Mar 9, 2007

"300" Is For Girls Too

Looks like we're all pretty excited here at about 300, the historical action, comic-book fantasy opening tomorrow. Even me, one of two girls among the contributors. (Our gossip maven, The Evil Beet, may get involved if someone in the cast misbehaves at the premiere after-party.) I've seen the film twice now -- once regular size, once in IMAX -- and I'm looking forward to seeing it again. And -- let me check -- yup, still a girl.

I know it's supposedly "common knowledge" that women don't like movies like 300, and will go see them only because they get dragged along by their boyfriends or husbands. But that has never been my experience, and I'm not just talking about myself -- I know I'm not exactly an average gal. If it's true what Laremy says -- "The people who have responded 'must see' when I bring up 300 have all been fellas" -- well, all I can say is that Laremy is not hanging out with the right kind of gals. Women ain't just the "romantic comedy demographic"; some women do like comic books (just like only some men do), and if we were all such delicate flowers that the thought of war made us faint, there wouldn't be so many of us serving in Iraq at the moment.

And it turns out that 300 is rare among movies about war in that it acknowledges the fact that war impacts women too, even when we're not on the battlefield. Even cooler: Lena Headey is extraordinary as Queen Gorgo, not just wife to the king but his most trusted advisor -- watch for how he requests her approval before he commits the one rash act that sets the plot in motion -- and his greatest champion among the politicians of Sparta. Gorgo is so strong a depiction of a woman that it escapes that dramatic ghetto that most female characters fall into -- we don't have to qualify her as a "woman leader," don't have to limit the scope of her competence and strength by restricting her competition to the gender that hardly ever gets to lead at all. Nope, Gorgo is a powerful leader, period. (Word is that Headey will be playing Sarah Connor in the upcoming TV series The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and this makes me hope the series will actually be worth watching.)

Oh, there's lots of really cute guys in 300 -- Gerard Butler, David Wenham, oh my -- even if the extreme washboard abs on display are just a little bit more frightening than genuinely attractive. But Gorgo: she is one fierce chick, and reason enough that 300 has plenty to say to women.
MaryAnn Johanson
author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride
minder of

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