Monday, 15 September 2008

My Pet Peeve

Look, the world's going to hell anyway. This is my blog, so I'm going to write about something that, while it's unimportant in the grand scheme of things, annoys the crap out of me.

Whenever someone who doesn't belong to a very select group of my friends start talking about The Lord of the Rings, I have to stick my fingers in my ears and go LA LA LA LA LA I'M NOT LISTENING.

Why? Because they will always, always say "I never finished the books" and then they'll joke about the length of Tolkien's descriptions.

Our current GM did the same thing recently! It's like being an evangelical Christian who's never read the Bible... OK, many evangelical Christians ain't so good with the readin', but you know what I mean.

It's a thousand pages. Not a thousand pages of doctoral research into nuclear physics, a thousand pages of swords and monsters and poems and stuff. Tasty? Yes, tasty tasty.

Now, it's true that the books have one obvious flaw, which is pretty much rectified in the film versions. Tolkien... didn't find interesting anything that the average person might find interesting. So, all the crucial, dramatic moments in The Lord of the Rings get a grudging sentence of description, while everything else gets a decent chunk.

It's rather like when you're reading a Victorian novel, and you suddenly find that the plot has been set aside while the author gives a phrenological description of the newest character.

But that's a comparably minor issue, yes? It's worth dealing with an author's foibles to read a story of that magnitude.

Apparently not. People suddenly become so viciously anti-intellectual, they could be mistaken in a poor light for John McCain. "It's too loooong" they moan. "There are too many words". "Everyone has too many names" - try reading the Children of Hurin, sunshine! Or even, gosh, some real mythology!

Unless you're dyslexic, illiterate, or blind, reading a book is the most leisurely of leisure activities in existence. You have to turn the pages. That is the extent of the effort you have to make. You have to make sure that your eyes are open, so that you can see the words. Have I covered everything here?

Now, all these people that just "couldn't" finish the books are neither illiterate nor blind, and the vast majority are not dyslexic. In fact, I know several badly dyslexic people who love the books, and read them, slowly, often.

So, can we modify the "Tolkien-wrote-long-books" jokes from people who never finished them? Can't they just say "I have the shortest attention span known to humanity! Yay me - what? I say, a pony!"

Of course, the films aren't without their flaws. Some lines (either written for the film or needlessly modified) that enrage a pedantic sod like me:

"No parent should have to bury their child"

Excuse me? Why are we suddenly anti-sexist? The Lord of the Rings is innately sexist! You'd have to not make the films at all! Dispense with this horrible American quasi-anachronism at once, and try "father" and "his" so it doesn't sound shit.

"It makes the trees grow tall... and come alive... and even move."

Trees are already tall and alive. That's why they're TREES, and not, say, small flat rocks. And yes, they move. Being ALIVE - oh, we've been through that already. I believe the line ought to be "and walk about" - something that trees do not ordinarily do. I wouldn't employ a screenwriter unfamiliar with the concept of a tree.

There are dozens more, but I suppose they're minor quibbles *twitch*.

Finally, two people have made their best attempts to destroy The Lord of the Rings for me.

Firstly, there is another pseudonymous Bob. Because Bob is very handsome, I allowed my baser instincts to take over, and I... listened when he mentioned those five words.

Bob thinks that The Lord of the Rings is all about Frodo and Samwise's latent homosexuality, which they are man enough to throw into the appropriately named Crack of Doom. While Sam becomes a "real man" who breeds millions of small hobbits, Frodo is still consumed with lust, writes some poetry then goes off in a boat with a load of gay elves. He thinks the effect of Tolkien's Catholicism on his work should not be underestimated.

And absolutely finally, there is whoever made this:

Is so catchy...


David K said...

What constitutes a Real Mythology? And How is Tolkien's Legendarium of Arda in any way not one one of them?

Lord of the Rings ~ Win, but the Silmarillion ~ Epic Win.

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

I received The Fellowship of the Ring on one Chrimble morning in my stocking. In the same stocking there was a Coca-Cola CD player and a copy of S Club 7's Sunshine album.

So, with Sunshine on loop, I battled [ha!] through Fellowship. I made it to the end, but I found it hard.

A hundred pages into Two Towers, I fell asleep with the book reading me.

That was about 7 years ago.

I might try again. From the top. I should read Grown Up books. After all, it's not like I have a ridiculously short attent-


Oliver A. FP said...

OK, perhaps an unfortunate choice of phrase.

Mythology created by a whole culture over a long time, passed on orally until somebody writes it down generations later?

Not... one bloke?

I was just thinking that reading the Kalevala or the Eddas in their original tongues might be a bit more challenging than the Lord of the Rings!

And also, Tolkien worked under some very modern paradigms, so it's conceptually easier too.

Guy said...

I feel really upset now. When I get stuck with a book I let it rest for a while and if it persists in my mind I'll come back to it. If it does not I question why I am reading it. I won't finish a book just for the snob value of having read a classic. Maybe I'm in a better place to read it now but life stuffs aren't always easy. If you thought I was mocking then I'm sorry but I don't believe I am entirely ignorant of the chap's writing style, surely it would be worse to come out without making any observations at all.

Jo said...

Sorry i may be one of these, although i am dyslexic, and would rather read about physics.

nixwilliams said...

Bob thinks that The Lord of the Rings is all about Frodo and Samwise's latent homosexuality

er, well . . . that's because it IS! jeez!