As Iran prepares to put all of Hollywood on trial until it cracks, tearfully admitting that it only set out to show the bad side of the Iranian hostage crisis, Argo has upset another nation whose portrayal in the film requires official government response, apparently. Last week the New Zealand Parliament passed a motion stating, for its actual, official government record, that “Ben Affleck saw fit to mislead the world about what actually happened” when his character has a brief exchange with Bryan Cranston’s, in which it’s said that the “Kiwis turned them away” when the U.S. Embassy escapees sought refuge.
It’s just a fleeting, four-word reference, yet it constitutes—in the words of the motion’s author, the frequently publicity-grabbing Winston Peters—“a diabolical misrepresentation of the acts of courage and bravery, done at significant risk to themselves, by New Zealand diplomats,” such as their briefly taking the refugees in, giving them food, and even driving them to the airport. Anyone who has ever given their own friends a ride to the airport, only to have them diabolically not even mention it the next time you see them, can probably relate.
New Zealand’s complaints echo those of Britain and Canada, who have similarly, politely expressed their feelings that Argo doesn’t give them nearly enough credit. But for New Zealand, it speaks to an overarching personality complex about how the rest of the world regards them. “We do seem in New Zealand to be oversensitive to how the rest of the world perceives us,” The Associated Press quotes Steve Matthewman, who is a sociology professor at the University of Auckland who became startled at the first crackling of underbrush, dropping his mince-pie to dive right into the nearest hobbit-hole. Matthewman adds that the reference also touched a nerve because Kiwis pride themselves on “being generous and hospitable” even to passing hitchhikers—as a hiking Anna Faris recently found out when New Zealanders generously screamed, “Show me your tits, you stupid bitch,” by way of hospitably welcoming them to the country.
As such, New Zealand is not about to abide Ben Affleck characterizing it as unfriendly or “a bunch of cowards” in front of all the other countries, retaliating by passing the “Ben Affleck Is Mean” motion uncontested in its Parliament, and even getting Prime Minister John Key to weigh in by saying, “A bit like when they transfer a book to a movie, often it's a little bit different. So, look, I think we've made our point and we should probably move on.” As a salve for such stinging words, the nation also demonstrated its magnanimity by having Air New Zealand offer to fly Ben Affleck there as its guest—though a spokesperson says the company has yet to hear back from him. A second, “Oh, So Now Ben Affleck Is Too Good To Pick Up A Phone?” motion is expected to be introduced to Parliament this week.
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