Three weeks ago a handful of reporters at an international press junket here for the Warner Brothers movie “300,” about the battle of Thermopylae some 2,500 years ago, cornered the director Zack Snyder with an unanticipated question.The story also explains that attempts to analogize President Bush and the Iraq War to the characters and events at Thermopylae are nothing new and predate the movie. It also explains that some plot changes may have also amplified the apparent political under- (or over-) tones.
“Is George Bush Leonidas or Xerxes?” one of them asked.
The questioner, by Mr. Snyder’s recollection, insisted that Mr. Bush was Xerxes, the Persian emperor who led his force against Greek’s city states in 480 B.C., unleashing an army on a small country guarded by fanatical guerilla fighters so he could finish a job his father had left undone. More likely, another reporter chimed in, Mr. Bush was Leonidas, the Spartan king who would defend freedom at any cost.
Mr. Snyder, who said he intended neither analogy when he set out to adapt the graphic novel created by Frank Miller with Lynn Varley in 1998, suddenly knew he had the contemporary version of a water-cooler movie on his hands. And it has turned out to be one that could be construed as a thinly veiled polemic against the Bush administration, or be seen by others as slyly supporting it.
...when viewers find a potentially divisive message in big studio movies that were meant more to entertain than enlighten...[there is a] danger...that an accidental political overtone will alienate part of the potential audience for a film that needs broad appeal to succeed.
This is actually quite a good example of how people carry their preconceptions with them everywhere they go and that these preconceptions seriously affect how they view the world. With their antenna up thanks to the Iraq War, many political junkies will look for potential analogies (pro or con) in any war movie---whether they are intended to be there or not. I had a professor explain to me that one way to look at ideology is that people "believe what they want to believe." It may be slightly simplistic--and perhaps a little cynical--but it does get close to the core of a problem that those who adhere to a particular ideology have: they often have blinders on. They are so intent on interpreting events through their ideological lenses, that they too often miss the true essence of what they are looking at. They forget that, believe it or not, there are some people who don't grind their political axes all the time and that, sometimes, it's good to simply enjoy entertainment for what it is.