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Re: Tolkien and politics

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  • Margaret L. Carter
    Message 1 of 13 , Jun 13, 2013
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      <Mike:  At the end of Lord of the Rings, like I said, the ring is gone, the sun 
      is out, the hobbits are having a party and life is good.  The light has returned 
      and darkness has been vanquished.>

      How did Mike miss Frodo's departure to the Havens? Or the withdrawal of the elves from Middle Earth? Or the theme of a few people giving up the good things in life so that the majority can continue to enjoy them? Sigh.

      Margaret Carter
    • David Bratman
      Margaret C. cites one glaring problem with this account. I noticed others, not all of them attributable to speaking off the cuff, but I don t want to embark
      Message 2 of 13 , Jun 13, 2013
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        Margaret C. cites one glaring problem with this account. I noticed others,
        not all of them attributable to speaking off the cuff, but I don't want to
        embark on a detailed critique.

        Here's a "Tolkien and politics" item I just came upon that's far more
        disturbing than that: a neo-Nazi film critic who loves the Jackson LOTR:
        http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2013/summer/hating-on-hollywood
        Read this paragraph:

        "Despite his gripes, Lynch manages to find at least a few films worthy of
        praise. Chief among these is the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy, which Lynch -
        tipping his cap to Hitler's lieutenant - gives a 'Goebbels Award' for
        'contain[ing] not a shred of Jewish propaganda.' Rhapsodizing about his
        favorite of the trilogy, Lynch writes, 'I urge every White Nationalist to
        see 'The Two Towers' for a glimpse, in the here and now, of the white
        civilization that we have lost, and that we are working hard to create
        again.'"

        Several comments on this:
        1.You can't control nutty interpretations of your work. Charles Manson
        thought the Beatles' White Album was a call for race war.
        2. This kind of thing isn't unique, or limited to the movies. In some parts
        of Europe, a liking for Tolkien is generally taken as a sign of affilitation
        with extreme-right, even neo-fascist, politics.
        3: For those reasons, I don't blame Jackson for engendering this, even
        though I think the differences between the movies and the book facilitated
        this misreading.
        4: For instance, if he'd read the book as well as seen the movie of TT, he
        might have been able to tear his eyes away from the stirring spectacle of an
        army of handsome white guys defeating an army of ugly not-white guys and
        notice that the bad guys' commander and instigator was a pasty-white guy
        played by Christopher Lee.
        5. The book might also have clued him in that TT is not a stand-alone story
        about the Battle of the Hornburg, but part of a larger story with a broader
        meaning. Specifically, that though the dark guys are evil, evil is
        emphatically not about being dark.
        6. And, as noted by many commentators, that the Dwarves are rather Jewish.
        7. Nevertheless, the existence of this particular fan is liable to give
        ammunition to those who consider Tolkien rather racist.
        8. But, see point 1. And I think that this actually only highlights the
        difference between Tolkien's views and those of genuine toxic racism.
        9. And it's a good demonstration of just why Tolkien said he had "a burning
        private grudge" against Hitler.


        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Margaret L. Carter" <mlcvamp@...>
        To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Thursday, June 13, 2013 9:54 AM
        Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Tolkien and politics



        <Mike: At the end of Lord of the Rings, like I said, the ring is gone, the
        sun
        is out, the hobbits are having a party and life is good. The light has
        returned
        and darkness has been vanquished.>

        How did Mike miss Frodo's departure to the Havens? Or the withdrawal of the
        elves from Middle Earth? Or the theme of a few people giving up the good
        things in life so that the majority can continue to enjoy them? Sigh.

        Margaret Carter
      • Jeanette Rost
        ... Great comment! And Wormtongue was positively PASTY! In the book, some of the problem hobbits in the Scouring of the Shire were also lacking much in the
        Message 3 of 13 , Jun 13, 2013
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          On 6/13/2013 12:47 PM, David Bratman wrote:
          > 4: For instance, if he'd read the book as well as seen the movie of
          > TT, he
          > might have been able to tear his eyes away from the stirring spectacle
          > of an
          > army of handsome white guys defeating an army of ugly not-white guys and
          > notice that the bad guys' commander and instigator was a pasty-white guy
          > played by Christopher Lee.

          Great comment! And Wormtongue was positively PASTY! In the book, some
          of the "problem hobbits" in the Scouring of the Shire were also lacking
          much in the way of melatonin.

          Jeanette
        • David Bratman
          Well, yeah. And, in one of the other movies, there was this Denethor guy, whose symbolic function in the story is to show how even the principal leaders of
          Message 4 of 13 , Jun 13, 2013
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            Well, yeah. And, in one of the other movies, there was this Denethor guy, whose symbolic function in the story is to show how even the principal leaders of the good guys can fall into error, a lesson that it would have been very useful for Herr Adolf H. to have known.

            Then there's the Mouth of Sauron, who is described in the book as a renegade Numenorean, and hence an ordinary if twisted white man. In the movie, however, his face is masked except for a mouth with orc-like teeth, and he speaks in one of those amplified Darth Vader voices.

