A viral Twitter thread critiquing Zack Snyder’s 300 sparks debate regarding whether or not the film can be considered fascist propaganda.
A recent Twitter thread related to Zack Snyder film adaptation of 300 has sparked debate regarding the portrayal of fascist ideologies in the media.
Big Joel, a media critic known for his YouTube channel, tweeted, “Dude I don’t want to be dramatic but I watched 300 last night, and I can’t get over the fact that a straight up Nazi propaganda film was simply released and everyone watched it and liked it and I did too.” Big Joel elaborated in follow-up tweets, describing 300 as “a movie about the mythical origin of the west as juxtaposed against the impurities of genetic deformity, the orient, and sexual degeneracy.” The thread was divisive and quickly became a topic of discussion.
Dude I don’t want to be dramatic but I watched 300 last night, and I can’t get over the fact that a straight up Nazi propaganda film was simply released and everyone watched it and liked it and I did too
— Big Joel (@biggestjoel) March 3, 2022
Helmed by Snyder, 300 is a 2006 action film based on the comic book of the same name by Frank Miller. It dramatizes the story of the 300 Spartans who defended Thermopylae from a force of invading Persians. During the film’s initial theatrical run, critiques similar to those made by Big Joel were levied against the film, which was generally well-received otherwise.
In response to Big Joel’s Twitter thread, fans jumped at the chance to defend the film. Those who simply resorted to name-calling and the like notwithstanding, many argued that 300 was a simple action movie based on historical events and the Spartans were a real society in ancient Greece, meaning they couldn’t have anything to do with modern Nazi ideology. However, others pointed to moments in the film that were overtly ahistorical, such as the modern political slogan “freedom isn’t free” being used, despite it not being in the original comic or historical record.
Other fans of the film argued that 300 was aware of its propagandistic elements and was intended as a meta-commentary on how propaganda works. These fans pointed out that the film is told using a framing device. The events of the film are a story being told by a single Spartan to inspire resistance against the Persians. This frames the film’s events as propaganda within its own narrative. In other words, this argument postulates that the film’s awareness of its propagandistic elements means that it doesn’t truly endorse the Spartan’s actions.
Big Joel wrote a reply to this specific line of argument. “We know this isn’t some kind of subtle critique of Sparta or fascism because, in the B plot, the queen is raped by a man perverted by Persian degenerate interests,” he explained. The B plot in question is particularly notable because it was an addition to the film that was not in the original comic.
There was also a discussion about where the supposed fascist elements of the story originated from. Miller, the author of the original comic, is known for writing foundational Batman comics such as The Dark Knight Returns, which has itself been criticized for its seemingly fascist cartoonal of the Caped Crusader. In 2006, Miller tried to write a purposefully propagandistic comic that featured Batman fighting Islamic terrorists. This idea eventually became the controversial 2011 comic Holy Terrora standalone work.
Zack Snyder is a director known for several high-profile comic adaptations such as Watchmen, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. He was recently at the center of a sizeable movement when fans started an ultimately successful social media campaign demanding the release of the “Snyder Cut,” an alternate version of the 2017 film Justice League that fit Snyder’s original vision.
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