If – and I bet it does – your mind works the way my 9-year-old Sage's mind works, you're perfectly capable of holding in your right hand what's historically accurate and holding in your left hand someone's version of cinematic or literary license on the same event, and the historical distortions would not at all confuse you. Right?
Now, let's see you put your hands together.
So I went to the movies to watch the latest take on Thermopylae. I am eternally curious about military history. You can call it morbid fascination if you want. However you call it, it won't stop unfolding though.
It happened in 480 BC and people are still revisiting it every once in a while. Yes, I've watched an older film version in my other life when films were about method acting and actors had names beginning with Sir Something. Sir Something Egan. Heck, too long ago. Big production it was. Like, many, many people.
Anyway, I was so stunned at how 300 translated Frank Miller's graphic novel. It's like the frames on the pages came alive in glorious detail. So I went home, wrote about it, and dispatched it to MindaNews pronto. I loved that review. It was so raw.
Oh, okay, yeah – the abs got to me. So?
Bob Timonera was editing that day. My rave review got him rushing to Limketkai in Cagayan de Oro (from neighboring Iligan City) to watch, only to be bummed out by a series of humongous "wanted outside" inserts right on the middle of the screen. But really, I suspect what got Bob's goat was the audience's reaction to that love scene. Like, they hooted and tittered and whistled and hollered, and man- it was the most tasteful love scene I'd ever seen played out on the silver screen in a long, long time. I'm sure Bob agrees.
Philistines down in Limketkai. They should apologize to Bob for ruining his viewing. He deserves a refund at least.
The next day, it was Mac who went to the movies on the strength of my rave. He comes back to rake me over hot coals. Mac, by the way, is the only one who did. For three days, I had young ladies following me to the restroom to gush about just how much they agreed with the review. Jeez, the producers ought to pay me for the endorsement. The girls were rushing to the movie in droves.
What was Mac's beef?
Well, he couldn't understand why I missed the subliminal Orientalism in that movie. Now that he points it out, it wasn't really all that subliminal. Mac contends, and I have to agree, that there are at least three messages in that movie that were carried on the preconscious level: 1)Asians are baaaaaad; 2)Persia, as in modern-day Iran, should be expunged from the face of the earth; and 3)Spartan society was an ideal society. We know it was not.
Propagating historical distortions go beyond committing injustice. This is a mortal sin. At least, I think I still think that.
Blame Frank Miller. I forgot I should be using a purist's lens to watch that movie. It was an adaptation after all, and the message had been out for some years even before it got translated to the big screen.
Or blame the abs and the pecs and the gastrocnemius (did I spell that right?). Alpha males in black jock straps with flowing crimson capes. So arresting, I get retarded. Scary to think that's all it takes.
Duh. (Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan's column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to [email protected]. "Send at the risk of a reply," she says.)