CBR continues their attack on pop culture. This time they deployed writer Margaret Lockyer to go after not only Zack Snyder’s 300 film based on Frank Miller’s comic book series, but Miller’s original comic series as well.
Lockyer’s attack comes as WarnerMedia announced the film would be getting a 4K release on October 6th.
The CBR writer did not pull any punches in her attack. Right off the bat she writes, “It is important to look back at the film and comic critically for the homophobic, racist and ableist portrayals.”
One might be wondering what in the blue bloody blazes Lockyer could be thinking penning those words. Just on a surface level they seem absurdly stupid.
Well, Lockyer is here to educate us. She writes, “The shocking racism and pro-imperialism of 300 does not exist in a bubble, but it’s irresponsible that the film refused to question or investigate the source material’s problematic aspects in favor of focusing on capturing the comic’s aesthetics.”
To elucidate her point she takes issue with the fact that the Spartans are white and that they are shown as the heroes as opposed to the Persians being portrayed as not white and inhabiting a gender fluid society.
She wrote, “For instance, Snyder’s Spartans are a society of white, able-bodied people fueled by aggression and violence, and they are praised as the unquestionable heroes.”
“On the other hand, the villains are portrayed as a gender-fluid society that was visibly not white, and the incarnation of evil and treachery,” she adds.
She then claims that the good vs. evil dichotomy of the film is “overtly racist.” Her explanation is that the film has “white be inherently good while people of color are inherently bad.”
I think we need to pause right here to point out just how dumb and factually inaccurate this is.
One of the primary antagonists of the film is a Spartan. Theron played by Dominic West takes money from Xerxes and the Persians in order to prevent Leonidas from protecting Greece from the invading army.
In fact, I would argue that Theron actually rapes Queen Gorgo. He uses his power on the Council to make her think that if she submits to him sexually that he will be able to convince the Council to send Spartan reinforcements to Leonidas. Theron actually has the gall to accuse Gorgo of adultery in front of the Council after he raped her.
Theron isn’t the only member of Spartan society to betray Leonidas. The Ephors take a bribe from Xerxes to manipulate their oracle. They deny Leonidas permission to go to war and that he instead must honor a sacred religious festival.
With this information from the actual film, one has to pose the question that is on everyone’s mind now, has Lockyer even watched 300? My guess is no. And in the case that she has watched it, she most certainly didn’t watch it before writing this hit job against Zack Snyder and Frank Miller.
Despite the actual facts of the film contradicting her claims, Lockyer continues, “It also reinforces the growing, untrue notion that foreigners entering a “white” country are to be feared and attacked.”
She adds, “Harmful representation like that can support the false notion that it’s right to fear immigrants, especially immigrants of color.”
Again this is another load of crap. The Persians are coming to conquer the multiple city states of Greece. There is a good reason to fear a conquering army and oppose it.
The Persians literally introduce themselves to Leonidas and the Spartans by showing the skulls of kings they have conquered.
The Persian messenger then tells Leonidas, “If you value your lives over your complete annihilation, listen carefully Leonidas. Xerxes conquers and controls everything he rests his eyes upon. He leads an army so massive it shakes the ground with its march, so vast it drinks the rivers dry. All the God King Xerxes requires is a simple offering of earth and water, a token of Sparta’s submission to the will of Xerxes.”
The messenger would go on to say, “Choose your next words carefully, Leonidas. They may be your last as king.”
Again, I have to ask did Lockyer even watch the film? Did anyone at CBR who saw this piece and approved it watch the film? How can you be this ignorant of not only a film you are attacking but the creators who made the film and the comic it is based on?
But Lockyer is not done yet. Sparta is fascist. You saw it coming didn’t you?
She writes, “Furthermore, 300‘s Spartans, the heroes of the narrative, are from a military based society that promotes violence, aggression and fascism; however, the film frames this society as a free democracy.”
“In combination with the above noted anti-Middle East sentiment, this feeds into a warped notion of patriotism that prides itself in xenophobia and racism,” she adds.
