Predictable Argo win at Oscars causes predictable Iranian outrage

Last night, Argo, Ben Affleck's account of the Iranian hostage situation, surprised few when it claimed the Academy Award for best picture. Also unsurprising was the reaction of Iranian media.

The film, which looks at Hollywood's role in helping smuggle six hostages out of Iran amidst the fraught 1979 revolution, has garnered intense criticism from the country for its negative portrayal of Iranians. The Iranian government even organized a conference to discuss the ideology behind films like Argo, and their use in promoting an anti-Iranian, Islamophobic agenda. And when Michelle Obama presented the Oscar via live feed from the White House, this seemed to confirm the worst fears for many in the Iranian media.

In addition to using photo-shop to cover the first lady's shoulders, the Revolutionary Guard affiliated, Fars news agency, wrote of her appearance:

In a rare occasion in Oscar history, the First Lady announced the winner for Best Picture for the anti-Iran Film ‘Argo,' which is produced by the Zionist company Warner Bros.

Mehr News dubbed the award the "most political Oscar" saying, "the anti-Iranian movie ‘Argo', the 85th Academy Awards ceremony, unveiled the bare politicization in Hollywood."

Meanwhile Iran's state TV called the whole thing an "advertisement for the CIA."

In his acceptance speech, Affleck included a couple of shout outs to the frustrated nation:

I want to thank our friends in Iran living in terrible circumstances right now. I want to thank my wife who I don't usually associate with Iran.

Not the most diplomatic of speeches, this prompted Mehr to further lament: "Ben Affleck continues to show a bleak picture of Iran: Iranians live in terrible circumstances.”

The state-owned, Press TV, went in a different direction. In a snub worthy of the Academy, they chose not to acknowledge the film at all in their coverage of the evening, making it seem, for those who wouldn't know better, that Life of Pi and Amour were the big winners of the night.

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Passport

The road to the Oscars is a little longer for some

The 85th annual Academy Awards are this Sunday, and as folks in Hollywood begin to prepare with juice cleanses and facials, international contenders have a somewhat different if equally complicated road to awards night. Wednesday, Palestinian director of 5 Broken Cameras, Emad Burnat, was detained in LAX, where security threatened to deport him if the Oscar-nominated filmmaker couldn't provide physical evidence of his invitation to the awards show.

The West Bank olive-farmer turned director is the first Palestinian ever to be nominated in the documentary category after he used cameras to chronicle his nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation. Traveling with his wife and son, Burnat was held by immigration for 45 minutes and only released after he sent a text message to fellow filmmaker, Michael Moore, who later tweeted about the incident:

Detaining a Palestinian filmmaker who happens to be buddies with Michael Moore probably wasn't the best PR move on the part of US Customs and Border Patrol. In addition to tweeting frantically about the occurrence, Moore has also updated his website with the statements of both directors.

This isn't the first time a foreign participant has had trouble getting to the show. In 2009, Indian singer Sukhwinder Singh, who was set to perform "Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire, was unable to make it to awards night after the Academy failed to send the requisite letter of invitation he needed to obtain a visa.

In a different category, there's Roman Polanski's infamous no show when he won best director for The Pianist in 2003. The director feared being arrested if he entered the US after fleeing from a sexual abuse charge in 1978.

This year, Rachel Mwanza, the Congolese star of the Canadian nominated feature film, War Witch, had to interview with U.S. authorities to prove she wouldn't remain in the country illegally after the show. The sixteen-year-old actor was only just granted a visa, three days before the ceremony -- incidentally the same amount of time it takes to complete a pre-Oscar juice cleanse.

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