ENTERTAINMENT OR PROPAGANDA?
I just had the chance to watch the movie Argo. It is a good movie and it tells an important story. But the movie has several historical flaws. The sub text of the movie serves the purpose of redeeming the reputation of Jimmy Carter.
The story begins by stating that the middle eastern problems were caused by American political and capitalist activity. In 1953 an attempted coup was carried out against western leaning Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlav. The Shah was momentarily displaced by a militant on who nationalized American oil companies and thus, as it was put, gave the oil back to the people. The implication that Americans were stealing the oil rather than pay for it. Of course it was not true. And if one would remember back to 1973, we experience OPEC oil embargo and long lines at the pump to get gas. The United Kingdom and the United States backed the Shah and thus the militants directed their hatred at the west, especially the United States.
The focus of the story was the taking of 52American hostages in Iran by student and militants. The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was the leader of the revolution. The Shah of Iran had been exiled to the United States and they wanted him returned to be put on trial. The year was November 4, 1979. Six Americans escaped to the Canadian embassy and were hidden by the Canadians. However, they would be found at some point. It was imperative that they should be rescued.
The story assumes, particularly when you see the very end, that Carter is one of the reasons the operation to free six hostages from Iran was successful. However, Carter canceled the operation and it took place in spite of him. The movie itself says that the operation was cancelled because there was a military operation in the works.
In the movie, the attempted rescue is mentioned, it is never told that the mission was a total failure and a great embarrassment to the United States. On April 24, 1980, Operation Eagle Claw was set into motion in order to rescue the 52 hostages. The mission was an immense failure that resulted in the deaths of eight American servicemen, one Iranian civilian, and the destruction of two aircraft. Nothing is said about this in the movie. Carter lost the election for his second term, largely because of his failure to deal with Iran.
At the end of the movie, it is noted that the 52 hostages were released after 444 days of captivity. But left out of the movie was that the hostages were released during the very beginning of the Reagan administration. It is as if Reagan did not exist.
Where does entertainment end and propaganda begin? While the movie is certainly entertaining, it is not historically framed. Most movie goers will miss the tampering with history. The movie has all the signs of propagandistic tampering. It is slight but aligns the movie with a very left wing world view.
When we use terms like left wing and right wing, we play a game that most conservatives cannot win. What is called right wing today, is, for the most part, the normal middle class world view of American citizens. I remember seeing a shift in the news where the normal world view was being attacked as right wing. The complicit press moved the markers over a period of time with the intent of making normal people look like right wing extremists. It is still true that there are very few actual right wing people in the U.S. But there are plenty of extreme left people now teaching in colleges and universities, running news programs, writing text books and making movies. However, I think that many of them are simply repeating what they have been taught and they have little critical mental faculties within themselves to question common culture. No one wants to take the time to question their assumptions about life. We are more inclined to group think.
The characters in the movie did what they did out of love for country and for people. But the movie was framed in such a way that today’s values were at work instead of the common values in the late 1970s.
In the sixties, one of the common mantras was question authority. It is always a good idea to question authority, especially in a democracy that is supposed to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Every time a politician speaks, we do not need to be sceptics, but inquirers and ask ourselves the question, is this true? We need to question the press, the media, movies, novels, TV programs, and so on instead of being conformed to them. I even advocate that one should question the church and preachers, especially those seen on many TV programs. But in order to do this, one must study and know about history and culture and doctrine and the nature of people. In other words, we need to be engaged with life.
The 1960s attitude was “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” These are the words of Timothy Leary who taught that taking drugs was the way to enlightenment. Most took it to mean sex, drugs and drop out of normal life. Don’t pay attention to life, just feed your basic instincts and be yourself. But, to be yourself was to be a part of a common collective. Dropping out is the one sure way of being enslaved.
The point of all of this is to say we need to start thinking. We need to question authority. We need to ask the question is this true? When we don’t think, we live by our emotions which are easily betrayed.
We need to learn basic logic to guide our thinking. We begin with the simple idea that A cannot be non A. Some rube will say that in quantum physics, A can be non A. But we do not live in a quantum world. We live in a Newtonian world. And while we might be able to manipulate the quantum world, we could never live in it.
I use a small book titled, Being Logical, by D. Q. McInerny for personal study and I recommend it to students that I sometime teach in theology classes. It is a little more than 100 pages and it helps the thinker to clarify why concepts are true or not true.
I hope that when the reader sees a movie or TV show or reads a novel or sees a clip on Youtube or read blog pieces like my own writings that you ask critical questions. Is this just entertainment or is someone trying to program my thoughts through the power of propaganda?