The Spartans and Endurance: Through a Chinese Lens
Sijia Ma (Michelle)
Following the launch of the action film “The 300 Hundred Spartans (300)” in December 2006 and up to as recently as November 2011, an image titled “I am a Spartan” was released on multiple social media platforms across China, including China Daily, WeChat, and the video-sharing platform Youku. The word “斯巴达”(Sparta) quickly became popular and was officially documented in the Xinhua Network Language Dictionary to describe prolonged endurance produced under emotional and physical oppression. Intrigued by this image, this article investigates the rise of “Sparta” in contemporary China represented through photographs and advertisements. The obsessions with the Hollywoodized Sparta brings forth the notion that China’s post-socialist society is continuously appropriating Spartan values, which not only reinforces historical Spartan and Chinese culture but is also a way of rejecting Western influence as well as reclaiming it.