Hunh. So that's what it'd be like if 'Fox News' taught Ancient History.
Or, to be less facetious, I understand that Hollywood distorts historical accounts to make for a more interesting story. I did not walk into the film '300' expecting an accurate account of the early days of the war between Greece and Persia, and of the Battle of Thermopylae. But there are distortions and there are distortions, and I did not walk into that movie expecting to see an account whose distortions were systematically performed to make the history conform to a right-wing political agenda.
'300' turns the war into a culture clash between the decadent, liberal Persians (Xerxes looks like he stepped off the float at a Pride march, has a harem of bisexual women, and in one scene stands behind the butch Leonidas, puts his hands on his shoulders, and tells him, "Kneel before me and I will give you everything.") and the moral, upright, tough and conservative Spartans (the historical record of Spartan culture isn't just brushed under the rug, it's nailed under the carpet. Spartans in this film mock and condemn "adulterers" and "boy-lovers", two practices which historians believe were common-place and accepted in Sparta, and they frequently talk about how they're "free men", equating Persia with slavery and slavery with evil. Nobody ever seems to ask who tends the crops in Sparta.) Through the film's imagery, the Persians are equated with deformity, deformity is equated with decadence, and decadence is subtly equated with liberalism.
The contributions of the other city-states of Greece are downplayed into non-existence; in '300', Leonidas is a king who alone among his people has the foresight to spot the need for a war, and when the cowardly and decadent Senate refuses to fund his troops, he's forced to go off alone without the men and equipment he needs, dooming him to failure. (This is, of course, not so much a distortion of history as a cut-and-paste replacement of it with the current conservative view of the present day.) The pre-eminent anti-war Senator turns out to be a traitor in the pay of the Persians, and is stabbed on the floor of the Senate by Laura Bu--errr, Queen Gorgo.
And, of course, we get the conservative refrain that the military culture is "better" than the civilian culture; the volunteer forces that accompany the Spartans are shown as less worthy, less courageous, and ultimately cut and run when the going gets tough--the historical records say differently, but who needs history when you've got an agenda? And, in the end, we're shown how Leonidas' heroism inspired the Spartans to amass a huge army to finally destroy the evil Persians and end the threat they posed to America. (Sparta, sorry. I'm so bad at this.) The fact that Persia is, in essence, modern-day Iran should perhaps worry anyone who wants to read into the symbology of all this. We don't see the final battle, but of course, we know how it has to end...after all, the Persians lost, right?
They did, in fact. In a decisive naval battle. To the Athenian navy. (You know, the "philosophers and boy-lovers" the Spartans made fun of at the beginning.) But apart from that, it fits the right-wing philosophy perfectly.