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(DV) Kashani: 300 -- Proto-Fascism and the Manufacturing of Complicity





300: Proto-Fascism and Manufacturing of Complicity
by Tony Kashani
April 5, 2007

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“Cinema is consistently making a claim to particular memories, histories, ways of life, identities, and values that always presuppose some notion of difference, community, and the future. Given that films both reflect and shape public culture, they cannot be defined exclusively through a notion of artistic freedom and autonomy that removes them from any form of critical accountability.” 


-- Henry Giroux [1]




We are living in one of the most ideological epochs in the history of humankind. In a postmodern age where grand narratives have lost their validity, proto-fascism, a totalitarian paradigm devoid of complexity, is on the rise. So it seems. The new hybrid movie 300, based on a so-called “graphic novel,” which is a “depiction” of the ancient battle of Thermopylae, was released with much fanfare and financial success. I endured with horror the two-hour stylized blood and gore orgy. Conversely, the majority of the audiences (18 to 24-year-olds) present in the theatre were truly enjoying themselves, so it seemed.


If you are concerned about human rights, sexism, militarism, women’s rights, homophobia and gay bashing, cronyism and corruption, suppression of intellectualism, media consolidation, anti-Semitism, Islam phobia, and general xenophobia, you ought to be concerned about 300 and other media like it. If you seek multiculturalism, egalitarianism, and planetary thinking, you ought to disrupt the current trend in American cinema and speak truth to power. If you want social justice, you must speak up against the kind of proto-fascism 300 promotes.


Cinematic adaptation of graphic novels is becoming the latest pedagogical tool for the outwardly right wing extremists in positions of power. The anti-intellectual, overtly simplistic narratives, and absolutely mediocre and hyper masculine drawings, seem to be the tenets of graphic novel and its cinematic manifestation. I argue that this type of cinema produces more than just a movie, and should be taken seriously as subversive agents of indoctrination. To dismiss this powerful medium as low-culture entertainment is a mistake many leftist intellectuals are prone to make. Often times, the public relation machinery of Hollywood issues statements to suggest that their products are benign, apolitical, and purely designed for entertainment, and only entertainment. They misinform the public, to be sure. It is their job to create a neutral aura about their movies. It is their responsibility, as assigned by the economic and political elite, to facilitate a trajectory towards normalization of blood and gore (to create complicity with their military agendas) as entertainment. It is our responsibility as cultural critics to deconstruct their deceptive discourses. These discourses create ideas for the masses to go along with the leadership.


These cultural creations (ideas) are created so the political, economic, and social leaders can use ideology to maintain their positions of dominance in a society. Furthermore, an integrated system of ideas that is external to, and coercive of people, is exported around the globe in a cultural imperialist fashion to dominate the planet. More than a century and a half ago, Karl Marx put it aptly,


The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas. The class which is the ruling material force in society, is at the same time, its ruling intellectual force. The class, which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production…The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas. (Marx & Engels, 1846, 1970, p. 64)


I should like to put a critical lens on 300 and its interconnection to the ideology it promotes. Frank Miller is the creator of the graphic novel and the movie version’s executive producer. On January 24, 2007, almost a month and a half before the release of 300, Miller was interviewed on National Public Radio’s enormously popular program Talk of the Nation. [2] Miller was one of several interviewees dubbed as “diverse group of creative thinkers.” The program was a next-day follow up to George Bush’s predictable and contrived state of the union address. When asked about the State of the Union, Miller, in an unapologetic yet nervous voice, uttered the following:


Well, I don’t really find myself worrying about the state of the union as I do the state of the home front. It seems to me quite obvious that our country and the entire Western World is up against an existential foe that knows exactly what it wants . . . and we’re behaving like a collapsing empire. Mighty cultures are almost never conquered, they crumble from within. And frankly, I think that a lot of Americans are acting like spoiled brats because of everything that isn’t working out perfectly every time.


When you say we don’t know what we want, what’s the cause of that do you think?


Well, I think part of that is how we’re educated. We’re constantly told all cultures are equal, and every belief system is as good as the next. And generally that America was to be known for its flaws rather than its virtues. When you think about what Americans accomplished, building these amazing cities, and all the good its done in the world, it’s kind of disheartening to hear so much hatred of America, not just from abroad, but internally.


A lot of people would say what America has done abroad has led to the doubts and even the hatred of its own citizens.


