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300 – A Propaganda Film for the Pentagon

APRIL 19, 2007 – There are few words to describe the movie 300.[1] One that comes to mind is awful. Some are seeing it as the next Lord of the Rings. But if racism and imperialism were implicit in Tolkein’s work, in 300 these are explicit. The movie portrays a “brave group of free white” men holding the line against a slave-holding empire where the emperor is … Black! “We are fighting “for all Greeks and the promise this country holds” we are told at one point. But wait a minute. This “brave group of free white men” are from Sparta – which was held together by helots who were (you guessed it) … slaves (or “state-serfs” in the words of Richard Talbert).[2]

The movie is not just internally contradictory. It is full of stereotypical, racist imagery. There are waves and waves of hooded terrorist-looking suicide bomber types who are killed in waves by the brave white men. All of this embellished with language so over the top as to be almost laughable.

• “Freedom isn’t free at all, that it comes with the highest of costs. The cost of blood.”

• We are “citizen-soldiers” and “freed slaves” and “brave Greeks all.”

• “Send the army for the preservation of liberty. Send it for justice. Send it for law and order. Send it for reason. But most importantly, send our army for hope.”

• “This day we rescue a world from mysticism and tyranny and usher in a future brighter than anything we can imagine.”

It is worth repeating again – this hymn to freedom is coming from the slave (state-serf) based, militarized society of Sparta.

We get closer to the real message when we are told that the battle for Greece is only the first part of the war — the real desire of the Persian leader Xerxes is to carry the battle “to the heart of Europa.” So, you see, we have a battle to preserve European civilization from “Asia’s endless hordes.”

You get the point? It’s a propaganda film for the Pentagon and Tony Blair. I’m not sure if a war against Iran will happen, but this film plays like an advertisement for it.

© 2007 Paul Kellogg. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license.


[1] 300 (Legendary Entertainment, 2007).

[2] Richard J. A. Talbert, “The Role of the Helots in the Class Struggle at Sparta,” Historia: Zeitschrift Für Alte Geschichte 38, no. 1 (1989): 22.

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