Crucial Minutia
it's the little things...
Theo Gangi
National Pastimes: Political Theater
1 Comment | posted March 23rd, 2007 at 06:09 pm by Theo Gangi

The problem with Hollywood’s recent Historical action flicks is the marginal interest in history. At the top of the box office last weekend, 300, based on a Frank Miller comic book, tells the story of a famous Spartan last stand. What’s troublesome is that the movie surgically removes the strategic reason for this sacrifice—to save the lives of the 6,000 other Greek soldiers who would’ve been slaughtered. Why this fact is left out isn’t exactly clear, but it is disconcerting that somehow it’s easier for an audience to swallow a sacrifice for a vague, undefined ideology than for a strategic purpose.

It reeks of Bush logic. The Spartan king goes off to war while the Greek people are either too corrupt or too stupid to know it’s time to fight. This king represents only 300 of his constituency, the way our president only represents 30%. This king kills the Persian diplomat for suggesting a negotiation. Why mention that the Greeks destroyed an important Persian temple just years before? No, these ‘ambassadors’ are people of color coming for our freedom. Can’t talk, gotta kill ‘em. Git ‘er done. But most shameful, the movie pretends the 300 Spartans didn’t go to war with 6,000 other Greeks because then they would’ve looked like pussies. The filmakers also removed the Spartan’s body armor. I’m surprised they didn’t remove the spears and shields as well, and go into battle swinging their genitals.

There is something intoxicating about this film. The battle scenes are some of the most powerful visual sequences in any movie of this genre. As they hack through the inferior Persian lines, eating popcorn was all I could do to stop myself from chanting ‘USA! USA!’ Unfortunately, the movie is complicit in exacerbating a racial war going back centuries. Instead of demystifying the Persians, Xerxes and his army is more odd, sacrilegious and scary than ever. King Xerxes himself is as tall as Osama. They are also much darker than the Persians of that time, who would’ve been closer to the swarthy Mediterranean Greeks.

The ignorance of history in this film serves our current political situation too well. It’s hard to know if the filmmakers, or any of the audience, sees the irony in the white king killing the Persian diplomats, knowing the Persians will kidnap our diplomats 2500 years later, and not 30 years ago. But worse is the military sacrifice of lives for no strategic purpose.

The message is too familiar—don’t worry about what’s being accomplished, just die for your country. It’s under this guise that our president can give a speech on a stage in front of ten military uniforms accusing Democrats in congress of ‘Political Theater.’ What could be more theatrical than placing soldiers behind you before saying what you have to say? Theatrics is the basis of this president’s war policy and without that, his utter lack of strategic logic would be exposed. He would look like Jesus dying without the sins, or 300 Spartans dying without a life to save.

This entry was posted on Friday, March 23rd, 2007 at 6:09 pm and is filed under Politics, In The News, Movies, Race. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There is currently one response

  1. Kate Torgovnick

    Theo, I think you missed the point. The only reason movies like this get made is to put a hot actor in a toga and give him a spear. (I’m so joking on this.)

    March 28th, 2007 | 6:44 am

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