            (You know, I had to get out the dvd to check this. I was delighted to realize that I had completely forgotten what the movie's depiction of the character was like.)


            -----Original Message-----
            >From: Jeanette Rost <jrr@...>
            >Sent: Jun 13, 2013 10:54 AM
            >To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
            >Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Tolkien and politics
            >
            >On 6/13/2013 12:47 PM, David Bratman wrote:
            >> 4: For instance, if he'd read the book as well as seen the movie of
            >> TT, he
            >> might have been able to tear his eyes away from the stirring spectacle
            >> of an
            >> army of handsome white guys defeating an army of ugly not-white guys and
            >> notice that the bad guys' commander and instigator was a pasty-white guy
            >> played by Christopher Lee.
            >
            >Great comment! And Wormtongue was positively PASTY! In the book, some
            >of the "problem hobbits" in the Scouring of the Shire were also lacking
            >much in the way of melatonin.
            >
            >Jeanette
          • Jeanette Rost
            And the Army of the Dead, although they finally redeemed themselves, had previously done great evil, and was undoubtedly made up of all Caucasians. I think I
            Message 5 of 13 , Jun 13, 2013
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              And the Army of the Dead, although they finally redeemed themselves, had previously done great evil, and was undoubtedly made up of all Caucasians. 

              I think I detect some of what I call "insistent ignorance."

              I didn't remember that the Mouth of Sauron was a renegade Numenorean. 

              Jeanette


              On 6/13/2013 1:06 PM, David Bratman wrote:
               

              Well, yeah. And, in one of the other movies, there was this Denethor guy, whose symbolic function in the story is to show how even the principal leaders of the good guys can fall into error, a lesson that it would have been very useful for Herr Adolf H. to have known.

              Then there's the Mouth of Sauron, who is described in the book as a renegade Numenorean, and hence an ordinary if twisted white man. In the movie, however, his face is masked except for a mouth with orc-like teeth, and he speaks in one of those amplified Darth Vader voices.

              (You know, I had to get out the dvd to check this. I was delighted to realize that I had completely forgotten what the movie's depiction of the character was like.)

              -----Original Message-----
              >From: Jeanette Rost <jrr@...>
              >Sent: Jun 13, 2013 10:54 AM
              >To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
              >Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Tolkien and politics
              >
              >On 6/13/2013 12:47 PM, David Bratman wrote:
              >> 4: For instance, if he'd read the book as well as seen the movie of
              >> TT, he
              >> might have been able to tear his eyes away from the stirring spectacle
              >> of an
              >> army of handsome white guys defeating an army of ugly not-white guys and
              >> notice that the bad guys' commander and instigator was a pasty-white guy
              >> played by Christopher Lee.
              >
              >Great comment! And Wormtongue was positively PASTY! In the book, some
              >of the "problem hobbits" in the Scouring of the Shire were also lacking
              >much in the way of melatonin.
              >
              >Jeanette


            • Tony Zbaraschuk
              ... For that matter, if you look closely, the closest thing to Aryans is the definitely culturally inferior Rohirrim (blond Germanic rider types), and the
              Message 6 of 13 , Jun 13, 2013
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                On Thu, Jun 13, 2013 at 02:25:05PM -0500, Jeanette Rost wrote:
                > And the Army of the Dead, although they finally redeemed themselves,
                > had previously done great evil, and was undoubtedly made up of all
                > Caucasians.

                For that matter, if you look closely, the closest thing to Aryans is
                the definitely culturally inferior Rohirrim (blond Germanic rider
                types), and the Numenoreans are maybe more Middle Eastern (dark haired,
                a language that works with triconsonantal roots a lot of the time,
                that sort of thing).

                And then there's the Kinstrife, where Gondor gets into a very
                destructive civil war over racial purity issues, and the racism
                is generally presented as a Bad Idea.

                > I think I detect some of what I call "insistent ignorance."

                Probably. It's worth remembering that Tolkien ends up producing a
                lot of diverse reactions...

                > I didn't remember that the Mouth of Sauron was a renegade Numenorean.

                Yup.


                Tony Z
                --
                Courage is a virtue. It does not follow that all
                courageous acts are in the service of virtuous ends.
              • David Bratman
                ... I ve seen discussions of the Kinstrife in which the blame is placed on Valacar for marrying outside of the pure blood, and not on his critics for getting
                Message 7 of 13 , Jun 13, 2013
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                  Tony Zbaraschuk <tonyz@...> wrote:

                  >And then there's the Kinstrife, where Gondor gets into a very
                  >destructive civil war over racial purity issues, and the racism
                  >is generally presented as a Bad Idea.

                  I've seen discussions of the Kinstrife in which the blame is placed on Valacar for marrying outside of the pure blood, and not on his critics for getting snitty about it. The writers seem to have missed the clear markers of the historians of Appendix A (and thus, presumably, Tolkien's own message) as to where the problem really lay.
                • ernestsdavis
                  ... Exactly. ... The politics as well as the racism is off-base. The hobbits, with their elected mayor, are certainly the closest thing in Middle-Earth to a
                  Message 8 of 13 , Jun 14, 2013
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                    --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "David Bratman" <dbratman@...> wrote:
                    >

                    > Here's a "Tolkien and politics" item I just came upon that's far more
                    > disturbing than that: a neo-Nazi film critic who loves the Jackson LOTR:

                    > 1.You can't control nutty interpretations of your work.
                    Exactly.