Well, okay, then let’s finally talk about the enemy. For some reason, nobody seems to be talking about who we’re up against, and the sixth century barbarism that they actually represent. These people saw people’s heads off. They enslave women, they genitally mutilate their daughters, they do not behave by any cultural norms that are sensible to us. I’m speaking into a microphone that never could have been a product of their culture, and I’m living in a city where three thousand of my neighbors were killed by thieves of airplanes they never could have built.


As you look at people around you, though, why do you think they’re so, as you would put it, self-absorbed, even whiny?


Well, I’d say it’s for the same reason the Athenians and Romans were. We’ve got it a little good right now. Where I would fault President Bush the most, was that in the wake of 9/11, he motivated our military, but he didn’t call the nation into a state of war. He didn’t explain that this would take a communal effort against a common foe. So we’ve been kind of fighting a war on the side, and sitting off like a bunch of Romans complaining about it. Also, I think that George Bush has an uncanny knack of being someone people hate. I thought Clinton inspired more hatred than any President I had ever seen, but I’ve never seen anything like Bush-hatred. It’s completely mad.


And as you talk to people in the streets, the people you meet at work, socially, how do you explain this to them?


Mainly in historical terms, mainly saying that the country that fought Okinawa and Iwo Jima is now spilling precious blood, but so little by comparison, it’s almost ridiculous. And the stakes are as high as they were then. Mostly I hear people say, ‘Why did we attack Iraq?’ for instance. Well, we’re taking on an idea. Nobody questions why after Pearl Harbor we attacked Nazi Germany. It was because we were taking on a form of global fascism, we’re doing the same thing now.


Well, they did declare war on us, but . . .


Well, so did Iraq. (Talk of the Nation, January 24, 2007)


It is clear that Miller stands firmly on the far right end of the ideological axis. He also seems to have a convoluted memory of recent history. He remembers Okinawa and Iwo Jima, but conveniently forgets to mention Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He also wants more bloodshed, it seems. And where did he read that Iraq declared war on the United States? He wants his chosen way of life to be the global way of life. He believes that militant, ultra-violent, racist, sexist, homophobic, consumerist culture is superior to all other cultures, and it should be taught in the classrooms. Multiculturalism, religious tolerance and non-violence do not figure in Miller’s ideology, apparently. He wants to fight the “enemy” with total war. Moreover, Warner Brothers is complicit with this ideology, albeit in an implicitly PR way. The culture industry loves “social allegory” movies. They offer multi-commodifications of the movie, the book, the video game, and other related items, and solidify the success of future copycat products. The following is the official synopsis for the movie written by a Warner Brothers staff writer (undoubtedly a graphic novel reader),


Based on the epic graphic novel by Frank Miller, "300" is a ferocious retelling of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in which King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes and his massive Persian army. Facing insurmountable odds, their valor and sacrifice inspire all of Greece to unite against their Persian enemy, drawing a line in the sand for democracy. (Warner Brothers, 2007)


With “a line in the sand for democracy,” Hollywood is tapping into the latest propaganda discourse by what Henry Giroux (2006) has called the “military-industrial-education complex.” In cinematic form we are told beware of the Persians (i.e., the Iranians). This is indeed social allegory -- Hollywood style. The movie, faithful to the novel, directly suggests that because of the heroics of these 300 brave men the Western world was able to withstand “barbarism” of a Middle Eastern empire and usher in “democracy.”


With a reductive jingoistic language Frank Miller writes (which the movie with its audiovisual language duplicates):


The gods favor us (Spartans). Come tomorrow, we light a fire that will burn in the hearts of free men for all the centuries yet to be. No retreat. No surrender. That is Spartan law. And by Spartan law, we will stand and fight and die. The law. We do not sacrifice the rule of law to the will and whim of men. That is the old way. The old, sad, stupid way. The way of Xerxes and every creature like him. A new age is begun. An age of reason. An age of justice. An age of law. And will know that three hundred Spartans gave their last breath to defend it. (Miller, 2006)


The fact that 300 is having a phenomenal success at the box office, should give impetus to an inquiry about our society at large. In this “war-weary” time, why is a high-tech kill fest like 300 so popular? A day after its release Reuters reported the following story:


The ultra-bloody warrior film "300," about a legendary battle between the Spartans and Persians, seemed headed for U.S. box-office glory on Friday with sell-out crowds flocking to early showings.


Imax, the giant-screen movie chain, reported that all 57 of its 12:01 a.m. Friday screenings of the Warner Bros. film had sold out as its advance ticket sales for the weekend hit a new record for the month of March.


