The Roman Hegemony over Greece…in Hollywood

August 30, 2010

Picture of the ParthenonPoor Greeks. After managing to get themselves entangled in Rome’s little spat with Carthage, their glorious civilization was conquered and co-opted by the Romans. Some might say it’s been all downhill ever since.

This recent article argues that the Greeks can’t even catch a break in Hollywood.

I’m not sure if the failure of Alexander was as much due to our discomfort with bisexuality as it was due to the fact that Colin Farrel looks ridiculous with blond hair. And I can make no plausible argument for why 300 was a box office success beyond the fact that it appealed to graphic novel fetishists and xenophobes. But the author raises an interesting point when he says:

The majority of Roman epics employ the figure of the emperor to reduce political complexities and create a single antagonist for the hero; one that usually symbolises Rome, its corruption, vice and cruelty. Roman politics also draws the nearest parallels to America’s government, with its senators, popular and conservative politicians, and a single ruler (although not elected) who acts as a figurehead. Adhering to this creates a familiarity between the western audience and the otherwise complex or alien governments of antiquity, allowing them to engage with the films more.

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