GUEST ESSAY: One Iranian American wrestles with ‘Xerxes’ and ‘300’

Sept. 28, 2010 | 9:39 a.m.

farshad GUEST ESSAY: One Iranian American wrestles with Xerxes and 300As reported at Hero Complex, Frank Miller is well underway with “Xerxes,”  a follow-up to the graphic novel “300,” and filmmaker Zack Snyder is also laboring on a screen adaptation that would take moviegoers back to the battlefields of antiquity shown in the 2007 surprise Warner Bros. hit.

That first film touched off international debate: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad bitterly denounced it, and the Iranian Academy of the Arts filed a formal complaint through the United Nations that framed the movie as nothing less than an attack on the historical identity of a nation — especially with its portrayal of Xerxes (portrayed by Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro) as leering and androgynous and the Persian army as a demonic horde. Now, with a looming companion comics series and probable feature film on the horizon, are we ready for another round of the East-versus-West fight?

xerxes GUEST ESSAY: One Iranian American wrestles with Xerxes and 300

Xerxes (Frank Miller)

Round 2,500 is set to begin — ding! — as Miller’s new graphic novel,  hits bookstores next year and, eventually, movie theaters. As an Iranian American, I am sadly right in the middle of this never-ending conflict. Can we ever find reconciliation in this battle seemingly set for infinity and beyond?

After all, the two sides have waged justified and glorified war for 2,500 years, without lasting security and prosperity. Surely, there must be another path. Sadly, entertainment has become a leader in exalting the false achievements of violence. To get a sense of how “Xerxes” might interpret my tribal history, I recently watched director Snyder’s “300” for a second time. One scene in particular caught my attention: As a Persian antagonist talks down to the Spartan queen, she replies, “Only Spartan women give birth to real men.” (By the way, please excuse my interchangeable use of the words “Persian” and “Iranian” as references to one cultural group. My grandfathers will still be my grandfathers, whether I call them “Iranian” or “Persian.”)

I thought about that scene and was ashamed to know that women in Iran today live as second-class citizens. But as I sank into my couch, a saving memory of Iranian women nonviolently and courageously resisting on the front lines of last year’s street protests turned my shame into hope. After the questionable Iranian elections of 2009, I personally witnessed the civil force of the Iranian protesters and their potential in ending the Mideast’s violent imperial and home-grown exploitations. Millions risked their lives for liberty without an ounce of violence in return — in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi, who said, “I will sacrifice my life for my country’s liberty, but I will not take one life in her defense.” One of those protesters, Neda, a 25-year-old woman, died with the heart of a lion in front of our YouTube eyes.

As I dreadfully consumed the Spartan queen’s line, I wondered what type of man Neda would have given birth to. And as I continued viewing “300,” I began to resist the movie’s depiction of Iranian women as deviant sexual teasers pimped out by their King Xerxes. When a “300” protagonist yelled, “Persians, you motherless whores,” I yelled back, “My mother is Neda!”

As my tribal emotions soared, I realized I was barking back at my TV set. I said to myself, “Relax, this is just a movie. No one is calling you a motherless whore. … Forget politics for one night and enjoy the amazing artistry and graphics.” As an entertainer, I can appreciate the distinctions between art and reality. But at this pivotal point in our human history, entertainment should evolve from the violent path it has embraced. Like it or not, entertainment has become the strongest form of education. Today, the majority of that education accepts violence as the solution to our problems. Our peoples have become numb to violence and consume it as truth.

The Spartan queen of “300” continues, “Send our army for the preservation of our children, liberty, justice, law and order, send it for reason and for hope.” As a child, I grew up in the Iran-Iraq war. While Saddam Hussein’s Western-made bombs fell on our heads in Tehran, I could not find the “reason” or “hope” in a bomb. All I could sense was fear and anger as I grabbed my 2-year-old brother and ran to my parents’ bed for an imaginary cover. How could violent means bring about the ends of lasting security and justice?

