Before the Greek Debt Crisis Did Audiences Love the Movie “300”?

Does the Greek debt crisis show us how “bread and circuses” is still as accurate a description of how empires pacify the masses as ever?

You remember the movie, “300,” right? It was an R-rated action movie celebrating a historic victory of 300 Spartans over the Persians. It was pretty gruesomely violent, so I’m not recommending it.

A thought occurred to me yesterday as I read this NPR story: I’ll bet “300” was a popular movie in Greece. Even if not always as completely subsidized, “bread and circuses” still go together (and in the US, the NFL is just about as government sponsored as the circuses were).

After all, “300” must have appealed to Greek nationalistic feeling. It was released in 2006 when the current problems, though obvious, were still being denied.

According to the NPR story, “As Government Hunts For A Solution, Greeks Anticipate Catastrophe,” many Greeks voted “No,” to the eurozone demands, but do not want to leave the eurozone.

They portray Greece in the person of Giorgos Pathiakakis, a business owner in Athens.

Pathiakakis voted no in last Sunday’s referendum, but says it was in no way a vote against the euro — just a plea for less austerity. Taxes imposed by eurozone lenders for this year would claim nearly all the money in his safe deposit box at the bank.

He’s terrified he’s going to lose everything, no matter what comes next.

“Any new bailout agreement is going to probably going to destroy my business, forcing it to close in two years, maximum,” Pathiakakis says. “But the other option, the drachma, it’s an unknown. I have no idea what will happen. But I sense it would be terrible for Greece to leave the eurozone. I want to stay.”

So basically: Please keep loaning us money that we can’t pay back but stop trying to impose conditions on the loans that we find unbearable. I completely agree that the Greeks should oppose austerity imposed on them from foreign powers. But that means they simply have to leave the eurozone, restart their own currency, and come up with a budget that works. They must live within their means. There is no alternative. If they accept the demands of “European leaders” (as NPR calls them), they will simply suffer while getting deeper into debt and then they will still end up with nothing, and be forced to start over from an even worse position.

Saying, “I want to stay,” is just pathetic. Face reality!

But less than a decade ago I can imagine Greek audiences cheering for the Spartans, thinking of how great they are because of the amazing accomplishments of Greece… thousands or years ago. Meanwhile, they were headed into disaster and poverty.

We do this in the United States as well. We do it more. We cheer for heroic fictional portrayals or football teams while our government (as well as our own bad spending habits) drive us deeper into the hole. We identify ourselves with the heroism that is portrayed on the screens rather than what we are actually doing with our lives.

This is what men do. They outsource their masculinity to action movies and sports gargoyles in their fantasies while they grow into welfare whores and debt slaves in reality.

Then they get enraged and even more irrational when the support systems they are now completely dependent upon break down (because they were never sustainable) and they desperately scramble to make a new deal that degrades them and their families even further.

Morloch night is coming. The United States is not exceptional, except that its crash is going to be bigger.

When the economy collapses and the government offers its conditions for a “rescue,” are you going to beg for whatever they offer? Or are you going to face reality?