"We had the most amazing night," said Greg Foster, chairman and president of Imax Filmed Entertainment, adding that many Imax theaters arranged 2:30 a.m. shows at the last minute to accommodate fans who failed to get into the midnight showings.

Many of the rest of the nation's 600 theaters with early morning shows also played to capacity crowds, said Dan Fellman, domestic distribution president for the Time Warner Inc.-owned studio.


"They were flocking everywhere, not just to Imax," he told Reuters. (Reuters, online, March 10, 2007)


The Visual Language as Parallel Allegory


This is a reductive “good vs. evil” story. The forces of evil are Persians, and the Spartans are the courageous defenders of “freedom.” The Persian king, Xerxes (Khashayarsha) is portrayed as an effeminate dark-skinned monster. The rest of the Persian army does not fair any better. The Persians of 300 are dark-skinned, beastly looking, incompetent, pierced, homosexuals who are thirsty for Western blood. On the other hand the 300 Spartans are masculine, muscular, courageous, sexy, competent, intelligent, freedom-fighting white men who will defend democracy by sacrificing their lives. These digitally enhanced warriors believe in the old “never retreat, never surrender, death on the battlefield is the greatest glory” mantra that has been inscribed in the military machinery of all right wing regimes around the globe and throughout history. The Spartans only resort to violence because they have to. They decapitate, mutilate, dismember, and destroy to protect democracy and freedom-the old fashion way-vis-à-vis computer gadgetry.


Baudrillard (1983) captured the spectacle sense of such cultural productions. He believed that the world of culture in America is based on simulation, not reality. According to Baudrillard, social life is much more a spectacle that simulates reality than reality itself.


I argue that Miller and company has made this hyper real film to posit a parallel with the present so-called “war on terror.” It seems America is at war against a noun. This is indeed another dimension of a larger ideological war against Islam. The American military has invaded Iraq and continues to remain as a brutal occupying force. The “dark” people of the Middle East are portrayed as barbarians of the twenty first century by mainstream media in the West. Presently, The Muslim Iranians (i.e., Persians) are defiant and unwilling to give up total control of their natural resources (i.e., oil) and their geo-political position to the West. The right wingers (e.g., Frank Miller) have us believe that the Persians want to build an atomic bomb for the sole purpose of destroying Western civilization, democracy, freedom, and so on. Where does real history fit in this discourse? The nation of Iran has not committed an act of aggression against another nation for 275 years. Iranians have maintained that their nuclear program is for peaceful creation of energy for an overpopulated nation. Who is telling whom what they should be doing? The United States is the only nation in history of humankind that has dropped not one, but two atomic bombs on another nation. Yet, America claims to be the protector of freedom and democracy on the planet.  


Some Historical Notes


Given that Frank Miller and his cohorts have a very loose grip on history, I should like to point out a few nuggets of history, past and present. It is understandable that graphic novelists (proponents and exponents) would have a hard time reading/or writing anything that is more than a few lines with complex ideas. Alas, I should like to offer some notes here.


I will start with a definition of Persia and Persians:


Persia is the name used for centuries, mostly in the West, for the kingdom of Iran in southwestern Asia. It originated from a region of southern Iran formerly known as Persis, alternatively as Pars or Parsa, modern Fars. During the rule of the Persian Achaemenid dynasty (559-330 BC) the ancient Greeks first encountered the inhabitants of Pars on the Iranian Plateau, and the name was extended." (Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th edition, Volume VII, Chicago, 1974, p. 890)


The Persian Empire of Cyrus (the great) was established in the year 550 B.C. and after the conquest of Babylonia in 539 it extended to a degree that it could justifiably be called the most powerful Empire of the world. Historians have praised the Persian Kings for their benevolent treatment of subjugated nations. This is especially true in the case of Cyrus. Cyrus had a compassionate spirit toward his enemies and tolerance towards all religions and spiritual practices. It is a historical fact that when Cyrus defeated and captured the kings of Media, Lydia, and Babylonia, all of them were spared. After the conquest of Babylon, he facilitated a “return to Zion” for all the Jews of Babylon. Those Jews who decided to stay were offered jobs with wages. In other words, Cyrus freed the Jewish slaves of Babylon.


Much is known about the way in which Alexander the Great invaded Persia, thereby inheriting the Persian Empire. However, Alexander's goal was not an attempt to destroy the Persian philosophy of governance, or Persian culture for that matter. On the contrary, Alexander, learning his thinking from Aristotle, tried very hard to be like a great Achaemenid king. Although, one wonders, had he not burned down most of the Persopolis, how much of its infrastructure would have survived to this day.


