Objectivity/Subjectivity In Frank Miller’s "300"

Wrath, Groucho:44, 6006 YD (later)

Much brouhaha has been written about the supposedly derogatory depiction of the Persians in both the graphic novel “300”, and in the movie based on it: Movie critic Dimitris Danikas has suggested that the film portrays Persians as “bloodthirsty, underdeveloped zombies,” writing that the filmmakers “are stroking racist instincts in Europe and America.” American critics, including Steven Rea, have argued that the Persians are a vehicle for an anachronistic cross-section of Western stereotypes of Asian and African cultures. Dana Stevens points out that the Persians, as the “bad guys”, are depicted as black people, brown people, handicapped and/or deformed people. In particular, the traitor Ephialtes is portrayed as a hunchback in both the film and graphic novel; however, there is no evidence that the historical Ephialtes was a hunchback.

This may or may not be true, I don’t own a derogat-o-meter, or a bigit-o-meter, so I can’t judge. What does occur to me, however, is that the depictions of the Persians in the book and film seem to reflect less of an objective history of those people and more of a fictional subjective view of those people from the point of view of ancient Spartans. To the Spartans, the Persians almost certainly would have been a very alien culture, and probably viewed as somewhat effeminate and magical.

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