You could also draw the conclusion that the Spartans are meant to be the terrorists, always using violence to get their way
March 23, 2007
Recently there's been a lot of pressure telling us how insulted we're supposed to be at the surprisingly gloriously delicious depiction of ancient Persia by large American film artists.
That combined with the recent anti-war peace rallies held to commemorate the 5th year of the US/Iraq war, makes at least me ponder the relationship between the two. Because these are two somewhat relevant issues that affect Iranians in some way.
I have now seen 300 twice. Albeit the second time at matinee prices, so as not to reward the producers too much. Not that my frugality will have any effect, make no mistake, this is a blockbuster.
Both times, while trying to carefully observe and record the depictions we've all become way too sensitized to, I also listened to the audience. As expected from a gore and violence spewn movie-going culture, the deep breaths at a glorious cut down, or the "Ah"s of a heaven sent lunge with a spear, were to be expected. Even chuckling, as Leonidas smacked his lips while eating an apple as Spartans finished off the wounded Persian soldiers after one of the green screen battle scenes, was another.
But whenever the sheer size of the Persian army was shown, the crowd often went silent. It sounded like a somewhat jealous silence, as if to say, "Wow!" Blown away by the luxurious details and adornments and meticulous decoration of the slave driven carriages, the ecstatic harems, and the generally opulent entourage of one of a great many Persian kings, sadly in this case, Xerxes.
But you can look at the film either as a slap in the face, or any one of many other insults, if you're really looking to find them. Sure, you could think the Spartans are meant to depict America trying to fight for freedom, against the Persians who are meant to depict a huge Islamic fundamentalist machine, but the opposite could also be true.
Because, you could also draw the conclusion that the Spartans are meant to be the terrorists, always using violence to get their way. And you could also see the Persian army more akin to the massive US forces trying to shove Western customs and way of life, and frequent perversions, down the throats of any other cultures or factions that dare stand in their way.
So you could take it that way too, if you fall for the whole trying to interpret a film ploy. Because this is precisely what makes this film such a success. Everyone thinks they have figured out what it really means, which I think is precisely the filmmakers' intention. Strange we haven't heard a peep out of them. They must be too busy counting large bills. But I don't expect easily bruised Iranian pride to understand this.
What I suggest that everyone do though, and what I am doing with all my non-Iranian friends, is grinning at them, and saying, "Pretty cool huh! Now you know why I am so cocky about being Iranian! We used to own everyone and everything!"
Because as PR goes, it certainly does not hurt us to be one of the main fixtures in an epic blockbuster, even if you happen to think we were portrayed as the bad guys. Maybe a good box office take, will make funding truer to life and more historically accurate films like Cyrus Kar's "In Search of Cyrus the Great" a bit easier.
Reading Kar's recent commentary on 300, he certainly knows his history, but two things jump out at me. First, Kar should seriously review his film's budget, because if as he says, all it takes is a measly $400,000 to wrap it up, then all he's done is think small. These days a normal opening title sequence alone costs well over a million, and I would expect nothing less than normal for an epic about CTG. But business as usual for Iranians I guess, always looking for a way to do something big on the cheap. Second, Kar's choice of name for his film company, Spenta Productions? It certainly isn't what anyone would expect to be charmically suitable for giving investors a warm and fuzzy.
Spenta little, Spenta lot. Anyway you say it, the answer is Not!
But sing this to the tune of Tom Jones' "Why Why Why Delilah", Persians, Iranians, Shooshtaris or Tabrizis for all I care, ought to be complaining about the real issues and the source of real ongoing embarrassment to all Iranians, especially those living in Iran. And that is the far greater outrageous acts and continuous implementation of perverted religious ideas, that altogether harm our image and heritage far far far more than films and comicbooks ever could.
Ahmadinejad or Khamenei? Frank Miller, or Oliver Stone? Who do you think ought to be petitioned?
On to the rallies.
The past week the Bay Area of San Francisco/San Jose also saw Iranians albeit the liberal, leftist, globalist, serenely idealist, and sublimely naive variety, once again take to the streets of the US with misspelled and grammatically incorrect $7 a square foot vinyl banners waving, at the all too obvious perils and foibles of US foreign policy, and its less then unobvious hints that Iran is next on the greatest hits list.
Good observations? Try painfully obvious observations! Because it doesn't take a rocket scientist, or a Green party Iranian computer engineer with a PhD telecommuting to Oracle, to recognize that historically speaking, US foreign policy is an oxymoron, as in this most recent case in Iraq.
Should the US foray into Iran, it would only be another classic example of the repeatedly unauthorized mistakes made ever since this mad concept of 3rd world nation building was hatched by the Eisenhower administration after WWII, starting with the pilot project of all this idiocy, the Mossadegh Fiasco. No one seems bright enough to figure out that more often than not, these meticulously planned schemes backfire and are almost always betrayed by "loyal" allies, of the 1st world.
So you can furrow your brow, cock your beautiful swooping Persian eyebrow, and rage against a big fat hormone fed dumb cow of a machine all you want. You are merely screaming the obvious into the steaming hot wind coming out the back end of that cow. It's also a bit much, and quite embarrassing, to have to explain why we are screaming at the US, but keeping super quiet against our own country's foulplay.
The harder and more skilful challenge is to call things the way you really see them, right when you see them! So all of you with all the energy, try this mental challenge for a change, take a good look at your situation, then think of stuff, the most obvious stuff, and then actually say something about that! If you still need a clue, take a good hard look at Iran, and the stuff we've been seeing for the past 27 years.
A protest march against the war in Iraq? Or a demonstration of our outrage against the likely next one in Iran? That is fine, but only as long as we also march equally pissed off against Ahmadinejad, when he comes to NY next month for another one of his quackingly holier than thou sermons. That kind of stuff.
But if all we have the courage to do is stand up lethargically to the obvious, the easy, and the safe, on Saturdays the weekend we have the kids, because we're off work, and it's sunny, then we are about as mature, real, and valid as a 9 foot Xerxes.
And then we should all just call ourselves, Jerxes.
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