Greeks Say No To Greek Love: "Life Ran Very High In Those Days!" Sez Stone. But What Will the Saracens Say?

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Gary Gunnels has the scoop that a bunch of lawyers in Greece are threatening to sue Warner Bros. over the suggestion, in Oliver Stone's Alexander, that the man who put the "ace" in "Macedonia" was bisexual:

The lawyers have already sent an extrajudicial note to the studio and director demanding they include a reference in the title credits saying his movie is a fictional tale and not based on official documents of the life of the Macedonian ruler.

"We are not saying that we are against gays but we are saying that the production company should make it clear to the audience that this film is pure fiction and not a true depiction of the life of Alexander," Yannis Varnakos, who spearheads the campaign by 25 lawyers, told Reuters on Friday.

Stone was quoted on the MSNBC.com Web Site as telling the upcoming edition of Playboy magazine that the film's depiction of Alexander could offend some.

"We go into his bisexuality. It may offend some people, but sexuality in those days was a different thing," he was quoted as saying.

Grain of salt alert: Reuters calls the film "widely anticipated," casting doubt on the accuracy of the rest of the report.

Making a movie's hard work, and I wish only good fortune on anybody who completes one, but this may be just the beginning of Stone's troubles: For reasons I've never understood, Alexander, as true a figure of Al Jahiliah as you can imagine, is an important figure in Islamic lore. I don't imagine this switch-hitting business will go over huge in the House of Peace.

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  1. I don’t get it. A couple of weeks ago the History Channel ran a 3-hour special on Alexander and they were totally open about his lifelong male companion. I don’t think it’s exactly a secret.

    In fact here’s a link to Alexander’s very own page on the Gay Heroes website …

    http://www.gayheroes.com/alex.htm

  2. Alexander the great’s homosexuality is as mainstream a settled and open fact of history as the fact that Julius Caesar was a politician, and there was no special difference about sexuality then; Alexander was reviled for it by homophobic people of the day as might happen today.

    Why would Muslims care? I think he has a folkloric value as a sort of proto-Anti-christ in Islamic tradtion.

  3. Gary’s back?

    I wonder if some other posters will ever return.

  4. Matthew-
    That’s not wholly true; Louis Crompton recounts a case where Macedonians applauded as Alexander embrace & kissed a young Persian consort who’d just proved victorious in several contests.

  5. That’s hilarious. Pederasty was all the rage in ancient Greece. But adult males who continued to seek out older, dominant males as sexual partners were regarded with utmost contempt–rather like the “punks” in our modern American prisons. There have always been well-sourced rumors surrounding Lexie’s predilections, which were supposed to be punkish. He did seem to take a number of older, rather butch male lovers, and apparently Stone’s movie alludes to this tendency (although I can’t say for sure, not having seen the movie yet). That’s probably what the Greeks are really objecting to: the portrayal of Lexie Boy as a swishy little ponce who overcompensated by conquering the known world. Maybe if he had been shown giving it to pretty boys, the Greeks wouldn’t have objected so much.

    BTW, last week in The New Republic (11/15/04), classicist Peter Green wrote a very good article on Stone’s Alexander and its sources (“To Hellas and Back”).

  6. After the words ‘Oliver Stone’ appear on the screen, making it “clear to the audience that this film is pure fiction” is just redundant.

  7. The Greeks shouldn’t be too worried, my guess is that it’ll be such a commercial disaster that nobody sees it.

  8. Warren, Exactly.

    I cannot improve on your comment although that was my initial reason to jump over to “Post a comment”.

  9. What’s the favorite position on a Greek football team?

    CENTER!

  10. A butt is
    A butt is
    A butt.

  11. thoreau,

    Gary never went away.

    Anyway, this story just pissed me off. Especially the rank hypocrisy of these jackass Greek lawyers.

    WOF,

    What’s interesting to note is that Greek vases which protrary sex (and they are pretty common) generally only show face to face contact between males.

  12. I’d like to take a peek at their brief. Exactly what theory or law would they be suing under?

    I charge you with historical inaccuracy!!!

    Tim Cavanaugh,

    Interesting bit about Alexander’s role in Islam.

