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Old 04-19-2005, 09:59 AM   #41
The Saucepan Man
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Actually Bb, I agree with most of what you say.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
For shame, SpM, even in jest, to employ the term under discussion in the definition. I would have thought better of a loyer, but then I guess that is your humour at work.
OK then. Humour is what people find amusing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
The problem with your suggestion that the only objective view is that determined by majority or mass appeal is that it grants this specious 'objectivity' to the tyranny of numbers. We accept the rule of the majority in democratic votes, but I don't think we assume it necessarily follows that we are often persuaded that the best party won.
Well I am not saying that, just because something is popular, people have to accept it. As I said, I never found Friends funny. But I accept that it must have some quality which eludes me in order for it to have become so popular. As for democracy, well I would rather have to sit through every single episode of Friends than endure another four to five years of a government which I despise. But, alas, it looks like I shall have little choice on that particular issue. At least, as far as comedy is concerned, I have the option to switch off, not read etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
The other problem is that aesthetic appreciation is often a matter of education.
I agree with you to an extent. To a degree, I think that it is possible to judge something as being of greater quality if it is praised and respected by those who know what they are talking about. Hence I respect the views of professional critics when it comes to films (although I do not necessarily always agree with them). Similarly, I respect the fact that Dickens is generally acknowledged in academic fields to be one of the literary greats, even though I cannot abide the man’s work myself.

But how far do we take this? As you yourself said, Tolkien’s work was not generally regarded as having a great deal of literary worth by academics when it was first published. It was acceptance by a less lofty audience which first won him acclaim.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
Does this mean that at first Tolkien was a bad author, using bad humour? Or does it mean that in fact the general understanding of his art has changed.
I actually think that it makes him a better author. His work had broad appeal and, in many ways, that means a lot more than a few nods from the ivory towers. But had LotR fallen flat on its face when first published and achieved only minimal sales, then I would say yes, judged by the standards then prevailing, Tolkien would have been a bad author. But tastes and standards do change over time, so a work of art which is judged “bad” by one generation may be judged as “good” by another.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
Popularity is as fickle as teen heart throbs.
Indeed. So, while popularity is relevant in considering artistic merit, popularity combined with longevity is an even better indicator. Indeed, it is perhaps the closest that we can get to a truly objective assessment. LotR has fared well on this analysis (so far). It remains to be seen how Jackson’s films will fare.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
But to be told "You're in the wrong because more people agree with me", well, that amounts to plain ole bullying.
As you know, this is an argument that I have never sought to advance. I merely bring popularity up as a consideration, to be weighed along with other relevant considerations. I certainly do not like the films, or appreciate their humour, simply because they are popular. I like them because they appeal to me (despite being frequently told how wrong I am on this forum ).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
It seems to me that you take the subjectivity of humour and out of that argue that the most 'objective' approach is to accept that of the majority. I also argue that humour is subjective. Where I differ is that I think it is possible to consider some properties of art which create humour.
I do not disagree. Although, as I said, I think that the most objective approach is to look not simply at popularity at one point in time, but to look at the degree to which something retains its appeal over time. It is not that long ago that the racist and sexist humour that Eomer spoke of was broadly acceptable. In some places it still is. But we have moved on and, as a general proposition, it no longer is acceptable to derive humour from such matters. But other forms of comedy are timeless. Slapstick is one such. And bodily functions have always been a rich source of comedy, even though society’s taboos have, at times, dictated that such comedy was not for general consumption – not publicly at least. Crude and obvious comedy was not Tolkien’s style, but it quite clearly is something that Jackson feels able to use. And, as it is his film, he is within his right to include such humour within it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
Thus I think it is valuable to consider the context of Jackson's various bits of comedy. Is he asking us not to take Middle-earth seriously? Or take it just as a bit of a romp? Or is he just wanting to regale us with funny moments for the sheer fun of laughter? Did he simply want to make the most number of people laugh? Okay, I guess. But how does that sit with the other aspects of his movies?
I don’t think he is suggesting that we should not take Middle-earth seriously. But he is including light-hearted moments in order to break the tension and also to provide general amusement, and he is doing so in a manner with which he feels comfortable and which he feels will broadly appeal to his audience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
And since when is the filmaker's intention the final, absolute word?
Well, subject to the demands of the studio and his backers, he does have the final absolute word over what goes into the films. But he of course has no control over the subjective reaction of individual members of his audience. And he would no doubt accept that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
It is by the measure of the first SW that I consider Jackson's movies, because his movies bring to my mind so clearly Lucas' finest achievements.
I agree, although my conclusion clearly differs from yours. Having said that, while I do feel that the LotR trilogy will be judged Jackson’s greatest achievement, primarily because of the sheer scale of the project, I somehow doubt that it will represent his greatest directorial achievement. I believe that his best is still yet to come.
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Old 04-19-2005, 01:55 PM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bethberry
The other problem is that aesthetic appreciation is often a matter of education. Not in the sense that high brow art must be beat into us, but in the sense that very often it takes one courageous artistic vision to suggest an idea which others cannot yet grasp. Slowly, though, they come round. After all, Tolkien's work was first derided by fellow academics because it flew in the face of the ruling style of the moment, modernism.
I have to stick my 'oar' in here briefly - but bear with me, I agree, as you shall see. Do you really mean education? And in what way? Do you mean in terms of formal education or in terms of broader education which might include the simple thirst for knowledge whether leading to qualifications or not, maybe being undertaken in the local library independent of any formal system?

