Paul Casserly 's Opinion

Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

Paul Casserly: Argo to hell

41 comments
TV blogger Paul Casserly says we should shut up about Argo and start getting outraged about real injustices.

Ben Affleck, right, Alan Arkin and John Goodman in Argo. Photo/supplied
Ben Affleck, right, Alan Arkin and John Goodman in Argo. Photo/supplied

Can we shut up about Argo yet? Can we? Being a small and inconsequential nation means that we are very sensitive to any form of slight and that's what the omission really amounts to. It's slight. Ben Affleck cut corners and compressed the story so as to make the movie simple enough to truck along at pace. So we didn't turn the hostages away, we helped, yes we did. And kudos to those involved.

After an initial interest in the story the 10,000 mentions of it since have become background noise. But it seems to live on. We feel misrepresented, we feel hard done by. Waaa, waaa, call the Wambulance.

Watching reportage of the "Crisis in Korea" it occurred to me how hypocritical being offended over this inaccuracy really is. If you trusted the news broadcasts, on all the major channels, you'd believe the hype that North Korea, out of sheer foaming at the mouth madness was about to unleash a nuclear attack on the United States and god knows where else as well.

As a North Korean, I'm sure I would feel a little slighted that pertinent facts have been given such scant coverage, such as the sabre rattling of America and South Korea, in the form of military manoeuvres that are currently underway in the south.

It was only listening to the radio, the ABC, via Radio NZ, that I learned that although North Korea has some nukes, they have no ability to fire them in rockets and "would have trouble even dropping them from planes". I also learned why China had no interest in regime change, the millions of refugees that would no doubt head across the boarder being one factor. Eventually, as the story unfolds we get more of the detail, and the TV news catches up, but it's a little glacial. Probably, like Mr Affleck, our news outlets are just trying to make the story appealing and simple enough to truck along at pace.

No doubt the boy wonder, Kim Jong Un, might be a little worried about regime change. Given the track record of the United States, the number one regime change agency of the modern era, you can hardly blame him. Not that China or South Korea would fancy the millions of refugees that would generate. But what do I know? A man who has written many books on the subject reckons that "Public discourse about the North in most of our enlightened world is crippled, condescending, irrelevant, and, like heartburn, episodic."

You can read more of his theories here, it would be nice if the nightly news tried to enlighten us a bit more rather than just scaring the bejesus out of us. "Look there's a crazy man, he's going to blow up the world, now here's Jim with the weather."

I often feel compelled to put myself in the shoes of the Iranians too while watching the news. We are constantly served the mantra that they shouldn't be allowed to have nuclear weapons. Each report seems to be yelling "don't let the crazy motherf**kers get nukes!"

If I was Iranian it's the first thing I'd want, just as the Israelis did the first chance they got. If there's trouble knocking at the door nothing says "back the f**k up" like a steaming big pile of uranium enriched ordinance. No one in their right mind is a fan of many aspects of life in the 'axis of evil', but neither are we of the regimes we simply ignore, Saudi Arabia being the most bleeding obvious.

Each report about the issue is another swipe of the eraser over history. Didn't America fund a war against Iran, for decades, before turning on their ally (Iraq) and destroying their country. There's a back story begging to be told, a point of view that never gets an outing. But you'd never get that sense from watching the nightly news, which seems to boil things down to three words: Insane. Angry, Arabs. How about, Understandably, aggressive, Persians? And if you think we have a right to be peeved about Argo's inaccuracies, imagine how Iranians feel. (Iranian Kambiz Atabai on why the film is an unfortunate and inaccurate depiction of the Shah's reign and the Iranian people.)

But some people in New Zealand do have cause to feel hard done by. A recent Campbell Live expose showed pretty graphically the prejudice that's doled out on a daily basis to people with brown skins.

The reporter, Tristram Clayton, a white, borrowed the clothes and car of a Maori dude who was being forced to pre-pay his petrol while the whites around him seemed to be able to pump first, pay later. They may have cooked the books a little to make the point - the reporter was a more forceful communicator for one thing - but the evidence was pretty damn compelling. Talk about a reason to feel slighted.

Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

It began with Dr Who, in black and white, when it was actually scary. The addiction took hold with Chips, in colour. He made his mum knit a Starsky and Hutch cardigan. Later, Twin Peaks would blow what was left of his mind. He’s been working in radio and TV since the 1990s and has an award in his pool room for Eating Media Lunch.

Read more by Paul Casserly

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 30 Dec 2014 00:55:37 Processing Time: 679ms