Op-Ed

Scene from the movie 300, where three men in armor attack the protagonist.

300 is arguably the most racially charged movie since D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation. In true post-9/11 form, Zack Snyder's film turns Brown into the new Black; Persians are depicted as bloodthirsty savages thwarted in the Battle of Thermopylae by a small contingent of freedom fighters - with noticeably paler skin - looking to preserve democracy at all costs. This eerily resembles Birth of a Nation, the 1915 epic celebrating the Ku Klux Klan's rise during Reconstruction to defend Southern whites' dignity and honor against what were then seen as recently liberated Black insurgents. Like Griffith's film, this mixture of race, racism, sex, and violence has been astonishingly profitable: 300 has grossed nearly $500 million worldwide since hitting box offices in March and hundreds of millions more are on the way with its recent DVD release.

In many ways, 300 has already become as much of a cult classic as 'Birth' was in its heyday. Like 'Birth', 300 is likely to be remembered more for its groundbreaking cinematography and technical achievements than...