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300: Beefcake Buffet

by John Calendo

Warrior of Sparta

The New York Times is scratching its head this morning over the spectacular 70-million dollar haul that the computer-enhanced musclefest 300 took in this weekend. Surreally beautiful but widely panned, 300 has surpassed all expectations, and no one knows why. Could it be the hunks upon hunks of manflesh on display?

All we know is this is definitely a movie we’re getting in hi-def DVD: It has high jerkoffability.

Sparta Forever!We think it would be suitable as the midnight show in those dirty movie theaters that suddenly turn gay at the witching hour, when the boy features replace the girl features, and people get downright frisky in their seats … and along the walls …and behind the screen.

Based on the Frank Miller graphic novel of the same name and married to Miller’s muscular graphic style, thanks to the breathtaking CGI work (similar to the overwhelming artistry seen in Sin City, Miller’s first comic to hit the big screen), 300 tells of the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, a battle still revered and taught at West Point, when 300 Spartans fought to the death against 4000 Persians — and won (in the long run*see comments).

Persian Warrior

The Spartans, you PBS watchers will recall, promoted homosexuality among fighting men, believing it strengthened unit cohesion — the direct opposite of our own enlightened military, which draws its Stay in the Closet and Shut Up Policy from — well, no not from history, and no, not from the current evidence of fellow nations that welcome openly gay servicepeople, but from religion-based malarkey about human nature. We are, as we are so often told, a Christian nation.

Persia, PBS-watchers will further point out, is present-day Iran, a name which whatever other bells it rings plainly lacks all the exotic purr of the original. Clearly this movie, like so many other popcorn epics, is channeling Delphic waftings from the current Zeitgeist in the Sky.

The only question, then, is which character is suppose to be George Bush. Happily, Salon had taken up the issue in its daily gossip blog The Fix:

300 has a political angle? The film 300 … has taken on political overtones, but, the New York Times reports, no one is sure exactly what those overtones are supposed to mean.

Are audiences meant to see George Bush in Leonidas, the Spartan king leading a small force to “defend freedom at any cost”?

Fire arrows ding off a Spartan shield

Or is Bush Xerxes, “the Persian emperor who led his force against Greek’s city states in 480 B.C., unleashing an army on a small country guarded by fanatical guerrilla fighters so he could finish a job his father had left undone.”

While the film’s director, Zack Snyder, says he intended neither reading, online fans and some journalists have started a discussion about the film’s point of view — during a recent screening at the Berlinale film festival, some audience members stormed out, and Snyder was grilled at the movie’s press conference on the topic.

You’ll have to decide which of the lucky hunks — excuse us, serious actors — is really playing our own Mr. Wonderful. But can we make one tiny confession? We haven’t even seen this movie yet.

Right, we going this out of our minds simply over the trailers!

For reasons already mentioned this is not the type of movie we want to see in a theater with a mixed audience, on date night, in an atmosphere of dumbbells missing the point. While we can forgive a straight boy many a sin (so big is our heart) missing the point is not one of them — unless, of course we can exploit the misunderstanding in a way that leads, after all, only to the young man’s pleasure.

So no, we don’t want to share so classic a homo-hot experience as a souped-up Gladiator movie with an audience that can pick up nothing beyond the lurid moron-magnet that is comic-book gore (which, frankly, we’re big suckers for too — speaking of pots and kettles!)

The battle begins

Meanwhile, do we need any other reason, other than the two eyes in our head, and the two eyes in yours, to run yet another wall-to wall picture from the film?

©2007 Nightcharm


  • Daniel

    You might be disappointed to know that the film-makers have made it a point to whitewash Sparta of any man-love. You couldn’t pay me to watch it, but my spies tell me that some Spartan (Leonidas?) makes a jibe at those “boy-loving” Athenians. This seems to put it right up there with Troy as re-writing the gay out of Greek history, making it more palatable for…Americans. And WHY anyone is surprised at its success is beyond me–the appeal to the ADD generation and the NFL crowd is obvious, with visuals that scream to be made into a video game, coming to a store near you.

  • tony

    I noted that Bush was more pumped-up than ever…before they saw him in S America…..the comparison with Leonidas is quite fantastic…and real

  • J

    The propaganda in this film is so blatent you’d have to be retarded not to get it. Even if you don’t know the history of ancient Greece you can at least find major faults in the “Spartans'” logic; acording to the movie,

    a. Spartan babies have to be “suitable”, that is to say that any abnormalities of any kind and they’re literally tossed away.
    b. A Spartan is taught through out their entire life that they must fight and die for their country and for glory (whatever that means)
    c. As part of their training they’re sent out in the wilderness. If you die then it just wasn’t meant to be. Better luck next time.

    And yet Spartans supposedly fight for freedom. Of course, with certain things you have to suspend belief…or in this case logic. Still, I loved the movie all in all (ignoring the atrocious writing of course). The fight scenes were immaculate and finally someone’s done something good with CGI.

    That and I got to see Gerard Butler’s ass. Hot damn!

