I just watched 300, the new graphic novel movie from Warner Brothers about 300 heroic Greeks who challenge an army of invaders. Visually, of course, the movie was stunning. The acting, the costumes, and the characters were superb, and the plot wasn’t really that bad…except that I kept seeing parallels between the movie and the Bush administration’s War on Terror. We all know that movies will take money and put a carefully placed product advertisement for Pepsi or Dell, I couldn’t help but wonder if they’d received a hefty donation to alter key lines in the script.
In fact, President Bush couldn’t have written the script better himself. A foreign army comes into Greek land and demands obedience. The Greek senate doesn’t support the war, but the king rounds up his soldiers and goes anyway. They win round after round, proving their claim that “free men” fight better than slaves. Finally however, they are surrounded and killed.
Meanwhile, back home, the King’s wife is trying to convince the senate to send more troops. She gives a moving speech about how more troops are needed, not necessarily for victory, but to show support for and comfort those who are already fighting. This movie came out very close to when the United States senate was actually voting on whether or not to send more troops – despite the movie 300, they voted “no”.
Interestingly, while President Bush earlier played up the Christian Faith card – describing the war as a war on evil, a Godly war, in 300 the Greeks are not the religious ones. Instead, they are described as reasonable and logical. Religion is what belongs to the other guys, and it is called “tyranny and mysticism”, probably a jab at the Islamic leaders that are causing so much trouble. Of course, it is easy to see that the Greeks are the “good” guys in this movie: they’re white. They speak English. It’s those other guys, who look Indian, or Arab, or Asian…those foreigners, that we have to watch out for. But wait – didn’t Greeks invent world domination? Weren’t they the first to successfully unite a large portion of the world, build roads, establish legal customs, foreign trade and schools? Isn’t that what we love about them, and the Romans who came after them? Yet, they often saw their own kings and leaders as Gods. How is this different from the foreign invader in the movie? Sure, he was a weirdo, but he would’ve left Greece alone. All he wanted was a tiny act of homage, some land and water. Is “freedom” really worth dying for? Is it worth fighting a war for?
We Americans like to think it is. We are free to go see any movie we choose, and come out desperately believing whatever it was they wanted us to. Conspiracy? You bet! Americans are so brainwashed to trust their freedom that they never question their opinions or values – which are spoon fed to them.
The war on Iraq is a complicated situation, and I don’t pretend to have answers. But as for justification – maybe, MAYBE, being attacked on American soil gives us some right to go after whoever is responsible. But what the hell are we doing in Iraq, anyway? Maybe the 300 Greeks in the movie, the heroes, are the people of Iraq, fighting to defend their land from a powerful army of foreign invaders