Zoroastrianism [3]


The religion and philosophy of that Empire was Zoroastrianism (Zartushty). According to Zoroastrian philosophy, morality must be rational. Moreover, with reason employed, a moral value system for a Zoroastrian is a system that contributes to the well being of all humans and nature.  Zoroastrianism as a philosophy is remarkably similar to humanist/theistic existentialism. In Zoroastrianism there is no belief in predestination. Free will is in the hands of all humans and everyone has a say in his or her fate, though a leap of faith is necessary as Zoroastrianism is monistic. Zarathustrians celebrate humanity and joy in life but not in a narcissistic way. The believers must share with their fellow human beings all that life has to offer. They must cooperate with their fellow human beings to strengthen the forces of good to defeat the forces of evil.


With such a philosophy in the backdrop of the Persian Empire, it is difficult to accept the portrayal of the Persians in 300. To be sure, all Empires are complex and diverse entities, and no Empire can be considered a benevolent and just Empire. But to accept Frank Miller’s depiction of the Persians in his book and its faithful demonic portrayal in the film should be an insult to anyone with a reasonable degree of intelligence. Life is not black and white. 300 is a color movie devoid of color. Its mise-en-scene is an artificially designed world of aesthetic violence. 300 is the digital embodiment of form over content, hence its tremendous appeal to the tech-focused youth who have been socialized via computer games and thirty second commercials. There is no complexity in the content of 300. What is complex about this type of cinema is the technology that produces it.    


The Real Spartans


Frank Miller’s Spartans are white men facing racially inferior and effeminate darkies. A cursory glance at history books (written by Westerners) would reveal the true condition of the Spartans. The real Spartans were obedient to the authority of their tortuous political system, and are credited for inventing state terrorism. What is more, the Spartans had no interest in protecting the democratic ideals of the Greeks. Democracy was an antithesis to Spartans’ way of life. Sparta was a military state, built not to defend the freedom of Greeks but to keep the Spartan mob autonomous. The rite of passage for an adult Spartan “equal” was not to confront a lone wolf but to ambush and kill a Greek democrat.


It is a historical fact that in the 5th century BCE, Sparta and Athens collaborated against the Persians, however, once the Persians were no longer a threat, then once again the Athenians were Spartans’ enemies. It is noteworthy to mention the fact that after what is known as the Peloponnesian War, the Spartans were successful in destroying the Athenian Empire. Thus, it is a fallacy to posit the Spartans as defenders of democracy. It is also a fallacy to assume that most young Americans do not learn their history from popular movies.


Revising History, Protofascist Style


There are indeed other players like Miller who have great access to the means of cultural representation, and play fast and loose with history. Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic The Passion of the Christ (2004), and overtly racist Apocalypto (2006) are other examples of a proto-fascist cinema that must be examined and deconstructed by intellectuals who are advocates of social justice. Gibson’s portrayal of the Maya as uncivilized savages is a shameless alteration of history in cinematic form. Gibson’s Apocalypto is another kill fest of form over content where history is rewritten by someone with access to too many resources.  It is evident that Gibson has produced these cultural products to promote his ideology, which is anchored in a belief in white (Christian) supremacy. With Apocalypto, it seems, Gibson is suggesting that the Mayan Empire self-destructed and deserved to collapse and be replaced by the “civilized” and “superior” Spanish. Excluded in the movie (the film ends with the arrival of the Spaniards) is the fact that the Spanish conquerors proceeded to conduct a holocaust that went on for nearly a century, whereby almost all of indigenous population of Mexico was wiped out. That was indeed genocide in every sense of the word. Cinema is an intentional medium. In an attempt to rewrite history, Apocalypto is intentionally devoid of many historical facts.


According to Gibson, “ A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.” This is the warning Miller issued in his NPR interview. Catchy slogans are staples of proto-fascism (e.g., “war on terror,” “we will fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here,” and “no child left behind”).


