogynist attitudes toward women."
The Courier Mail reports that sources say that the Iranian government is planning to produce a film titled "The General Staff" which will tell the story of the 1979 hostage crisis from the Iranian perspective. The film is reportedly receiving a "generous budget" from the Art Bureau of the Iranian government.
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