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What 'Argo' tells us about America today

Sunday night, many Americans watched the Academy Awards; celebrating Hollywood's finest, analyzing red carpet entrances, and critiquing stars' fashion choices. For a few hours we are offered a glimpse into a world of glitter and wealth foreign to most Americans. For many people, the Oscars offer a welcome distraction from the impending sequestration, the bitter partisan political atmosphere, the economic downturn, and the myriad crises playing out around the world.

The Oscars acknowledge the year's top film professionals, from actors and directors, to cinematographers and editors. However, below the surface, the Oscars represent the state of our society. In the 1930s, alien movies were ubiquitous; these movies represented the American public's fear of communism. In the 1940s, war movies helped citizens cope with a world war and its vast societal impacts. Each year, the Oscars provide some understanding of the state of American society.

What can be learned about Americans by the movies we went to see this year? Taking a quick look at the best picture nominations, we see an array on topics covered. However, in each film we see the common theme of overcoming hardships and being better for it. Many of the movies are period pieces, looking at rough patches in history and how people coped.

This year's Academy Award for best picture was awarded to Ben Affleck's film, "Argo." So what does "Argo" suggest about our society today? Well there is the glaring obvious: we as Americans are concerned about the Middle East, and specifically, the future of our relationship with Iran. Many Americans are uneasy about the revolutions taking place around the world and are concerned about the potential consequences of American intervention. "Argo" shows our desire for an unsung hero, someone who is willing to fight the odds, and selflessly protect the interests of the United States and its people.

Although "Argo" takes places in November, 1979, there are similarities that we can relate to today, most strikingly, the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stephens in Libya not too long after the year's best picture was released.

Aubrey Grant, Washington

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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