300 combat GUEST ESSAY: One Iranian American wrestles with Xerxes and 300

If “Xerxes” is anything like “300,” it will be a graphic tale that takes place during the 492 BC Greco-Persian Wars of Marathon and Artemisium. We’re in the final naval battle of Salamis/Artemisium, in which Athenian politician and  general Themistocles saves humanity and Western civilization from Iranian demons and demigods, from the East’s mysticism and tyranny, and paves the way for a state of individual liberty enjoyed today in the West. The story may give a message that we in the West should never forget the cause of men such as Themistocles and Leonidis, and that the inferior Eastern race is still on the warpath and, if not violently confronted, our democracy will be lost.

xerxes1 GUEST ESSAY: One Iranian American wrestles with Xerxes and 300


Now, how can I buy into this message as an Iranian American? The very existence of hundreds of friends and family members — and millions of countrymen, -women and -children — here in America and in Iran will not allow me that fateful outlook. Themistocles, the Greek protagonist of “Xerxes,” ends his life as a governor in the Persian kingdom. If this epic identifies Themistocles as the father of democracy, then today his children are fighting on the front lines of that battle in the streets of Iran. Giants of history such as Cyrus of Persia and Themistocles shaped one world; they did not divide the West’s destiny over the East’s.

In an open society, all have the right to depict history as they see it. However, we the public have the inherent duty of dissecting these depictions. The filmmakers of “300,” whether unintentionally or not, have poured fuel on today’s American/Israeli conflict with Iran. Today, in one moment’s blindness, the Persian Gulf can become a burning mirror of the naval battles we are set to witness in “Xerxes.” Only now, the roles have reversed: The West has the dominant moving army, while the East holds court. Back and forth we go.

Instead of repeatedly promoting our violent divide, entertainment should focus on our common achievements. In 550 BC, Iranian and Israeli people together created the first chapters of human rights and religious secularism in Babylon. King Xerxes’ own wife, Esther, a Jewish Persian queen, sacrificed herself and protected her people from religious persecution. She planted the seeds of nonviolent resistance found today in millions of protesters like Neda. Hebrew, Greek and Persian ancestors helped form the backbones of our modern science, culture and art. Their collaborations — not their wars — created our civil progress.

On its face, “Xerxes” probably won’t be all bad news: The new graphic novel is set to explore King Xerxes’ development into a megalomaniac, a self-proclaimed man-god. It will be a chance to openly talk about religion and the fact that self-serving divine proclamations are found today in modern politicians and religious figures. That we allow this type of false rule and rahbar parasty — Farsi for “leader worshiping” — to continue is our fault, for it is a lack of education and self-worth that creates these kinds of delusional leaders, just as it has for thousands of years. The moment we refuse to submit, their power ends. The moment we put our weapons down, their armies and nuclear arsenals become obsolete. The moment we realize none among us is chosen, and none among us is infidel, their religious and tribal divisiveness and control end.

xerxes in 300 GUEST ESSAY: One Iranian American wrestles with Xerxes and 300

Rodrgio Santoro as Xerxes in "300" (Warner Bros)

Last year, I worked in front of the camera for the History Channel’s “Nostradamus Effect.” The show tells of an inevitable religious Armageddon to come in the Middle East. It’s a sectarian prophecy, questionably interpreted through Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This nightmarish realization will and can only happen if we the masses buy into it. Should we continue the use of religion as a weapon, or can we rediscover faith with our neighbors? Divide and conquer has one end, Armageddon.

I ask ingenious educators and entertainers such as Miller and Snyder, is there room for secularism and reconciliation in your interpretations? Are your stories able to reflect the triumphs of democrats past and present? Our generation is the one that can link our ancestors’ truths to our children’s future. It is time for us to fearlessly build what is ours; it’s time to bridge our world. I will never be afraid of you again, and you should never be afraid of me. The American people and Iranian protesters must connect and form a front that demands an end to the violence waged by our governments. Our true commonwealth and patriotism does not lie under the so-called protection of nuclear weapons or preemptive wars. The courageous path of nonviolence has always led our world to higher plateaus — what can it do for us now? Entertainment has repeatedly banked on our violent wars. Now, it’s time for it to portray our true warriors and patriots.

— Farshad Farahat

Farshad Farahat is an Iranian American actor living in Los Angeles.


Frank Miller shy

Miller returns to “300” without apology

Zack Snyder: “Xerxes” script underway

Miller searches for “The Spirit” of Eisner

Miller: Imagine Sly in Dark Knight Returns”

Miller dropsterrible, glorious” F-bombs

Snyder’s “Sucker Punch” is girl crazy


58 Responses to GUEST ESSAY: One Iranian American wrestles with ‘Xerxes’ and ‘300’

  1. Andrew says:

    It's only a movie. When filmmakers make a film with Sargon of Akkad as the hero or even Saladin, I'll cheer them on like I did the miscreant Spartans.

