Tuesday, March 13, 2007

"300": The Banality of Fascist Art

Finally, American cinema has never ceased to make and remake the same fundamental movie, that is Birth of a nation-civilization, of which Griffith made the first version.
Gilles Deleuze, 1983

Fifteen years after its coronation as global leader (with the fall of the Soviet Union), America is becoming a fearful and lonely democracy in a politically antagonistic world.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, 2007

On Saturday I shelled out 18 bucks for me and my date to see "300" -- Warner Bros.' production of the Frank Miller graphic novel about the Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC). Since then I have been in a persistent state of of silent panic. No one in the audience booed as did the audience at the Berlin Film Festival last month after the screening of 300. There was intermittent laughter but no anger at such a blatantly fascist, racist and sexist spectacle. I can't believe that there could possibly be any question about the nature of this film. Here's a synopsis -- the world is being engulfed and overwhelmed by degenerate, diseased effeminate dark-skinned people from Africa and Asia and the only thing that stands in their way are 300 White Super-Men from Sparta which represents "freedom" (a word that, thanks to the U.S., now is devoid of any meaning whatsoever), masculinity and physical fitness (i.e. Whiteness as configured in the movie). Thus we are not talking about a hidden message here. Where is the outrage? D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation was met with significant protests all across the country upon it's release about a Century ago. Where is the protest now? After 100 years of replaying the same fascist and racist scenario to the public it would appear that the majority have finally internalized the illusion such that, as one blogger put it, "it's ok that it has a fascist aesthetic... so long as you know it's there." I would argue that this is in fact the hallmark of culture that has become rigorously fascist. When the elements that comprise fascist ideology -- denigration of life in and for itself, glorification of death in war, racism and sexism -- become banal then you can be sure that you are living under a fascist regime.

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