Sunday, March 9, 2014

Death of a Diva

Yesterday, the world awkwardly celebrated the so-called Women's Day while centuries have passed and still the western world is confused with its masculine ego driven by ignorance and fed by arrogance and long dated male supremacy; no matter how hard they try. 

Hollywood was first in the frontline to release its latest blockbuster mayhem of madness just hours before March 8th dawned to show just how they are still "bloody" committed to feminism and women rights in their new movie 300: rise of an empire serving as the sequel to the earlier version of an even worse distortion of history that this time was supposed to narrate the tale a true "lady" who lead the Persian Army against the dispersed tribes of Greece and defeated them marking what 21st century could and should see as an example of a nation who was so well advanced in culture that had a young  woman as its army general, leading soldiers in combat against savage villagers of the time who only knew how to subjugate and prosecute women for not only their uncivilized era, but for centuries to follow that is ever stained in our history from treating women as mere child-bearers, during the rule of Louis XIV and his Filles du Roi to senseless scavenging excuse for a human hunt of witchcraft throughout half a millennium in two different continents.

Noam Murro, the amateur director of the film, following the footstep of his mentor Zack Snyder who pioneered the franchise collaborating this time around as the producer with his wife Deborah and their oddly, yet rightly named film company Cruel and Unusual Films, in this sequel, had a hard time ending the movie since not only the plot was ridiculously crooked with little complication or characterization except for the "tyrannical blood thirsty Persians who were just pure evil and nothing more" and the "freedom loving" Greeks who fought fiercely and bravely against all impossible odds, typical western superhero material, and surprisingly won almost every single battle except for the one history actually has clear records for, downplayed tactfully, being the fall of Athens that got little reception in the plot filled and spewed with little dialogue or a decent narrative, nothing but bloody scenes in stylish gore that left half the audience in revolt and disgust that Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News courteously calls it "an ashen video game" safely giving it one out of five stars in the weekly review.

Nonetheless, what strikes me is how could the West who knows little about human rights let alone women's rights and its history from the Roman gladiators who provided entertainment through the slaughter of slaves, to the Vikings who were infamous for their savagery and bloodshed, to the insatiable thirst of its monks and masons who falsely accused innocent women of witchcraft, to their King Henry VIII of England who beheaded two of his unfortunate not four ;) but six wives, both convicted with fabricated evidences of adultery, to the physical torture and prosecution of suffragettes only decades ago, now trying to lecture the East on women rights. It is no surprise that the only surprise they could come up with on celebrating 8th of March, Women's day, would be a mere mockery of one of Persia's bravest women generals, Artemisia, who brought the male dominated Greek tribes down to their knees and was the living example of women bravery and courage. 

Ironically, Zack who wrote the screenplay himself, still claiming that the movie is solely fiction basing it on Frank Miller's inconveniently unpublished graphic novel distorts facts and history and ends the uncomfortably dragging plot by bringing the Persian Diva Artemisia down to her knees, which historically never happened, in the last scene of the movie, in a desperate attempt to provide the plot with some conclusion, portraying the Greek General Themistokles standing "manly" victorious looking down his sweaty six abs as Artemisia falls "femininely" down to her knees. Sadly, it is the best ending the West could come up with to such a contradicting tale, an absolute hysteria, leaving the East to wonder, with such male adrenaline still pumping and running on its heated chest and through its ignorantly arrogant veins, how could the West ever claim that it has left behind, its male madness. 

Alireza Manzour
09.03.2014

13 comments:

  1. To begin, I'd like to say that I disagree with not your review, but with your interpretation of what implications the movie has for the general west.

    I personally think it's unfair to blame the general west for this movie: even the west has criticized the movie for being historically inaccurate(it is classified as an operatic work rather than historical documentary). Things are presented the way the director/scriptwriter chooses it to be: if you think it's tremendously stupid, you have every right to do so, but remember that this is solely the opinion and interpretation of someone else, and should not be taken as a view reflecting the overall opinion of two continents.

    If you think that the Persians and their story may not have been accented as much as you had wanted in the movie: perhaps you're right. However, I think it's unfair to try to correct stories to exact historical accuracy: if that had happened, Julius Caesar would be a three-year long tale involving many more battles and much less rhetoric.

