Why Gay Guys Love the '300' Movies

This article is from the archive of our partner .

The blood-soaked Greek epic 300 and its new sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire, have hit the sweet spot in American culture, occupying the coveted space where straight dude-bros, neocons, and flagrant homosexual men meet. The only other things that occupy that space seem to be Men's Health, Bowflex ads, and for a moment, former U.S. Senator Scott Brown.

If you venture into the deep cuts section of 300 analysisyou'll find that the whole story might just be a neoconservative fever dream. Frank Miller, the author of the 300 comic book (the source material of the movie), gave an interview in 2007 in which he voiced some strong opinions about 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," he told NPR. Though Miller didn't spell out distinctly that the Spartans are his vision of America, knowing his mentality can shape the way we interpret his art. 

For more casual fans, 300 is the kind of movie that Best Buy uses to show off surround sound systems or something you watch hungover on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of July. Hyper-stylized, grunty, and rippling at the same time, 300 is empty-calorie movie consumption at its best. Straight dudebros love the rawr of war and fitness inspiration  ("300 workout" continues to be a very popular Google search), but for gay guys, it's one of the guiltiest of pleasures. Here's why:

Recommended Reading

The Biggest Reason: the Muscles and the Dudes the Muscles Are Attached To

What a neocon sees: Warriors preparing to defend the West (America) from barbarians from the East

What a dude-bro sees: Some Persians about to get pwned. 

What a gay dude sees: Heaven. Just kidding, we're above that. Sort of. No. No we're not. 

This is a movie where men's triceps have triceps. This is also a movie that out magics Magic Mike. It seems like the film's, tanned, pore-less men are always flexing. Sometimes they flex while woodworking: 

Or rowing on ships:

Or looking straight-up majestic:

Or looking straight-up majestic on ships:

Basically, there are no shirts or long pants to speak of in ancient Greece. Gay guys do have more interests than just sinewy almost-naked men. But we're not going to deprive ourselves of a movie franchise which provides sinewy almost-naked men, just to prove that. 

The Symbolism and Inside Jokes

What a neocon sees: Warriors preparing to defend the West (America) from barbarians from the East

What a dude-bro sees: Some Persians about to get pwned. 

What a gay dude sees: Sorry, I'm blushing. 

One way to watch 300 is to kind of pretend it's seeping in subversive symbolism (which it may or may not be), and you're the only one who gets it (you're not). Yes, that Spartan warrior is probably sharpening his sword and preparing for battle, but he's also sharpening his sword. And there's something funny in the thought that in theaters all throughout America, legions of straight men will be cramming into theaters to watch all of this homoeroticism — whether they're aware or not.

Oh Hey, Themistokles

What a neocon sees: Really good-looking warrior preparing to defend the West (America) from barbarians from the East.

What a dude-bro sees: Some Persians about to get pwned by a really good-looking warrior. 

What a gay dude sees: A really good-looking man, though he isn't sure if he wants to sleep with him or just look like him. Possibly a tribute to a the Charlie's Angels hair flip. 

Sullivan Stapleton, the man playing Themistokles (a Greek general and main protagonist of the second film) is a really handsome man. Whoever works in the casting department deserves a raise. 

The Camp, It Burns

Can we take a minute to appreciate that a lot of this movie (judging from it's predecessor and from the trailer, at least) appears to revolve around Eva Green's hair and a portable fan? The wind-in-the-hair effect is of course a staple at all Beyoncé concerts and Tyra Banks photo shoots.

And it's just one small part of the film's camp factor, which includes the movie's writing. In an attempt to be fancy, serious, and ancient-times-appropriate, movies like 300 tend to use stilted language and flouncy metaphors. And not all lines are created equal.

"TODAY, WE DELIVER SUBMISSION!" Green says, in one of her more memorable lines in the movie. 

"Better we show them, we chose to die on our feet, rather than live on our knees!" the main character," Themistokles, says (in the trailer). 

Of course, I am here to eat all of that up. And before I forget, this is the other big bad villain: A nine-foot-tall golden man-god (literally), who is in even better shape than his enemies. (Notice they're going for magistral drama with this entrance, as well.)

A Gay-Friendly Point in  History

What gay history buffs like to tell you is that there was a lot of homosexuality in ancient Greece. There was a lot of older-younger same-sex relationships in Athens (which you may have read about in college), and in Sparta's military, men forged homosexual bonds with one another. "At Sparta, for example, the separation of the sexes at an early age, together with attitudes peculiar to other Greeks on the role of women, resulted in overtly homosexual relationships centering on life in the barracks," an American military historian and scholar wrote in his book The Western Way of War. 

Granted, 300 franchise isn't going for strict historical accuracy so don't expect any guy-on-guy scenes in the barracks. But, all those shirtless men only help make history more fun. 


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.