    From Wikipedia on Islamic prophets – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prophets_of_Islam:

    Dhul-Qarnayn is mentioned in the Qur’an, and often regarded as a prophet; the name means ‘one possessing two horns’. His identity is controversial; many medieval Arabs and modern historians identified him with Alexander the Great, who is depicted as having horns on ancient coins. However, there are many differences between the figure described in the Qur’an and the history of Alexander the Great. The fact that the latter was described as a homosexual also leads many to believe that he is not the individual spoken of in the Qur’an. Some have speculated that Dhul-Qarnayn is actually Cyrus the Great, or even linked him with Gilgamesh.

    Pages on Dhul-Qarnayn:

    http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Sources/BBhorned.html

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Dhul-Qarnayn+&btnG=Google+Search

  13. What’s the big deal?
    Ceaser was known as ‘the husband of every woman and the wife of every man’
    Seems like lots of military heroes swung that broadsword both ways, if you know what I mean and I think you do…
    Check out Arthur C. Clarke’s tongue in cheek article …in “Greetings, Carbon Based Bipeds”.. I think

  14. I don’t know Alex the Great’s place in Islamic folklore, but I do remember reading, many years ago, in National Geographic, that he is so revered in Afghanistan that “Iskander” is one of the very common names there. (I think it was in Afghanistan … definitely a Muslim country.)

  15. And let’s not forget those pederasty-loving Pashtuns, Stevo.

  16. I don’t know how popular a big gay festival will be with the American public. Audiences may go to the theater expecting one type of swordfight, and get another.

    But I don’t know what the Greeks are all worked up about. After all “to do it Greek” means “butt sex”

    Also, Stevo, if you have ever been to Afghanistan, you would not be surprised that their hero would be a cornholer of dudes, whether they be children or adults. They take Islam’s ban on homosexuality, like we take Christianity’s ban on pre-marital sex.

  17. I wouldn’t be suprised at all that Alexander was bi.
    When the Greeks had Troy underseige for years do you think they went celibate for 5+ years?

  18. Stevo writes: “I don’t know Alex the Great’s place in Islamic folklore, but I do remember reading, many years ago, in National Geographic, that he is so revered in Afghanistan that “Iskander” is one of the very common names there. (I think it was in Afghanistan … definitely a Muslim country.)”

    I believe Alexander founded a city or two by that name in Afghanistan or thereabouts, on his way to India.

    If the name spread beyond that, it could be second-hand – things named after the place, not the original person. Or people named after the place. And then other people named after them in turn.

  19. i believe caesar was also referred to – affectionately, mind you – as “that bald old whoremonger” by his troops…

    two bits of sexual trivia about philip of macedon, alex’s pappy (and interesting to see if these make it into the movie) :
    – his assassin was a former male lover, upset over having been dumped (and probably egged on by olympias, alexander’s mother, who had also been dumped, though since alex became king, inquiries on those lines were quickly dropped – and the assassin was quickly chopped)
    – the only monument remaining at the site of charonea (and a real pain to find it is too), his great victory over the coalition of thebes and athens, is a stone lion dedicated to the famous ‘sacred band’, the crack infantry unit of thebes, formed of 150 pairs of male lovers and famous throughout the greek world for its success in battle

    (by the way, olympias was a crazy chick herself – perhaps her strangest habit was sleeping with snakes in the bed… maybe one reason philip moved on to a younger, less crazy queen)

    but if we’re looking for the gayest soldier-ruler of all time, i have to nominate hadrian, who proclaimed his lover antinous a god after the unfortunate fellow drowned in the nile… which seems a bit extravagant, you know?

  20. I believe Alexander founded a city or two by that name in Afghanistan or thereabouts, on his way to India.

    Kandahar.

  21. I don’t know what the Greeks are all worked up about. After all “to do it Greek” means “butt sex”

    Maybe that is what they’re worked up about!

  22. I see the tidbit of Dhul-Qarnayn has already been brought up, so won’t mention it except to confirm that, yes, Alexander is seen by some Muslims as a prophet.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean that they did not know of his sexual habits when this myth got started. I’ve spent some time studying early Islamic literature and I was shocked at the blatent sexual themes. Although homosexuality was frowned upon, it was not taboo, and religious leaders often used [ambiguous] sexual imagery to talk to people about God. Wierd stuff.