    Thinking about it, there have been many Asian movies that were probably as bad, in terms of offensiveness, at any rate. The reason why these have not seen the light of day is because the general market for movies in Asia is smaller. On the topic of Asia, I'd like to say that it itself is not free from female abuse: we need only look at Saudi Arabia's human rights record and Japan's use of "comfort women" in World War 2 to really show how all of us are the same. We can't say in any way that we have been better than the west. A quick look at history reveals how in the feudal system, with the age of the Samurai, was tremendously male-oriented, leaving little room for female independence.

    The East are not the angels, and the West are not the devils: to be as partisan as you have been in your article, in my opinion, is simply not as fair as it could have been to either side. Overexaggeration is as dangerous as ignorance, after all.

    Thank you for your time.

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  2. First of all, thank you for your time and I appreciate your put in the effort to respond.

    However, with reference to the points you brought up, and I'll try my best to make this short, I never claimed the East to be angels and I think that is your 'over exaggeration' of what was clearly stated in the review, which was the simple fact that, 'how ironic is it that the West whose history is filled with male supremacy is now lecturing the East on women rights' and so I had no intention of portraying the East or the Middle East or the Far East as immune to the accusations I made to the West.

    Secondly, with regard to the tone, language is meant to be symbolic, bold and unconventional and unlike you who brought up unsubstantiated claims, my points were based on facts and evidences and the only 'drama' utilized was in the language, because it was meant to be dramatic and rhetorically crafted so that the reader would appreciate the art of the language.

    Nevertheless, when it came to accusations, I used West-recognized atrocities that are hardly argued on; such as King Henry, Louis XIV, Vikings and the half a century of madness of senselessly accusing innocent women of witchcraft that are clearly 'Western' examples of aggression against women.

    Therefore, to make a long story short, I suggest you do your homework and try to come up with a response to the review that could at least counter argue the claims I made, not accusing the East of the same atrocities, because my intention was never letting anyone off the hook, but in fact, try to argue how in the world can the West ever lecture the East on human rights, let alone women rights when their past and present is stained with male supremacy, that was my sole and simple claim.

    And just for the record, try to come up with something better than Saudi's and Samurai's, I know you can do better than that ;)

    Best of luck and thank you again for your response.

    You are one my finest and I'm proud to have this debate with you, Sir.

    Remember, arguments are never about the people but ideas 'for only the fools discuss, dis and dismiss people, the ignorant discuss and converse about events and only great minds discuss and argue on ideas.'

    Alireza Manzour
    18 March 2014

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    Replies
    1. ".... the West could come up with to such a contradicting tale, an absolute hysteria, leaving the East to wonder, with such male adrenaline still pumping and running on its heated chest and through its ignorantly arrogant veins, how could the West ever claim that it has left behind, its male madness."
      This statement clearly implies something: that the East can look at itself as superior to the West, because of its statment that the West cannot have claimed to have left behind etc. etc., placing it in a position of authority towards the West. "madness", "ignorantly arrogant", "hysteria", "such male adrenaline" take a very patronizing view on the West: this is the fault I find.

      "It is no surprise that the only surprise (The West) could come up with on celebrating 8th of March, Women's day, would be a mere mockery of one of Persia's bravest women generals, Artemisia,..." This again compares the East to the West, perhaps indadvertedly, but nevertheless linking the two together.

      In regards to your comment on the use of language, I say this: language can be bold without being offensive, it can be exciting without stirring anger. Imagination does not entail veiled anger in any form. Although the purpose of a review is to offer an opinion, it does not allow anyone the right to attack a culture, as you have done in the above two examples. The purpose of an article, if this is one, is to offer a fair opinion of both sides of the debacle: you seem to be mentioning one side while neglecting the others, which I've explained in brief at the top, .

      I do agree with the fact that the West has done wrong in their treatment of women: I have stated so in my criticism, and I stand firm in my belief. I am not saying that the West is right in criticising the East at all. My argument in my original essay was criticising your misrepresentation of the East and the West, which was through implication and misuse of language. However, I would like to argue that your dismissal of my point on Saudi Arabia's women's rights is unfounded, and it deserves at least a second look.