  2. Chris says:

    I think that when people watch this movie and get bent out of shape by the characters, they forget who is telling the story.

    The story of "300" is told by a Spartan soldier that had to leave the battle. He is obviously embellishing certain things (the exaggerated rhinoceros is an obvious hint at this, etc.) to rally the troops. So yes, the Spartans are portrayed as having superhero-esque physiques, Xerxes is the opposite of a Spartan's definition of a man with his effeminate appearance.

    Greeks are famous for their myths and legends. The telling of "300" was the begininning of one of those over-the-top stories. Look at it from that perspective and there is nothing to get worked up about.

    • Farzad says:

      Easier said than done Chris….300 is a movie that was made during a conflict of words between the US and Iran, that has horrilbe dialogue and is 100% condescending toward Persians/Iranians. I say you look at it from the perspective of an Iranian for a moment….then tell me if theres nothing to get worked up about. Im a jewish Iranian that has lived in the US all but 6 months of the 32 yrs of my life, and despise the current government of Iran; but this movie was so poor in script, and negative in depiction of a people, that I was reluctantly forced to side with the Iranian government on their opinion of the movie.

      • Kit says:

        The thing that people seem to have difficulty grasping is that theatrical works and films are not documentaries, they are abstract tall tales. In the case of stories like '300' or 'Beowulf' they are being told from the point of view of an unreliable narrator.

        With '300', the Spartans aren't exactly coming from a PC society. They are self glorifying and equally as warmongering as the imperialist Persians. Since the tale is filtered through a Spartan narrator, they are obviously going to boast about their own bravery and ridicule their enemies.

      • @SephVe says:

        The tale is filtered by a spartan narrator? Its told from the perspective of a spartan soldier? Since when was anyone arguing against the narration? The problem we have here is plain and simple racism in the form of violent entertainment. Are we going to argue next that The Birth Of A Nation wasn't a piece of white supremacist propaganda that depicted black people as animals and its okay because it's told from the perspective of a clansman? Or that "it's just a movie a movie, so who cares"? Cut the bullshit, 300 is shameful piece of propaganda.

  3. rkidd says:

    Another semi American , why iranian American ? why not just American?

    I am an American with irish ancesters.

    There is nothing wrong with appreciating where your forfathers were born, but you are now living in America , embrace it or leave.

  4. Peter Beck says:

    Referencing a glorious past has always been a tricky thing.

    You can lead an entire people astray with it…Teutonic knights charging thru the mists in slo-mo, etc. The glory that was Greece/the grandeur that was Rome? Even better — so far back in time that you can take out any uncomfy details you like, and leave in the technicolor splendour.

    We're none of us Spartans.

    Or Numenoreans, or knights errant, or samurai, or Sacred Band.

    All you get for gazing, steely-eyed and nostrils flaring, into the grand shadowy days of yore, is a crick in the neck from the voguing. While the rest of the real world overtakes you. With teeth.

    And you can trample a lot of good folk in the process, while you stare off heroically into the distance.

    • Dorna B says:

      But we are still "persians"!! It's our ethnicity, it's not about the glorious past. It's about someone making a movie, now, where "Persians" are daemons. I bet if it was any other ethnicity, like Jewish people portrayed that way, there would be riots in America. Unfortunately racism has blind spots. (another Iranian American here :) ).

      • Samyotisa says:

        I find it no different for different ethnic groups. I am first generation American, ancestry Greek. To the Americans I am a Greek; to the Greeks I have been called an Americanike.

        Truth be said I am a citizen of both Nations.

  5. inbox1909 says:

    This article was so long winded, I kept wishing someone would kick the author into a well and shout, "This is SPARTA!"

    It's a movie, pal. You want real history go to a museum.

    Your words are so boring, they block out the sun. "Tonight, we dine in… the metroplex snack bar."

    • cina says:

      this article is about how real history is affected by FAKE history presented in Movies, if you want fake news or editorials it might be better to read something other than the LA Times…

    • @SephVe says:

      Are you braindead? Entertainment doesn't get a get out of jail free card just because you want to conveniently ignore the negative propaganda campaign hollywood movies like 300 are waging. Stop pretending propaganda isn't relevant, and stop taking the article so seriously. It's just a work of criticism.