I'm often loathe to rely purely on the opinion of the academic for which way my tastes ought to go, simply as in my experience they can be as prejudiced as any 'lay' person. As you point out, the academics indeed derided Tolkien at first (and I have to say that in the UK they still do; an expert like Shippey is exceedingly hard to find in our Universities), so perhaps this itself shows that 'education' might not always be a pointer to what is 'worthy'.

Hmm, so as not to argue pointlessly, how about 'artistic vision' as the quality which the innovator must possess? The willingness and bravery to take a different point of view must be important if any academic is to stick their neck out and say that writers such as Tolkien are worthy. This would be where 'education' might come in, as such a person would need the authority and knowledge to back up their statements.

Now I've discussed my point back aorund in a circle to where it began, I think that yes, education does count, certainly in terms of giving added weight to the authority of what someone says. But in addition vision is also vital. just who was it who did this with Tolkien?

As a final thought - it is now more common for the authority figures in the world of knowledge, the academics, to take up popular culture and bestow it with deep meaning and significance, not always correctly. Are we about to see a backlash whereby academics will return to extolling the virtues of obscure and high-brow 16th century poets?
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Old 04-20-2005, 09:02 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by The Saucepan Man
Actually Bb, I agree with most of what you say.
Now, a statement like that is just about designed to silence one's opponents! I certainly won't risk falling out yet again with Sauce by nit-picking his points.

What I will do is elaborate on my comment about education, for that is the point which has drawn comments about academics and Dickens from Sauce and Lalwendë's disparaging observations about formal education. You know, for people who claim to think so highly of Tolkien, himself an academic and whose work is so closely informed by his academic loves and knowledge, you sure do take a jaundiced view of higher education! (In fact, I would go so far as to say that Tolkien's work would not exist had he not had an academic's love of philology and mythology. Or they certainly would have existed in a highly different form.)

Let's take a closer look at what I said:

Quote:
The other problem is that aesthetic appreciation is often a matter of education. Not in the sense that high brow art must be beat into us, but in the sense that very often it takes one courageous artistic vision to suggest an idea which others cannot yet grasp. Slowly, though, they come round. After all, Tolkien's work was first derided by fellow academics because it flew in the face of the ruling style of the moment, modernism. But times change and his work is now generally regarded and the subject of university courses. Does this mean that at first Tolkien was a bad author, using bad humour? Or does it mean that in fact the general understanding of his art has changed.

I could as well name other writers who at first were vastly popular and well regarded, who have now fallen into the dust bin of history, ready to be recycled some day perhaps by some intrepid interpreter. Popularity is as fickle as teen heart throbs.
I tried to suggest two things here, which probably were lost in my example of the reception history of Tolkien's work. So let me try again.

