Ken Taylor, the real life hero of the story.
By now you have likely heard all about how Ben Affleck has earned the ire of former Canadian ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor for minimizing Canada’s contribution to the rescue of six US diplomats from Iran. Mr. Taylor has been quite vocal about his disapproval and rightly so. Even Former US President, Jimmy Carter (who was President at the time that this whole mission took place) has publicly said that it was 90 percent Canada and 10 percent CIA. Not to mention the fact that John Sheardown, who, along with Taylor masterminded the whole scheme, was left out of the movie entirely.What you may not know is that Canada isn’t the only country to get the fuzzy end of the lollipop in this movie. There is another country whose role in the film was not just minimized, but an outright lie
In the actual rescue mission, New Zealand offered to help. They even sent their ambassador, Chris Beeby to visit the hostages and rent a house that the hostages could hide in if they were discovered. In the movie, New Zealand is lumped in with several other countries who refuse to help, saying their reason was that Iran was one of their largest importers of New Zealand lamb.
The only thing I see wrong with all of this is that Argo is marketed as being “based on the true story” of this mission. The phrase ‘based on’ does not give you licence to tell half-truths and complete falsehoods about the true story, as Mr. Affleck seems to think. If you are going to make the true story of something/anything then, rule number one is, you had better get your facts straight and tell the truth the way it actually happened. Affleck had an advantage in that Ken Taylor was still alive and willing to help him. Sadly Affleck didn’t bother asking for Taylor’s help until the movie had been completed. The only input Ken Taylor had, was the change in the postscript of the film… a small concession at best. Affleck has been quoted as saying he loves Ken Taylor, he loves Canada, he loves New Zealand. I really don’t want to see how he would portray people he hates, if this is what he does to people he professes to ‘love’. Or perhaps he was just being a condescending Hollywood phony, lobbying for an Academy Award.
Affleck could have just as easily done what Law and Order SVU and Criminal Intent frequently do and rip a story from the headlines and write a ‘what if’ kind of storyline about how it could have been and call it fiction… well, aside from calling it fiction, I suppose that’s what Affleck actually did do.
There is one question I still have about this whole debacle. Why did Michelle Obama present the award? Obviously the Academy got her to present because they knew that Argo (a film about American heroics) was going to win. I am all but certain she would not have been tapped to present the award if the winner was going to be Django Unchained, Beast of the Southern Wild or Lincoln. The fact that the First Lady presented the award, even via satellite, not only legitimizes the content of the movie, but effectively puts a presidential seal of approval on it as well.
You might be asking why the hack does any of this matter… it was a movie. Well, I will let Ken Taylor answer that in his own words. “As long as people realise that this isn’t the historical record. And that is difficult to do because movies leave an impression. Particularly with young people – they weren’t around when it happened.” Movies do have the ability to change a generation’s view of what actually happened, to water it down, or to change it entirely. The sad part is that unless you were old enough to remember what actually happened, you will likely see this movie and believe that everything in it happened the way Affleck said it did because it was marketed as ‘based on a true story’.