  6. Jerrytkd says:

    wow- that was the longest whine I have ever read.

  7. DamonThePhilander says:

    "Instead of repeatedly promoting our violent divide, entertainment should focus on our common achievements. In 550 BC, Iranian and Israeli people together created the first chapters of human rights and religious secularism in Babylon."

    This sounds like the most boring movie in history.

  8. George says:

    At the time, Persia was the highly civilised and accomplished empire of most of the known world. The Greeks were poor and usually at war with one another. Today it reminds me of The US invasions of Afghanistan, the latest invader is receiving the same lesson the Afghans taught the Brits and Russians.

    But the Persians taught the Greeks the need to ally themselves to combat the military threat. The Delian Alliance led to the rise of Athens and their subsequent empire.

  9. mozi470 says:

    Thanks for this authentic and carefully thought out editorial. I don't think we should underestimate the the power of the stories we tell ourselves and our children. A false history makes for easy entertainment but can blind us to the nuances of who we are and where we come from. Thank-you for finding the courage to say your piece/peace here.

  10. Apikoros says:

    Uggh. I'm sorry, but I have never heard of a more touchy demographic. Okay, we get it, racism bad. But movies and cartoons are just that, movies and cartoons. It's not actually Muhammad in those Danish cartoons, and it's not the real Xerxes in the comic book or the overexaggerated movie, okay? And citing Ahmadinejad as though he had something of value to say suggests a strange placement of priorities. As to Farshad shouting at a fictional character, it's really quite simple: Reality equals Not a movie/cartoon/comic. Art can be what it is, and these hypersensitive moans about 'offense' should be met only with blank stares, and not self-censorship. Don't like it? Try irony and satire, it works better than threats and whining.

  11. Brian says:

    I'm an American of German/Irish descent.
    When I see a film like "Inglourious Basterds", I don't get bent out of shape by it's portrayal of Germans.
    It's a movie…fiction…not meant to be taken as "history".
    Only an idiot, or someone looking for an excuse to whine, would think otherwise.

  12. kambiz Fallah says:

    thanks Farshad, in fact Greece have lots of myths even to replace the God with many hero shaped characters. of course every nation has its own heroes which are all respectful brave hearts to save the human dignity even respected by their what is "300" story?in history point of view who has such a greatness that we have? such a root and originality. Xerex is the kind of man that we would need today to show the real leadership to our governments. the war was total mess for Greece and therefore they used a partial resistance to save their face and unity, which was right decision.
    but why a group of people use it in exaggerated format in 21 century?why they feel so empty and less to try to fill it with such cartoons. why they need to push this empathy with lie? they couldn't find something better and real to hang with?
    what you offer is much larger than their cup of tea. someday they will come back to learn from real Xerex. I had a old friend who use to say " small people problem is that they are small and big people problem also is that the others are small" and it seems we have to live in small people time for the time being.

    • Patrick says:

      It's a movie…you're taking this way to serious. Look at all the negative TV in Iran about the West, not forgetting the statements that are coming from Iran's leadership about the West and especially Israel.

      Xerxes a great man? Don't think so! As all leaders in our shared past, winning wars came along with killing many innocent civilians and children, burning villages, raping the women, slavery etc. In my eyes there were no great leaders in our history…they were all bad! In many ways they were all little Hitlers.

      • cina says:

        You dont seem to take the idea about togetherness and violence being consumed in america as a reality…. we have freedom here and we still consume violence.

        you also seem to quote facts that done exist… there is no effective negative TV in iran about the west and and thus no negative sentiment in iran about the West. they know the truth about isreal and all non-jews do also, its not black and white at all. almost all citizens in iran (not fundamentalists) know that we are free and that iranians (especially the women) are enslaved by "god" through government.

  13. Original Trilogy says:

    "It's just fiction." But it isn't received that way by the audiences. My only problem with 300, as iterated by Frank Miller, is the intent behind it. He is a well-known Western supremacist, who views the indigenous societies of the Middle East (with the probable exception of the Jews, but only through their association with Europeans and whites in general) as backwards and demonic. As Xerxes and the Persians are portrayed.

    Having said that, 300 is probably the worse movie I have ever seen. I didn't find anything redeeming about it, and after a while, its stop motion action and blood spattering is just annoying. And I find it interesting that the fact Leonidas is married to his niece (Miss Queen of Sparta herself) is left out of the whole picture…

  14. Brooklyn, NY says:

    "My only problem…is the intent behind it..views the indigenous societies of the Middle East…as backwards and demonic."

