Mar 24 2007
300 is an unrelenting Hollywood blockbuster gore-fest, but is it war-mongering political propaganda?
The film depicts a heroic coalition of Spartans and Greeks fighting against an army of Persians led by a tyrant. Based loosely on historical events, the subject matter of the film has Iran’s cultural adviser, Javad Shamqadri, ranting that it is a salvo in “a cultural war against the people of Iran“.
The blogosphere is flowing with opinions about how this or that scene in the film glorifies war in general or in particular against foreign barbarians. But in the film, there’s more than just a suggestion that the Spartans are at least as guilty of barbarism as their enemies (killing messengers, practicing infanticide, raising their own children into savagery). The film is overwhelmingly a celebration of violence, not a political tract gushing over Western superiority.
Even if the Spartans’ declaration that freedom must be fought for are to be taken at face value, there’s nothing so terrible about that, either. It’s quite true – though in our day and age, one should certainly be as skeptical as the Spartan senate in the film about the real motives for war.