Out here in the United States, the opening of Troy was greeted by the Beigeocracy with a sort of sneering competition the likes I haven't seen since the release of...Van Helsing. But this was worse, because the cultural stakes seemed so much higher.
What they sneered at most was the alleged over-saturation of bare hairless torso shots of he-men stars Brad Pitt and Eric Bana. The reviewers implied that somehow the movie had profaned a great work of art by leering over their oiled-up muscles.
Um, eksqueeze me folks, but we're talking about THE GREEKS here! This was the culture that tolerated heterosexual intercourse as a necessary evil, but glorified homosexual ass-pounding as the frosting on the cake, so to speak. We're talking about the original Fag Nation here...and yet all the alleged high-brows are upset by the movie's decidedly metrosexual slant? Has anyone read the Greek classics or seen Greek art and noticed how intensely they deified the male body, paying particular attention to each muscle fiber? What would the dilettante critics of today prefer -- Major League Baseball relief pitchers, in all their love-handled splendor, on the battlefield of Troy?
I shouldn't get worked up -- I should know that reading any movie critic's reviews is like pouring bile into my eyes. Indeed their awful reviews have been useful -- when they slammed Van Helsing it made watching that film a surprising delight, while the low expectations I took with me into the Troy matinee were probably a big reason why I was able to tolerate and even kind of enjoy it.
Another popular sneer fired at Troy out here was that there were too many speeches glorifying glory, and glorifying war as the means to eternal fame.
Folks, we live in such a sad, diminished age. This argument against war-as-glory is just depressing, particularly coming from the world's only empire -- particularly as this empire is crumbling beneath its golf cleats. The knot-heads who populate this country genuinely believe that we don't wage war for eternal glory. And the sad truth is that we probably don't. We wage war for thank-you cards and reconstruction contracts and the hope of turning other places into safe cubicle colonies...but not for glory. There is no glory in American life, not even the possibility of glory.
Moreover, America is a culture that has no room for tragedy. For the ancient Greeks, a tragic ending was as vital to a work's blockbuster success as today's "Hollywood endings" -- happy endings that are rigged to delete even the faintest hint of tragedy -- are to blockbuster success in America. The ancient Greeks were trying to face down and understand man's awful fate. American film strives as desperately as possible to help us deny our depressing reality, to the point where we, as a people, are no longer tragic at all. We are merely successful, winners in competitions, yet banned from even celebrating those victories (no victory parades for the triumphs in Afghanistan and Iraq; fines and penalties for spiking the ball in the end zone; etc.). There is no sweet taste of anything here -- just low-carb diets, olestra and pesticide-soaked condoms.
Our intelligentsia despises glory, fears war and tragedy, sneers at the male body, and can only accept homosexuality as a social-political phenomenon. No two cultures could possibly be more unalike than America and ancient Greece.
The producers of Troy were wise to appoint Wolfgang Peterson as film's director. Most of his movies suck -- whenever a foreigner tries to go Hollywood-action, it usually ends up lame (think Tango and Cash or the sad decay of John Woo). But as a German, he has both an innate sense of what war's about for those who fight it (glory), and the right amount of barely-in-the-closet homosexual lust for the movie's heroes.