Hollywood unfairly represents Canada


(Graphic by Wade Thompson).
(Graphic by Wade Thompson).

If you consider yourself to be a proud Canadian at all, you will do yourself and our country a favour by not spending a nickel on Ben Affleck’s academy award winning movie, Argo.

While Affleck has gained worldwide recognition for his latest movie due to this past award season, the film is also getting a bad rap for knowingly minimizing Canada’s role during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis and the extraction operation that followed.

For those who have not yet seen the movie, Argo is adapted from the book, The Master of Disguise by Central Intelligence Agency operative Tony Mendez (played by Affleck), in which Mendez led the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran, Iran by creating a fake movie.

As well, more than 50 members of the embassy staff were held captive for over a year. If you have seen Argo, I will challenge you to re-watch it. Try not to get too swooped up into the classic Hollywood “damsel-in-distress” story that Affleck is trying to convey.

Pay attention and you will quickly see that the CIA and Hollywood are seen as the gallant saviours of the world, while former Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor, who hid the six diplomats in his home, is demoted as hardly a hero.

If Affleck had done his homework right, he would have known that Canada had contributed 90 per cent of this elaborate plan. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter even stepped forward and confirmed that not only was Canada dismissed in the film, but he also revealed that Affleck’s character was unfairly glorified.

In fact, his character in the real story was only in Tehran for a day and a half. The real hero was Taylor who orchestrated the entire process. Affleck, claiming that Argo was “based” on a true story and not actually a true story, poorly justified this neglect of Canada’s involvement.

Therefore, that gave him the dramatic license to downplay Canada’s role, as he could not possibly fit so much into one single movie. Argo is not the first—and probably will not be the last—product of Hollywood that has falsely represented Canada. In fact, I don’t even see why this is considered controversial anymore. If Hollywood isn’t creating films that are under-representing Canada, they are creating idiotic films filled with stereotypical misrepresentations.

Whenever American television depicts Canada, it’s hard to ignore the fact that our nation is essentially seen as a sweet and slightly backwards version of America, where all of the people eat maple syrup, play hockey and redundantly end every sentence with “eh”. Oh, and let’s not forget that Canadians, according to American films and television shows, ride polar bears as a means for transportation.

And how could it be impossible for me to forget about all of the stereotypes and remarks that South Park has made about Canada?

Apparently, according to this American made show, all Canadians speak with an exaggerated accent and pronounce “about” as “aboot”. The list of stereotypes and the plethora of different ways in which American films have cheated Canada out of their good name could go on. Maybe these stereotypes were funny the first five times, but now they are beginning to lose their humour.

In fact, this petty form of humour is only blowing up in the faces of the Americans who choose to unfairly misrepresent our country. They are no longer seen as witty, but instead are being perceived as ignorant.

The harsh reality is that Hollywood will always make movies. And yes, Hollywood will cash out on movies that both demote and falsely epitomize Canada. So when you’re at the movie store and you’re thinking about buying Argo, just think about how little Affleck thought about the place you call home. That should confirm whether it’s worth your money or not.


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