21637Re: Are Hobbits white?
- Dec 7, 2010Having already been called racist for pointing out the Tolkien was a man of his time (rather than racist & sexist), I suffer the once-burned-twice-shy reaction. BUT, when it comes to the casting of the films, I think it's ridiculous for Jackson et.al. to make an authenticity defense when they clearly have been content to ride roughshod over all sorts of other Tolkien terrain.
-- Lynn --
--- In email@example.com, David Bratman <dbratman@...> wrote:
> My point was, "This is a thought-provoking article." If you were looking for a definitive opinion on this point from me, you may have to wait a while. The question worth raising is, even if authors make assumptions about their creatures' race - and Tolkien's are not entirely clear, as I pointed out - are movie adapters obliged to reproduce them? Certainly, as Darrell points out, there is plenty else in Tolkien's books that Jackson did not feel obliged to reproduce.
> The relevance of UKL and GRRM is that I wished to discuss the depiction of fantasy creatures in general, and not just Tolkien's hobbits. I would have thought that was obvious, especially when I wrote "an author's assumptions about the skin color of his fantasy creatures" and not "Tolkien's assumptions about the skin color of his hobbits." I think that compare-and-contrast parallels with other authors might be informative in discussing this question regarding Tolkien, and that's why I wished to discuss them.
> I said nothing about _Tolkien_ being white. I wrote, "Tolkien was English" in contrast to GRRM being American; I would have thought it obvious that this is a reference not to his skin color but to his nationality, since that's what I wrote, and the concomitant default assumptions he might have. If an Englishman of the past might be excused for racial assumptions, it's tougher for an American (of a more multicultural society, at least in the past) of today (a more multicultural time) to take the same excuse, yet GRRM ... Well, it's an interesting question.
> -----Original Message-----
> >From: "Darrell A. Martin" <darrellm@...>
> >Sent: Dec 7, 2010 3:39 PM
> >To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> >Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Are Hobbits white?
> >On 12/7/2010 3:29 PM, David Bratman wrote:
> >> Here's an article raising an interesting question. A woman of
> >> Pakistani descent applied in a casting session for extras in the new
> >> Hobbit film, and was told, um, uh, that hobbits didn't have her skin
> >> color.
> >> <http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/dec/05/hobbit-race-row>
> >> The author of the article is utterly confused about the relationship
> >> between the Harfoots and the Fallohides, but it's otherwise an
> >> interesting point. It's one thing if you're making a film set in a
> >> historical time and place where the people were all of one race, but
> >> what kind of authority does an author's assumptions about the skin
> >> color of his fantasy creatures have?
> >> And what if the creatures aren't white? Tolkien says that Harfoots
> >> "were browner of skin" than other hobbits. How brown? English
> >> Caucasian working-out-in-the-sun-all-day brown, or maybe Pakistani
> >> brown? What of Le Guin's Ged, whom the author envisaged as
> >> resembling a Native American, but whom illustrators and film-makers
> >> tend to reproduce as white?
> >> And if anyone is minded to say, well, Tolkien was English and of an
> >> earlier generation and such all, here's a link to a promo film about
> >> the HBO adaptation of the Game of Thrones blockbuster by George R.R.
> >> Martin, who's American and some 55 years younger than Tolkien, and
> >> whose ideas of plot and morality are very different, consciously so,
> >> from Tolkien's.<http://grrm.livejournal.com/187164.html> Look at
> >> the actors in the film. What color are they?
> >I think the question is not about whether Tolkien was white; it is not
> >even about whether the Hobbits are white. It is whether the Hobbits are
> >"English". For all sorts of reasons, it seems obvious that they are. Or
> >at the very least, "British" in the broader sense (e.g. the Tooks in
> >Tookland have some characteristics that tie in well with the Bretons in
> >There are all sorts of physical characteristics of the older (pre-20th
> >Century) strata of inhabitants of Great Britain that are connected with
> >locality and ethnic identification. For example, blondes are or were
> >relatively common in the Danelaw, and "dark" is a common epithet used
> >about some Welshmen (it was commonly used as descriptive of my own
> >Williams ancestors).
> >I am sure it is possible for an *adaptation* of J.R.R. Tolkien's work(s)
> >to abandon some of the important elements of Tolkien's own concepts, and
> >still be artistically attractive. Jackson's LoTR trilogy did that:
> >those ridiculous Orcs, his complete misunderstanding of Theoden,
> >Arwen-ex-machina, and that abominable relentlessly comedic-reliefish
> >Gimli; and I liked them anyway. Part of that is by comparison with
> >Bakshi's disastrous 1979 animated effort, and part of it is that they
> >are just good movies. I expect to apply the same standard to the Hobbit
> >film. But just as Galileo muttered under his breath, "Nevertheless it
> >moves," so you might hear me mutter, "But Hobbits are still English."
> >I don't know how Le Guin or George R.R. Martin (both of whose works I
> >enjoy) are relevant to this discussion. Even if they are, I am not
> >entirely sure what the David's point is -- I am open to being both
> >informed and/or convinced in that regard.
> >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
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