Monday, April 16, 2007

Went to see 300 on its first (and probably only) weekend at the Garman Opera House. Saturday afternoon matinee - just me and another middle-aged guy. The hard-left owners of the Opera House could *not* have been enthused at this turnout. I can't imagine why they scheduled it - clearly their usual art-house crowd wasn't up for what Fred called the other day "fascist warporn", and the extensive nudity and violence wasn't going to bring in the family audience which is the other mainstay of the Opera House's traffic.

Not that I can argue with Fred's description. Frank Miller has always flirted with fascistic imagery and the logic of fascism. Lots of emphasis on physical perfection, warrior ethos, blood-and-soil, a nihilistic fixation on "good deaths", a distrust of traditional elites & elders, elected or otherwise - all of this was in The Dark Knight Returns, it's just a lot more obvious when he's playing with Spartans & right-wing mythmaking than back when he was cracking on Reagan & Superman.

It was probably the depiction of the physically deformed Spartan traitor that tipped things over the brink for me. The use of the deformed to represent moral depravity & social weakness is an old, bad habit of the fascistic and the old right, and it would be kind of ugly to find it in a movie made in the second half of the Twentieth, let alone in 2007. I'd say the same thing about the leprous-looking ephors, except that Mel Gibson pulled the same stunt with the literal leper-father of Robert the Bruce back in Braveheart.

All that aside, as far as fascist warporn goes, 300 is pretty cracking good. I fear that film is an inherently irrational medium, and that you can only choose your irrationalities when it comes to works of art in that medium - do you want your warporn to be communist, pacifist, or fascist? Of the three, I'd probably prefer fascist in a time of war. It's less demoralizing. But it isn't really a good set of choices, is it?

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