I can’t stand people who blast books or movies without actually reading or seeing them. So, to be clear, this is not a critique. For one, I’ve heard great things aboutArgo — that it’s a gripping, well-acted and well-directed, edge-of-your-seat thriller (which is impressive, given everyone already knows the ending).
Still, as a proud and patriotic Iranian-American, I can’t bring myself to see it, even though I have a strong suspicion I’d enjoy the film — that is, if I were able to divorce myself from the history. But I can’t.
It’s a story I’ve heard hundreds of times, told from hundreds of different perspectives, and I’m sick to death of hearing it. The seemingly undying American obsession with the decades-old Iranian hostage crisis (which began when I was eight months old) has defined my life in ways that I wish to God it hadn’t. Were it not for that event and the vicious enmity it fueled between my two beloved homelands, things might be different for me — and for tens of millions of other Iranians.
Instead, I’ve lived a life akin to that of a child of divorced parents, constantly hoping against hope that they will reconcile. Living in the U.S., knowing that the words I’ve written and spoken (criticizing the so-called Islamic Republic of Iran and supporting the opposition) have cost me safe entry back to my ancestral homeland, I can’t help but continue hoping. Hope is all I have.
So when I first heard about Argo, I was disheartened at best. Digging up the past has never done my parents any good. Like many Iranians, both in our varied diasporas and within Iran, I can’t hear about the hostage crisis without immediately thinking of the downing of Iran Air Flight 655. I was eight years old when an American warship “mistook” an Iranian civilian airliner for a warplane and shot it down. On that day, July 3, 1988, all of the 290 civilians on board (including 66 children) were killed. Among many Iranians, myself included, American claims that this was simply an unfortunate mistake were unconvincing.
I, for one, would love to make a Hollywood movie about Flight 655. Perhaps if the American public were to learn more about this tragedy (not to mention the American dual-containment policy during the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq war, or the 1953 CIA coup that overthrew the democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh), some of the ice between my countries might begin to thaw.
Ultimately, as naïve and impractical as it may sound, all I want is for my parents to get along. Simply put, Argo and all of its popular success and critical acclaim makes that less likely.
So no, I won’t see it. Moreover, despite my great adoration for George Clooney and my concession that the film may very well be a cinematic masterpiece, I pray to God that it doesn’t sweep the Academy Awards. Even setting aside Halle Berry and Sandra Bullock, there’s something about trophies that seems to tear people apart—and it doesn’t help when those trophies are handed out two days before diplomatic efforts in the form of nuclear negotiations between the parties involved.
It may seem callous, but I simply can’t get behind a film that unnecessarily widens the chasm between my parents, no matter how infinitesimally. Not ever. But especially not now.