Sunday, May 23, 2004

On the movie Troy. Brad Pitt as Achilles is as convincing a casting, as George W. Bush is as as Albert Einstein. Of course, you cannot rely on Hollywood for historical accuracy, or for gender sensitivity. Achilles is essential for Homer's Iliad, but you cannot even be sure that the movie writers and director read the CliffsNotes version. Achilles appears right in the beginning of Iliad: "Divine Muse, sing of the ruinous wrath of Achilles, Peleous' son, which brought ten thousand sorrows to the Greeks..." The Trojan War covered the span of 10 years, transformed by Hollywood into a few days of war. NOT in the movie is Zeus saying: "How foolish men are! How unjustly they blame the gods! It is to their lot to suffer, but because of their own folly they bring upon themselves sufferings over and above what is fated for them..." And I hated the liberal message of the movie: typical liberal malarchy. On the one hand, war is rejected and portrayed as destructive and horrific. And yet, military might and physical male strength is promoted as the foundations of heroism. That is American liberalism par excellence: inability to stand on firm foundations. This IS Kerry: for troops and for more troops in Iraq, but opposed to Bush's version of war. He promises to be better at colonizing Iraq. And he may be better at colonization if you only give him a chance. And then the sexism. Achilles tries to strangle his best friend, and he strangles and pushes the woman (with whom he was supposed to be in love). And the movie includes that "acceptable rape" scene that is common in Hollywood movies. You can even see it in Gone with the Wind. When the man forces himself on a woman, and she says no and struggles, and the next scene entails the two enjoying passionate "sex" or they are in bed the next morning having breakfast. In the movie, Pitt rapes the woman, and yet we are supposed to believe that they subsequently enjoyed a love affair. It can only be rape because she was enslaved. That is why I get enraged when people talk about Thomas Jefferson's rape of his slave Sally Heming as if it was some romantic love affair. When the woman is a slave (or a prostitute) she cannot give her consent of her free will. That is why every "sex" with a slave or a prostitute is not "sex" but rape. It can only be rape. And there was no mention of homosexuality in Greece. In fact, in ancient Greece, men and boys were the primary object of sexual desires by men, NOT women. But Hollywood cannot broach that, of course. The best source on Greek sexuality is without a doubt Hans Licht, Sexual Life in Ancient Greece. The rich book was so explicit in its time when it was published that the author released it under a pseudonym. And if you have read the The Iliad the words in the movie have no poetry or eloquence. When Pitt was mobilizing his forces and edging them on, he sounded like coaches before games. Silly.