By 'education' (and in contrast to having 'highbrow art beaten into us'" I meant simply that we educate ourselves every time we read a new book or see a new movie (or reread, re-view). There is something about the experience of this activity which expands our appreciation of the work(s) in question. Stuff that at one time in our life we thought was great wears thin after we have read more. Stuff that we couldn't stomach sometimes becomes more palatable after we have read other works in the same vein. Our own tastes change, develope, elaborate (the possibility of becoming more stilted, grumpier, restricted exists also) over time. So that, people who have read widely in, say, fantasy, or watched many adventure flicks, tend to have a wider or more knowledgable frame of reference. They bring a greater experience of books or of movies to the table.

For instance, Sauce has argued on other threads that his first readings of Tolkien did not give him any sense of the religious elements in Tolkien's work, but that he has now come to understand, given the explanations of others, that such factors do exist 'in' the texts. (Relying on memory here, can't recall the thread). His posting here has educated him in aspects he did not initially see or appreciate. Does that invalidate his first readings? No! (In fact, it allows for some very interesting discussions about the particular nature of Tolkien's religious input.) But it does show how our appreciation of works change over time and through discussion. This is education. It might not be formal, but it is education.

I rather think that, as academics expanded their range of reading material to include popular works, they began to understand better what Tolkien was up to. The same thing can happen to someone who is well versed in popular culture and who then comes to more classic works: suddenly, they can see some very interesting links and similarities! Education in the sense of greater experience of art changes our appreciation, which isn't absolute or stable.

Now to my second point, which I will bold here from the quote above: very often it takes one courageous artistic vision to suggest an idea which others cannot yet grasp. Since artists--writers, musicians, film makers, painters--often have a deeper or greater or more intimate knowledge of art than we mortals, they are more educated or more experienced. Thus, they see farther--or at least, differently, and can lead us in the direction of their greater experience. This enlightenment does not invalidate anyone's experience, but it does expand the possibilities.

This is why I think Fea's example of Sinatra's cover of Simon and Garfunkel's song is so interesting. (I don't know Sinatra's.) Most often, covers of song are derided, mainly, I suspect, because of what Fea points out: things that run against our habitual way of hearing, seeing, understanding, often tend to run up against a sort of ingrained orthodoxy many of us have. It also seems to run into a human habit of making hierarchies. This is better than that. That sucks. This rocks. Fea is right to point out that differences are simply differences and can exist with equal validity. Nothing I have said contradicts this, and so, Fea, you can include me as well as Saucie in your "Right?"

At the same time, our habit for making comparisons cannot be completely ignored. For instance, why was it that so may people responded overwhelmingly with approval to Johnny Cash's cover of Hurt? I could be wrong, but my general sense is that people felt Cash created a better version, made better use of the lyrics and music, than the orignators of the song, Nine Inch Nails.

The point which interests me is not that one version is better than the other, but that people have this differing response. What was it in Cash's rendition which so appealed to people that they created a preferential treatment for it? This is what interests me in artistic appreciation. Cash had a vision of the song which he was able to impart to listeners, and his vision gave the song new meaning for many people.

Now, to get back to Eomer's point about giggles. For me, what is interesting is not that most people, SaucepanMan and critics and much of the movie going public enjoyed the humour and some of us did not. What interests me is why we have those different responses.

Some have attributed this difference to some fan's fanatical adherence to The Books. It could well be, but this is not the only possibility.

For me, it has to do with my expectation of how the humour fits into the movie. Yes, Sauce, I am aware that PJ tried to use humour to deflect from the tenseness of some of the action, a legitimate artistic move. Some people are happy just to get a laugh. But I want to see if that laugh really does more than just provide, well, a laugh. Does the humour work with the vision of LotR which Jackson presents in the movies?

I'm not sure. I think it was littlemanpoet who suggested that Jackson picked up on the adventure/quest aspects of Tolkien but not the moral/religious elements. Perhaps it is this difference which affects how we view the giggles.

For myself, I don't think Jackson, for whatever reason, was comfortable with certain aspects of Tolkien's work such as the religious or moral framework. Or maybe not even Tolkien's sense of high tragedy. Thus, the giggles are a way of deflating elements he didn't want to bring out. Comedy is often a rebellious mode, certainly more so than tragedy. Maybe the giggles are simply his way of achieving his vision of Tolkien, taking the adventure and leaving off other aspects. But for me, those other aspects are still lurking in the movies and the giggles, rather than providing some relief from the high drama, undermine it.

