Friday, March 09, 2007

Returning to sanity...

That was fun.

Now, before I get into this, let me thank all the thoughtful people who disagreed and agreed and conversed about propaganda. The majority of the responses.

To the rest of you, I'd like to mention a few things:

1) Despite the fact that I prefaced and ended the post pointing out that I, even possessing the opinion, knew that the opinion was batshit insane, there were a few commenters who felt it was necessary to point out that it was batshit insane. I appreciate your concern.

2) It feels weird to be accused of being overly Americentric because I saw a US-related metaphor in a project involving known Americentric propagandist Frank Miller. (This goes for the person who thought my opinion it would be homophobic and misogynistic was unethical. I've read enough Frank Miller stories to know what to expect, thank you.)

3) Its always fun to see responses to expressing an aversion to seeing a movie based on the marketing for the movie complain about how someone is judging the movie based on the marketing for the movie. You know, the stuff designed to make us want to see the movie. This really fits the mood of the comics-reading community, where we spend hours commiserating about editorial decisions about comic books that we dropped months ago. (And comparing the war in Iraq to my decision not to see a movie was an interesting analogy. Plus the 3 blind men story is cliche, overrated, and quite probably offensive to blind people.)

4) Not a criticism, but its oddly gratifying to find out that people in Iran are having much the same debate.

(Also, this response thread was fun to read, it made me imagine what archaeologists and historians three thousand years from now will say about the 21st Century world. That made me laugh myself silly.)


  1. Re #3: That's why my film trailer review posts always seem to end up being the most contentious. Nerds really HATE it when you have a different reaction than they do to marketing materials.

    Regarding Miller: I'm still not sure, sometimes, how much of his work is meant to be taken as a joke and how much is meant to be serious.

    And I'm not going to see 300 because the original comic was crap.

  2. Tsk tsk tsk...

    It is your solemn duty as a comics blogger to see this film and respond to it, dammit! In fact, yours was one of the responses I was MOST looking forward to, regarding the treatment of the queen. (She had her role beefed up considerably for the movie, and, naturally, that involves a rape scene...and by rape I mean being coerced into sex you dont' want to have, even if it is technically voluntary)

    I think the movie has the craziest, mixed-up politics of any movie I've ever seen. Both Persia and Sparta seem anagolous to America SIMULTANEOUSLY, and both Leonidas and Xerxes seem to be playign the role of Bush, SIMULTANEOUSLY. It's also weirdly homophobic and the same time!



  3. I guess it goes to show what I see a crazily stylized war-film for when it such American political overtones didn't occur to me until I read this blog.

    To be honest, like Caleb above said, the movie is full of paradoxes.

    There is no outspoken homophobia (aside from a very brief line very early in the film when Leonidas insults Athenian's "boy loving"), and yet in the final sacrifice/battle sequence Leonidas hodls the hand of a fellow warrior in a tender sort of moment as the latter dies.

    The film's view of women is similiarly paradoxical. Early on the Queen rebuffs a Persian messenger, and when the Messenger badmouths her ("who are you to speak as such to a man?"), Leonidas defends her superiority to him, but he says this is because Spartan Women bear the strongest men in the world.

    That's not even the worst of the back-and-forth -- near the end, after the Queen had sex with the Strong-Willed Evil Councilman in order to get his support to aid the Spartans against Persia, said Councilman backstabs her (accusing her of being an adulterous whore). She responds by taking a nearby guard's sword and stabbing him in the stomach. o.o

    In terms of the movie's politics... as I said I did not even consider parallels to modern politics until coming tot his blog, but the political theme of the movie as a whole seemed, to me, to be less "the small moral right dying against the many moral wrong", but more about rejecting old, tyrannical, religious-based politics in order to accept more modern politics based on the freedom of the individual. This is especially apparent in the voice-overs when Leonidas has to (as a result of Spartan/Greek law) consult the Oracle in order to gain approval for war, and the Priests are repeatedly refered to and shown to be corrupt and evil.

    So yeah, I don't think the film acts as a significant metaphor for US politics, as it seemed to be more about rejecting old viewpoints in favor of new ones, defending said righteous new viewpoints against the tyranny of the old.

    Though,a s has been poitne dout, you can make an argument for any number of interpretations of the movie--it's interestingly unique in the variety of political analyses that can be applied.