Ben Affleck knows his portrayal of Iran in the Oscar winning Argo disappointed the country at the heart of the subject matter. But after the amazing February he had collecting trophies from every award show in the business, we doubt he ever expected to face a lawsuit from Ahmadinejad & Partners.
According to an Associated Press report Tuesday morning, Iranian media — propaganda versions and otherwise — is abuzz with reports that Iran's government is preparing to sue Hollywood over the "unrealistic portrayal" of Iranians in the Oscar-winning film. Which parts of Hollywood could be sued, exactly, and which officials will be plaintiffs in this international movie tussle, reamin unclear. They could target Warner Brothers, Affleck, or producers George Clooney and his not-as-stunningly-beautiful producing partner Grant Heslov. But chances are that if the suit happens, Iran will target all of the big names at the same time and make a pretty big deal out of it by whatever means possible.
The Argo-as-propaganda propaganda ratcheted up after Iranian officials held their first official screening of Argo on Monday evening, at a gathering called "the Hoax of Hollywood." While Monday's event was the first official screening, most Iranians have already seen the movie, which is banned in the country for its depiction of the Iran hostage crisis from 1979 to 1981, thanks to a booming bootleg market.
This isn't the first time Iranian media has lit up with criticism over Argo, either. There have been more measured criticisms of the film from Iranians, like this Guardian editorial from Saeed Kamali Dehghan about the difficulties he had watching the film. But the Iranian government has always taken things up a notch or five. In February, shortly after Argo was awarded the Oscar for Best Picture, Iranian media became furious with the decision — and especially that Michelle Obama was involved. "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," Iran's hardline Fars News wrote.
But Affleck has mostly fought back against any displeasure from the Iranian government. "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 told The Hollywood Reporter in October. "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."
Iran is already speaking with a high-profile attorney about possible next steps. Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, who is best known for representing and being engaged to Ilich Ramírez Sánchez (a.k.a. "Carlos the Jackal"), has been discussing the potential courses of action with the Iranian government. She tends to take on difficult cases.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.