Now, those who don't care about this kind of artistic unity or who don't think this way about comedy will have a different reaction. That is all well and good. But neither response invalidates the other. An inclusive community should be able to recognise both.

Gosh, I've run on here! What has Eomer wrought!
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Old 04-20-2005, 10:25 AM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bethberry
By 'education' (and in contrast to having 'highbrow art beaten into us'" I meant simply that we educate ourselves every time we read a new book or see a new movie (or reread, re-view). There is something about the experience of this activity which expands our appreciation of the work(s) in question. Stuff that at one time in our life we thought was great wears thin after we have read more. Stuff that we couldn't stomach sometimes becomes more palatable after we have read other works in the same vein.
I agree with what you are saying! I suppose I was trying to prod a little, as the word 'education' can be a surprisingly emotive one. Suggesting that a person with 'education' may be better placed to appreciate the merits of something can be risky - it can suggest many things, including that the thoughts of those without a brace of qualifications may somehow be discounted. But I see that we agree that education is a wider experience.

Am I jaded with Higher Education though? I would say that I am. I have spent far too long being educated, and then working within the sector in its many shapes and forms, and I do not like much of what I have seen. My own experiences as a student and as a teacher have shown me that much of what is termed education is entirely uncreative and students are simply required to regurgitate accepted opinion in order to secure those all-important grades. Today Tolkien might struggle to find a tutor who would accept his individualistic interests. But of course, this may be different in other countries where the education sector is not so tied to concepts of market forces.

Now about the comedy in the films... Perhaps the different views on whether the comedy was good or bad might be ascribed to how we view the books? Obviously Peter Jackson viewed the books as tremendous adventure stories, and I know a fair few keen Tolkien fans who think the whole concept of the thrilling quest is the best thing about the books. Perhaps readers who appreciate this aspect more have less of a tendency to be precious! Yes, a strong word, but I know I do tend to be precious about the books. Perhaps someone else could come up with a better term. Serious is not the correct word, as fans of the adventure aspects are just as serious, but maybe they are more open to interpretation? I'm thinking aloud here, so I'm happy if anyone wants to argue against that!

But the idea that PJ was uncomfortable with some of the more serious aspects of the books is a good one. Humour is often used by people in situations where they are nervous, where they feel the mood must be lightened lest everyone turn into quivering jellies. Maybe PJ thought that the films would be too ponderous wihtout humour. There was certainly a perception amongst the public that Tolkien fans were a little nerdy before the films, so maybe he wished to diffuse that? Yet at the root of it all, I think that PJ simply used jokes that he found funny himself. And judging by his previous blood-soaked, flymo-wielding schlock horror oevre then this is exactly what he did.
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Old 04-24-2005, 04:42 AM   #45
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It's,of course,matter of personal taste,but think about this-ROTK alone lasts for more than three hours.If Jackson didn't put some of those comical lines in the movie,it would became boring.Also,Frodo's walking to Mount Doom would have been much more interesting if there was some humor or something in that,for me,most boring part of the movie.
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Old 04-24-2005, 04:55 AM   #46
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Originally Posted by Amrod the Hunter
Also,Frodo's walking to Mount Doom would have been much more interesting if there was some humor or something in that,for me,most boring part of the movie.
For me this was one of the most interesting and moving scenes in RotK. It highlighted the strength of Frodo and Sam's friendship, their perserverance and determination to achieve their goal, no matter what it costs them personally. For me, humour at this point would be utterly out of context and ruin the whole scene/s- it's meant to show a more serious side of the movie and thus would be ruined by any humour in that scene, as it is inappropriate for for that part of the movie. However, it's a personal feeling and people will obviously have differing opinions, which are all valid.
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Old 04-24-2005, 02:41 PM   #47
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But Amrod, no-one is saying that all humour should have been cut out. The point is that a lot of the humour was bad and inappropriate. If you are suggesting that Jackson should have inserted some silly 'cheap laugh' humour into that Frodo/Sam scene then I must utterly disagree with you.
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Old 04-25-2005, 06:13 AM   #48
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I'm sorry,I said it wrong.I didn't suggest cheap humor in that part of the movie.I only said that that part was realy too long,and it end,for me,it was boring..Even the books have humor in them,because you always need something to make the readers laugh.And Gimli was more interesting in the movie than he was in the books.Leogolas,on the other hand,was weard-in TTT and ROTK he acts like a skater.
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Old 04-25-2005, 09:44 AM   #49
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Gimli was more interesting in the movie? Methinks you will find hefty opposition to that sentiment.

