Last time I checked I wasn't a 13-year-old boy. I also wasn't pro Nazi, pro War, or even excessively pro body beautiful.
So why did I like 300 so much? According to critics ranging from the Village Voice, Slate and The New York Times, liking 300 might make me a video game addicted fan boy with one foot in the closet or a full blown, "Mein Kampf" spewing Fascist.
The negative reviews regarding 300's bloody pro battle ethos have more to do with the director Zach Snyder and graphic novelist Frank Miller than my apparent lizard brain ingesting all of this mayhem and so called Fascist propaganda. According to some of these writers, I'm probably not really thinking as I watch the movie.
But here's the thing. I was thinking. I was, in fact, acutely aware of how critics and viewers would perceive the battle glory CGI beauty of the picture. I did indeed wonder if many would be offended by the depraved, unctuous Persians cast against the Spartans--that uber machine of manhood and muscle. I could already hear critics bemoaning how King Leonidas' uncommon valor would inspire teenage boys to enlist and that military folk would probably high five and cheer while watching the movie (apparently this is actually happening.).
Don't misunderstand--I've got no problem with these opinions (the strong reaction, in the end, makes the whole experience more interesting), and 300, so far isn't my favorite movie of the year (that would go to Zodiac), I'm just here to say, I enjoyed 300 and I don't feel guilty about it. I was dazzled by the operatic exaltation and found it, in many ways, a depiction of not only bravery but absolute insane honor (these guys are on a suicide mission)--an honor that couldn't possibly exist today and most certainly does not resemble what's going on in Iraq. I also found the whole spectacle endlessly beautiful--and not because the Spartans were perfect specimens of manhood. I actually viewed the "degenerate" aspects gorgeous as well. The deformed, razor handed executioner, the scary mask faces of the Immortals, and of course, all the artfully rendered blood, guts and severed heads (which never felt disturbing to me given how animated it looked).
And as for the film's homoeroticism--is this a criticism? If so, I don't get. Because well formed men are fighting next to each other, because they honor one another, that makes them homosexual? Why? Is that an insult? And furthermore, if it is homoerotic, well, good. Yes, I'm one of those "weird" people who enjoy finding homoerotic subtext in cinema.
But then one of my moviemaking heroes is German--Rainier Werner Fassbinder--that overweight, drug addicted and gay filmmaker who could hardly be a warrior in 300. On second thought, maybe he could have.