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So I’ve been meaning to make this post for a while, but of course procrastination and whatnot. As some of you may know if you’ve been paying any attention at all to the things I blog about, I am a nerd. Now to what extent you hold my nerdiness is up to your powers of perception. My hope is that you have gleaned that I am in fact a huge giant mega-nerd. So large in my nerdom that if you decided to take me down you’d employ the use of a gundam, or on the cheap end a very large cockroach.

But I digress.

I saw The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug the week before Christmas (that’s U.S. Christmas, other Christmas dates are respected, but serve no function as a time marker if they don’t take place on the 25th of December for the purposes of this blog…..I’ve been on Tumblr too long. Everything is a socially sensitive subject over there….what was I talking about?).

Right. So I saw this latest installment of The Hobbit. I saw this with my friend from out of town and my coworker/friend. Neither of them ever read the book, so they both naturally liked it. And why shouldn’t they? The film was obviously made for them. It was crafted to appeal to a broader more general audience. Not to us book worm, Tolkien fanpersons right?

Did I mention that I wasn’t pleased? Yeah I wasn’t pleased….Well that’s not entirely true. Smaug was incredible. If I had to tell you the single greatest scene in the movie, it would be Smaug and Bilbo’s conversation. I mean that’s what I was looking forward to at least, and man did it deliver. I was similarly looking forward in the first movie to Bilbo and Gollum, and that one was pretty ho hum for me, but this scene was a complete success as far as book to film goes.

I guess my end feeling then wasn’t unhappy. It was conflicted. I like fanfiction. I think it’s a great addition to canon moments in films and books, and this was definitely like watching some really dope ass fanfiction come to life.  But that judgemental, snobbity, critical fangirl part of me kept screaming CANON, CANON, CANON. Seriously, I had physical reactions to some of the scenes and I think I frightened my friends.

Admittedly, some of it was for little things that shouldn’t have bothered me but did, like the scene in the forest. It’s supposed to be pitch dark in there in the middle of day, the Wargs are their own race in cahoots with goblins (they can talk they’re not just pets, the elves don’t save them from orcs or whatever they were fighting (I can’t remember), Bilbo keeps his goddamn ring on while talking to a 6000ft dragon! Anyway you get the idea, little shit.

Other things were bigger. Enormous. Glaring slaps in the face of my childhood and love for this book. For instance Beorn, the guy that can turn into a bear, was NEVER a slave to goblins, and he could fully control himself when in bear form. And you know that really awesome fight scene with everyone floating down the river between the dwarves, the elves, and the orcs? Never happened. Never happened for so, so many reasons that I can’t in good conscience begin to speak on because this blog would get obsessively long.

So let’s see what pissed me off the most. Hmm, let me think, oh yes! Tauriel.

Shh, shhh. Before you start barking about how she was a much needed female presence in an almost exclusively male story, just listen.

First of all as an idea, she represents the giant fuck you that Jackson was hell bent on issuing to the Hobbit. “Let’s make a three movie epic out of one book,” “Let’s resurrect a dead Orc and make him a principle antagonist,” “Let’s include so many nonexistent sub-stories just to enrage the nerds.” Until finally he just said “Fuck it, I’m making my own character with absolutely no lineage from the Tolkien universe.”

The Mary Sue had this to say about the inclusion of Tauriel in this latest installment of Middle Earth. To which I say, different strokes for different folks. There’s nothing wrong with liking Tauriel. Like I said I enjoy fanfiction and OC’s are fine by me. She’s an excellent fighter, she’s funny, thoughtful, and intelligent, none of that makes her real in the Tolkien universe no matter how awesome you think she is. And her presence would hurt a lot less if she wasn’t obviously meant as a love interest for Kili. If you read The Mary Sue’s article you’ll see where she mentions Evangeline Lily refusing to do the movie if there was a love triangle angle, and how she isn’t playing into it, yada yada.

I don’t see love triangle true, but it’s very obvious there is a love story between Kili and Tauriel, whether Lily supported it or not. And in the end it’s what’s onscreen that’s going to make the difference because there is no guarantee that the vast majority of people are going to read this article or whatever interview Lily did where she spoke about this. So what I got from Jackson was, this bestselling, epic, timeless adventure can be improved with romance. And I call bollocks, but that’s because I don’t need romance to make a story better. Again, maybe it’s just me.

There are an entire host of characters that appear in the movie who have no role/or just a passing mention in the Hobbit novel. Such as Radagast the Brown, Legolas, Galadriel, and Azog(the white orc) for a start. So why don’t they make me angry? The answer is they do, but they have the decidedly redeeming characteristic of being what boys and girls? *Interminably long Dora the Explorer pause* That’s right, canon. Those guys appear in the Tolkien universe somewhere at some time.

Is it sad that there are so few female leads in the Tolkien novels? Yes. It’s also sad that the only black characters are literally black and creatures of evil. Doesn’t mean that if I had the reigns on the whole Middle Earth project that I’d just start writing in a bunch of kick ass black female characters. As a fan sure, yeah, I’d write the shit out of that, but if I procured the rights to an author’s work (a bestselling author’s work) to adapt it to film I’m not just gonna insert a bunch of stuff that never happened. I would feel some sort of duty to do right by the original text to the best of my ability. I know that film makers have to factor in broader audience appeal over a niche set of fans.

This isn’t just about editing out some scenes or transferring dialogue from one character to another, or implying a relationship here and there that canonically isn’t evident. This is the super critical nerd part of me talking now, I see now why the Tolkien estate hates the Peter Jackson films. All of this work and essentially with his choices he says that the work of a lifetime that literally has encyclopedia’s of information, ancestries, maps,  and mythology; wasn’t good enough as is. It wasn’t socially inclusive, okay. Doesn’t stop it from being awesome, and awe inspiring, and a spectacular adventure.

To summarize:

Love/Hate the movie

Love/Hate Tauriel

Love/Hate Peter Jackson

Love Smaug (of course cause I like villains)

I’ll probably buy it on blu-ray when it comes out because the idea of not spending an entire day watching all three Hobbit films then going immediately into the LoTR trilogy, which I already own, is just too painful to bear.

Quel re Mellon,

J.R.H.

One thought on “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Canon, by Peter Jackson

  1. I agree with most of the points you raised here.
    Although I consider myself a “book worm, Tolkien fanperson” like you, I still liked the movies. Somehow, I don’t expect them to be 100% consistent with what Mr. Tolkien wrote, because to me the books and the movies are two totally different things. As far as I’m concerned, they can co-exist in the universe, without making me emtionally unstable. I try to view Peter Jackson’s interpretations as they are: interpretations, and beautiful ones at that. Also, we have to be frank here: The Lord of the Rings trilogy movies were pretty damn well-done! To sum it up: after seeing the movies that might leave me unhappy lore-wise, I just read the books yet again, and the world is back to normal :)

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