I would posit that enhanced tomfoolery instead of grimness does not make the character more interesting.

I didn't think the Frodo/Sam part you mention needed humour either, but hey! whatever...

Not that I mean to pick on you Amrod but you are daring to cross into waters only previously challenged by The Saucepan Man, and look at the toll it's taken on him!
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Old 04-25-2005, 11:21 AM   #50
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I think that the point of this thread is to question the need for a humor (good or bad) injection every few minutes 'just' to make sure that the movies aren't too serious. In TTT and ROTK it seemed that PJ feared that the audience would rush out of the theater if more than five minutes elapsed without a Gimli giggle.

Please!
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Old 04-25-2005, 12:00 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by Eomer of the Rohirrim
... you are daring to cross into waters only previously challenged by The Saucepan Man, and look at the toll it's taken on him!
Well, that's a red rag to a saucepan-attired bull, if ever I saw one. So I am afraid that I shall have to press you further on a statement that you made a few posts above:


Quote:
The point is that a lot of the humour was bad and inappropriate.
What exactly do you mean by the terms "bad" and "inappropriate"? Which particular instances of humour are you referring to? Why exactly do you consider them to be "bad" and/or "inappropriate"? "Bad" and/or "inappropriate" to whom? Just you? Right-thinking people (whoever they may be) in general? Tolkien fans generally? Or the majority of audiences? Or do you consider that there is some objective standard by reference to which they can properly be judged "bad" and/or "inappropriate"?

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Old 04-25-2005, 01:14 PM   #52
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Originally Posted by The Saucepan Man
What exactly do you mean by the terms "bad" and "inappropriate"? Which particular instances of humour are you referring to? Why exactly do you consider them to be "bad" and/or "inappropriate"? "Bad" and/or "inappropriate" to whom? Just you? Right-thinking people (whoever they may be) in general? Tolkien fans generally? Or the majority of audiences? Or do you consider that there is some objective standard by reference to which they can properly be judged "bad" and/or "inappropriate"?
I would not want to undertake the task of (1) defining humor or (2) defining bad or inappropriate humor. One laughs at what one thinks is funny, I guess.

I would question why certain 'allegedly' humorous scenes were added to the EE DVDs and were not fit for general consumption. My assumption has always been that the EE DVDs were for us - the Tolkien lovers. If this is the case (again, totally an assumption) then one would think that the additional giggle scenes would be appealing to an audience of 'us.'

Is this the case? Not for me. The drinking scene with Gimli and Legolas was just sooo funny that "I forgot to laugh" (thanks Gilda Radner).

Gimli ducking and weaving with the spirits of the dead? While watching I could not wait until the scene ended.

Not sure if Gimli's bumping of Legolas's bow in the 'Pirates scene' is classifiable as a humorous scene.

I will say that I liked the 'shall I get you a box' line at Helm's Deep, but can't remember if this were in the theatrical version or not (just wanted to say something positive about PJ ).

Not sure if this were available, but a compulsary poll of forum movie viewers would provide some information regarding "Tolkien fans generally."
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Old 04-26-2005, 03:20 PM   #53
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Gimli's belching.

Completely inappropriate. It is a serious scene and just does not need humour (let alone 'humour')

Bad. It is completely unfunny.

People in general cannot find this funny or worthwhile (and if they do then they should not - I stand by that one Saucy! )

*Saucepan Man shakes his head in despair at that outlandish claim*

Tolkien fans are left scratching their heads at best and despairing at worst.

I myself am incredulous.
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Old 04-26-2005, 04:52 PM   #54
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His belch in Edoras? I don't think that was meant to be funny. More along the lines of Gimli's commentary on Theoden's military policy.




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Old 04-27-2005, 07:47 AM   #55
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I think it was definitely humour, included because they couldn't have a serious conversation about strategy for more than 40 seconds.