Proto-fascist films that celebrate hyper masculinity and stylized violence have had great success in American popular culture in recent times. Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994) popularized the “N” word in youth culture and put a white middle-class stamp of approval on overt racist attitude and language in American society. Tarantino has defended his use of the term as a way of reducing its power. However, he does not acknowledge the history that is attached to the word and what it means to African Americans when uttered by whites. Giroux (2002) articulated this point succinctly,


Tarantino parades the term (nigger) unself-consciously before audiences for whom the signifying power of the term is far from open-ended. For many whites, the word “nigger” is deeply inscribed in their memories and consciousness less as a term of cultural resistance than as an expression of their support for racist discourse and values. (p. 223) 


Other notable proto-fascist films are Fight Club (1999), Sin City (2005), and Crash (2005). These were films that had great financial and “cultural” success. Fight Club is ostensibly a critique of consumerism and crisis of male identity in America. With its reductionist posturing, Fight Club manages to remove the complexity of neoliberalism and its adverse effects on society and reduce everything to an identity crisis for white heterosexual men in the US. Its premises of hyper masculinity and anti-femininity employed in its mise-en-scene of stylized violence are designed to reduce the problems of “men” to individual problems detached from the system. The movie, intentionally, suggests that these problems of identity can be resolved by misogyny and violence.


I argue that Sin City is an orgy of pointless violence aimed at aestheticizing evil. Written by Frank Miller as a graphic novel and co-directed with Robert Rodriguez, this film pretends to be a film noir. It does indeed resemble a noir, however, it is only a vehicle of vulgarity and senseless violence for the sake of violence. An authentic film noir was a critique of society and took its violence seriously. Arguably, in nearly two decades of exciting filmmaking in Hollywood, starting with Rebecca (1940) and Citizen Kane (1941) and ending with Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), the world was given a collective gift of cinema par excellence. With film noir, in this epoch of creativity, the dark side of America was scrutinized, scandalized, and exposed. An excellent example of such a cinema is Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil (1958), a cinematic response to, McCarthyism, an ultra- right wing extremism that had permeated the American society at the time. Not only Sin City does not critique moral corruption, but also promotes it with aesthetically normalizing violent acts.


Crash was a clever propaganda film that while seemingly critiquing Americans for not understanding each other and thus creating alienation from each other, has white supremacy in its backdrop. One white character that is depicted as an overt racist (officer John Ryan, played by Matt Dillon) is redeemed at the end by saving a black woman from a deadly fire. This is the same woman whom he has molested in a racial profiling body search earlier in the film. The white character that is intolerant of non-white people, Jean Cabot, played by Sandra Bullock, is left alone in the narrative. In other words, Crash posits xenophobia as a normal condition that cannot be helped -- or changed.


On the other hand, the Iranian man who is aggressive and ignorant from beginning to end resorts to violence by using a gun. He is lucky because his Americanized daughter has a sense to take the bullets out of the gun. So, in what philosophers call “moral luck” the Iranian man is spared the consequence of becoming a murderer of an innocent Latino. This way white hegemony is reified.


Ultimately what Crash successfully accomplishes is twofold: appropriation of racial hierarchy in America and normalization of soft racism. Rather than engaging the complexity of race relations with its integral connection to a Eurocentric capitalist system, Crash uses a complex cinematic formalism to create what Edgar Morin (1999, 2005) has called the “reductive/disjunctive” discourse on societal condition of America. Consequently, Crash deals with complexity of America’s incoherence in a reductive manner. In an ahistorical manner, this movie, intentionally, lets white people off the hook. This film reduces the case of America to isolated individual situations in a “naturally” Eurocentric world. Crash is an example of a very sophisticated proto-fascist cinema.




Cinema is a complex art form. It is also a teaching machine, to be sure (Giroux, 2002). I should like to argue that as public intellectuals we have a responsibility to take popular culture, in this case, cinema, more seriously. Cinema operates under the powerful principles of suspension of disbelief (Kashani, 2005), projection and identification (Morin, 2005), and socializing pedagogy (Giroux, 2002). It is the human element that shapes cinema, however, in turn, cinema shapes humanity. Cinema can be used to manufacture conformity and complicity. But it can also be used to foster critical thinking, multiculturalism, and planetary thinking. Indeed, cinema is the one medium that knows no borders, and with its universality can be the vehicle through which people on the planet can understand each other. 


Cinema can be a transformative vehicle. A cinema that celebrates hyper masculinity vis-à-vis aestheticized violence and, intentionally, reinscribes patriarchy and xenophobia as normative, must be resisted and disrupted. Too often, leftist intellectuals dismiss engagement with popular culture (e.g., cinema) as part of their discourse of social justice. It is paramount that we deeply understand popular culture and its complex relationship with hegemonic ideologies around the globe. The next step that we, as public and organic intellectuals, must take is to gain a critical perspective and integrate our various discourses with issues of politics, power relations, and societal transformation.


