This film is about 300 Spartan warriors lead by King Leonides who held against King Xerxes and his horde of “Persians”. You can read any review somewhere that will tell you of the debate brewing about this movie. I agree with most criticisms and cringe at the affirmations. That being said here’s what I think:
Propaganda. Blatant sheer racism. The upholding of American national identity at its most precise. Americans racist xenophobia against Iran was so clear (really against the whole world that doesn’t adhere to the same code or is the same color) that I laughed out loud. Spartans discarded the weak, sickly, or misshapen babies leaving only strong warrior men born to Spartan women. They respect their women above all. These women would have been crushed beneath the weight of the soldiers who’s airbrushed six packs made even the boniness of the women pale in comparison.
That’s not really how I want to say that either. I left the theater furious. They’ve got all the blacks and people who look like me behaving like animals when the Persian Empire was one of the greatest forces of civilization in history. (Ironically enough the Persians believed in truth above all else, no wonder we’re at such a historical impasse.) Making the Persians a hyper-sexualized conglomerate of all non “Western” people who are all slaves to a megalomaniacal god/ king monsters exemplifies America’s demonization of those who don’t share their adolescent mindset. In Xerxes harem, the traitorous hunchback is offered the pleasures of the flesh from beautiful women of color who smother him with kisses, undulate seductively beneath him and (sigh) lick his hump. At that I stated, in perhaps not my quietest inside voice: “This is some bullshit. The only women who look like me are licking a hunchback. Black ladies will even fuck a hunchback. This movie is some real bullshit!” I concede the inappropriateness of that behavior, but I was incensed.
For the generation of young boys sitting in their basements playing their x-boxes and wondering what this world has in store for them the idea of doing something for glory must be appealing. It’s appealing to me. To believe in something so strongly that you’d give your life for it has moved men and women since the beginning of time. But at a moment when America’s intention is to overpower Iran, to not place this film in a contemporary context belies a naïveté I don’t believe we can afford as a democratic nation right now. Americans are the world leaders on propaganda. I know I help create it. We have created a national identity out of who we want to be or at least want the world to believe about us, not who we are. We tell ourselves so many lies and ingest so many that we can’t separate them. A friend of mine said it was propaganda for going to the gym and working on a six-pack. It most certainly is. Because that’s what we believe about ourselves. We believe we are those perfect, powerful, noble Spartans. Well then we’d be doomed, because the majority of Americans couldn’t lift a spear nor hold a shield and would run the other way before risking their life for another. But we’re not all soldiers. Oh, yeah right… Abu Ghraib & Gitmo. Right. Soldiers.
The black lady licking the hunchbacks back made me really mad though. And they were the only women who’s ribs you couldn’t see. They could be warriors. Not those bony Spartan women. And the homophobia… Did I mention that Xerxes was all done up like a video ho? So terrible.
Oh and Leonidas’ last speech of the movie stating that they fought against mysticism and tyranny. Really? Is he running with Giuliani next year? This thing was a mess and it was not the best movie since the Matrix. What a load of crap. That’s what got me in there. But imagine the feeling you might have had (I know I did) when I first say the Matrix. Not only was it visually stimulating, but also the story was unprecedented. They worked in tandem. This story was so bad that the effects meant nothing to me. But I’m old school. I still go to the movies to learn something about myself or others that don’t exist in my real personal life. Yes it’s an escape, but there has to be something that draws you into a fantasy of escape that truly grabs you. Something that holds you rapt. But I’m old school.
Maybe more later, but I do feel better now.