    Did you LISTEN to the UN Assembly speech of last week by the Iranian head of state?

    But a fictional MOVIE based on a COMIC BOOK — made years ago — upsets you, like this?

    (Wake up, and smell the obvious self-promotion and aggrandizement.)

  15. Mohsen says:

    The “300” movie has distorted the historical facts and is an attempt to portray Persians, Iranians, as destructive and brutal invaders and is not just a movie. It has negative social/political impact on people of Iran which for centuries have lived peacefully with Christians, Jews and so…
    The article very clearly shows how the entertainment industry can change the history as we have seen many movies about Vietnam War which did not reflect the true story.

  16. kambiz fallah says:

    I see many different comments here. just to remind that Persia (Iran) in 2500 yrs back in Xerex time was like USA today. largest economy, strongest army,world leadership role, science pioneer,proud, USA they build their empire with help of every nations.
    we all know the bad leaders can make the great Persia into today Iran and good leaders can build the great nations.but in 21st century the human has to became vise and mature enough to learn from past mistakes like world wars, slavery,etc.. what Farshad is trying to say I think is not about history or movie. but he invite us not to try to be right in wrong way. we are all the same.

  17. Parastoo Ashti says:

    If Anybody is Interested I have Created A Petition Online Regarding the Movie "Xerxes".Please Sign & Forward to your Friends & Family.Thank you

  18. Mahasti Afshar says:

    Two suggestions: 1) Rather than try to stop a movie production, write a script that has box office potential and the studios will make it regardless of the villain/hero ID. 2) Don't encourage people to confuse entertainment with education. We should enjoy the Eskandar-nameh, Hamzeh-nameh, Amir Arsalan-e Rumi, Samake-Ayyar…and other great Persian literature for what it is; and it's not history.

  19. Mariam Eshghi says:

    Most films steer away from historical truth for dramatic impact, because again its main purpose is to serve as entertainment and not as a history lesson. Rest assured, a film based on a comic book story about a civilization 2500 years ago will have very little impact on how the world treats or views Persians today. I think the way the Iranian government is conducting itself today is far more damaging to the image of Iranians/Persians than any Hollywood film. I ask a question to Parastoo. How about using your energy to create a petition against that regime and how many U.N. resolutions they've ignored or how many human rights violations are taking place on a daily basis? I think these are the points that merit a petition, not some comical battle flick.


    • Parastoo Ashti says:

      I Agree with you Mariam about the Human Rights Violations taking Place in Iran & that we have to do whatever in our Power to put a Stop to them or bring them to light,I assure you I am not ignorant of these matters.I don't sit around & just write Petitions for Silly Hollywood Movies.I do put my Energy to good use each day :))

    • Sadegh Davoudi says:

      I would totally agree with you as long as U.N. was unbiased. Since it's not, and it's obvious who their leaning towards, I don't think that would be a great choice!

  20. Kathy says:

    This film was made as a fiction but in reality there is a historical story behind it. The story line was indubitably disturbing and twisted. I agree that it is just a movie, but why not make a movie that emphasizes Iran's historical contributions rather than its downfalls – especially now that all eyes are on the middle east. Film makers are absolutely wrong to put more hatred in viewers' minds. As Farshad pointed out, Iranians have made a lot of worthy contributions to the world; and as Mariam suggested, let's start by making movies from a positive point of view to show audiences what Iran and its people are really about. Regardless, I liked this article.
    Thanks, KATHY

    • Amir says:

      That is how Jewish Hollywood works with Zionist agenda, Disseminating propaganda Gradually and distorting facts as usual at perilous hot political climate in order to turn public opinions for support in favor of possible invasion of Iran.

  21. Jose A. says:

    A valid point is made by the author, and there is some concern with the interpretation of Xerxes. The film 300 does portray Xerxes as unmanly, a brute, a hungry power and greedy ruler. Mainly, Xerxes is characterized as a non-Greek citizen. This my point is historically Greek perception of foreigners, non-citizen, and slaves, the otherness of a Greek male citizen was negative. Casted as feminine, without reason, everything of out of moderation, more animal-like but still human but not as human as a Greek citizen. Historically, 300 did characterized Xerxes as the classical Greeks. You can compare it with the modern culture of Iran, and interchange Persian with Iranian. Or, you can look back to history and find a positive characterization of a Persians. You just need to do a some research about the historical cultural context, this can be applied to 300.

