But wait, you may be thinking, when did New Zealand ever figure into this story? It makes sense that Iran is considering suing Ben Affleck, or that Canadians might feel shafted in their role as supporting characters. But New Zealand? Well, it has to do with one quick—almost throwaway—line, spoken by Bryan Cranston as Jack O'Donnell, who was explaining the situation with the escaped Americans in the Iran hostage crisis: "Brits turned them away. Kiwis turned them away. Canadians took them in."
The Associated Press' Nick Perry explained:
Some in New Zealand have taken those words - "Kiwis turned them away" - as implying the country did nothing to help. Published interviews indicate that diplomats from Britain and New Zealand did help by briefly sheltering the Americans, visiting them and bringing them food, even driving them to the airport when they left.
Yet those interviews also indicate that both countries considered it too risky to shelter the Americans for long. That left the Canadians shouldering the biggest risk by taking them in.
So while New Zealand didn't totally turn away the American diplomats in Iran, as Argo might imply, New Zealand also didn't go as far as the Canadians did. Still, Kiwi anger about the snub has made it all the way to Parliament, which passed a motion arguing that Affleck "saw fit to mislead the world about what actually happened." The lawmaker who brought the motion forward, Winston Peters, called it a "a diabolical misrepresentation." The New Zealand Herald published an interview with a New Zealand Embassy worker, who said: "The acting might be good, the film might be good, but the content is inaccurate. I just think it's a great pity because that will probably go down in history as what happened."
This is essentially a footnote to a long debate about historical accuracy in movies that happened over the course of the Oscar season with debates around Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln and, of course, Argo. But one University of Auckland sociology professor told the AP New Zealand's anger may say more about New Zealand than the movie: "We do seem in New Zealand to be oversensitive to how the rest of the world perceives us."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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