It's the specific reasons David Brin suggests Frank Miller go fuck himself that are worthy of note, though. The news that 300 is about as representative of the actual Battle of Thermopylae as Plants vs Zombies is of horticulture during a pandemic can hardly be considered surprising. But I think Brin is dead right when he suggests there are different categories into which fiction which is at least nominally historical can be placed. There are various ways one could do this, of course, but let's consider the following four:
- Striving for as much accuracy as is feasible (Changeling, Cry Freedom, Zodiac)
- Not really interested in accuracy (U-571, Evita)
- Actually goes so far as to invert the truth
- As above, but for specific political ends (Jud Suss)
Assuming Brin's description of the surrounding history is accurate (and it quite closely to what I dimly remember from primary school - I suspect Jamie might have more to say on the issue), then I think there's ample evidence that 300 has failed the tests necessary to place it in either of the first two categories. The important questions are this: has the film, as Brin alleges, actually fallen into the fourth class, and become propaganda, and does it really matter if it has?
Regarding the first question, I can certainly see an argument - Miller clearly hates the idea of people protesting against dire economic conditions when they should be signing up to fight Al Queda, which certainly ties in with 300's contempt for any form of civilian (even those willing to fight) in comparison to career soldiers. The moral of the tale (such as it is) must surely be that we need as many batshit-insane heavily-bronzed murderous motherfuckers on hand as we possibly can for the day we're attacked by brown people riding
The second question is harder to answer. Should we care? We're not required to like the politics of a given artist, or even the art itself, to enjoy it (though of course there's a difference between disagreement and taking objection to). And, like all such films, it's hard to expect anyone who knew nothing about the second Persian invasion of Greece to care much upon learning that it didn't happen the way Miller and Snyder have told them it did. There's also the fact that the narrative bookmarks itself as propaganda, by having Dilios telling the story of Thermopylae to fellow Spartans he is specifically trying to encourage and inspire ("Leonidas was a bit shit but the Athenians really saved our arses!" isn't likely to lead to same swelling of one's martial pride). And to be entirely frank, just how much intellectual damage can be done by a film which is bursting at the seams with painted-on abs?
So does that let 300 off the hook? It's too ridiculous and divorced from reality to be taken seriously as propaganda? Would it make a difference if Miller had written about three hundred Space Spartans fighting off an alien horde on the planet Thermopylae IX (cf. Heinlein's Starship Troopers)?
I admit I haven't made my mind up yet, but it's certainly all food for thought, as we all sit around waiting for the violent self-fucking Miller so obviously deserves...