“Argo” heads into the Oscars on Sunday as the favorite for best picture, having swept the major pre-Oscar kudos and with 1 to 2 Vegas odds. (“Lincoln” follows with 9 to 6 odds). Columnists like Maureen Dowdand Andrew O’Herir in the past week have taken the film to task for its dramatic liberties, arguably greater than those taken in “Lincoln” and “Zero Dark Thirty” but not as consequential given the historical context and the suspenseful narrative. Others are calling out the movie for its portrayal of Iranians as “irrational, bloodthirsty nut bars.”
Janet Janjigian, president of DC Media Group LA and former head of corporate communications at MGM, sends along a piece she wrote around the time of the film’s release defending the movie’s portrayal of the atmosphere of Tehran at the time. She lived in Tehran in the first half of 1978, when her husband worked at the Embassy. She attests to the feeling of fear and paranoia in the year before the hostages were first held captive.
She writes, “‘Argo’ realistically documents the hostile, anti-Western, anti-American, (most especially targeting American women) movement gaining noticeable momentum in the streets by mid-1978. It was growing rapidly and palpable, especially in Tehran, where hundreds of Iranian women in the streets began covering up from head to toe in black chadors. More and more, I was followed during the day, luckily somehow always leading them on a trail back to the Embassy. Walking down the street, men and young boys would spit on me, angrily screaming and pushing me into the “jube”- the open water system running between the sidewalk and the streets, forcing me into overly congested, impossible traffic that makes a crowded LA freeway look empty.”