Argo: Acclaim, Misconceptions, and the Priority of Entertainment
The widely acclaimed film Argo swooped up numerous awards last year including prestigious Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film offers a riveting, intense story of a creative CIA plan to "make a fake movie" in order to save hostages in a volatile Iran in 1980. Despite the high entertainment value, the film does exhibit some stereotypes that are worth critiquing.
In her review of the film, Jaine Darwin observes the reductionistic, all-or-none quality of the film to portray the U.S. democracy as good and the Iranian theist state as bad. No doubt this is done in part to create a deep allegiance in the viewer and intensify the climactic scenes. In addition, a strong theme of the film is the CIA agent's decision to disobey authority and orders and continue the undercover plot despite increasing danger. Darwin points out that this perpetuates "the misconception that in order to be successful or to survive, one must fail to obey orders." Such behavior is rampant in the action film genre as well as in those involving political and government plotlines.
Do you agree with Darwin's observations? To what extent does this detract from your appreciation of the film?
In some cases, filmmakers have to choose to sacrifice some degree of accuracy in order to provide more extensive entertainment. Is there a line that can be drawn in terms of amount of accuracy sacrificed for level of entertainment gained?
By Jaine Darwin
PsycCRITIQUES, 2013 Vol 58(23)