The battle epic 300 reviewed. - By Dana Stevens - Slate Magazine:
Here are just a few of the categories that are not-so-vaguely conflated with the "bad" (i.e., Persian) side in the movie: black people. Brown people. Disfigured people. Gay men (not gay in the buff, homoerotic Spartan fashion, but in the effeminate Persian style). Lesbians. Disfigured lesbians. Ten-foot-tall giants with filed teeth and lobster claws. Elephants and rhinos (filthy creatures both). The Persian commander, the god-king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) is a towering, bald club fag with facial piercings, kohl-rimmed eyes, and a disturbing predilection for making people kneel before him.
Meanwhile, the Spartans, clad in naught but leather man-briefs, fight under the stern command of Leonidas (Gerard Butler), whose warrior ethic was forged during a childhood spent fighting wolves in the snow. Leonidas likes to rally the troops with bellowed speeches about "freedom," "honor," and "glory," promising that they will be remembered for having created "a world free from mysticism and tyranny." (The men's usual response, a fist-pumping "A-whoo! A-whoo!" sounds strangely fratty.) But Leonidas is not above playing the tyrant himself. When a messenger from Xerxes arrives bearing news Leonidas doesn't like, he hurls the man, against all protocol, down a convenient bottomless well in the center of town. "This is blasphemy! This is madness!" says the messenger, pleading for his life. "This is Sparta," Leonidas replies. So, if Spartan law is defined by "whatever Leonidas wants," what are the 300 fighting for, anyway? And why does that sound depressingly familiar?