A letter to Warner Studios about the movie "300"
By: Kourosh Zaim
Warner Brothers Pictures Co.
Attn: Mr. Gianni Nunnari, Producer
Mr. Zack Snyder, Director
Mr. Frank Miller, Author
Subj.: Movie 300: The Bad and the Ugly!
Depicting native-Americans as savages during the early periods of Hollywood was not humane, but understandable in the light of official propaganda and the unavailability of historical information about their cultures. There was no written history, no inter-cultural communication and or cultural interaction at the time to prove Hollywood wrong or presume mischief in making deliberately insulting movies. Hollywood soon after found out how wrong it had been and tried to make it up to American Indians by making movies such as “Dances with the Wolves” and many others.
Depicting Black Americans as uncivilized and un-trainable during the early periods of Hollywood was not humane, but understandable in the light of the lingering colonial heritage and the unavailability of historical information about their cultures. There was no written history, no inter-cultural communication or cultural interaction at the time to prove Hollywood wrong or presume mischief in making deliberately insulting movies. Hollywood soon after found out how wrong it had been and tried to make it up to African-Americans by starting to make movies such as “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and many others.
Depicting Italian Americans as gangsters during the early periods of Hollywood was not humane, but understandable due to the fact that the mafia tradition had roots in Italian Sicily and that some Italian hoodlums had found their way to America. Italian-Americans boasted and shared highly revered historical, religious and cultural ties with the West, and nearly all Italian immigrants were law-abiding hard-working citizens and excelled in almost all areas of commerce, sciences and arts. Hollywood soon after realized that Italians have been wrongly role-modeled in movies and made it up to them by starting to romanticize Italy and Italians.
Falsification of history in making the movie 300, however, is by no means understandable. There is written history of ancient Persia available and even taught in schools. Persian cultural heritage which has affected the lives of all mankind is well-known. Accounts of Persian wisdom and righteousness, especially during the period of history in which the movie’s events take place, is reported history not by the Persians, but by their arch enemies. Wise and fair rulers who conquered only to secure own borders, never massacred, looted or enslaved as was the common practice those days. They were always ready to free people enslaved, they allowed the conquered to practice their own beliefs, manage their own societies and even choose their own rulers. Rulers of Persia during that period of history were even respected and idolized by the very Greeks and Spartans. Furthermore, Sparta usually received economic and military aid from Iran and was under Persian protection against the Greeks and other invaders. The violent and uncivilized man you illustrated in your movie as Xerxes, in reality, was a man of serenity, wisdom and fairness according to the same Greeks and Spartans you romanticized so cartoonishly. Need not to go back that far. Take a look at the Iranian minority in the United States who are the highest educated, the most successful, the most law-abiding and the most involved in community activities than any other first generation immigrants. The movie also failed to show another proof of Iranian fair-mindedness that the Commander of Persian Navy in this war was a woman.
Demonstrating one of the most civilized and cultured nations in history, to whose contributions world civilization is indebted, as savages, could not have been for lack of historical information or for lack of inter-cultural communication. There must have been other motives. From the business point of view, any well-made movie involving Iranians would have presented the same potentials for success or failure due to the wide publicity about Iran. Demonization of Iranians would not have been necessary. So, the question remains what motive (or money) was behind making the movie so pointedly insulting? I think the influence of the people who invested in or financed the movie must have been a deciding factor.
It couldn’t have been Greek money, because they are too highly cultured of a people to want to belittle the very nation they have admired throughout history.
It couldn’t have been Israeli money, because they have always admired ancient Persian culture, especially King Xerxes with a n Israeli queen, who was the grandson of Cyrus the Great who freed Jews from captivity, is revered in Torah, and who created world’s first Bill if Human Rights.
It could not even have been the American neo-conservative money though they nurture the pipe dream of dissecting and cutting Iran down to size. When they have easy access to Arab money for mischief against Iran, why should they spend their own funds on frivolities?
That leaves certain national identity complex ridden oil-rich states in our neighborhood. When you have nothing to brag about, you try to belittle others who have. Iranian identity and culture has always bothered them. So, they use their easy-come money to stab Iran by funding mischief against Iran, fueling ethnic unrest, dreaming up territorial claims, bribing to change historical names and helping infiltration of terrorists into areas of Iranian national interest. They are the type of financiers who are willing to spend the riches that belong to their people for the pleasure of insulting the cultural “haves”. The challenge for the producers of 300 is now to reveal the real identity of their financial backers.
All told, trying to make money by telling lies, twisting facts, fabricating history, thus misinforming the unsuspecting public, is ugly.
An Iranian political activist