300 Homophobic Tendencies

300 made history this weekend by raking in over $70 million and taking home the anti-climactic title off biggest March opening ever. Considering those numbers, one could assume that it’s a pretty good fucking movie.

The kids over at AfterElton, however, say that the adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel ranks as not only the number one movie, but as one of the most unapologetically homophobic movies in recent memory. We say that it ain’t no thing…

AfterElton takes aims at 300 from a few different angles. Not only has all the historically accurate homosexuality been removed from the allegedly historically accurate movie, but “queer” pederasty provide superfluous, convenient punchline. AfterElton’s Brian Juergens writes:

Within the first 15 minutes, our hero Leonidas (a hyper-aggressive Gerald Butler, perhaps overcompensating after appearing in the ungodly Phantom of the Opera movie) makes a crack about the Athenians being “boy-lovers”, for absolutely no reason other than to get a laugh out of the meatheads in the audience who find that kind of low-hanging insult to be clever.

What’s more, director Zack Snyder admits to using Rodrigo Santoro‘s man-loving character, Xerxes, to perpetuate gay panic. Entertainment Weekly‘s Steve Daly writes:

The scenes of a bejeweled, long-fingernailed Xerxes offering King Leonidas peace in exchange for ”submission” have a decidedly sexual undertone. Director Zack Snyder says that’s not accidental, that it’s intended to make young straight males in the audience uncomfortable: ”What’s more scary to a 20-year-old boy than a giant god-king who wants to have his way with you?”

Hmm, we can actually think of worse people than submitting to a giant god-king. And, we imagine, so do other people. In fact, Santoro admits to playing up the character’s ambiguous sensuality. “He’s very manly, but at the same time has a feminine side… Being a god, he’s allowed to have every quality.” And in some cases, that could be the ultimate fantasy.

Snyder and AfterElton have something in common: they both feel that the sexually ambiguous Xerxes poses a threat. Which he does. He’s the villain. He’s supposed to alarm the viewer. Yes, Snyder admits that he sees Xerxes as a homosexual menace, but he doesn’t necessarily think everyone will. He tells Daly:

“Some people have said to me, ‘Your movie is homoerotic,’ and some have said, ‘Your movie’s homophobic.’ In my mind, the movie is neither. But I don’t have a problem with people interpreting it the way they’d like to.”

If people read Xerxes as being the villain because he does dudes, they were probably homophobic already. If the fact that he like cock makes his evilness more believable – again, homophobic. If someone walks away from this movie shaking their head and says, “Damn that faggot Xerxes,” they more likely than not already hated homos. Homophobia lies not in character relation, but in upbringing. It’s far more complicated than Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster. But so then are the culture wars.

A Pew Research poll cited in yesterday’s New York Times magazine shows that over half of Americans aged 18-25 approve of gay marriage: far more than their older counterparts. On the other hand, however, they’re far less approving of abortion. These hot button topics aren’t as closely aligned as popular political opinion may say. Gay people, then, seem to have gained more American acceptance.

Queers are more visible than ever before and while negative stereotypes still abound, it seems to us that the positive representations far outweigh the negative. Thus, more people approve of gays, more people have gays in their lives, more people understand the difference between fantasy and reality. The idea that one movie will demolish centuries of progress strikes as a bit ridiculous.

If movies such as 300 had such an enormous effect on society, as AfterElton seems to think, we’d be far more concerned with its gory violence, than with one character’s gay loving. This detail should (and will) be seen more as a character trait, not an attack on gay communities as a whole. Most people aren’t looking for a reason to hate the gays. You only see what you look for…