Gimli was barely paying attention to Theoden in that scene.
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Old 04-28-2005, 09:21 AM   #56
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Combined with Gimli's expression, I too took it as a comment on Theoden's tactical musings, done in a mildly amusing manner.

To me, it wasn't incongruous, because it was consistent with Jackson's characterisation of Gimli (although not Tolkien's), which was (as I have said) driven in part by the wish to make Gimli more memorable and in part to set up the contrast with Legolas.

Of course it was inappropriate, in the sense that one should not belch in front of a King, particularly when he is discussing affairs of state. But surely that's what makes it funny. I don't find belching funny per se. But "inappropriate" belching can be amusing, to me at least. A similar "gas-related" techinique was used in a recent episode of Doctor Who, and I found that hilarious (as did my kids).

To my mind, it also increases Gimli's appeal, particularly to the more rebellious members of the audience. The fact that he cares not for diplomatic decorum.

On what basis should people not find it funny, Eomer? Why am I wrong to find it amusing?
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Old 04-28-2005, 11:15 AM   #57
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Originally Posted by The Saucepan Man
Of course it was inappropriate, in the sense that one should not belch in front of a King, particularly when he is discussing affairs of state. But surely that's what makes it funny. I don't find belching funny per se. But "inappropriate" belching can be amusing, to me at least. A similar "gas-related" techinique was used in a recent episode of Doctor Who, and I found that hilarious (as did my kids).

To my mind, it also increases Gimli's appeal, particularly to the more rebellious members of the audience. The fact that he cares not for diplomatic decorum.
Why SpM, are you suggesting that there is no qualitative difference between Theoden and Blair, etc? Does Theoden deserve the disrespect that our modern politicians have earned?

I thought the Doctor Who stuff was designed to "decrease dramatic tension", part of the post modern irreverence which went with the Doctor's waving to the paparazzi and with earlier depictions of fearful aliens. Doctor Who makes fun of itself. Does Tolkien make fun of himself?
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Old 04-28-2005, 01:23 PM   #58
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Originally Posted by Bęthberry
Does Theoden deserve the disrespect that our modern politicians have earned?
In that scene, as I recall, the audience is supposed to disagree with Theoden's approach, which is at odds with that suggested by Aragorn. Jackson's Theoden is not a wholly sympathetic character at the outset, but earns the audience's approval through his deeds.

In any event, I would not read Gimli's belch as showing contempt for Theoden, but rather for his proposed strategy. And he does so in a humorous fashion and in a manner which is consistent with his (film) characterisation.


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Doctor Who makes fun of itself. Does Tolkien make fun of himself?
While I agree that Doctor Who does poke fun at itself, I did not see the gaseous nature of the aliens as being part of that. And even if it was, I doubt that many recent converts would see it as such. They would simply see it as an amusing, if rather crude, running gag.

Tolkien pokes fun at himself too, on occasion, in some of his Letters. Of course, he never pokes fun at his story, but then I do not believe that Jackson is poking fun at the story either. He is merely providing something mildly amusing, if crude. I have no problem with it.
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Old 04-28-2005, 02:44 PM   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpM
Of course it was inappropriate, in the sense that one should not belch in front of a King, particularly when he is discussing affairs of state. But surely that's what makes it funny. I don't find belching funny per se. But "inappropriate" belching can be amusing, to me at least. A similar "gas-related" techinique was used in a recent episode of Doctor Who, and I found that hilarious (as did my kids).
I found it inappropriate because it demeaned Gimli. He is a noble character who would show more respect. And before anyone says that he is different in the films, just think how awed he was in Galadriel's presence. Gimli was shown as hating Legolas at first, but he was never shown to disrespect him, so why would he do that to Theoden? I wouldn't have been surprised if PJ had shown Gimli whipping out a sheet of paper and playing the Middle Earth equivalent of buzzword bingo. Having him not show respect or listen to what was being said made him look like an oaf who just wanted to get stuck into chopping up Orcs.

Now if I was to belch in front of one of the Ministers then I have no doubt I'd find my P45 on my desk within the hour. It would indeed be inappropriate, but I bet nobody would be laughing at that inappropriateness! However, in a hypothetical example similar to that seen in Doctor Who (which I found hilarious too), if the Minister had deliberately let out a hearty belch, then everyone might laugh, albeit nervously. Possibly because they too wouldn't want to find their P45 on their desk, but also because instead of demonstrating disrespect (like I would be) he would indeed be behaving inappropriately. I am not going to try out this theory.

