Monday, February 25, 2013

The Rape of Truth

My dad and I were watching a documentary about the Second World War. They often came on T.V. on Sunday afternoons when I was young. That afternoon it was a program about a military campaign by the allies which emphasized the role of the United States. My dad became very angry. He turned the T.V. off and said, "They weren't even there!"

I was quite young but remember being shocked. How could they make a documentary about an event and not get the facts straight? I was too naive to realize the errors had been intentional. It was my first encounter with the reality that often entertainment trumps truth.

We've just seen another example of it. Last night Argo won the Academy Award for best picture. After reading this article  I was once again shocked and angered at what had been done to re-invent history.

Some will say it's just a movie. Some will say it's just entertainment, so who cares? I do and I think others should too. This film was purported to be a "true story." It was not. I'm a big fan of movies and of books. I love story. But when story is purported to be truth its creators have a responsibility to make sure it is. It's obvious the creators of Argo didn't care about truth. The inaccuracies weren't innocent mistakes. They twisted the truth to satisfy their own needs. They knew the truth but chose to ignore it.

It's a type of rape - the bully inserts himself into history and leaves it distorted and tainted. Truth is ravaged. So are those whose lives were affected by the real story. When creative people choose to use a real event to create art, they have a responsibility to those who lived it and to those who will be the audience. The creators of Argo failed those people and they failed us, their audience.

I'm glad Ken Taylor, ambassador to Iran at the time of this incident, spoke out about the film. The American's own past president, Jimmy Carter also did, to his credit. The film's star, director and co-producer, Ben Affleck allowed Mr. Taylor to change the postscript to the film, (after an outcry when it was aired at the Toronto film festival), and he acknowledged the Canadians in his acceptance speech, but that does not change the fact that the film is inaccurate.

That Oscar is tarnished. Those involved in the production of Argo should be ashamed. So should we, for supporting it.

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