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21637Re: Are Hobbits white?

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  • lynnmaudlin
    Dec 7, 2010
      Having 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 mythsoc@yahoogroups.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.
      >
      > DB
      >
      > -----Original Message-----
      > >From: "Darrell A. Martin" <darrellm@...>
      > >Sent: Dec 7, 2010 3:39 PM
      > >To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      > >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?
      > >
      > >Hi:
      > >
      > >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
      > >Brittany).
      > >
      > >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.
      > >
      > >Darrell
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >------------------------------------
      > >
      > >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
      > >
      > >
      > >
      >
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