Saturday, March 2, 2013

"Argo" and The Iranian Hostage Crisis

The movie Argo won the "Oscar" award  for the best movie of 2012 recently.

This has created some controversy because the nation of Iran feels that the movie portrays its history inaccurately.

Here is a good link about the period of time in Iranian and US relations that the movie is about. This link provides a pretty objective account of what happened.  Basically from the 1950s through 1970s the US government supported the corrupt Shah of Iran against the will of the Iranian people.

When there was a revolution in the late 1970s, the US president - Jimmy Carter - probably should have supported the people of Iran, but he supported the corrupt Shah instead. The Shah was forced out of office and the US and Iran have had terrible relations since then.

Vocabulary to help you read the article:

a controversy - a controversial issue is one about which there is heated (passionate, emotional) debate or argument

to portray s/t  (s/t = something) - to reveal or show something

objective - not 'subjective,' if a piece of news is objective, it tries to tell the truth about the situation directly, without favoring one side or the other; something objective is non-biased

corrupt - not honest; a corrupt politician is not trying to be of service to others - he/she tries to profit for him/herself

Shah - the title of the ex-leader of Iran; he was like a president or prime minister etc.

the will of the people - what the people want

a hostage -someone held by someone or others against his/her will; a captive

a crisis - a difficult situation that could lead to tragedy

a mob - a large group of people

to overrun - basically, to run over; if something is overrun by people, lots of people 'attack' something and take it over

to seize - to take control of

an oath - a formal promise

concentrated - focused

a dominant role - the main role

to stay on the sidelines - to just stand by and watch

advocating - encouraging, arguing for

charismatic - charming, likable

to oust - to get rid of, to eliminate

CIA - Central Intelligence Agency

to consolidate power - to centralize power and make it stronger

unprecedented prosperity - wealth that has never been experienced before

resentment - bad feelings

a confrontation - when two people or parties face each other in some type of conflict situation

clergy - religious people

to flee - to run away ---> flee, flew, flown

exile - to go into exile means to be forced to leave your home country for another

to toast s/o - to raise a glass of alcohol to someone and say something nice

as opposition mounted - as the number of people opposing something grew or became larger

to crack down on dissenters - to crackdown on means to get tougher with, to try to stop, to try to oppress.  If the government cracks down on a certain type of crime, they are trying to stop that crime

fueling more resentment - causing more bad feelings

to denounce - to say something is wrong

to inherit s/t - to receive something from someone before you.  If a relative dies, you might inherit some of his/her money

to heed advice - to follow advice

to suppress s/t - to try to stop something

to be reluctant to do s/t - to not really want to do something

a reprisal - an act of revenge, to hurt someone who has hurt you

to relent - to give in, to agree to do something you don't want to do

the room fell dead - the room became quiet

a retinue - followers

potent - powerful

to vow - to promise

the plight of s/o - the problems of someone

to embargo s/t - to stop buying something

oppression - force which stop something; political oppression is a type of force which is meant to harm some group or individual

sanctions - regulations that stop trade with a country

to freeze assets - to stop Iran from getting their money from US banks

to rally around s/o or s/t - to support someone; initially people supported Carter

mine the harbors - put explosive devices in the harbors to blow-up Iranian ships

to feel devastated - to feel terrible, to feel a sense of loss

to abort a mission - to stop a mission

gleeful - happy

stark - strong

impotence - weakness

multiple sclerosis - a type of disease

dispiriting - demoralizing, making a person lose hope or enthusiasm

a backdrop - the background

to thumb your nose at someone - to show contempt or hatred or disapproval

propaganda - positive stories (often in the news) told to promote the image of a government

chaotic - messy, not organized

to drag on - to take too long

a landslide victory - an easy and overwhelming victory

fraught with emotion - filled with emotion


1)  Why do you think this movie was made, even though the events portrayed were from 1979?

2)  Do you think that Hollywood helps to promote American "propaganda"?

3)  "Argo" was not one of the most popular movies of 2012 and there seem to be many historical inaccuracies.  Why do you think this movie won the Oscar?

Yes, I'm the guy who wrote the very funny ESL book: New York City Sucks, But You'll Wanna Live Here Anyway.

If this page is useful to you, please buy the book (it's quite inexpensive and useful!!!!). If you don't have an e-reader, drop me a line at and I'll send you a free copy via Word file. Let me know whether you have Word 2010 or an earlier version.
Yes, I'm also the guy who created the scandal in Asia two years ago :P

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