It should not be “okay” for Frank Miller to portray Persians as uncivilized savages. The ancient Persian civilization is a source of pride for all Iranians across the cultural and political spectrum. In fact, Shirin Ebadi, a Muslim Iranian human rights lawyer and the winner of 2003 Noble peace prize, included a proud reference to the legacy of the Persian Empire in her acceptance speech. She asserted:


I am an Iranian. A descendent of Cyrus The Great. The very emperor who proclaimed at the pinnacle of power 2500 years ago that "... he would not reign over the people if they did not wish it." And [he] promised not to force any person to change his religion and faith and guaranteed freedom for all. The Charter of Cyrus The Great is one of the most important documents that should be studied in the history of human rights. (Ebadi, Nobel Lecture, Oslo, December 10, 2003)


What 300 serves, intentionally, is an agenda to further the misunderstanding between peoples of Iran and the United States. If Iranians are seen as “uncivilized” and “undemocratic” then perhaps the silent majority will go along with a bombardment of Iran. In other words, 300 is narrative cinema as social allegory to serve the neoconservative plan to dominate the world.


It should not be “okay” to produce a cinema that normalizes racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic language and attitude. It should not be “okay” to be entertained by senseless violence. It should not be “okay” to be a little bit racist, sexist, homophobic. Difference and diversity should be understood and accepted, not rejected and destroyed. Complexity should be included in our lives and not removed with an either/or attitude. Moreover, indifference and complicity with unjust systems of oppression are dangerous. Proto-fascism must be recognized, disrupted, and resisted with fervor.


A proto-fascist cinema works in subversive ways. With the use of sophisticated technology to produce aesthetically pleasing images, this type of cinema masks its ideological intentions with “pure” entertainment. The style of such a cinema is fascist, however, it pretends to be detached from ideology and suspended in a paradigm of hedonistic people of a postmodern age. One can look at public television programs such as Sesame Street as subversive teaching programs. Sesame Street, subversively, teaches children to be kind, generous, and accepting of other cultures. It teaches children while it entertains them. Conversely, a proto-fascist film, subversively, teaches children and adults to be aggressive, intolerant of different cultures, patriarchal, homophobic, and so on. It also entertains its audiences. This also compels one to ask why bloody and senseless violence is the entertainment of choice for many young Americans?” Perhaps Hannah Arendt’s [4] words can serve as a warning to us all: “The sad truth of the matter is that most evil is done by people who never made up their minds to be or to do either evil or good.” (Arendt, 1977, p. 180) We must fight proto-fascist cinema that helps manufacture complicity with oppression of others. Additionally, we must, champion, produce, and teach the kind of cinema that is transformative, and can help humanity achieve social justice.


Tony Kashani is Assistant Professor of Film at the College of San Mateo. He also lectures at Santa Rosa Jr. College on Media Studies, and San Francisco State University on Cinema and Cultural Studies. He is the author of Deconstructing the Mystique: An Introduction to Cinema (Kendall/Hunt Press, 2005). Presently, he is completing a manuscript (to be published) on pedagogy of cinema for social justice. He can be reached at:


Other Articles by Tony Kashani

Cinema of Complexity: Becoming Dissident Cinema  

* Hollywood an Agent of Hegemony: The War Film




1) This quote is extracted from Henry Giroux’s important, but mostly unknown, Breaking in to the Movies: Film and the Culture of Politics. In a collection of essays on popular movies, Giroux has addressed the integral role American cinema plays in contemporary society. With this text Giroux has offered one of the most insightful perspectives on pedagogical function of cinema.


2) As the KQED public radio website notes, “when Americans want to be a part of the national conversation, they turn to Talk of the Nation, NPR's midday news-talk show.” Judging from the guests of the program and its treatment of global issues, one can deduce, the show has taken a decidedly conservative turn in the past six years.


3) Zoroastrianism was dominant in Western Asia from about 550 BC to AD 650 and is still held as a religion by close to a million people in Iran and India. The dualistic philosophy of this religion explains the human existence as a struggle between good and evil (Ahura Mazda, the spirit of light vs. Ahriman, the spirit of evil). It is believed by Zoroastrians that goodness will eventually prevail by the aid of humanity. The founder of the religion, Zoroaster, whose name is the Greek form of the Persian Zartusht (also spelled, Zarathustra) issued three commandments: good thoughts (pendareh neek) + good words (goftareh neek) + good deeds (kerdareh neek).


4) Hannah Arendt was a German-American political philosopher. Arendt fled Germany in 1933 and, from her new home in the United States, wrote her seminal books about the anti-Semitism of the Nazi regime, and nature of evil. 




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