  • http://dwightsupremacy.blogspot.com/ dwight

    Oh my god! Do we really have to analyze every single thing to death. Through the lens on politics, philosophy, morality?! I mean, really?! I had a fun time watch the movie—the gore, the bulging muscle, the CGI, the action—and hearing (and reading) people drone on about the correlation to George Bush is totally killing the buzz!!! Oy friggin vey!

  • Thorn

    I was really disappointed in the movie. The ONLY reason to see it is for the men and the combat sequences. Someone should edit out all the shitty dialogue and just make a montage/music video out of the good bits.

    My main complaints cover the Screaming Patriotism and ‘freedom isn’t free’ rhetoric that is so totally 21st century thinking that it ripped my suspension of disbelief to shreds. The Spartans just didn’t think/act/talk like that according to the historical records. They had slaves, they believed in superiority. To assume they were fighting purely for the noble ideals of freedom is beyond wishful thinking.

    Did Leonidas *have* to start channeling Mel Gibson in Braveheart quite so much? All he needed was some smurf-blue face paint and the transformation would have been complete.

    Also, during some of the scenes, I was completely waiting for a couple of hobbits to run across the screen it was SO similar to LoTR in a few spots. Oh my fucking god…they even had a cave troll. I know, I know, he wasn’t *really* a cave troll, but he looked like one and the neck chains made him look like the guys on top of the gates of Mordor.

    Which makes another point…damn if the whole movie didn’t play like a giant video game. Trek, prepare, miniboss fight, cutscene, more fighting, another miniboss fight, cutscene, etc. etc. till Massive Boss Fight…awww.

    And finally, and this is a BIG deal to me, they worked so hard to establish their Spartan’s heterosexual street cred, I felt like it was shoved in my face every time someone spoke. The sneering crack about ‘Athenian boy-lovers’, the ranks of jiggly boobs with JuJuBee nipples, making Xerxes look like a drag queen in search of a wig (the Big Bad Guy, in case you were wondering)…it all left a nasty taste in my mouth.

    I just want my $7.50 back and someone to take all the lusious parts and condence them into a blissfully dialog-free montage. With more Trent Reznor playing. Some of those fights would go great to lyrics like, “I wanna fuck you like an animal, I wanna feel you from the inside.”

  • Domo

    I just have to ask. Where’s Nightcharm on the Matt Sanchez thingy? Why so silent? Why so demure? It’s so unlike you guys not to chat it up. Come on. What? Did Matt do you too?

  • Domo

    Is 300 a cover for your indiscretions?

    (sorry, that should have been with my previous post)

  • http://www.nightcharm.com Nightcharm

    On Matt Sanchez, the porn star (aka “Rod Majors”) and ex-marine who became a darling of the right wing recently, until the gay bloggers uncovered his many starring vehicles. We were going to put our 2 cents in when we realized everybody on the web had contributed the same 2 cents before us: specifically here was another Jeff Gannon, a screwed-up gay guy stepin’ and fetchin’ for the ring wing.

    For now, we will keep Sanchez — or Major Rod as we like to call him — on our radar, at least for a few more clicks of his alloted 15 minutes. If there’s something new, most likely along the line of a Diane Arbus moment, we’ll be on top of Rod, not to mention all over him. And you Nightcharm readers, you Domo, will be there!

  • Piedmont Will

    I for one will lay off the over-analyzing and just enjoy the movie for what it is: pulp entertainment with a healthy dose of man meat thrown in. Sure they de-gayed it and yes they are cowards for it and should be told so, but if enjoying a movie filled with “Colt” models in leather thongs is wrong then I don’t want to be right.

  • Erydanus

    I liked the movie. It was visceral and vivid. I got the feeling that two of the guys on the front lines were lovers. America can’t handle the gay right now, so I don’t care if they shut up on it. The movie painted a picture in broad strokes and its message was: choose your battles carefully, and on your own terms.

    I didn’t think Bush was given an allegorical appearance in the movie but I think Cheney was: as the scheming councillor.

  • Nick

    For those of you pushing the Bush allegory, here’s a bit of daunting trivia: the Spartans lost. Every last one of them was killed. Oh, and here’s another: the internet is full of rumorfacts that Mr. G. Butler is a man-lover just like us, and from what I’ve read, he has yet to deny those rumors or to be linked romantically with any female. I for one think it’s cute how he has that strangely disguised sibilant ‘s’ when he yells, “Thissss isss Ssssparta!” At least they didn’t make the Greek traitors out to be ‘boy-lovers’ or eunuchs – but if this film had been made by the aforementioned ‘Smelly Mel’ Gibson you better believe he would have.

  • http://uroskin.blogspot.com Uroskin

    Why can’t they make a proper classical Greek movie, like Fellini would do if he was still around? Spartans – nor Athenians – wore speedos, those film stills are utterly ridiculous. I am so not going to watch that film.

