Summary: (Trigger warning: this clip depicts violence and includes explicit language) One of the criticisms sociology instructors occasionally field from students is the accusation that we are over thinking a particular issue or reading too deeply into some phenomenon. Similarly, when we draw attention to, say, the racist subtext of a fictional film, one common response is that the film is mere fantasy, the audience knows this, and therefore, there is no harm done. In this remix of the film 300, Craig Saddlemire and Ryan Conrad powerfully illustrate the way morally corrupt characters and those with deep flaws unfailingly match a type. These "bad guys" are often characters with disabilities. They are typically played by Black and Brown actors, and in many instances, the characters are gay, transgender, and/or effeminate men. As is true of 300, the hero's story is one typically told from the perspective of a powerful white man. By exposing these stereotypes and the way they are drawn upon to create the familiar characters that populate Hollywood films, the remix reminds us that movies can reinforce a worldview which values people differently based on race, sexuality, disability, and gender. At the two-minute mark, the remixers introduce the additional argument that "300 follows in a long tradition of US military propaganda," and to visually make this point, the remixers splice together scenes from Frank Capra's famous WWII propaganda films, which sought to answer the question of "Why we fight." Capra's answer was to save democracy, but instructors could provocatively ask students to consider the influence of propaganda and its depiction (demonization?) of the enemy.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist