Wednesday, April 4, 2007
I walked out of a showing of “300” last night. The New York Times reviewer said that “300” is as violent as Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto” and twice as stupid. And he is right.
The dominant theme is that Spartan men are real men: gym-goers who are aggressive, domineering, rigid, unyielding, in-charge and in-control. The movie dresses this up as patriotism, the Spartan queen proclaiming that “Freedom isn’t free!” but the message is hard to miss.
So, why, exactly is this movie “stupid”? Primarily, because it is stupidly and wrongly self-congratulatory. First, the Spartan legacy to the West is Thermopylae. The Athenian legacy is philosophy, politics - especially democracy- literature, drama, dance, history, mathematics, architecture, and science.
Second, men – and women – aren’t really in-charge and in-control. For example: American farmers rely on bees to pollinate crops each year. This year thousands of colonies, some numbering 60,000 bees, are disappearing, and $14 billion worth of crops are at stake.
So, what would a Spartan do? Being aggressive, rigid, and unyielding – not to mention being in-charge and in-control - won’t pollinate crops. Even, the art and science of Athens won’t pollinate crops.
Being aggressive, rigid, and in-charge won’t bring about human salvation. Nor will human philosophy, art, history, and science, brilliant as human learning can be. Salvation comes from the one who made the bees – and who sends us little reminders, like disappearing bees, that we’re not in charge.