riding the peace train


This weekend, we saw Argo, which is based on the true story of the rescue of six Americans in Iran who had escaped the embassy. Argo is getting a lot of Oscar buzz already, and for good reason: it's a great movie.

Certain historical facts have been changed (I'm relying on wikipedia to tell me which ones, because I was only five when the hostages were taken). But as a film, the changes work to keep the pace going and simplify the characters so you don't get lost. There's no history-altering, whoa-what-the-crap-was-that changes. That's saying a lot for Hollywood (I'm looking at you, Elizabeth).

But here's what I wanted to say about this film: it includes a fairly simplistic (but accurate) depiction of how US and British policy in the 40s and 50s (and for centuries before that, although this film doesn't get into it) fucked up the world, creating so much of what has come after (Iran-Contra, Desert Storm, 9/11 - oh, this list is almost endless and heart rending). Even though the Iranian revolutionaries took the hostages, there was a reason they hated the US. The film allows for both sides to be gray, while obviously not condoning violence.

Although the film doesn't quite clarify the misconception that Iran freed the hostages (this isn't a movie about how the hostages were freed) because they were afraid of Ronald Reagan, it does allow Jimmy Carter the last word on the situation.

(We're so politically polarized right now, though, that someone in the audience shouted "Ronald Reagan" at the screen at the end of the movie. Sigh. The hostages were released as he was being sworn in, there is no way he could have had anything to do with their release. That's not how diplomacy/ negotiation works.)

I get pessimistic, when confronted by the "slings and arrows" of history. This is probably why, even though I excelled in history, I didn't choose it as my major (not even ancient history, which I really do love). I prefer being an optimist and thinking we have some sort of hope of getting ourselves out of the mess we've been in (collectively) for as long as we have records. I continue to believe art will save us from ourselves.

I'll keep riding the peace train, thank you very much.