What The Hobbit says about British society.

6 Jan

2AM Sunday 6 January 2013 Nunhead Heights.

I went with my oldest son, the 11-year-old Mini-Lew, to see The Hobbit at the Peckham Cineplex. I had never read any of Tolkien’s works, nor had I seen any movies based on his work.

When I was Mini-Lew’s age. some of the cooler kids in my hometown of Great Neck were reading Tolkien. I guess it was exotic to them, coming from England. This was many decades ago. I was still into collecting baseball cards and postage stamps and wasn’t part of that cool world. I didn’t know how to be part of that world.

My son, who is English, has read the book and loved the film. He is into that world. 

The essence of The Hobbit is this:

If you get into deep trouble you best have a wizard  following you around to come to your rescue. Otherwise, you’re screwed.

Why have the Dwarves fight or smart their way out of jams when the Wizard will blow up the mountain and crush their enemies? Unfortunately, having your own personal wizard is pretty much up to luck. And my kid, as far as I know, doesn’t have his own wizard.

In  The Wizard of Oz, the Oz Wizard provides no miracles and no salvation. He doesn’t kill Dorothy’s enemies or even gets her home. He only imparts self-belief. One can accomplish what one truly wants, he tells the four of them. Dorothy made her way to the Emerald City on her own and found her way back home on her own.

What is the Dwarves quest?

To recapture their historical home, the Lonely Mountain. It is a place of happiness and culture?  Is it a land of love of one’s fellow man? 

No. It is the bank where their ancestors had greedily hoarded gold and jewels. ‘Now that’s a motive that we can get behind!’ I write sarcastically. ‘Not fighting an Evil Empire, just a lust for gold.’

But Dorothy of Kansas’s home is filled with her lovely family and friends. Decent people. In The Hobbit, the Dwarves are just greedy bastards who invade the Hobbit’s home and wreck it. Rotten people, these Dwarves, on a rotten quest. 

Why is Thorin the leader of the Dwarves? He inherited it. But is he worthy of being followed, as the Wizard says he is?

Thorin is no genius. He is too stupid to know that his kingdom’s neighbors were not his enemies. And then he had expected his neighbors to come to his aid even though it meant they would be destroyed by the rampaging Dragon. And without the Wizard, the Dwarves would have been eaten alive under the command of Thorin. 

Thorin, the King of the Dwarves, is derisively put down by one of his enemies for losing his kingdom. One of the worst thing you can do in Britain is lose your inheritance. To the Manor Born and the Manor must be given to your oldest child.  And there is nothing more laughable than an ex-King. Think of the pompous Kings of Yugoslavia, the foppish Duke of Windsor, or the now irrelevant Mitt Romney.

The motto of the Queen of England is ‘We have held onto more stuff longer than any other British family.’ The Queen of England is President Assad or Mohammar Gaddafi or Assad plus four hundred years.

I grew up believing that ‘A man who dies rich is disgraced’ as Andrew Carnegie said. Carnegie is the man my second child is named after. He gave his money away to build schools and theatres. The Queen hoards her money to give to her children. I am not going to die rich so I have no fear of being disgraced that way. 

The Hobbit is propaganda by the British ruling classes to keep British children accepting the rule of their ‘betters’ and to know their place. 

I hope most Brits don’t believe that rancid ideology. It is so un-American – or the America I believe in – that I almost screamed in the theatre. Not that it would have mattered. We were in Peckham and screaming in the theatre  there isn’t  unusual.  

When the lights came on in the theatre I breathed a sigh of relief. I hadn’t wasted my childhood on that Tolkien garbage.

Sadly, my Mini-Lew has grown up immersed in that pro-monarchy, pro-ruling-class ideology. The ‘know your-place-as-you-don’t-have-a-wizard’ rubbish.  

He loves the Queen. Ah well, I still love him.  

What do you think about this? Tell me. Leave a comment. 

@lewisschaffer – twitter feed 

Listen to Lewis Schaffer on the Radio Nunhead American Radio with Lewis Schaffer every Monday evening at 10:30PM on www.resonancefm.com and 104.4fm London. Or listen to the show’s podcasts at bit.ly/NunheadAmericanRadio 

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4 Responses to “What The Hobbit says about British society.”

  1. Jerry January 6, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    The Hobbit is fiction and set in a world which is not our own. You can enjoy the story, the fighting, the magic, the kingdoms, the monarchs and treasures without believing that you must live the same way.

    • Lewis Schaffer January 6, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

      why would one want to enter such a world? why would you want your children to enter such a world? There are other fantasy worlds which offer better rewards for entering them.

      • Jerry January 7, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

        I haven’t seen The Hobbit film yet, though I have read the book and see the LOTR films. Why would someone want to read Silence of the Lambs? Why would someone want to watch 2-girls-1-cup? Maybe escapism, maybe the for the pleasure of entering a rich imaginary world far removed from our own (referring of course to the video previously mentioned)…
        You can enjoy a work of fiction without agreeing with how the characters operate, or how the fictional world functions within its own rules.

  2. Sam Heard January 6, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    I couldn’t agree with what you’re saying more. I remember reading The Hobbit as a kid and not being able to get behind the dwaves as their only motivation is to line their pockets. I also find the lack of racial integration in Tolkein’s entire canon to be quite troublesome (the idea of dwarf/elf/goblin cooperating is unfathomable) – ironic that you saw it in an area as cosmopolitan as Peckham. It seems to be that Tolkein probably harbored a very outdated, slightly bigoted right-wing sentiment.

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Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comedian

SO IT GOES - John Fleming's blog

John Fleming’s blog: human interest, humour, humor, comedy blog featuring eccentricity, performance, movies and occasionally a few tears

Nunhead Nags

A blog about Nunhead regeneration

Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comic

Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comedian

SO IT GOES - John Fleming's blog

John Fleming’s blog: human interest, humour, humor, comedy blog featuring eccentricity, performance, movies and occasionally a few tears

Nunhead Nags

A blog about Nunhead regeneration

Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comic

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