Iranian media refashioned Michelle’s dress that she wore when she presented the Best Picture Oscar live from Washington
Feb. 25: It was hard to tell what the Iranian regime found more offensive: that Argo won Best Picture at the Oscars ceremonies yesterday, or that Michelle Obama presented the award in a bare-shouldered dress.
The hardliners who rule the Islamic Republic could at least do something about the First Lady’s “transgression” — the official Fars news agency Photoshopped the pictures.
It refashioned Obama’s dress so that it covered her flesh. The state-controlled Iranian media pulled off a similar trick a year ago when it altered a picture of Baroness Ashton of Upholland, the European Union’s chief nuclear negotiator, to conceal her cleavage.
By contrast the regime could only fulminate against the Oscar triumph of Argo, a film about the 1979-81 US hostage crisis in Tehran.
State television denounced the film as “an advertisement for the CIA”. The semi-official Mehr news agency said that the award was “politically motivated”.
Mohammed Hosseini, the culture minister, said that the film “distorted history” for propaganda purposes.
Argo has been banned from Iranian cinemas, but on the streets of Tehran there is a healthy trade in bootlegged copies, with DVDs selling for less than a dollar each.
Ben Affleck, who directed and starred in the film, used his acceptance speech to “thank our friends in Iran living in terrible circumstances right now”.
In the US, one of the most powerful women in the country stepped into the spotlight to announce Oscar’s biggest prize — the award for Best Picture — even though she wasn’t in the auditorium, or anywhere near Hollywood.
When actor Jack Nicholson walked on stage at evening’s end, before the Best Picture pronouncement, he quipped how the academy tradition is for the award to be announced by a solo presenter. But Nicholson stunned the crowd when he said: “It’s my pleasure to introduce live from the White House, the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.”
On a huge screen above him, Michelle Obama appeared via satellite in a gala shiney grey dress, backed by several young people in formal military uniform.
Said Obama: “Thank you, Jack, and welcome to the White House, everyone. I am so honoured to introduce this year’s nominees,” noting that she was excited to celebrate films that “lift our spirits, broaden our minds and transport us to places we can never imagine”.
Saying that it had been an exciting year for movies, Obama said the best picture nominees “took us back in time and all around the world. They made us laugh, they made us weep and they made us grip our armrests”.
She continued to praise the nominees, saying that the films “taught us that love can endure against all odds”. She said all the movies incorporated lessons that “apply to all of us no matter who we are, what we look like, where we come from and who we love.”
Obama added that the nominees would have special value for young people, to inspire them “every day to reach their dream”.
Smiling, Obama then turned over the announcement of the nominees to a grinning Nicholson.
And if anyone watching wondered whether Obama was actually appearing live, she returned to the broadcast with an envelope to announce the best picture — Argo.
Ben Affleck said he felt like he was “sort of hallucinating” when Obama presented the award. “The fact that it was the First Lady was an enormous honour,” Affleck said.