    The homosexual culture was especially strong among the High Culture, that is, poets, kings, magistrates, and even Shaikhs (sort of like priests).

    Nowadays, I don’t know, but I reckon the Mullahs are a bit more strict.

  23. “Nowadays, I don’t know, but I reckon the Mullahs are a bit more strict.”

    In public, perhaps, but not always in private. For example, many Iranians consider the existence of homosexual activity wihin religious seminaries to be an open secret. Also, while Arafat wasn’t a cleric, the rumors about his homosexuality are pretty old. I’ve read that when news emerged that his wife was pregnant, a running joke for a while was that Hamas claimed responsibility.

  24. Why didn’t the Greek boy want to leave home?

  25. Not to quibble, but wouldn’t the title be better as “what would the Persians say?”, “Saracen” being more of a crusader-era term, and Persia being one of the real conquests of Alexander – not to mention a reference to modern-day Iran, one of the places likely to raise hell over the movie… Damn, that was pedantic!

  26. Jason-

    Gary never went away?

    Once upon a time I used to speculate about the identities of various posters and whether certain posters might in fact be old posters with new aliases. When I did that, Gary Gunnels became quite upset with me. As a courtesy, I’ve refrained from speculating on the identities of any posters who may have appeared since then.

  27. That’s a scoop? I read that on Lucianne.com Thursday night, I think.

  28. Are we going to have to put up with another episode of Gunnels/Bart in search of self? I already have enough trouble trying to keep Ruthless to his meds schedule.

  29. It’s bad when someone thinks a film should be banned because it depicts an historical figure as bisexual, but at least Alexander really was bisexual. It’s much worse when someone throws dirt at a film for depicting gay characters that aren’t really gay.

    …That’s what the American Family Council is doing with–get this—“Shark Tale”.

    The Headline Reads:

    Something’s Swishy About Shark Tale
    Cartoon Primes Kids with a Pro-Homosexual Message

    http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/11/afa/172004c.asp

  30. I think that the American Family Council has their GAYDAR set on 11.

  31. Hmmm.

    “Troy” was way too gay for me so I’m definitely avoiding this movie. No offense but I’m not willing to go out of my way to spend $30 to watch guys getting it on.

  32. And don’t even think about Henry V or the Tokugawa samurai.

    Ya know, them gay guys seem to be a real bunch of troublemakers…

  33. It’s much worse when someone throws dirt at a film for depicting gay characters that aren’t really gay.

    …That’s what the American Family Council is doing with–get this—“Shark Tale”.

    My wife and I took my kids to this movie, and it was most certainly a thinly disguised allegory about homosexuality. My wife and I were laughing about it afterwards. The “vegetarian shark” who isn’t accepted for who he is, despite familial attempts to change him, until they learn to accept him for who he is? Please.

  34. I have to confess to not having seen the movie. Having heard that there are a number of groups who have been after Disney ever since they started giving benefits to the same sex partners of their employees, I assumed that the guy from the American Family Council was lookin’ for something that wasn’t there, like the teletubbie thing.

    …You’re not going to tell me the teletubbie thing was legit, are you?

    Obviously I shouldn’t have criticized their interpetation without seeing the film, but it still sounds like it’s something you have to read into; I mean, the plot isn’t Heather Has Two Mommmies.

  35. Lucky there were no Jewish sharks in the movie.

    Or lawyer sharks.

    But that would have been redundant.

    Har.

  36. “What happens when Hollywood applies the same axiom to teaching young people — even children — to accept homosexuality?”

    Oh my god! A whole generation may grow up without the heterosexist attitudes that have pervaded our society for ages and learn to accept other people’s choices! The horror!

  37. “Why didn’t the Greek boy want to leave home?” (Sam)

    Because he couldn’t leave his brother’s behind.

    “Maybe if he had been shown giving it to pretty boys, the Greeks wouldn’t have objected so much.”

    Actually, I think pretty boy Jared Leto is cast as Alexander’s boy toy. Personally I would have preferred seeing the bald sweaty carpet-humping dude from Reason’s blog ads mentoring young Alex on how to master his own body weight. But that’s just me. Chacun a son gout.

