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Racist 300?

I still haven't seen it, but I got this article from my mother.
Gary Leupp on 300

The message is indeed clear. Sparta = Greece = the Western World = freedom. Persia = slavery and oppression. This was perhaps the gist of Herodotus' message; he did write that while the Greeks knew that men were free, the "Asiatics" knew only that one (the ruler) was free. But that was a skewed
notion in his time and can only dangerously circulate in our own, while Iran is in the neocons' crosshairs. Again, I think the Iranians might be over-concerned, since much of the film-viewing crowd won't even associate the ancient Persians with the modern Iranians, but the "clash of civilizations" theme is definitely there.

I would propose that those exposed to it imagine a different Xerxes than the nose-pierced caricature in the film. Imagine a Xerxes who addresses the American audience, including the Christian fundamentalist audience, as follows:

"I am Xerxes, Emperor of Persia, son of Darius, grandson of Cyrus. My grandfather Cyrus liberated the Jews from their Babylonian exile and let them return to Judea and rebuild their temple. My father Darius urged our people to revere the 'God of Daniel.' I myself married Esther, a Jew."

"I come from a long line of believers in the One God preached by Zarathustra, our Persian prophet whose teachings have influenced the Jews during their exile among us. I refer specifically to their concepts of
Satan, Heaven and the future Messiah which weren't part of their pre-exile belief system and are clearly borrowings from our Persian religion.
In short: 300's depiction of the battle of Thermopylae is not merely inaccurate, as any film adaptation of a graphic novel has the perfect right to be. It's what the Iranians say it is: racist and insulting. It pits the
glorious Greeks with whom the audience must sympathize against a "mystical" and "tyrannical" culture posing an imminent existential threat. It is, de facto, an anti-Persian/anti-Iranian propaganda film, and should be rated appropriately: not just R (for racist) but X---for extremely stupid and
vicious and dangerously ill-timed.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
fanw
Apr. 2nd, 2007 08:30 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. Well, yes, I suppose if you rewrite the script and put in a lot of material that wasn't there, or if you assume that the audiences are well up on there Persian prophets, and if you want to assume that they equate Iranians with Jews?? (don't quite get what he was getting at here) then perhaps you might be able to interpret this piece of fluff as racist.

Guess all those right-ies shouldn't be worried then about 300 being a not-so-subtle unpatriotic support of terrorists as "freedom-fighters" against the overwhelming force of great (american) military power.

I'm fairly happy just enjoying this film since it's been skewered by both the right and left in equal amounts. This ain't no Passion. This is bloodsport. And the Greeks were Greeks and the Persians were Persians. If somebody wants to make the Persians (a conglomeration of Persians, Turks, Egyptians, etc) into Iranians and the Greeks Americans -- or VICE VERSA -- then they can go ahead and make fools of themselves. It's just entertainment from here in the peanut gallery.
mindstalk
Apr. 3rd, 2007 01:21 am (UTC)
I don't think he was saying Iranians are equated with Jews, or should be, but that there are putative links between the Persians and Jews, and that from a Biblical point of view the Persians come off a lot better than Greeks. Which by itself made reading the article worth my while.

I'd seen someone worried that 300 would make it easier to identify the US with the Persians, and thus as bad guys, but not worries about defense of terrorists. Holding a pass against an army is terrorism now?

One point of the article was that making the Persians into Iranians isn't a foolish thing to do. Persia pretty much equals Iran, especially in the minds of the Iranians; it's hardly an arbitrary linking.

I am struck by how everyone I know who's seen it, even the anthropologists, has gone the "it's nice visual fluff" route, "never mind the egregious abuses of historical facts". Y'all think it's too over the top to take seriously; obviously, others disagree.

And then we've got my little anonymous reply...
(Anonymous)
Apr. 2nd, 2007 09:35 pm (UTC)
300 racist?
No the movie is not racist! The furor had nothing to do with the movie, It was the Iranian government using psychological warfare against their own people. They were stirring them up, getting them ready to fight and diverting attention away from their nuclear testing. Remember that the Iranian people are not allowed to see movies or most of the internet, so all they know is what their government tells them. Read all about it here. http://www.washingtontimes.com/world/20070331-113237-7958r.htm

Don't be foolish, when people tell you ridiculous things question the reason behind it. Watch the other hand, the one with the knife.
anima_mecanique
Apr. 3rd, 2007 02:22 am (UTC)
Jesus christ. The movie is not a fucking period piece, it's a patchwork of high-action craziness and Herodotus, whom I suspect most of these reviewers haven't even looked at. Xerxes in the movie is not the historical Xerxes, it's the imperialist boogeyman you find in, oh, ANY Greek author. It's not historical, it's a mythic comic book.


And I am going to keep saying this until someone bloody well listens to me: NINJAS ON A RHINO.

And is there anyone in America outside of ancient studies scholars who knows that Persia is the area known now as Iran? People think "Persia" and they think of flying carpets and genies.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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