I will never get those two hours of my life back.
Before you say anything: I have not read the graphic novel. I’ve heard all about how the movie was based on it; there’s an aesthetic, it’s a work of literature made of pure gold shat out the miraculous colon of a magical unicorn etc etc. I know. I was going to read it, and then I saw the movie in theatres, and now I really have no desire to even be in the same room as it because 300 was probably one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. Allow me to expand…
1. It’s American war propaganda
In which the fair, upright, and just men of the west go to war against the dark, encroaching eastern threat, though the odds are overwhelming, because Good must always stand against Evil. Sound familiar? Probably because it totally is, and while I love LotR dearly, this is one thing that makes me dry heave, not least because if you scrape off the thin pretense of civility, this is what a lot of actual political rhetoric came down to back in the mid-00s.
- 1a: I cannot even articulate how racist it is to paint an entire civilization as monstrous, greedy, warmongering deformities. 300 depicts the Persian army as LITERALLY inhuman, just in case you had a moment where you might have almost related to one of them.
2. Hard luck if you’re not an able-bodied white dude.
- Guess who’s a traitor? Is it the craven, malicious-looking hunchback with all the worst lines? CORRECT, ZERO POINTS TO GRYFFINDOR.
- Are you the most powerful woman in the city-state? Oop, too bad, you still get raped. Don’t worry, the movie will make it creepily sexual during and you get revenge after, so it’s sort of okay. Right?
- How about the only other woman in the movie? Haha, joke’s on you, slut – you’re only there to provide fetish fuel and move the plot (minutely) along. You don’t really even have a self.
- If you’re an old guy, don’t even bother; anything that comes out of your mouth is moronic and obsolete because you’re SO OLD UGH.
3. Homophobia is the name of the game
Pff, those Athenians with their democracy and culture and penchant for little boys. Never mind that Spartans were historically homosexual as well. There are too many jokes to be made about the oiled wall of rippling manflesh the camera so lovingly panned over for most of the group scenes in 300 even while the rhetoric of the movie was very anti-gay, to the point where there’s a (moronic, unnecessary) couple of throwaway lines about how Sparta’s not to be outdone by a bunch of pansy intellectuals. Hurr hurr boylovers, amirite?
4. Everything is a super-dramatic ultimatum
To the point where I completely stopped caring.
“Choose your next words carefully, Leonidas. They may be your last as king.”
“Come back with your shield, or on it.”
“Our arrows will blot out the sun!”
Snore. Can I get a dialogue that isn’t just people barking at each other, ostensibly to up the tension of the scene? Oh wait, the only times that happened I completely lost interest in the film because it was so tedious in contrast. This movie won awards. SEVEN OF THEM. HOW.
5. It’s war-porn
You know, I like fight scenes in my movies. I enjoyed the sweeping, panoramic battle vistas of Lord of the Rings, I admit to repeatedly rewatching anime fight scenes on YouTube, and I thoroughly enjoy the skirmishes in BtVS, Supernatural, Fight Club, etc. 300 completely turned me off due to the insanely creepy, almost overtly pornographic glee the film radiated during the fight scenes. There might as well have had a blinking APPLAUSE sign on the screen whenever a Persian soldier was brutally eviscerated; the Spartans get tragic music and mournful slow shots because they’re the good guys I guess.
6. It’s supposed to appeal to my (nonexistent) female chauvinism?
Remember the aforementioned oiled wall of rippling manflesh? According to most people, that should be everything I need to toss the previous five points out the window, sit back, and enjoy the soft-core pornography like everyone else apparently did. Yes, that’s right: the go-to defense of this movie is plain old sexism. Virgin/whore dialectic, eat your heart out – clearly there’s no middle ground between being frigidly unmoved by the male body and slaveringly objectifying Xerxes and his gold manties. No room for critical interpretation in the female brain, so ruled by our feelings are we (when not rigidly adhering to societal standards of propriety of course). Never mind that maybe I like a man who’s got a brain, who always speaks his mind; what I’m being told is to overlook the fact that I hate what he’s saying and focus on the physical. Do I look like Sansa Stark to you?
All in all, I walked out of the cinema kinda happy that they all died, completely rendering the hard work and actually pretty great work the actors put into their roles entirely moot. Thanks, 300. You really should not have been born.