  38. How about this: we accept your choice to sleep with whomever you choose, and you accept our choice not to fund your resultant health care expenses.

    Fair?

  39. “How about this: we accept your choice to sleep with whomever you choose, and you accept our choice not to fund your resultant health care expenses.”

    Who’s asking anyone to fund their “resultant health care expenses”?

    There’s some really tolerant folks on here.

  40. I’m not gay, and I don’t pretend to understand gay rights as well as people who are, but I’d say you’re way off the mark Jonathan.

    People have a right to sleep with whomever they choose, whether you accept that or not doesn’t matter.

    In regards to the other side of your question, I don’t have a choice as to whether or not to fund other people’s health care expenses; but if the government is going to make me pay for other people’s health care, I’d like to know that, at least, they aren’t using money to discriminate.

    Gay people have to pay for straight people’s expenses when they have children; why shouldn’t straight people have to pay for gay people when they’re sick.

    …last but not least, your question seems to be partially predicated on the belief that gay people are subject to diseases that straight people aren’t. I’ve chosen to ignore this suggestion, woefully mistaken, because it’s so vague. Care to elaborate?

  41. re: Jason Bourne: Greek vases portraying face-to-face male-male sex.

    According to Joan Roughgarden’s book “Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People”, homosexual interactions in the Greek world were common, and not performed as we understand homosexuality today. Allegedly, the male-male interactions were in fact face-to-face as depicted on the vases to which you refer, and there was no anal penetration.

    Roughgarden is a well-known and well-respected theorist of evolutionary biology. Despite some criticism from some quarters for being too close to the subject matter, the parts of the book I have read are well-written and interesting.

  42. “…last but not least, your question seems to be partially predicated on the belief that gay people are subject to diseases that straight people aren’t.”

    I don’t know if he was saying that, but it seemed like he was saying that gays are more likely to get diseases, period. Either way, he seems like a hater

  43. biologist,

    Thanks for the citation; sounds interesting. I’ll order it today.

    andy, Ken, etc.,

    You find jackasses everywhere.

  44. I would imagine the movie to be homophobic in this aspect if true — it has a gay hero, who is Alexander the Great.

    It is homophobic because…. Alexander the Great sucked! (I dont mean that literally though it might be probable.)

    This guy led to mass state advancement, violence, and harassment (without provocation) throughout the known world and set up foreign class dominated states to last for generations. He was an uberthug. His homosexuality is not relevant to that thugosity but if there were anything homophobic in the movie it would be emphasizing the homosexuality of one of history’s greatest criminals.

  45. What are you talking about Mathew? Everybody in the history classroom loves an uberthug. Everybody in the movie loves an uberthug.

    I don’t know if the audiences generally like to watch male gay sex though. My guess would be ‘no’. Not that there is anything wrong with not wanting to watch it, nor doing it.

  46. How do you separate the men from the boys in Greece?

  47. You can’t, Mr Nice Guy. Believe me, I’ve tried.

    Yes, Alex was in reality a psychopathic megalomaniacal thug. But so are most of the Great Leaders in history. Never stopped ’em from being adulated and imitated. And Alex as a gay icon? Reminds me of that scene in The Sopranos where the wimpy nerdy Jewish psychiatrist was gushing about those badass Jewish gangsters of yesteryear (“Those were some tough Jews, I tell ya!”).

  48. to Mr. Nice Guy:

    The same way they separate you from your mum maybe?

  49. I believe Alexander encouraged relations between his men to strengthen their bond with each other. Have you ever seen armour of the time? Covered front and exposed rear.

  50. “Covered front and exposed rear.”

    Doing the math on that one, still someone needs to take their armor off. Unless the armor is designed like that for the event of fleeing from an enemy with a different type of armor.

    I am thinking someone could make a movie about a bunch of Amazons with that kind of armor, designed for that reason. That would make a cool porn flick.

  51. “Allegedly, the male-male interactions were in fact face-to-face as depicted on the vases to which you refer, and there was no anal penetration.”
    If you’ve ever seen any vases which depict the relationship between Zeus and his mortal boy-toy, Ganymede, you will have seen a somewhat explicit contradiction to there having been “no anal penetration” in male-male Greek relationships…

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