Friday, June 14, 2013

with friends like these ...

... you really, really, really don't need enemies.

How about a neo-Nazi film critic who loves the Jackson Lord of the Rings movies? The Southern Poverty Law Center, always monitoring extremist hate groups, found him.

"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.'"
How shall we deconstruct this?

1. You can't control nutty interpretations of your work. Charles Manson thought the Beatles' White Album was a call for race war. Apparently this guy thinks battles with imaginary orcs are too.

1a. Can you really take seriously someone who gives out the "Goebbels Award"? Either it's a put-on, or it ought to be.

2. But, unfortunately, this kind of reaction isn't unique, or limited to the movies. In some parts of Europe, a liking for Tolkien is generally taken as a sign of affiliation with extreme-right, even neo-fascist, politics.

3. For those reasons, I don't blame Jackson for engendering this, even though I think the movies' differences from the book facilitated this misreading.

4. For instance, if our critic had 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 those bad guys are the tools of a megalomaniac 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 arms alone cannot win this war, and that, though the dark guys are evil, evil is emphatically not about being dark.

5a. In one of the other movies, for instance, 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.

5b. 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. I had also forgotten that, in the movie, Aragorn chops his head off. What??)

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, who spoiled legitimate ethnic patriotic pride for Germanic peoples everywhere.

No comments:

Post a Comment