Archive for May 26th, 2008

Adventures in K-town

At about 3am this morning, I was woken up out of bed by the sound of a loud crash. I live on an upper floor of an old 1920s converted hotel in Koreatown. All sorts of weird sounds echo late at night. Cats yowling, bums fighting, idiots driving too fast. I can usually sleep through anything. But this was loud. At first, I figured it was just a car accident and resolved to go back to sleep. Then I heard a surprising amount of screaming for that time of night. Then a few minutes later half the fire department seemed to descend on the place. And then I started smelling something noxious like smoke. I had to investigate, so I rolled out of bed and stumbled into the hall, which was thick with smoke which was clearly coming from the window at the end of the hall. Half of my neighbors were standing around in their pajamas. I went to the end of the hallway and saw a bunch of firemen aiming hoses at the little Mexican grocery store a building over. What I eventually gathered was that some drunk driving moron tried to round a corner on Western and couldn’t. He (or she) clipped at bus stop before plowing to the shop. I don’t know if the guy (or gal) is dead but if not, he’s probably wishing he were.

300 (2006)

I’m not going to write anything terribly original about 300. I finally saw it yesterday after spending a year and a half avoiding. 300 was booed at the Berlin Film Festival. And rightfully so. I don’t think I’ve purer example of Fascist art since I was forced to watch Triumph of the Will. It seems that Zack Snyder and Frank Miller read Susan Sontag‘s essay on Facist Art and used it as a check list. Hyper-masculinity? Check. Fetishization of the male body? Check. Subjugation of the individual to the group? Check. Glorification of death? Check. An unabashed othering of the enemy? Check. That last one is really striking. The “Persians” were portrayed universally as grotesque, gender-confused, homosexual, crippled, ethnic, or just plain subhuman. On the other hand, the Spartans, in part from their crude brand of eugenics they practiced, are gym-sculpted Aryan adonises, manly men who are more brave than smart. This is not only wildly inaccurate, historically speaking, but pretty baldly racist. How the hell did this shit get made?

300 seems to have three divergent target audiences. 1) Fanboys who are into Frank Miller’s work and/or Lord of the Rings like sagas (and times, 300 seemed also like a parody of LOTR). 2) Gay men who would no doubt enjoy looking at all that rippling male flesh. The rampant homosexuality and pedarasty in Spartan culture, incidentally, was completely ignored in the film. And 3) Neocon fundamentalist crazies who desperately want to stay in Iraq for a 100 years and who want to invade Persia, er, Iran. Why not? According this film, they’re are all perverted, malformed subhumans.

Like Leni Riefenstahl‘s toxic masterpiece, 300 is frequently beautiful to look at. Yet it is one of the most morally repugnant works of art to be belched out the of plastic asshole of American culture in a long long time.


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