Pepe and I went for an open Question Time on climate change in the Student Guild´s Stanley Theatre, where university representatives and members of the green party talked a lot of sense but, as was often the habit of scholars, palavered and cross-referenced and lapsed into an infinite loop of mind parade never to come to a real conclusion. Only when the organizer of the event, a young lively alternative girl, all smiles and uncomplicated, stepped up to the stage in order to add her five cents, did some life come into this convention. We were supposed to move our own buttocks, to do something ourselves, multiply the message, bring it to the people and start the process by acting ourselves. It did not help complaining about those we despised for their bigotry and their reluctance to change the world for the better in a truly beneficial sense. I had a poster of Bush as the world´s biggest terrorist on my door. A very student-like form of protest of course. I was listening to Springsteen, Guthrie and Public Enemy and tried writing my own protest poetry. This chap had failed to sign the Kyoto charter, so much on the topic, but that was just one of the many evils he set into this world. Encouraging the flow of investment. “History… we don´t know. We´ll all be dead”, he said, and maybe he was right in a horrible, twisted way, just as Mein Kampf might have been on the right track when postulating that life was war, see the Clinton doctrine, and Clinton was who we liked much more, wasn´t he? but as heard yet again in the inaugural lecture of the new professor of ancient history the other day, neo-imperialism reigned the world. “We are an Empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.“ That was cynical post-modernism at its best. I had watched Winterbottom´s disturbing Road to Guantanamo recently. Perspective. One word, one idea might have several definitions, one definition might describe a million things. The world was amorphous.
This is part of the ongoing A Big Plate of Sideorders series, an Erasmus memory.
And then came 300. Sometimes you needed to switch off really. If you looked at reality in too much detail, it was capable of turning you into a bitter man. The organizer of the panel discussion was right, entirely, we needed to see the present as the thing it was, a bubbling stream of magma, but it was so convenient to forget about all that for some time. The girl was cute and motivating, but pop culture had such a wholesome appeal to it. So, when Pepe himself, not only an environmentalist and civil engineer but also an obvious action film fan, suggested going to the cinema yet again to watch the new comic flick 300, a shot-by-shot adaptation of a Frank Miller graphic novel, not quite heralded for its intellectual intensity, Urte was the only one who reacted the way she did.
“Maybe there is some drama or a comedy”, she asked cautiously. “Or at least a psychological thriller?”
Mario answered in return that it was “a really amazing psychological movie” and that she should give it a try, but Urte was clever enough to understand the Italian´s ironic relish. She did not participate.
Neither did Rick, but when I confronted him with my curious question on why he never joined us for the movies, he simply replied that he hadn´t been to the cinema for many years.
“Ya, but why?”
“Mh, I guess it´s more or less a phobia”, Rick said diffidently. “But it´s a long story.”
“And I sure have time. What do you think I need to do? Study?”
“I´ll tell you another time, okay?”
After all these political days, I was not sure how to take this awfully entertaining movie, really. While blood spilled and splattered in slow motion all over the screen, oiled biceps and abs flexed, and mythical creatures copulated to heavy metal music, questions arose. I hoped the production to be as much aligned to my own body of thought as Science of Sleep had been. Was Xerxes maybe the decadent American brand of capitalism? A dark empire eager to impose its cultural concept on the whole word? Too ignorant and chauvinistic to understand the need of those of lesser powers to have their own lifestyles? Was this, under all this bloodshed and fascination with violence and cruelty, was it possibly in fact a clever satire with a critical message for the West?
After some clearer thoughts, I needed to discard the idea. The brave Spartan GIs with their king on the first front, just like George in Iraq, fighting not just for themselves, nay, but for a whole free world; it was merely brutal nonsensical mayhem without the least hint of historical correctness. The Spartan senate? The woman who is heard? The useless coward Athenean shopkeepers? Those who had defeated the Persians at the beach of Marathon without any Spartan help (because they had wanted to celebrate a festival?!) and would do so again later at the battle of Salamis. Defeated, come on. A free world, for fuck´s sake, a free world? Sparta, really? A funny interpretation.
Urte might have also loved it. For, supposedly, Freud would have been able to write a whole fucking book about this film, soaked with double entendre and all that. All these strong men, these painted abs, all that sweat, all those weapons, throwing spears to other people´s faces… oh well, I switched off again and shifted my mind from Ancient History to Popcorn. It was much more enjoyable like that. And on the blood was spilling.
Later, while the titles were running, five heedless local twats who had already presented themselves as a rather tactless horde stepped on both my and Melli´s feet, all of them in a row, without giving any sign of guiltiness. Yet, I was inspired by the Spartan grim arrogance and wouldn´t let it happen without reaction.
“Das macht dann fünf!” I rumbled in my most scary German.
They all flinched as if I had just cursed them in the voice of the almighty himself and hurried nervously out of the room. I just loved my language.
“Well roared”, said Agnes. “You gould blay Leonidaz too.”
“Ah ya, he sure was inspiring.”
“He was?” asked Melli.
“And very much so. Look, after all this screaming it´s rather difficult to control your own volume.”
“He did scream a lot-e”, agreed Mario. “The ques-tion is-e… why Urte-e… did-e not join us. It was-e really… a very psychological movie.” He grinned like someone who had planted a farting cushion on your chair.
“The only time when ´e didond scream was when ´e ´ad ´iz appul”, remarked Agnes. “When ´e standz on all theze bodies. I think ´e mizzez hiz appul the rezd ov the time. Wah, I wand an abble!” she shouted. “Give me anabble!”
“Well, that does make sense when you think about it, ya”, I agreed. “That´s quite like in Star Wars.”
“Weeell, see. Chewbacca, the wookie, the tall hairy guy with communication problems, now, he clearly wants to have a leak throughout all three movies. That´s why he´s constantly screaming in agony.” I gave my best shot at producing a wookie roar. “Really, or have you seen Chewy have a pee ever? Probably not. He´s such a tense character. It´s a subtle trick, really, but all storyline is based on this. I´m sure. And then, you know, finally, in Episode Six, when they´re on Endor, and they hit this bunker, which looks an awful lot like a public toilet to me, he´s already quite excited because he might finally find urinal satisfaction and then these fucking stormtroopers show up and play party poopers and once again hold him back. So, the poor Wookie needs to wait even longer, and, quite understandably, he´s pissed, yeah, pissed, of course. And then eventually, well, for me the climax of all series, during the final battle, this walking Dixxie toilet is marching through the jungle, and Chewy and his little Ewok friends swing themselves on top, and even though the bloody Imperial soldier tells them the loo is occupied, Chewy is in such a terrible need that he just throws the asshole out, and then – I really mean it – he´s as happy in this thing as never before, never! That´s the culmination of all Star Wars Story.”
“You thoughd aboud thad a lot, no?”
I grinned. “Chewie was always my favourite.”