  22. Ruven says:

    People who get bent out of shape over a movie based on a comic book which tells a story from the point of view of a wounded warrior who has come home to tell the tall tale of what he has seen to an audience who is used to hearing larger than life stories that centuries later have reached near mythic proportions… should not breed.

    • jack says:

      If so, can you publish an article and say Hitler was a kind and loving man who exterminated a bunch of money loving jews, and get away with it?

  23. Tower says:

    A fictitious movie should have fictitious characters.

    1-It’s just a movie.
    2-It’s a long-winded article. (but he has to explain and educate at the same time) (sorry, my comments are pretty long too)
    3-Cinematically, ‘300’ is a gorgeous movie.
    4-Frank Miller confesses that he is a cartoonist and not a historian. (Esquire Magazine interview)

    1-All Spartans were Greek, but not all Greeks were Spartans. (Artemisia was Xerxes’ Naval Admiral, and she was Greek. She is regarded as one of the bravest women in history)
    2-Spartans didn’t like most of the Greeks. (Spartans call the Athenians,’ boy lovers’ in Frank Miller’s book, ‘300’. This was not put in the movie)
    3-Spartans were not regarded as normal, even by the Greeks:
    a)Miller started ‘300’ by showing an old man killing Spartan newborn babies by tossing them off a cliff because they were imperfect (i.e. Handicapped).
    b)The boys were separated from their mothers at the ages of 6-7, and put in dangerous environments by beating and starving them in the guise of training them to be warriors. (ask a psychiatrist if a boy is put in those situations, has a great chance of a normal adulthood)
    4-The Spartan Queen’s speech never took place.
    5-Just because they are called Comic Books doesn’t mean that they are satirical comedies.

    Again, my advice is that Mr. Miller chooses fictitious names for his fictitious books and movies. Misrepresenting the memory of one the best Kings in the history of mankind would be equal to making movies titled ‘Hitler, a kind and loving man…’ or ‘Osama, a man of peace…’. In those cases, nobody would be saying ‘ c’mon, it’s just a movie! ’, I know I wouldn’t.

  24. Brian says:

    Frank Miller is a bigot and Warner Bros is giving him a platform to spew his nonsense. I for one will avoid anything Time Warner henceforth.

  25. Buddy says:

    I agree that fictional movies and comic books are made for entertainment and should not be taken out of context. However, I also agree that fictional characters need to be distinguished from historical ones. In this day and age, it is inexcusable to plead ignorance or lack of interest to mix fictional and historical characters in a way that distorts the truth and incites antagonism among peoples. Those who take part in or support such mass misinformation need to reexamine their moral values and motivations. They should try to imagine their feelings if the tables were turned. One thing the history of civilizations has taught us is that tables will in deed turn. It turned on Egyptians, it turned on Persians, it turned on Greeks and Romans, it turned on the English, … America will not be an exception.

  26. Behruz says:

    Thank you. A very nice article. Probably a bit too dense for some of the readers but that is expected!

  27. Xerxes,s descent says:

    In today,s world, most people have very little information about the world,s history. How many American do you know who can find Iran on the map. Most of us get our information through media, and we all know who is control of media. Almost all of those Hollywood film makers are Jewish owned, and under currant climate, I hardly see them making a pro Iranian film. Do you?

    As a reminder to Mr Stone and the rest of the makers of 300, I have to add that ,in fact these were the Spartans who were less than the real men, as they practised Homosexuality at early age. ( no offence meant ). And scanty dress of Spartans were for quick access at the time of war. We all know the history always written by the stronger .de

  28. WildGorgh says:

    Well, weren't the spartans gay, anyways I am not going over this novel , I probably read it and lough a little. Damn what does that woman think she is. what am I a chop liver? I am real man , making snake eyes and twitching my libs

  29. mehrdad says:

    The movie 300 is pure propaganda against the Iranian identity and history. Movies are a very sophisticated form of propaganda disguised as "art" and "freedom of expression". Yes, the freedom to spread lies, and deception on a mass scale. The Soviets did it, the Chinese do it, the Nazis did it, the Islamic Republic does it …. etc. The American empire and its proxy Israel are in need of such methods of brainwashing their own masses perhaps in preparation for the coming war against Iran. Imagine how much easier it would be to pull the trigger and kill the Iranians after being "Primed" with the innocent "movie/comic" 300.

