99 severed heads roll by
So we went and saw 300 tonight. (A tip of the ancient katana to Tony Collett, who sent us free tickets for 300. I'm glad I saw it so I can have an informed opinion on it, but I sure wouldn't have wanted to pay actual money for the experience.)
I was composing my review in my head as I watched 300. Words like 'retarded', 'moronic', 'idiotic', and 'jesus, Leonidas, just kiss him already, would you?' kept recurring, much though I tried to rise above them . Yet, mostly, as the film continued to flicker across the screen before me, I found myself planning to emphasize just how bizarre I found it that conservatives could somehow manage to embrace this movie so enthusiastically, while clearly identifying themselves with Leonidas and his 300 doomed but supposedly noble warriors.
This baffled me as I watched the film, because, yeah, sure, okay, I got the whole "how can a king uphold the law when the law itself prevents him from defending his people" thing -- riiiiight, so Leonidas is supposed to be Bush, and this is a thinly veiled reference to the whole wiretapping thing; I understand, they're trying to say that Bush has to break the law to protect his people, yeah, I get it.
But then, how could conservatives (or anyone else, for that matter) possibly continue to think of Leonidas as a CGI buffed up stand in for Bush, when Leonidas turns around and actually leads his troops into combat, and Dubya is a guy who pulled strings to avoid combat, and who sneered "Bring it on!" into a TV camera within a heavily fortified cocoon of concrete, steel, and bulletproof glass and behind a wall of heavily armed Secret Service agents to an enemy that was on the other side of the planet at the time?
That just made no sense to me.
I understood that the diseased, leprous, scabby looking priesthood counseling peace (while all the time in the pay of The Enemy) was supposed to be the United Nations, especially the French. And yes, I follow that the effeminate, toga wearing Spartan elders wringing their hands and imploring Leonidas/Bush not to go to war in defiance of the oracle are supposed to be Congress... except that doesn't make any sense; Congress wrote Bush a blank check when he started the war in Iraq. So what the hell...?
And all the ways this didn't make sense kept piling up. I mean, Persia is invading Greece, right? And the 300 Spartans are defending their homelands from a massive military force, right? So, again, how is it that the Spartans are the U.S., and the Persians are... what... the hordes of islamofascism? The global caliphate? Al Qaeda?
Honestly, it was just stupid. Not that I expect conservatives to be particularly intelligent or reasonable about anything, but, still, this seemed even more senseless than most right wing bullshit. It was much, much dumber than the average wingnut spew... and, man, that takes some doing.
But then I got it. (Sometimes I'm a little slow.) It's not that Leonidas is Bush and the 300 noble Spartans defending the narrow pass are somehow the invading U.S. forces occupying Afghanistan and Iraq, and Persia represents the unrelenting monolithic hordes of global Islam. Because, really, that just won't work, and even conservatives can't be stupid enough to somehow believe that logic rings true.
No, actually, it's much simpler than that. Leonidas is supposed to be Bush, sure. But the 300 noble Spartans, fighting and dying to preserve their way of life from an overwhelmingly oppressive enemy, in the hopes that all their fellow Spartans would wake up to the threat in time to take up arms and repel the wicked hordes of rotten, sinful corruption? They aren't the U.S. forces occupying the Middle East. And Persia isn't the Islamofascists. Leonidas is meant to be Dubya, absolutely. But the 300 Spartans, those half naked, weapon wielding, totally ripped specimens of sheer raw testosterone in strappy sandals?
They're supposed to be... wingnuts!
Yep. The brave 300, sacrificing themselves heroically for the good of their culture, throwing their lives away to slow the relentless progress of an unstoppable, irrefutably evil and immoral enemy... these are supposed to be right wing nutjobs.
And Persia? Wicked Persia, decadent Persia, sinful, pagan, evil Persia, lost in the throes of its own moral corruption, with all its parties and slave girls kissing each other on the mouths and traitorous hunchbacks groping their way through orgiastic seas of sweaty, heaving, naked bosoms and perfectly manicured totally bald god-kings who wear rouge and eyeshadow and lipstick and who demand that everybody kneel before them?
That's the liberal menace, boys and girls. That's... us.
The conflict is clear, the lines are drawn, the gauntlet is thrown. The Spartans... steely eyed, mighty thewed, sweaty browed, smooth featured, clench buttocked, clean limbed and, you know, universally melanin impaired... that's Jonah Goldberg, Dan Riehl, Rush Limbaugh, Dafydd ab Hugh, Michael Medved, Mark Steyn, David Frum, Mike S. Adams, Rich Lowry, Ben Shapiro, Sean Hannity, Glenn Reynolds, etc ad nauseum.
The noble Spartan Queen, sneering to a dark skinned interloper that "only Spartan women can give birth to true men"? That's Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Peggy Noonan, Marie Jon', that she-troll from the Atlas Shrugged blog, and all those other noble conservative chickiepoos, all rolled into one.
And Persia? Rotten Persia, disgusting Persia, vile and hideous and blasphemous Persia, with its god-kings and its slave armies and its horrifyingly deformed hunchback traitors and its mincing, cowardly soldiery? Well, that would be, like, Ted Kennedy and the Clintons and Barack Obama and Michael Moore and, I guess, me.
I had no idea all us liberals owned so much jewelry, or that we were having so much fun all the time while wearing it.
I could get all petty in terms of some of the historical details of the film, I guess. I could ask exactly what material those shiny all-metal shields the Spartans lug around with them are made of, since Leonidas and his 300 lived and died in the Bronze Age, and nobody carried around a shield made entirely of metal in the Bronze Age, because such a shield would have weighed several hundred pounds and even a CGI enhanced Spartan would have had a hard time hauling something like that into combat strapped to one arm. I could wonder at exactly what kind of 'freedom' a culture in which it is unlawful to retreat or surrender is actually fighting for, or what kind of 'justice' is embodied in a culture that throws sickly babies off a cliff. I could even quibble that when Leonidas boasts that all Spartan males are warriors and none of them are blacksmiths or sculptors or potters like the fruity Arcadians, well, there sure seems to be someone back home in Sparta running the smithies and making the pots and sculpting the statues, and those guys look a great deal like the same sort of male Spartans Leonidas has in his 300.
And I could muse on the fact that Greek culture during the historical period of Leonidas and his 300 was predominantly homosexual; the men in ancient Greece (even the manly, manly Spartans) only had intercourse with women for purposes of procreation, and took their pleasures (often) with other men, and boys.
That last notation is probably unfair, though. I mean, conservatives certainly don't have to identify with that aspect of Leonidas' lifestyle if they don't want to. They can absolutely emphasize Leonidas' nobility, his bravery, his courage, and his idealism, if that's what they choose to do. Yet, still, any movie that features this many half naked, really good looking guys running around thrusting long shafts into each other over and over and over again, in which so many men spend so much time demanding that other men kneel before them, and in which so many truly butch guys dressed only in panties and leather straps manage to get so constantly and thoroughly spattered with the body fluids of other men... I don't know. I'm thinking that pointing out that the Greek culture which the Spartans were part of and which they were fighting, killing, and dying to defend was homosexual by choice is, well, appropriate, and merited.
As SuperFiancee said in the car on the ride home "That movie was WAY more gay than BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN". And she's entirely correct... even if it does make all the Fighting Keyboarders who are strutting around proudly identifying with Leonidas and his 300 a little bit nauseous.