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Feickert, Sabrina: "»Then We Will Fight in the Shade«. Sparta, Comedy and Coming to Terms with the Fearsome Otherness." In: Elisabeth Cheauré und Regine Nohejl (Hrsg.): Humour and Laughter in History. Transcultural Perspectives. Bielefeld: Transcript, 2014, S. 119–136. 
Added by: joachim (10 Dec 2014 12:14:32 UTC)   
Resource type: Book Article
Languages: englisch
BibTeX citation key: Feickert2014
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Categories: General
Keywords: "300", Adaption, Comic-Verfilmung, Historische Themen, Miller. Frank, Parodie, USA
Creators: Cheauré, Feickert, Nohejl
Publisher: Transcript (Bielefeld)
Collection: Humour and Laughter in History. Transcultural Perspectives
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Abstract
“Sabrina Feickert shows how ancient historical events and myths are used in the present in order to categorize and cope with the terrifying Other. The clash of Spartans and Persians at Thermopylae in 480 BCE, described by Herodotus, has gained unexpected popularity through the Zack Snyder film 300 (USA, 2007). The film conducts an unrestrained aestheticization of violence, while skirting any discursive tendencies, let alone irony and humour – unlike, say, the films of Quentin Tarantino. Ironic sequences, for example, the famous laconic Spartan answer, »Then we will fight in the shade« to the threat of Persian arrows darkening the sky, serve to mock one’s opponent, but not to question oneself. The film simplistically presents two irreconcilable, opposing worlds: the mercilessly rational, highly organized, strictly heterosexual order of Spartan society and their king Leonidas, against the immense tide of faceless, monstrous Persian combatants under Xerxes, whose dubiousness and inferiority is largely communicated by gender characteristics. The King of Persia is characterized as a sexually ambiguous being, a transvestite. 300 is clearly to be understood as a production (dressed up in ancient costume) about the current »clash of civilizations«; the supposed »threat« to Western civilization from archaic, vindictive, unpredictable cultures. Feickert refers inter alia to the obvious similarities between Leonidas’ pronouncements and George Bush’s »rhetoric of liberty«. Even more interesting than the film itself, and bringing humour into play, is the fact that 300 has given rise to a flood of parodies (two examples Feickert examines are Jason Friedberg’s Meet the Spartans and the South Park episode »D-yikes«), which also prefer to work on the level of gender. By questioning and resolving the heterosexual norms of the Spartans, which seem so unassailable in the film, their entire behaviour is thrown into doubt. The inflationary use of slogans such as the famous »This is Sparta!« in every conceivable – appropriate and usually completely inappropriate – context leads once again to 300’s message being not affirmed, but irredeemably pulled apart.” (Elisabeth Cheauré and Regine Nohejl: “Introduction”, p. 12–13)
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