  30. Jake B says:

    what a vain, state of denial this article is written from…to suggest that it is worldviews of both governments at odds with the protesters caught in the middle is absurd…it is because of the policies of modern western governments that there are even protesters like Neda…we would not even know of her here if not for the technological infrastructure fully realized in this environment…true comparisons would be of Spartans WILLINGLY in conflict to maintain their worldviews and culture…and the antagonists, ENSLAVED to ideologies and a culture that ultimately doomed them…Neda wasn't caught between these forces…she was on the front lines with those very Spartans…it was western civilization that cried out for their governments to interfere on her behalf, and of those who truly mourned her…you want a bridge to end the violence? fight alongside those that would see Neda empowered to freely choose her own worldview and culture…resist those that would lay the seeds of complacency and apathy (depicted by the senator who met his end at the hands of the queen), that bogged down western nations and prevented full condemnation and action as Neda and the protesters were struck down…

  31. Daniel Berry says:

    Dear Farshad or anyone else who might know;

    I hope you read this and reply with a comment or directly to me at <dberry AT uwaterloo DOT ca>.

    I was intrigued by the part of the blog that said "King Xerxes’ own wife, Esther, a Jewish Persian queen, sacrificed herself and protected her people from religious persecution. She planted the seeds of nonviolent resistance found today in millions of protesters like Neda."

    How did Esther sacrifice herself? In what nonviolent way did she protect her people from religious persecution?

  32. Ben says:

    I am at odds with this analysis in every way. It's a movie has a fantasy feel – it doesn't seem to warrant being taken seriously. When Westerners watch 300, we don't think this Sparta represents Western civilization and I don't feel that Leonidas, represents me. He was a fanatic obsessed with death.
    Xerxes was portrayed as intelligent and calculating. He planned every detail of his encounters such that when he met the traitor he held their discussion in a carefully chosen environment. Just like a general who plans the place and time he wants to engage the enemy. This poor fellow probably hasn't had much female attention, or wealth in his life, so the meeting is engineered to take place where they are surrounded by wealth and provocative women. It's all tactics – Xerxes doesn't allow himself to be distracted by such things.

    “Persians, you motherless whores,” – well that's how soldiers talk. If the soldiers said 'Persians, are upstanding folk born of virtuous mothers whom we would probably quite like if we met under different circumstances and weren't compelled to kill them.' that would just not be a believable thing for a soldier to say.

  33. Wolf1977 says:

    We should be thankful to what the Greeks did long ago. Now, here on this ragged patch of earth called Afghanistan Persian hordes face obliteration! Just there, the barbarians huddle, sheer terror gripping tight their hearts with icy fingers, knowing full well what merciless horrors they suffered at the swords and spears of 300. Yet they stare now across the plain at an army of free americans! Haroo!! We will rescue a world from mysticism and tyranny, and usher in a future brighter than anything we could imagine. Give thanks! To Leonidas, and the brave 300! To victory!

  34. Ramin says:

    To those that say 300 "is just a movie", only 2 words: "Eternal Jew"

    Slate critic Dana Stevens wrote that if 300 “had been made in Germany in the mid-1930s, it would
    be studied today alongside The Eternal Jew as a textbook example of how race-baiting fantasy and
    nationalist myth can serve as an incitement to total war.”

    Miller told NPR: “It seems to me quite obvious that our country and the entire Western World is up against an existential foe that knows exactly what it wants… For some reason, nobody seems to be talking about who we’re up against, and the sixth century barbarism that they actually represent.”

    So, to those who make these movies, "it is never NOT just a movie".

  35. Gail Strickland says:

    Thanks for this thoughtfully-written article. As a young adult author who writes about 5th century Greece and the Persian attack at Thermopylae in 480 BCE, I struggle with exactly this ethical dilemma. How do I depict the courage of the Greeks (and in my case, the young Oracle of Delphi) without lambasting the Persians? I admire both cultures … just not the attempt at violent overthrow of a civilization. I have attempted to rectify this problem by bringing Valmiki (The Hindu poet who wrote the epic poem the Ramayama) into my book as a character. But the problem you pose is huge: How not to re-ignite "the Crusades" as it were. How to avoid us against them, especially in fiction written for young eyes.

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