Saturday, October 10, 2020

NOW I’m Angry

     At this stage of my life there aren’t many things that can catapult me into a full-blown fury. I’ve seen enough, and endured enough, to have developed fairly thick calluses over my rage nerves. A good thing, too: with my blood pressure, the consequences could be maximally serious. So I mostly stay fairly calm, with occasional bouts of profanity – Dad was a Navy man, you know – to let off occasional accumulations of steam.

     But every now and then...

     I’m sure the “literati” would dismiss me as an unlettered Philistine for this, but in my opinion, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is the greatest literary achievement in the English language. It doesn’t just tell a memorable adventure story; it delineates human (and Elven, and Dwarven, and Hobbitish, and Entish) challenges and difficulties of many kinds and depicts various characters striving to surmount them. It embeds those challenges within a mythopoetic setting of a grandeur that no other novel – or novelist – has ever approached. And it does all this without descending to irrelevancies or artifices of style that would detract from the underlying tale of ultimate moral crisis.

     Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy could not capture all of that, even in nearly twelve hours of film. He tried his best, but as the late Joseph Sobran noted, he failed to capture Tolkien’s moral vision. Tolkien, a devout Catholic, structured The Lord of the Rings around the Scriptural tale of the Fall of Man and the Christian moral framework. His extraordinarily rich “backstory,” the essence of which he related in The Silmarillion, makes that abundantly clear. That’s tough stuff to get onto the silver screen.

     But now we have this:

     Amazon Prime’s “Lord of the Rings” series set to release in 2021 has been eagerly anticipated by devoted LOTR fans around the world. The $1 billion series will be set in the Second Age of Middle Earth, which spans 3441 years, before the events of the LOTR movies.

     Unfortunately, it looks like the creators of the series, which they claim is based on J.R.R Tolkien’s original work, may be trying to imitate “Game of Thrones”-type nudity and “rapey” storylines. This, no doubt, will delight the left, who have long detested Tolkien’s writing and distinctive Christian influence on popular culture.

     According to, the casting agency for the series put out an open call for actors who “must be comfortable with nudity.” In addition, Amazon Studios has hired an “intimacy coordinator,” and the writer and producer from “Game of Thrones,” Bryan Cogman, has officially been hired as a consulting producer.

     “Game of Thrones,” made by Amazon for Amazon, could not be more different from Tolkien’s beloved, classic books about Middle Earth, so of course, LOTR fans are worried.

     Please read the whole article. “Worried” doesn’t nearly cover it. I’m outraged by the mere possibility.

     Their moral clarity is one of the main reasons for the immense popularity of Tolkien’s works. They pit good against evil, freedom against enslavement, and heroes against villains, vacillators, compromisers, and the “let me think it over” types whose sole concern is to be on the winning side. Those who insist that “there’s no black or white, only shades of gray” can never be comfortable with such a premise.

     Please don’t confuse moral clarity with prudishness. No, there are no sex scenes in Tolkien’s stories, but that’s irrelevant to the larger issue. George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, best known by the title of its first volume, A Game of Thrones, is founded on a completely different moral perspective: one in which essentially everything goes and who was in the right is determined, after the dust has settled, by the victors. It’s not founded on a clash between good and evil, but on what the movers and shakers are willing to do to triumph.

     A simple touchstone – “Would you prefer to associate with Tolkien’s heroes or Martin’s?” – dramatizes the differences between the two conceptions, and the reason for the far greater (and more enduring) appeal of Tolkien’s oeuvre.

     Amazon’s project managers had better think hard and deeply before they make any irrevocable moves toward “Westerosizing” Middle Earth. That fall from grace could destroy them.



Outrage, certainly. But of a piece and consistent with the slowly-slowly efforts to corrupt everything and push on our culture - culture being upstream of politics.

Forgive me Francis, and you know I've been not overly self-referencing but I must this case:

And another example, just seen. On the kid cartoon "Gravity Falls" there's a scene where the two town cops, a fat black dude and a thin white dude, are sleeping at a speed trap. A car whizzes by. The white guy says "Did I just dream that?" and the black guy says "You make my life a dream." Gay, much? On a kid show?

It's relentless. It's pervasive. And they view this as their mission. It doesn't need to be commanded explicitly; they just see it as edgy and all.

Linda Fox said...

Well, keep in mind that this will likely end the way most "edgy" not-Christian efforts do - complete failure at the box office, highest honors by the Academy.

The Academy Awards have largely become the "Participation Trophy" of the film world. They are not given to successful movies, but those that echo the Left's thinking.

Margaret Ball said...

I'm remembering another writer's response to the question, "Are you angry about the way the movie makers ruined your novel?"

He said, "Oh, they didn't ruin it. It's right here on the bookshelf."

And I still have my hardcover LoTR trilogy. It's right here on the shelf. If I need a Tolkien fix, I'll reread that instead of polluting my eyeballs with some "edgy" junk.

Francis W. Porretto said...

As usual, Margaret, you're a sane voice in a rapidly "decompensating" world.

Michael Stone said...

Deliberate blasphemy, plain and simple.

Margaret's right, of course.
I started re-reading it just this week and we're now approaching the Falls of Rauros.

Wonderful stuff!


A personal anecdote.

My late mother was hard Left; she never called herself a socialist, but certainly leaned that way.

One day while visiting her, well after my father passed, she was listening to some NPR show about - I don't even remember what. I had to choke down my gorge listening to it and I expected her to sing its praises.

Surprisingly, she looked at me and asked "Who makes this drek"?

I said "They don't make it for you. They make it so they can get awards from people they like." It's not about the audience at large - it's about the audience of their fellow travelers so they can get claps as they make the rounds of the various cocktail soirees.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

NITZ, you are correct about the audience.

Relatedly, I have posted that what they did with A Wrinkle in Time is an actual example of cultural appropriation, not the nonsense that goes under that name now.

I take Tolkien seriously, as my conversion journey was Tolkien to Lewis to Christ. Tolkien was certainly aware of the concept of nudity and intimacy. They are referred to but not described. Blood and horror and decomposition and pain were also part of war, as he knew firsthand. He chose not to put them in his book in graphic detail (they are in the book quite prominently) for the same reason that he did not put urination, or defecation, or indigestion into the tale. These are incidental to the story and would take up unnecessary space and distraction. Lewis is a fair bit gorier, and that in a children's series, but even he does not dwell on the blood of battle.

The point is not to be more realistic, but to drag noble things low. As some men take special pleasure in despoiling virgins, especially religious ones, so the modern mind finds satisfaction inbringing all others to their own degraded level, in order to tell themselves that they are no worse than others and thus not really evil.

This is done with humor, and condescension , and sneers. There is seldom a truly intellectual justification put forth.

boron said...

Tolkien's true genius lies in teaching morality without ever once mentioning the Church or G-d; some of us find that word highly offputting outside of the Bible or a Book of Prayer.
Forty years down the road, when discussing this with my children who learned to read using LOTR, they feel that they learned far more far earlier about good vs. evil from Tolkien's series than they ever did during their religious lessons.


On Tolkien, just funny.

Clayton Barnett said...

One of the many things that post-war Japan got right is that original creators retain control of their work. Want to make a movie of a book? The author sets the bounds. An anime of a manga? The mangaka has veto power.

In the US? The usual suspects cut you a huge check and suddenly all the characters are diverse trannies and your story is satanic. The temptation to sell out is huge... by design.

I'd love to see my stories of Machine Civilization made for the screen; hell, I'm good with five figures... but the contract will give me Japanese-level control. So, of course, it'll never happen.