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by Mimi Brickmeyer, staff writer.  [April 15, 2011]





[]  When Zack Snyder's 300 was released in 2007, some pundits decried the film as Islamophobic war propaganda. The villains were Persians, and America's Neocons were hankering for the U.S. to attack Iran (modern day Persia).

Was 300 intended as saber-rattling war propaganda?

300 depicts Persians as an ugly, mindless, unindividuated horde. Sexually debauched, racially dark, and physically deformed, their ranks included murderous genetic freaks and bizarre animals. Their African looking emissaries scoff at women's rights. The Persians live only to obey and kill for their gender-bender emperor-master -- Xerxes -- awaiting his command to slaughter freedom-lovers.

Accept slavery or death. That is the Persian way.



Opposing them are the Greeks -- the cradle of Western democracy. The Greeks appear healthy, beautiful, fairer skinned, loving freedom and respecting women's rights. Greeks understand that Persians hate Greeks for their freedom. The Greeks have no choice but to slaughter Persians -- which means they can and must kill Persians with enthusiasm. For freedom!

In reality, the Greeks, like the Persians, owned slaves. But let's forget history and reality. Let's focus on one question: Is 300 Neocon war propaganda?

One sees the parallels between 300 and the Neocon narrative:


* The Persians of 300, like today's Muslims, are a dark Other. They dress weird, they look weird -- they are not Us!

* The Persians hate women's independence.

* The Persians hate freedom. After the Spartans are defeated, Persian emperor Xerxes offers authority and riches to the Spartans -- provided the Spartans use this authority to carry out Xerxes's will. More than riches, Xerxes craves power. All must bow to him.

This is how Neocons depict Muslims -- as a slave ideology that demands the whole world bow to their Shari'ah law.


Some of 300's defenders have denied Islamophobia, but I suspect others see it -- and like it!

However, while I suspect it's unintentional, I see parallels in 300 between the Persians and Neocons -- and between the Spartans and Muslims!


* The Persians are a vast, multicultural empire of many nations and peoples -- much like the American Empire, whose military bases occupy dozens of nations!

* The Persians are technologically superior to the Greeks, enabling them to fight from a safe distance. The Spartans call the Persians cowards for flinging arrows and fireballs from afar, rather than risk death by fighting man-to-man -- much like the United States uses drones, missiles, and drops bombs from above!

Americans, like Xerxes's Persians, are push-button warriors -- unlike Spartans and Muslims, whose low-tech requires them to risk their lives in personal combat.

Persians huge beasts (elephants, rhinos, and a monstrous giant), analogous to America's bunker buster bombs.

* The Spartans, like Muslims, exhibit reckless bravado -- they welcome death! Spartans see nothing more glorious or noble than dying for Sparta. Fighting with jihad-like gusto, Spartans are more suicidal than their Persian enemies.

* Persians want to spread their empire across the globe -- much like Neocons want to "spread democracy" across the globe -- whereas Greeks only want to be left alone in their homeland.


I'm sure Neocons enjoy seeing themselves as heroic Spartans battling an aggressive, numerically and technologically superior enemy. But how many Neocons live their war fantasies -- and how many are wealthy chickenhawks, sitting behind desks while they send poor, powerless, and often darker-skinned soldiers to conquer a world for them?


Mimi Brickmeyer is a Los Angeles based entertainment reporter who has extensively investigated Hollywood's biggest celebrities. Read about her adventures in tabloid journalism in Hollywood Witches.
Read Mimi Brickmeyer's post-9/11 reinterpretation of pre-9/11 films. Also read our report on how modern films portray Muslims.




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