13 March 2007

Why Bother: 300

Welcome back to Why Bother: {Subject Matter Here}, the then no sound column in which we ask the question "Why Bother with [about, even making/doing, seeing/hearing/fucking, etc] such and such a thing?" And today's thing is the film 300. At least I think it was a film, I saw in the upper-right corner little pseudo-cigarette burns every now and then...

[Whoa, whoa. I just linked to "cigarette burns" on wikipedia only to find out that the term is not "canonical." WTF?! How else is the projectionist supposed to know when to change the reel? If the term isn't canonical, OK; but its use certainly is canonical--i.e., every projectionist agrees: gotta change the reel when we see the mark in the upper-right corner. And until recently the mark was made by a cigarette burning the appropriate frames. Q.E.D., motherfuckers.]

If I didn't know any better, I'd say the 300 was shot on vinyl six-pack abs suits and congealed ketchup qua blood. Or that they took some stock footage from the Matrix and, like, photoshopped in spears instead of bullets.

More homoerotic than a commercial for the marines (not that there's anything with that, 'natch) 300 is a two-hour-long (that is to say, extended) ode to the male anatomy. You see abs, sex lines, pectorals with creases on their ridges, which are on top of other creases, etc. And the Spartans, who wear nothing but girl shorts and flaming-crimson capes, have the gall to jibe the Athenians for engaging in pederasty. The nerve! Spartans look like major pervs: like those guys who work out on the beach and oil up each other and try to fuck everything. The film is downright pornographic in its depiction of violence, abs, and those hard, strong spears piercing manflesh left and right.

But the ideological discourse of the film is what really depressed me. The Spartan king, Leonidas, says continually that his country is fighting for freedom when it seems like the least free country depicted. Xerxes' army is composed of 100 nations who form a unilateral coalition to end Spartan brutality. Leonidas' Spartans fucking kill babies if they're small or misshapen--does that sound a little like a Mao-esque practice? And the Spartans kill or maim two different diplomats, the first of which catalyzes the war in the first place. And Leonidas' stupid slut wife (who gets tricked into fucking her arch-rival) says, at one point in which I almost simultaneously pissed my pants and vomited a little in my mouth, that "Freedom isn't free." C.f., Team America: World Police's song, "Freedom isn't free / No, there's a hefty fuckin' fee / And if we don't all chip in, we'll never pay that biiiillllll." Etc. So, everyone, all 300 (give or take) Spartans are forced to die for freedom. Awesome.

There's textbook orientalism governing both the production of (by the filmmakers) and our (viewers') reception of Xerxes' army. It's so very mysterious and exotic. Arabs, negroes, and chinamen. ook at those freaks! And little guys in wizard hats are throwing gunpowder bombs! And, and, they're so cruel and brutal and... maybe a little inscrutable. And look at Xerxes! He has no facial hair and he talks like a transvestite; and he wears eyemakeup suggestive of, well, a transvestite that doesn't know how to put on eyemakeup. And the harem scene. Those people are so exotic. They're probably all smoking opium, but I don't know, they're culture is so strange.

And the Christ-like-ness of Leonidas. He even fucking dies with his arms spread just so, doing is best Jesus-on-the-cross impersonation. He's surrounded by slaughtered men and crimson capes and looks like a pre-Renaissance painting of a bunch of dumbass martyrs.

I fucking hated this movie. Why bother?

Making 300 = Making (lots and lots and lots of) money.
Seeing 300 = Boredom, wasting money

P.S., The Spartans--paragons of virtue and excellence--needed the pederast childfucking Athenians to soften up the Persian army before they could even think of stepping with a ground war.