All right, so the sequel is out… and doing well. The stylish combat film “300: Rise of an Empire” topped the box office last weekend with $45.1 million, seven years after the original Miller-Snyder flick “300” became an international hit. I haven’t seen the new one yet, but two thoughts occur to me:
(1) This sequel covers precisely the parts of the story that I have pushed for, ever since the first “300” came out.
That original film, based on a comic book by Frank Miller, told egregious historical lies, cramming into the mouth of the Spartan general- Leonidas — things that he would never have said. For example dripping contempt for the Athenian shopkeepers and potters and fishermen who had destroyed an entire Persian army, just ten years before, at Marathon.
Spartans still stung with shame over having stayed out of that fight. But to have Leonidas rant… while ignoring what was in plain view from his cliff-edge… an Athenian-led navy holding the vast Persian fleet at bay, guarding his flank… that omission in “300” slandered Leonidas and betrayed the audience.
Across six years, I’ve occasionally written about the travesty that the original “300” perpetrates, not only against factual history but against the very notion of democracy and citizenship and the power of volunteers defending their people, homes and nation. I suggested, that any sequel focus on Themistocles and the Athenian fleet – and on the notions of volunteer citizenship that enabled them to keep succeeding where Startans failed — with flashbacks to Marathon and then moving forward to the glorious victory at Salamis, that saved western civilization…
… which is apparently what this new flick does! Though with lots of Millerian sneering cartoon-villains, when the real thing was dramatic enough. Ah well.
(2) I’ll go see it. What the heck? In hopes that, maybe, Mr. Snyder has decided to love the civilization that’s been good to him, ignoring the incredible hatred of democracy and enlightenment that pervades nearly all of Frank Miller’s works.
== The Blackjack Generation? ==
Tuesday evening on The Daily Show, author Paul Taylor discussed the millennial generation and his book The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown. In discussion with Jon Stewart, Prof. Taylor said that the clade following the millennials… encompassing those born after 2000… does not yet have a name. Um, well… may I weigh in?
Way back in 1989, in my novel EARTH, I portrayed folks in the 2030s referring to this generation as “blackjacks”… because they were the first ones born in Century Twenty-One.
Blackjack? Twenty-one? Get it? Cool, eh? Oh… never mind…
== News flash: The Justice Department is now conducting two inquiries: 1) looking into whether the CIA illegally snooped on congressional investigators and 2) another looking into whether those same congressional investigators broke the law by sneaking documents out of CIA HQ to protect them from erasure. The accusations include lying to Congress and to the Justice Department, and spying on congressional investigators to hide what the CIA was doing.
== Continuing panic over terror? ==
So many misconceptions! During the Obama Administration, the U.S. has suffered its fewest number of terror-related attacks per year of any substance, going back to the 1960s, yet somehow we manage to stay stoked in panic. In fact, according to a briefing I got last week at the Pentagon, the curves are extremely clear. International terrorism attacks peaked across the Reagan and Bush administrations at roughly 400 to 500 incidents per year. They plummeted starting around 1992 through a nadir in 2001, the very year of the 9/11 attacks. (Coincidentally, this steep decline encompassed the Clinton years, though the aging out of European radicals probably also played a role.) There was a bit of a rise under GW Bush, though not to pre-Clinton levels. The decline continued under Obama…
….though the US figure does not apply to the whole world. The missing jet from Malaysia is deeply worrisome, for example. There are Chechen-related events in Russia and so on. This is not a call for complacency! Still, it is yet one more reason to choose to shake off our dismal funk and the pessimism foisted on us by cable news. We still have time to start the “real 21st Century” in a mood of rising confidence.
Wish I could share the chart. It’s amazing.
== Some folks get-it ==
A WIRED article by Kevin Kelly promotes sousveillance and reciprocal accountability by translating/combining them into the word “coveillance”… a term that may confuse the chemists out there… but that captures the heart of by two-decade argument — that we can negotiate in our own best interests if we can see.
“A transparent coveillance where everyone sees each other — a sense of entitlement can emerge: Every person has a human right to access, and benefit from, the data about themselves. The commercial giants running the networks have to spread the economic benefits of tracing people’s behavior to the people themselves, simply to keep going.”
And… “Amplified coveillance will shift society to become even more social; more importantly it will change how we define ourselves as humans.” Interesting!
(Ah, but Kevin… do cite others along the way.)