A blogger for the AV Club, a progressive entertainment news site, recently wrote a rousing condemnation of the popular action movie “300,” calling it an example of the “howling fascism of the alt-right.”
“300,” a stylized retelling of the famous Battle of Thermopylae in which three hundred Spartan warriors fended off an attack by a massive Persian army, has oft been criticized for playing to an ‘us vs. them’ mentality in which white westerners are pitted against an alien middle eastern culture.
AV Club blogger Tom Breihan picks up right where this argument leaves off, going as far as to ask if the movie was “some sort of sly Starship Troopers-esque comment on totalitarianism or whether it really was as fucked up as it appeared.” He settles on the latter.
If the movie is intended to be ‘East vs. West,’ Breihan decides to vouch for the East, noting: “The Persian side […] looks a lot more fun; the orgy pit, which we’re apparently supposed to see as some sort of appalling gender-fluid hell, looks like a lot more pleasant place than anywhere in Sparta.”
The crux of his argument is the political motivation of the author of the book on which “300” was based, Frank Miller. Breihan says the violence and darkness of the topics about which Miller chooses to write reflect his true character, reminding readers of Miller’s stance on the 2011 Occupy Wall street movement. Miller called protesters at the time “nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness.”
Breihan slams the film for accentuating the negative aspects of Persian culture while ignoring those of the Spartans. In the movie, the Persian army is made up of slaves, monsters, and masked soldiers, giving the viewer an ominous sense of foreboding. The Spartans’ historical tradition of slavery is left out and the character who is deformed ends up being the villain.
After characterizing the movie as “insidious,” Breihan quotes a left-leaning podcast in describing it as “the ur-text of the alt-right,” and “Hamilton for neo-fascists.”
“It’s a compelling argument,” writes Breihan. “This is a movie that makes a grand, mythic spectacle out of the whole defending-the-white-homeland trope.”
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Renowned Oscar-nominated writer/actor dead at 82