John C. Wright (johncwright) wrote,
John C. Wright

Then we will fight in the shade

300 the movie based on the Frank Miller comic of the same name, based on the Herodotus account of the last stand of the Spartans under Leonidas against the Great King of Persia at Thermopylae, opens today. As best I can tell from the preview, every line is bellowed at high volume, but all the good lines from Herodotus have been retained.
Historian and classical scholar Victor Davis Hanson has this to say
Again, purists must remember that 300 seeks to bring a comic book, not Herodotus, to the screen. Yet, despite the need to adhere to the conventions of Frank Miller’s graphics and plot — every bit as formalized as the protocols of classical Athenian drama or Japanese Kabuki theater — the main story from our ancient Greek historians is still there: Leonidas, against domestic opposition, insists on sending an immediate advance party northward on a suicide mission to rouse the Greeks and allow them time to unite a defense. Once at Thermopylae, he adopts the defenses to the narrow pass between high cliffs and the sea far below. The Greeks fight both en masse in the phalanx and at times range beyond as solo warriors. They are finally betrayed by Ephialtes, forcing Leonidas to dismiss his allies — and leaving his own 300 to the fate of dying under a sea of arrows.

But most importantly, 300 preserves the spirit of the Thermopylae story. The Spartans, quoting lines known from Herodotus and themes from the lyric poets, profess unswerving loyalty to a free Greece. They will never kow-tow to the Persians, preferring to die on their feet than live on their knees.

If critics think that 300 reduces and simplifies the meaning of Thermopylae into freedom versus tyranny, they should reread carefully ancient accounts and then blame Herodotus, Plutarch, and Diodorus — who long ago boasted that Greek freedom was on trial against Persian autocracy, free men in superior fashion dying for their liberty, their enslaved enemies being whipped to enslave others.
Politically Correct termagant and talking mule Dana Stephens of Slate has this to say
But what’s maddening about 300 (besides the paralyzing monotony of watching chiseled white guys make shish kebabs from swarthy Persians for 116 indistinguishable minutes)… Here are just a few of the categories that are not-so-vaguely conflated with the “bad” (i.e., Persian) side in the movie: black people. Brown people. Disfigured people. Gay men (not gay in the buff, homoerotic Spartan fashion, but in the effeminate Persian style). Lesbians. Disfigured lesbians. Ten-foot-tall giants with filed teeth and lobster claws. Elephants and rhinos (filthy creatures both). The Persian commander, the god-king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) is a towering, bald club fag with facial piercings, kohl-rimmed eyes, and a disturbing predilection for making people kneel before him.
Michael Kim at LIBERTAS read this SLATE review and asks plaintively:

Has elite opinion so far fallen into the tar pits of multiculturalism and relativism that one should feel guilty about some work of art that lionizes a last stand that helped save the cradle of Western Civilization.

My own opinion: First, I am with VDH on this one. Thank cloud-gathering Zeus and Ox-eyed Hera that ANY film of any kind is being made of the classical heroes, whether turned into a comic book or not. I want people to know who Leonidas was, even if only in the Frank Miller version.   

Second, political correctness no longer even attempts to pretend it is anything other than racism, a particularly sick, virulent, hatred-eaten form of racism. A racist is someone who hates everything done by a particular race, no matter what they did. In this case, everything done by the Europeans, no matter how brave or against whatever odds, cannot be seen except as loathsome. 

I wonder whether they can watch Cowboys-and-Indians movies, or THE GREEN HORNET or JOHNNY QUEST or FLASH GORDON. I think even Captain America is too jingoist for their political purity: I hear they have killed off Steve Rogers with a bullet from a sniper. Nothing heroic, or fun, or good can stand.

It is simply laughable that Frank Miller, of all people, is now being accused by the witchfinders of bearing the witch-mark of being an oppressive White Male racist, sexist, homophobe. Has anyone on the Left ever met a real racist, ever? Real racists have no sympathy for boy-kissing pagan Greeks, let me tell you.
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