Spartan society is not shown as a democracy. Leonidas must bow to the wishes of the Ephors and the oracle and he is not allowed to call Sparta to war. In the political sphere there is also a Council that controls Spartan society. It’s the control of the Council and Theron’s manipulation of it that he uses to rape Gorgo. That’s not a democracy.
As for the idea of xenophobia and racism, this is also absurd. Leonidas and the Spartans welcome the Persian messenger to Sparta. It’s not until he threatens Sparta that Leonidas sends him down the well.
In a moment I can only describe as irony, after describing Sparta as a free democracy, Lockyer then writes, “The film is irresponsible in its casual expression of fighting for so-called freedom when the government itself is far from a free democracy.”
Which one is it? Is it a free democracy or not a free democracy? Can you make up your mind, please?
She continues, “King Leonidas claims that the Spartans are free men who are fighting against a tyrant, but the Spartans are the ones systematically murdering their own children for non-conformity, and they are the ones who have created a mono-culture of soldiers and wives that offers zero opportunity for freedom of choice or expression.”
In this instance, murdering babies is horrific, but it was also a practice that the actual Spartans did partake in.
As for her claim about lack of choice and expression, who says that the men of Sparta are not free. Are they not the ones who make up the Spartan society. They are the ones continuing it. They are the ones choosing it. Is Lokyer trying to imply the Spartans have no agency?
In fact, that point is made clear when Leonidas takes his 300 and begins his march to the Hot Gates.
Michael Fassbender’s Stelios makes it abundantly clear when he states, “We are with you sire. We are with Sparta. For freedom. To the death.”
Lokyer would then use the murdering of children to claim the film is ableist. She writes, “As mentioned earlier, the murder of children who do not conform to societal norms is one of many issues with the Spartans, pushing forward an ableist ideology.”
She adds, “300 glorifies the idea that individuals with disabilities and those who do not fit a desired, physical appearance have no right to live or be part of this society.”
Again, this is false and provides further evidence that Lokyer did not watch this film. Leonidas actually praises Ephialtes spear work. He only rejects his request to join the 300 when he is unable to raise his shield and participate in the Spartans’ phalanx.
He does offer him to support them though by clearing the battlefield of the dead and tending the wounded.
Finally, Lokyer gets to her accusation that the film is homophobic and specifically calls out Snyder insinuating that he too is homophobic.
She writes, “Along with demonizing those with disabled and different bodies, the film is homophobic, and some of the most homophobic images are intentionally incorporated by Snyder, who seems unaware of how problematic this depiction of gender and sexuality is.”
As for her evidence she writes, “One of the biggest instances of this dated, homophobic representation is when Xerxes offers Leonidas peace in exchange for “submission.”
She elaborates, “Depicting a man as a physically more powerful force who threatens violence in exchange for sex is a lazy trope too often used to hammer home that a male character is a bad guy, and in this case it perpetuates the problematic stereotype of the predatory gay.”
“For decades this type representation justified the false belief that straight men should fear gay men because they would inherently pursue them sexually, so films like 300 perpetuate the false, offensive notion that its okay to be violent towards members of the LGBTQ+ community because they are ‘pariahs,'” she adds.
This is a massive reach. Remember the Persian messenger in the beginning of the film demands Leonidas submit to Xerxes. Leonidas being a free man refuses to submit.
When Xerxes makes the offer to have Leonidas become his warlord of all Greece, there are more parallels to Jesus being tempted by the devil in the desert than any kind of homophobic reading. This just appears to be another piece of evidence in a long list that shows Lokyer hasn’t even seen 300.
Nevertheless, she concludes, “Looking back 14 years later, the racism, fascism, ableism and homophobia of the comic and film is as glaring and intensely problematic as ever.”
She then chides Zack Snyder, “If audiences choose to return to 300 with the 4K release, they should be active viewers who critically analyse the problematic areas, a task unfortunately not performed by the filmmakers during production.”
What do you make of Lokyer’s accusations against 300, director Zack Snyder, and Frank Miller?