How to counter the negativity of “300” Movie?
(an open letter to MIT PSA Officers)
by: Ali Taalebinezhaad
Oct. 25, 2007
Dear MIT Persian Students Association Officers;
The movie “300” has been recently released on DVD and LSC will probably screen it at MIT. Anybody with little knowledge of history knows that this movie has flown in the face of many historical facts and in its path has badly damaged and demeaned the Persian culture and heritage.
The American baby-boomers such as Frank Miller (writer of “300” movie) got their ancient Persian history lessons from the 1962 movie by Rudolph Maté’s called The 300 Spartans and the new generation of Americans are getting their history lessons about Persian history and culture from the recent “300” movie. Some might fool themselves by saying that: “This is just a fictional movie based on a stupid comic book!” but numerous evidence show that it is not the case at all. For more detailed information in this regard, you can read the following article:
Review of Frank Miller’s “300” comic book
Cyrus Kar has nicely summarized these facts by saying:
“History is no longer written by the victors, it is written by filmmakers!”
We are all very busy advancing our interests but hopefully our moral and social responsibility should dictate us to do something about such importnat issues now otherwise for years we all have to pay the very high price of being subjected to the stigma of the wrong impressions gained by viewers of such movies. Please keep in mind that if we do not collectively address it now, we will not have the necessary means/time to individually resolve it in future even if we want to do so.
A Brief History of Ancient Persia
Before we can preach to others, we need to know some basic facts about our history. For those of us who might not know or remember the ancient Persian history and its towering figures such as Cyrus, Darius and Xerxes, one can learn a lot quickly by:
1. Reading the few pages here:
History of Ancient Persia (تاریخ ایران باستان from Shirin Blog),
2. Watching this informative 10-minute video:
In search of Cyrus the Great (from Spenta Productions),
3. Reading this interesting 2-page article:
The truth behind “300” (by Cyrus Kar),
4. And finally watching these two 45-minute videos:
Iran: Seven Faces of a Civilization (by Dr. Farzin Rezaeian)
Persepolis Recreated (by Dr. Farzin Rezaeian).
A history lesson!
We might have heard this beautiful saying that:
“If you don’t stand for something, you might fall for anything!”
and wondered what it really means in every day life?
Here is a relevant story:
An Iranian-born woman called Azam Ali accepts to be the lead singer for “300” movie in order to “advance her career”. After getting all the financial and career benefits of her free choice at the expense of badly damaging her birth place heritage, she first tries very hard to justify her action. But when she is pressed by BBC interviewer regarding the consequences of her action on Iranian people, she says “I am sorry!”
That seems to be too little, too late, considering that fact the “300” movie scripts has been the exact adaptation of the “300” book which has been even publicly available for years and could be read in an hour or so! You can hear the full interview here:
BBC Interview with Azam Ali
What PSA can do at MIT? (Suggestions!)
Considering that introducing the true Persian culture and history to MIT community cannot be done effectively by individuals, Persian Students Association can play its declared role by mobilizing the MIT Persian community for achieving this important goal effectively at the following events:
1. PSA 2007 Halloween Party at MIT:
You are sponsoring this event which will attract many Americans students from all over Boston area. These are very likely students whose last impressions about Persians are what they can remember from the “300” movie and probably what they have heard about Ahmadinejad! As the sponsor of this event which uses “Persian” in its title name, you can easily tell them what “Persian” really were by playing the 10-minute video of In search of Cyrus the Great for them. Shirin Science Center has obtained a high resolution version of this video and the permission for its public screening which I can provide you with if you are interested.
(PS: Now that you have joined forces with Iranian Association of Boston and decided to offer alcoholic beverages at this event, you might want not to open your bar before playing the movie to avoid facing drunk audience.)
2. MIT LSC screening of “300”:
PSA should make the necessary arrangements so the above 10-minute video be shown before the screening of “300” movie at MIT. Even if LSC does not accept to show this video for free, I am sure that MIT Persian community can afford and will gladly pay the LSC fee for this important cause.
3. MIT IAP 2008:
Considering the non-existing or dismal presence of PSA in IAP 2007, it is very important that PSA comes up with a comprehensive plan to take advantage of IAP 2008 for introducing the MIT community to the real Persian culture and history very soon so it can be submitted on time to IAP scheduling office well before it starts.
Watching the “300” movie!
If you do not want to be part of the statistics of “300” movie viewers which might indeed embolden the producer of such movies in future, you should vote by your feet! Namely by:
- Not watching this movie in a theater,
- Not watching this movie in college formal screenings such as MIT LSC,
- Not buying its DVD’s,
- Not renting its DVD’s from stores such as Block Buster,
- Not buying the “300” book.
This is because sale figure is the only language that Hollywood understands in such cases.
However if despite the low ranking of this movie you are still urged to see it for yourself, you can check it out for free from one of your local city libraries, including the Cambridge Public Libraries.
Last Stand of the 300 (History Channel DVD):
If you are interested in the more realistic story of Persian-Greek wars, including the saga of Spartans at the battle of Thermopylae, you can check out the
90-minute DVD from History Channel called “Last Stand of the 300”
from your local library. Please ask your library to get this DVD if they do not have it so other interested people can use it in future as a better alternative to “300″ movie!
The Spartans (PBS DVD):
And finally if you want to know what Spartans really were and what became of them, you can watch the
3-hour DVD from PBS called “The Spartans”.
Looking forward to seeing some actions from PersianSA in support of Persian culture, history and heritage in this regards which can be easity achieved by devoting a fraction of your resources to this crucial cause.
Oct. 25, 2007