Links and Bombs

6 thoughts on “Links and Bombs

  1. “At the risk of sounding like a nerd, I’m beginning to think science fiction’s actually quite good“

    Shouldn’t that be: “At the risk of sounding like a patronising git, I’m beginning to think science fiction’s actually quite good“?

    I’m not sure which is worse – the article or the comments to it. Was there any mention of recent sf? (I couldn’t bring myself to read all the comments.) Are these people so stupid they’re judging the genre on media tie-ins and 50-year-old novels? Are we daft enough to let them?

  2. I’m with Adam on wanting a bit more elucidation. Stephenson’s piece is a bit … strange, I’ll grant, but the basic point seems reasonably clear, that attempts to impose a hostile political reading upon 300, whether from the left or from the right, are failing to engage with the movie on its own terms.

  3. That’ll teach me to carelessly throw adjectives into my link roundup.

    Basically, his argument seems to boil down to “it’s not intended politically, and its audience doesn’t care about politics, therefore any criticisms on political grounds are invalid.” Which is both patronising and nonsense at the same time.

    (Based on the trailers, why anyone would want to even watch the damn thing, let alone try to justify it, is beyond me, especially if they had the misfortune to see Sin City (you’d think they’d learn). But that’s neither here nor there.)

  4. I read Stephenson as arguing that the political readings that have been imposed upon the film, either as an arm of the propaganda War on Terror, or as an allegory of resistance against American imperialism, miss the point. That’s a fair comment to make, I think. I haven’t seen the film yet (booked for Friday in the London IMAX), but I have read Miller’s original comic, to which the film appears very faithful. Miller isn’t the slightest bit interested in contemporary political allegory (or indeed in recreating history) – he’s after creating a mythic story.

    If you’re reading Stephenson as saying that the film can’t be criticised on the basis of its own politics, then yes, that’s less valid. The stark black-and-white contrast between the freedom-loving Spartans and the despotic orientals is simplistic at the best of times, and particularly ill-timed at present. But Miller would no doubt argue that such a viewpoint is hardwired into the background he is writing against, and has been since Herodotus, and that he could no more discard it than someone adapting Tolkien could abandon the clear good vs. evil of the West against Sauron.

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