  • http://www.nightcharm.com Nightcharm

    Terrific article on the historical distortions in 300 from the Toronto Star, featuring this tidbit:

    300′s Persians are ahistorical monsters and freaks. Xerxes is eight feet tall, clad chiefly in body piercings and garishly made up, but not disfigured. No need – it is strongly implied Xerxes is homosexual which, in the moral universe of 300, qualifies him for special freakhood. This is ironic given that pederasty was an obligatory part of a Spartan’s education. This was a frequent target of Athenian comedy, wherein the verb “to Spartanize” meant “to bugger.” In 300, Greek pederasty is, naturally, Athenian.

    Meanwhile military historian Victor Hanson Davis defends the film.

  • Palomar

    “Why can’t they make a proper classical Greek movie, like Fellini would do if he was still around?” . . . Uhmm, actually Fellini didn’t make any “proper classical Greek movie,” i.e., historically-accurate stuff. Did you actually see his “Satyricon” and “Casanova”? It’s set in first-century and 18th century Italy respectively, but they look like they’re set in some futuristic alien planet from another galaxy. Had “300” been done by the great master, it would’ve more bizarre and more utterly ridiculous. But it would have one thing which “300” doesn’t have: integrity.

  • http://www.pizzutil.livejournal.com Matt P.

    On the Matt Sanchez thing:

    Sure, a lot of blogs posted stories about the Right-Wing military hero who once did gay porn. They all talked about it, but I know Nightcharm would find a screenshot, which no one else has done (that I’ve seen). And we can all say a posted picture is worth a thousand words. An article here would be fantastic. I like Nightcharm because it gives these issues with a whole new spin; instead of asking how someone’s porn-star history affects his political credentials and “hypocrisy” as a Conservative, it would ask how his political credentials as a “Conservative” affects his porn-star desirability. Question: if you find out your porn star is a Right-Wing ideologue, how does it affect his sex-appeal?

  • Greg

    Okay I’ve been holding off posting this, hoping it would go away on its own, and more than anything not wanting to be “that guy” who trolls around correct spelling, but seriously…

    What the hell is a “bouffet”?

  • http://www.nightcharm.com Nightcharm

    Dear Greg,

    A bouffet is a French buffet where everybody shows up in big Dusty Springfield bouffants.

    (Thanks Greg. Our faces would be red — if we ever knew shame.)

    The title of this piece originally read “Beefcake Bouffet”

  • Greg

    Seriously, I’m sorry. I really do love the site. I criticize because I care!

  • simon

    Seriously there’s nothing wrong in not analyzing the movie from a socio-political present day context or psychologically but there is a serious problem in not being aware of the ridiculous nature through which films such as these i.e. grand historical epic narratives supposedly based on factual history have completely whitewashed sexual history in the political and social context and destroyed an apparatus through which unfortunately a great number of people learn history. Too many Americans have looked at movies like Troy, Alexander, Spartacus, etc and have concluded that the ancient Greeks were close enough to us and therefore basically there is no real alternative the current cultural and sexual paradigm into which we are born, which is of course ridiculous as ancient peoples had no concept of sexuality as a defining characteristic other than if an individual was attractive (regardless of gender) then well…not too mention there was a complete recognition, acceptance, and integration of homosexuals (just read Plato’s symposium).

  • http://www.nightcharm.com Nightcharm

    Don’t miss this gem of a review from the Guardian:

    300 is one of those oddly seductive but completely ridiculous films that will please most fans of this genre precisely because fans of this genre don’t object to films that are completely ridiculous. Filmed in the digitally enhanced comic-book style that made Sin City so visually arresting, 300 looks like a videogame devised by some very camp programmers…

    Yet perhaps the boldest visual touch of all is having the 300 Spartans fight the entire battle clad only in black underpants and crimson cloaks.

  • Domo

    Um. Black underpants and crimson cloaks? Yeah, I remember that club. Of course they were also rung up with tina and had no idea what their names were, but yeah, they were hot…for 10 minutes.

    Ah, the memories…

  • Greg

    Hey did we all see the most recent Dan Savage column? In which he calls 300 as homophobic as “Ann Coulter on a meth binge”? An excerpt:

    The Persian army is an armed gay-pride parade, a threat to all things decent and, er, Greek. The king of the Spartans — among the most notorious boy-fuckers in all of ancient history — dismisses Athenian Greeks as weak-willed “philosophers and boy lovers.” The Persian emperor? An eight-foot-tall black drag queen — mascara, painted-on eyebrows, pink lip gloss. Emperor RuPaul is positively obsessed with men kneeling in front of him. Why gay up the Persians? So that straight boys in the theater can identify with the Spartan king and his 300 soldiers — all of whom appear to have been recruited from and outfitted by the International Male catalog.


  • Penis Sucker


  • http://journals.aol.com/gayesteditorever/WorthRepeating/ Kenneth

    Gay history may have been erased from the version of ‘300’ playing in theaters, but the following clip does a pretty awesome job of putting the gay back in.

    Not to be whoring out my blog (Nightcharm guys, you know I love ya) … but I think you’ll get a kick out of this:

    ‘It’s Raining 300 Men’ (link)

    xo KH

  • Thorn


    I love you for posting that. All the best parts. With good music. Hot damn!