Thursday, April 12, 2007

Is the Movie 300 Speaking Truly About Men?

Many Christians, I am guessing, will not see 300. I can understand this decision, as there is a good deal of objectionable content. It's always tough to deal with such situations--one is not immediately sure how to balance the desire to engage the world and the desire to be spiritually careful.

But after checking out the movie on, and timing my concession breaks, I was able to see the film and to engage its worldview. 300 offers a premodern portrait of manhood in postmodern garb. The director seems to be returning us to a time when manhood reigned, when men were men, when men acted and did not ask women to fight their battles for them. 300 is many things, including a hyper-bloody portrait of warrior masculinity, but it is prominently a statement about men today. At every turn, director Zach Snyder shows us strong manhood, manhood that trembles with anticipation at the thought of death and laughs with derision at the specter of fear that rises in battle. Though he never uses a character to make this statement, it is clear that Snyder is indeed making a statement about contemporary manhood. In contrast with the action-oriented Spartans who ooze courage and reek of lust for glory, today's men are weak, enfeebled, and reeking of passivity. Snyder's portrait is over-the-top, to be sure; he goes far over the top, and equates manhood with violence and a hunger for blood. Christians cannot endorse such a view, even if we can recognize that violence and war are sometimes necessary and even wise in a fallen world. In addition, and most importantly, we Christians must reject the view that this life is all there is, and that death does not matter, and that earthly glory is to be sought. No, we seek a heavenly glory and await a heavenly rest. Men may know our names or not, but we will seek the renown of Christ, and work for His cause, not those of men, which will all perish as a cry in the wind. Yet we can recognize that Snyder is onto something here. We can agree with him that men are not what they used to be, and that manhood does not mean what it used to mean.

In sum, Snyder's film is a bold and sometimes beautiful statement. It is exhilarating to see the courage of the Spartans and to observe their technical excellence in war. The film's graphics are often incredible, and the action is often gripping to the point of paralysis. The brief but loaded scenes between fathers and sons and husbands and wives are quite evocative, and moved me close to the point of tears. Finally, the general picture of manhood contains numerous positive elements as it exalts masculine courage, leadership, and boldness. The resulting picture is imperfect, however, and we must ultimately reject Snyder's overall portrait of the ideal man, even if we embrace certain elements of it. With these things said, at the end of the day, we may join with Snyder and the legions of men who have viewed the film and celebrate the courage of the Spartans exhibited so many centuries ago at a mountain pass in Greece. Surely, we may yearn for men to be what God has created them to be--strong, courageous, aggressive, tender, loving, and godly. Yes, we may yearn for the past to seize the present, and men to rise and lead a cause whose glory truly never will fade away--the cause of Christ, our Savior, the Man who embodies all that manhood is and should be.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm reading even if no one else is!
...skeletor's friend

7:49 AM  

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