      Saudi Arabia has one of the worst records of human rights(in regards to women) of any nation: there have been instances of honour killing(where women are murdered by those who deem their actions dishonourable), sex segregation(common in every area, including public transport, restaurants and even homes, where there are two doors: one for men and one for women) and that women are only allowed to serve other women in public. I would definitely argue that the mistreatment of women is far more serious that the misrepresentation of women: we cannot criticize their misrepresentation until we fix ourselves as well. The worst part is this: it is going on in the present, and all of us have the means to access this information.

      In conclusion, I believe you have, through your language, created an inaccurate view of culture on both sides of the story. While I certainly believe in the importance of ideas, I believe that is also important to remember that ideas are only good if they can be worked upon.

      As an addendum, I do not think it is polite to call my claims "unsubstantiated": that is not a proper assertion, as my points are supported.

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  3. Nicely done with your review. I agree that the 300 series suck.

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  4. I am in support of your views and I agree that the portrayal of historical facts in the movie 300 is disappointing and very much absurd as it makes the East look weak and not as developed which is not true- the West indeed do not have the right to lecture the East on women's rights as both parties have made their fair share of mistakes in this department.

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  5. Good job! I definitely agree with the review

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  6. Sure it was nice but it sure have some flaws in terms of arguing,although it was nicely done.No one's arguments are perfect.

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  7. Imran Iskandar Abdul RahmanMarch 18, 2014 at 7:10 PM

    Comments on the first article:

    Dear Mr. Ali

    First and foremost, I would like to say that your argumentative piece was excellent. You put forward your detailed points in a well-structured piece in a strong, vehement tone.

    I agree with your point that the film has distorted real history, and it really has shown how deep male supremacy runs in the screenplay, who are audacious enough to change the film enough to portray men as masculine, buff warriors who, in the end, would kill the 'feminine' Artemisia, which is not the case. It really is very ironic that they would release such a misogynistic film on International Women's Day. Another thing I experienced on International Women's Day 2014 that I found ironic was that Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines, a sick, misogynistic song about rape, was playing on radio stations on that day.

    Another thing you have pointed out was that the movie really is all gore and butchery, which is why it does not fare well in terms of movie reviews by critics. It really is a wonder that people would pay to see a film that is full of gory slashing and 'historical' facts, not to mention mockery to women on International Women's Day! I would like to point out that if the directors and screenwriters wanted to make money off something with an abundance of bloody carnage, they should have released a video game (although I am against violent video games as it could provoke violence).

    In conclusion, I found your article convincing and your arguments cogent which I ultimately enjoyed.

    Thank you.

    Imran Iskandar Abdul Rahman


    Comments on the counterargument and the subsequent rebuttal:

    In short, I concur with Mr. Ali’s rebuttal of Anonymous’ rebuttal of the original article which was what I honestly felt was an argument which had no legs to stand on.

    Firstly, the claim that Mr. Ali is conveying a statement that ‘the East are the angels, whereas the West are the Devils’ is a clear misinterpretation of the article as the words ‘angels’ and ‘devils’ are not present in the article. I found no indication nor tone that suggested that Mr. Ali is stating that.

    If one rereads Mr. Ali’s article, I would note that he is purely making a statement about feminism and the historical inaccuracy and misogyny of 300: Rise Of An Empire. He did not make any statement that the East are angels or perfect. In my opinion, both the East and the West still are driven by masculine ego and gender inequality. But, as Mr. Ali states, that does not give either side the right to lecture the other on problems the both have. To do so would be pure hypocrisy, and to counter the lecture with a counterargument in the tone of ‘You too!’ would only result in a tu quoque or ad hominem logical fallacy.

    Lastly, I would like to point out that in argumentative language, one is meant to exaggerate to convey a point. To convey a point is partly why employ the use hyperboles in everyday language.

    In conclusion, I enjoyed reading both the counterargument and the subsequent rebuttal and I felt that both were excellent in its language, even if I might have not agreed with some of the counterarguments conveyed by Anonymous.

    Thank you.

    Imran Iskandar Abdul Rahman

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  9. 301/300 ;) *wink* *wink*

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    1. I see what you did there ;) *wink* *wink*

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