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21639Re: [mythsoc] Are Hobbits white?

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  • Troels Forchhammer
    Dec 8, 2010
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      I agree, it is an interesting question. 

      Ideally, I would like that the adapters (regardless of what medium the adaptation is meant for) should be guided only by their own artistic concerns. This means that I hold that they, ideally, should be unrestricted by such other concerns as finance (why be satisfied with making a lesser work even if it does earn a bit more money?), public opinion (I won't go as far as to say that art must provoke or offend, but it should certainly not shy back from doing so), or the author's assumptions (it is their adaptation of the original work, not the author's adaptation). 

      Regardless of what choices the adapters make, they are bound to alienate some people, and personally I would rather alienate others for doing what I believe is right rather than for trying to please some other group. When casting actors, cinematic (or stage) adapters should, in my opinion, use the extras that best fit their vision regardless of both ideas of political correctness and the author's assumptions. 

      Of course I am well aware that such an ideal is impossible for adaptations that require huge budgets, such as the Peter Jackson films (it is easier for a single painter who needs to find just one single person who'll buy the painting, or the fan illustrator who does it entirely for their own satisfaction), and so Jackson of course has to take into account how many people he can afford to alienate.  In the LotR films, Jackson chose to portray Aragorn with a stubble, which contradicts Tolkien's explicit statement (whereas Tolkien is less explicit concerning the skin-colour of the Hobbits), and I distinctly remember thinking that this was 'wrong' only to forget about it immediately afterwards (whereas other changes have proved harder to come to terms with). 

      In this particular case, the whole thing of course also plays right into the hands of those claiming that The Lord of the Rings itself is a racist work, which I suppose has helped it gain even more attention. 

      Troels Forchhammer

          Love while you've got
              love to give.
          Live while you've got
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       - Piet Hein, /Memento Vivere/

      On 8 December 2010 02:02, 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.


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