Iran outraged by Hollywood war epic
March 13, 2007
WAR EPIC: Cast member Lena Headey attends the premiere of the film ‘300’ held at the Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood March 5.
War epic 300, a smash hit in the United States for its gory portrayal of the Greco-Persian wars, has drawn the wrath of Iranians for showing their ancestors as bloodthirsty "savages."
The press, officials, and bloggers have united in denouncing the film as another example of "psychological warfare" against Tehran by its American archenemy at a time of mounting tension over its nuclear program.
"Hollywood declares war on Iranians," said the headline in the reformist daily Ayandeh-No of the film that tells the story of the 300 Spartan soldiers fighting off ancient Persians in the Battle of Thermopylae.
"It seeks to tell people that Iran, which is in the Axis of Evil now, has for long been the source of evil and modern Iranians' ancestors are the ugly murderous dumb savages you see in 300," fumed the paper on its front page.
A cultural advisor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described the film as "American psychological warfare against Iran."
"American cultural officials thought they could get mental satisfaction by plundering Iran's historic past and insulting this civilization," Javad Shamaghdari told semi-official Fars news agency.
Three MPs in the Iranian parliament have also written to the foreign ministry to protest against the production and screening of this "anti-Iranian Hollywood film."
The film has already proved a major box office hit in the United States and, unsurprisingly, Greece.
It is highly improbable that the film would ever be screened in the Islamic republic but contraband DVDs of the latest American movies are often available on the streets no sooner than they are internationally released.
Cyber savvy Iranians have already started online petitions and set off "Google bombs" against 300.
The furor over 300 is by no means the first time that Iran has been left fuming over Western portrayals of its ancient history.
Iranians were also enraged by the 2004 epic Alexander about the conquest of the Persian Empire and a notorious 2005 British newspaper review of an exhibition of antiquities that branded ancient Persia the "Evil Empire."