Monday, March 19, 2007

Cultural Studies 

1.) A few nights ago we saw 300 in the company of the Prince of Zembla and several of his comrades from the eighth grade (a delightful lot, on the whole, with an insatiable thirst for knowledge: "Sire," they would ask, their inquisitive eyes aglow, "how many 'fucks' can you say and still get a PG-13?"). Upon exiting the theatre a number of them wished to know whether we agreed with the general consensus of the group that 300 was the best movie ever made, and if not, why not. We answered the first question truthfully, but -- remembering quite vividly the flush of shame we had experienced years ago, when our professor of English literature had offhandedly described Steve Ditko as "the least overtly homosexual of the Marvel artists" -- we declined to elucidate on the second:
From start to finish, this movie presents the Authoritarian/Bush Republican construction of “manhood” that has kept certain intellectuals and scholars of sexuality in stitches or tears for the last six years. The heros are strong, hard, hard, strong men (the narration stresses that repeatedly) who take quick, bold, physical action, with little patience for deep thought or measured discussion. They speak in plain, simple terms, reminding everyone that they (and they alone) act to save “freedom” and “liberty.” They never stop to consider the contradiction such assertions bring, given that they live in a monarchy in which the ruler contemptuously ignores the advice of his pseudo-democratic advisory council. The ruler also gratuitously provokes the war in the most bloody and insulting way possible, and then rushes off to fight it before his people can prepare themselves adequately for the consequences. Rash and irresponsible action is presented as noble, bold leadership in the face of an impotent and contemptible governing majority.

The 300 fight against an enemy so terrible, it is understood as a disease upon the world, unleashed by inhuman monsters from hell. The 300 fight for the “free lands” while showing no fear of the “Asian hordes” which pollute the aesthetically pure, sparse landscapes of “Greek” shores like countless flies on a corpse. Most importantly, it is the fight that counts- victory is something that will come at some later date, after the brave heroes of this period in history have inspired a new generation with their legendary sacrifice and bravery. Indeed- if they had not all died in the end, the “free peoples of Greece” wouldn’t have developed the thirst for freedom that would last for a thousand years after this event.

But what truly amazes me is that there can only be two explanations of what the film’s makers thought they were doing. Either this is the highest in high camp, openly mocking the current authoritarian cultural narrative in terms so strong a child could understand it; or the film makers are the blind and sycophantic morAns of legend, people so culturally ignorant they don’t understand that to educated folks this is nothing more than ridiculous, childish fantasy and blatantly fascist propaganda. Most critics over the age of forty have had that reaction: revulsion, despair at the death of art, concern that the fabric of history has been torn irreparably and replaced with a narrative of comic book simplification. However, I think there is another important point that I’ve not seen in most reviews.

This is a gay, gay, gay film.
We were struck (as was our esteemed colleague Chicago Dyke of Corrente, author of the review above) by the film's similarity to the recruiting commercials often seen during televised sporting events, in which a young Marine, after learning in a brief montage how to be all he can be, fights and conquers a Lava Monster. And although we are reluctant to comment on the well-oiled muscularity of the cast -- hey, we Learned to Draw the Marvel Way! -- there was one oddity we could not help but notice: it is a tribute either to the Spartan workout regime or to the miraculous powers of CGI that 300 warriors could independently develop washboard abs of such astonishing uniformity.

2.) It's 2007, and we are stunned to realize that for almost thirty years the same nagging questions have gone unanswered -- until now:
We’ve all heard the “official conspiracy theory” of the Death Star attack. We all know about Luke Skywalker and his ragtag bunch of rebels, how they mounted a foolhardy attack on the most powerful, well-defended battle station ever built. And we’ve all seen the video over, and over, and over, of the one-in-a-million shot that resulted in a massive chain reaction that not just damaged, but completely obliterated that massive technological wonder.

Like many Americans, I was fed this story when I was growing up. But as I watched the video, I began to realize that all was not as it seemed. And the more I questioned the official story, the deeper into the rabbit hole I went.

Presented here are some of the results of my soul-searching regarding this painful event. Like many citizens, I have many questions that I would like answered: was the mighty Imperial government really too incompetent to prevent a handful of untrained nerf-herders from destroying one of their most prized assets? Or are they hiding something from us? Who was really behind the attack? Why did they want the Death Star destroyed? No matter what the answers, we have a problem.

Below is a summary of my book,
Uncomfortable Questions: An Analysis of the Death Star Attack, which presents compelling evidence that we all may be the victims of a fraud of immense proportions.
(Thanks to Zemblan patriot J.D. for the links.)

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