By Mark Neckameyer
March 12, 2007
My wife and I went out to see a movie yesterday. It was my turn
to pick so I chose the "300", a rousing sword and cape
bot-boiler rendition of the Herodotus tale of how in the twenty-sixth
Century B.C., three-hundred Spartans held off the gillion man
Persian army at a narrow Greek pass named Thermopylae. She hated
it and I loved it but that is how it always works. In our pretty
successful thirty-one year marriage we have a movie selection
routine; she picks a "chick flick" that I hate and
the next week I pick a gross comedy or action movie that she
hates. It works for us anyway.
I sort of remembered the 300 Spartan story from my Ancient History
course in college, a classical Greek version of the Alamo with
the Spartan King Lyonaides playing the Davy Crockett part. It
was stirring and colorful with great music featuring the not
so subtle but very entertaining theme that "free soldiers
fighting for their homeland are inherently superior to slaves"
... Well, I just like that! It was even more entertaining when
I got home to read what some of the critics had written about
the movie especially the critics who write for the left leaning
newspapers like Slate and the New York Times.
Dana Stevens, critic at Slate, complains that the Spartans
are Caucasians in the film while the Persians are Black and Brown.
Stevens criticizes the Spartans for supposedly practicing a
form of eugenics "like Nazis", he writes, as they let
deformed babies die and only kept healthy newborns. Well Dana,
the Persian Empire of that day was really Black and Brown as
it existed mostly in today's North Africa and last time I checked,
Greeks ARE really Caucasian. The screenwriter didn't invent
the baby exposing deal either. Perhaps they didn't have super
neonatal medicine two and a half millennia ago so couldn't keep
sick babies alive anyway and I am amazed that a Liberal would
bring up that topic anyway. Has Stevens heard about how modern,
Liberal pregnant women have tests to spot defective "embryos
(read; babies!) and then kill them by aborting them? Sounds
a little Spartan-like to me and we do have good newborn medicine!
The New York Times critic also complains about the "White
Vs. Black and Brown aspects of the movie. He gripes about the
Greeks being more buff than the Persians and mentions that in
the film, the Persian villain King Xerxes has facial piercing.
He doesn't exactly say it but he probably sees this as a slam
against Punk Americans. The Times critic lambasts the phrases
the screenwriter lifted directly from the historical version
written thousands of years ago when Spartan women supposedly
told there men to "come back with your shield or on it!"
So? That is supposedly what they said so should they take if
out of the movie because it offends some people's Liberal sensibilities
today's being bellicose?
I think the Spartans were a great people who somehow survived
in a very tough part of the world and probably had to be tough
as Hell to do so. They were semi democratic (small "D"!)
and believed in educating their women and were religious in their
own way. They did eventually beat back the greatest power in
that day's world, the Persians who greatly outnumbered them.
Doesn't Michigan State have "Spartans" for their mascot?
If Michigan State used an Indian Tribe name they would have
to rename them but I guess there are not enough Greeks Americans
complaining or maybe they are proud of what the Spartans accomplished
all those years ago. They should be!
Received March 11, 2007 - Published March 12, 2007
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