Iranians use epic film as political weapon

By Freedom Newspapers

The movie “300” is making news all over the country, earning $70 million at the box office during its March 9 opening weekend, the biggest March movie opening ever.

The movie depicts the ancient Battle of Thermopylae; it’s an epic tale of the little guy (King Leonidas and his army of 300 Spartans) standing up to the big guy (Xerxes and his massive Persian army) to unite Greece and defend democracy.

But a tide of criticism has arisen as some Iranians both here and abroad have decried the movie for an anti-Persian storyline. In Iran, Javad Shamqadri accused the movie of actively attempting to subvert Iranian culture as part of a possible U.S. conspiracy, according to BBC News.

Shamqadri is an art adviser to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran’s news agencies are reporting more than 6,200 Iranians worldwide have signed an online petition calling for a boycott of the movie.

There’s a lesson: This is what happens with a government-regulated media industry and a tyrannical president who is seeking ways to criticize the United States.

The movie is based on a graphic novel — a sophisticated comic book — by Frank Miller written in the 1990s. As movie critic Richard Roeper put it, ‘“300’ has political overtones, but at heart it’s a big silly fun movie, with great battle scenes and near-campy dialogue.”

The film doesn’t seem to have the culture-killing prowess the Iranian government contends. Yet why wouldn’t the Iranian people be ready to believe “300” was part of a U.S. government-funded conspiracy. It’s what their government is telling them, with no dissent allowed.