Did Argo Whitewash an American Hero? (Studio 360)

Ben Affleck

Argo has been one of last year’s most celebrated films. Ben Affleck directed the movie and stars as the CIA operative who masterminded the escape of six US embassy employees from Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis. That man’s name is Tony Mendez, and Latinos in and out of Hollywood have questioned whether Affleck, a dyed-in-the-wool WASP, should have played Mendez, who is Mexican-American on his father’s side. Slate and Huffington Post commented on the issue when the film hit theaters in the fall, and stories have continued to appear on CNN.com, in the Latino press, and in theblogosphere. One blogger detailed many recent instances of whitewashing in celebrated films.

Moctesuma Esparza, a film producer and the CEO of Maya Cinemas, is troubled that a Latino actor was deprived of the powerful, unstereotypical Latino role as a CIA agent. “Mexican-Americans and Latinos aren’t getting a fair shake in Hollywood to create careers and become stars,” he told Kurt Andersen. Moreover, because the film is all most people will ever know of the event, it deprives the Latino community of a historical hero…

Listen to the story and read more at Studio 360.

Image by Erin Lassahn

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