                    > 4: For instance, if he'd read the book as well as seen the movie of TT, he
                    > might have been able to tear his eyes away from the stirring spectacle of an
                    > army of handsome white guys defeating an army of ugly not-white guys and
                    > notice that the bad guys' commander and instigator was a pasty-white guy
                    > played by Christopher Lee.
                    > 5. The book might also have clued him in that TT is not a stand-alone story
                    > about the Battle of the Hornburg, but part of a larger story with a broader
                    > meaning. Specifically, that though the dark guys are evil, evil is
                    > emphatically not about being dark.

                    The politics as well as the racism is off-base. The hobbits, with their elected mayor, are certainly the closest thing in Middle-Earth to a liberal democracy. The Entmoot also seems to be carried out by vote or by consensus. The Council of Elrond is an ad-hoc international conference, of the kind these guys mostly detest,

                    On the other hand, the government that takes over the Shire under Lotho Sackville-Baggins and then under Sharkey is certainly a rather bad-tempered parody of left-wing/Socialist policies, probably specifically of the Labour party --- not my favorite part of the book.

                    But, in any case, I don't know to what extent the neo-Nazis are actually interested in Fascism as a form of government; maybe all they care about is the racism anyway.

                    > 6. And, as noted by many commentators, that the Dwarves are rather Jewish.

                    Including Tolkien himself.
                  • David Bratman
                    ... True, but just as the neo-Nazis can t tear themselves away from the fine spectacle of the Rohirrim slaughtering orcs to see that those orcs are the tools
                    Message 9 of 13 , Jun 14, 2013
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                      <davise@...> wrote:

                      > The politics as well as the racism is off-base. The hobbits, with their
                      > elected mayor, are certainly the
                      > closest thing in Middle-Earth to a liberal democracy. The Entmoot also
                      > seems to be carried out by
                      > vote or by consensus.

                      True, but just as the neo-Nazis can't tear themselves away from the fine
                      spectacle of the Rohirrim slaughtering orcs to see that those orcs are the
                      tools of a megalomaniac white guy, they probably can't tear their eyes away
                      from the political spectacle of the destined and rightful monarch taking the
                      crown.

                      > The Council of Elrond is an ad-hoc international conference, of the kind
                      > these
                      > guys mostly detest.

                      I think they would read the Council as Elrond and Gandalf telling everyone
                      what to do, and then those people do it. Don't bother to point out flaws in
                      that reading; we all know them; but I fancy that's the misreading you'd get.
                    • IcelofAngeln
                      ... I m not sure what Nazism has to do with monarchism, except in some folks vague sense that they re both right-wing ; the Gestapo had a special office to
                      Message 10 of 13 , Jun 15, 2013
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                        --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "David Bratman" <dbratman@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > <davise@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > > The politics as well as the racism is off-base. The hobbits, with their
                        > > elected mayor, are certainly the
                        > > closest thing in Middle-Earth to a liberal democracy. The Entmoot also
                        > > seems to be carried out by
                        > > vote or by consensus.
                        >
                        >the neo-Nazis... probably can't tear their eyes away
                        > from the political spectacle of the destined and rightful monarch taking the
                        > crown.
                        >

                        I'm not sure what Nazism has to do with monarchism, except in some folks' vague sense that they're both "right-wing"; the Gestapo had a special office to monitor and control what they termed "reactionaries," and expressing monarchist ideas within earshot of the wrong people could put you in the camps- where in fact almost all the surviving German royal families wound up, if they hadn't left for exile.
                      • David Bratman
                        You don t have to be so literal. Hitler saw himself as a destined and rightful leader; he d have no trouble identifying with a similarly destined monarch in a
                        Message 11 of 13 , Jun 15, 2013
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                          You don't have to be so literal. Hitler saw himself as a destined and rightful leader; he'd have no trouble identifying with a similarly destined monarch in a fictional story.

                          The Nazis also liked Wagner's Ring. What characters would they have identified with in _that_?


                          -----Original Message-----
                          >From: IcelofAngeln <solicitr@...>
                          >Sent: Jun 15, 2013 6:23 AM
                          >To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                          >Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Tolkien and politics
                          >--- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "David Bratman" <dbratman@...> wrote:
                          >>
                          >>the neo-Nazis... probably can't tear their eyes away
                          >> from the political spectacle of the destined and rightful monarch taking the
                          >> crown.
                          >
                          >I'm not sure what Nazism has to do with monarchism, except in some folks' vague sense that they're both "right-wing"; the Gestapo had a special office to monitor and control what they termed "reactionaries," and expressing monarchist ideas within earshot of the wrong people could put you in the camps- where in fact almost all the surviving German royal families wound up, if they hadn't left for exile.
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