I am posting the answer of my friend Pheidias Bourlas
to professor Gary Leupp who, among others, accused the film 300 of being "racist and insulting"...
An answer to professor Gary Leupp
By Pheidias Bourlas
3 Apr 2007
An answer to professor Gary Leupp's article, "A Racist and Insulting Film: 300 vs. Iran (and Herodotus)" (CounterPunch, 31 Mar/1 Apr 2007)
I would say, it's a film, just enjoy it. But, beyond this,
Prof. Gary Leupp's article seems so anti-greek biased, almost so much himself says that the film is anti-iranian! (Beyond the fact that I almost came to believe, reading the article, that Xerxes was a... preincarnation of Ariel Sharon! Well, I exaggerate; somehow the professor does too.) Of course, it's good to have in mind this other side that the professor expresses, I admit this, especially for the foreigners don't knowing a lot about ancient history.
I inform the professor and anyone interested, that the the film "300" has been welcomed in Greece, making an all-time ticket record here. Frank Miller has been honoured by several authorities and people. He himself, many years before has been stated that he is an admirer of Greece, and he was motivated by the heroic battle for freedom, when he had visited Greece. (Even the name "Stelios" of a young Spartan at the comic, is in honour of a Greek friend of Miller himself.) The comic speaks about the free personality and the heroic battle for freedom.
The movie is more superficial and tends to aim much more at the effects, but, for God's sake, it's a film about our ancient heroes!
I understand the associations made by foreigners about the film, but I'm in position to assure that the Greeks today watch and enjoy the film with no anti-iranian feelings at all. Ancient Greeks, also, had no anti-Iranian racist feelings (the professor is right here), but they defended with totally devotion their political paradigm and way of life: the democratic polis. So, Herodotus is right saying that it was a fight against European democracy and Asian despotism; we have the independent Greek democratic polis, against the east monarchic Empire. (I'm not saying the latter is "evil", but it's totally different than the Greek polis.) It isn't needed to mention greek philosophy, logos and science etc.
The professor says: "Or rather, some of the Greeks. Greece at the time was a collection of city-states, politically disunited"
He says as if this is to blame for; it was in contrary the pride of the classic era Greeks.
"Some city-states, including Argos and Thebes, actually aligned themselves with Xerxes."
They were submitted before the tremendous power of Persian Empire; and I don't understand what makes difference with the one that fought.
"Herodotus, the "Father of History" and perhaps the world's first professional historian, paints a picture of a "free" Greece united against an oppressive "Asia." But that is a chauvinistic simplification. The fact is, Persia and the Greek city-states were all slave-based societies whose notions of "freedom" had little in common with our modern conception."
I myself find unacceptable oversimplification the above comment of the professor. Slavery was commonplace, but the idea and the status of the citizen-polites is the innovation which gave inspiration and formed our current democratic ideas too.
The professor says: "Again, I think the Iranians might be over-concerned, since much of the film-viewing crowd won't even associate the ancient Persians with the modern Iranians, but the "clash of civilizations" theme is definitely there."
I'm saying: Totally the opposite!
If we can make reasonably one connection between the story and our days, we should say that the imperialist Empire of today is USA authorities and the Globalisation power.
Every person motivated by the anti-globalisation movement, should admire the fight for freedom of the independent Greek states, each one with its own personality and free citizens, against the Globalization Empire which wipes out the individual personality of the person. If I was Ahmadinejad, I would say that today's 300 Spartans are the Iranias which stand against the empire superpower; the same I would say if I was an antiglobalist activist.
I understand the feelings of the Iranian people against the movie, but I'm telling them this: Look if you want at the subtle irony of the movie. The 300 of Leonidas are shouting and fight against Globalization and the Empire; defend the independent nations. Who is the empire today?
That's why as a Greek (and many many other compatriots of me) we felt pride and enjoyed watching the film, without any anti-Iranian feeling at all.
As for the comment: "Some western film critics have echoed Iranian objections. Dimitris Danikas notes that 300 depicts Persians as "bloodthirsty, underdeveloped zombies" and feeds "racist instincts in Europe and America.""
Oh well! Danikas is a well-known leftist in Greece, saying that the film is... fascist militaristic propaganda! Oh well, with this leftist pacifism! Remember, please, that the ancient Greeks were saying "eleftheron to efpsychon" (free is the courageous); freedom is not a gift it is gained every day with personal fight and responsibility. That's the point.
Just enjoy the film!