Thursday, July 07, 2005

Movie Review a la Howard Cosell: Troy

Seventeen minutes into Troy, and I'm already highly annoyed.

It's all about the love of one man for one woman, is it? That is why a war was fought?

No. Not to belittle the love between a man and a woman, but wars are opportunities. Wars are chances on a roulette wheel, and if you win, you get power and territory and a good life for your relatives. And, if you win, the people who helped you fight the war have stronger ties to you, because they profit; so they owe you. And you owe them.

That is how dynasties are created. A "dynasty", after all, is just a fancy name for a gang. A gang that won.

Around 1,300 BC, when something like the Trojan War may have been fought, a global population explosion dictated that gangs of marauding men were jockeying for position in the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. We're talking about groups of 500 or 1000 men whose career options in life are: be a rich noble, be a soldier fighting for rich nobles, or be a slave. Merchants were few, and they were never sure of how their day was going to go, because they lived at the pleasure of those with power, and they were effectively slaves themselves. If they displeased those in power, there was no court of appeal, no ombudsman, no binding arbitration. You have made Biff mad, so Biff has to make an example of you.

The idea that old fat men with English accents sat around pompously bellowing in Received Pronunciation about "my best man will fight your best man, and whoever wins will turn his army around and walk away" is bogus. Armies don't turn and walk away in 1,300 BC. (They really don't now, either.) They need their paycheck, and in 1,300 BC, their paycheck consists of whatever they can scam or beat out of the people through whose land they shuffle, keeping their mental eyes on the potential prize to be gained.

People who go to Medieval Times to revel in the atmosphere, pounding their flagons on the table and eating large legs of turkey or whatever, usually have no clue of how bad it actually was for most people in the world between the dawn of agriculture/slavery (they are the same) and the latter half of the twentieth century. That's twelve thousand years of hell and slavery, folks.

So the pretty girl may even have actually existed. But it wasn't her face that launched a thousand ships: it was the need for more slaves and land in an ever-shrinking economy, in which all the good places to farm or to control nautical trade were already taken.

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