I have to say, I can hardly keep a straight face writing about this.
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Old 04-28-2005, 03:06 PM   #60
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Dare I tread these waters that so few have and agree with Saucepan Man? Unfortunately it is not an innate ability of mine to so eloquently elaborate on my ideas. I however feel that PJ characterization of Gimli was in order. PJ was faced with a rather daunting task of giving depth and personality to around 15 characters. (9 in the fellowship, Gollum, Denethor, Eowyn, Eomer, Théoden Sauruman etc...) and he had 3 long movies to do it in. The unfortunate part of translating a book to a movie is that you cannot give narrative or express the characters thoughts overly well. Tolkien had over 1000 pages in which to establish character depth and PJ had 9 hours. In PJ's defense he needed to show the beautiful friendship that develops between Legolas and Gimli (one of my favorite parts of the book) but to do it true justice he would have detracted from the main thrust of the story. I think one of the reasons Gimli was the comic relief was to develop this intimate friendship with Legolas...the box joke is hilarious in my opinion. Due to the fact that there has been much debate on the burping scene I will give my two cents. I didn't find it humorous but I'm not sure that it was meant to be such either. So I don't feel that it was thrown in to get a cheap laugh (albeit some find it humorous which is great with me) but I feel that more so it was put in, as has been recently discussed, to give the audience the feeling that "right now I don't like Théoden".

I know that many of us feel that PJ should have created the movies just for us, but sadly New Line Cinema disagreed with him and wanted a movie that appealed more to the masses. That's not to say there isn't a great deal of appeal to us but it's not made specifically for us. I fully realize that the popularity defense has been used and hated but it's a definite reason as to why.

I hope this makes some sense and I appreciate the intelligent and lively debate.
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Old 04-29-2005, 10:32 AM   #61
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We should not find it funny because it is not funny.

Is scratching your head funny?

Is abusing someone who is in trouble funny?

No. So belching in front of a worried King is not funny either.

Or maybe someone can tell me just why on earth that so-called 'humour' is funny.
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Old 04-29-2005, 10:40 AM   #62
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Why humour is fuunny?Because it is....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eomer of the Rohirrim
Or maybe someone can tell me just why on earth that so-called 'humour' is funny.
Do you realize that you just said that you said you don't understand humour at all?
All people need to laugh sometimes (except you,maybe) and that's why PJ made Gimli the way he made him.The other characters like that were Merry and Pippin but Gimli with his dwarver accent was (as PJ sees it) a great choice for a funny character.
That's his choice,and you don't need to agree with it,but you can't say that movies don't need humour.Merry and Pippin were same in the books,so Tolkien also knew that the readers need humour.
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Old 04-29-2005, 11:11 AM   #63
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Originally Posted by Eomer of the Rohirrim
We should not find it funny because it is not funny.
Effectively, you are saying here that if you do not find it funny then no one should. By what standard or authority do you seek to make that claim?


Quote:
Is scratching your head funny?

Is abusing someone who is in trouble funny?
Either could well be, depending on the circumstances. I seem to remember that Stan Laurel turned scratching his head into a comic art form. And Blackadder frequently abused Baldrick (both physically and verbally), whether he was in trouble or not, to great humorous effect. As indeed did Basil Fawlty vis-a-vis Manuel.


Quote:
Or maybe someone can tell me just why on earth that so-called 'humour' is funny.
I did. But if you don't find it funny, that's fine by me. I do not necessarily expect you to find something funny just because I do.
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Old 04-29-2005, 12:20 PM   #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eomer of the Rohirrim
Is abusing someone who is in trouble funny?

I realize that it is a different genre, however one of the classic TV shows of all time is the 3 stooges and there was constant abuse. Not a perfect example due to genre differences but it does illustrate that physical abuse if used properly can be humorous.

In reference to Gandalf "beating" Denethor, I would like to add that I actually didn't find it comical but I don't believe that it was scripted for the express purpose. The simple fact of the matter is that Gondor was being besieged and Denethor in his madness was telling all his soldiers not to fight and essentially to give up and die. This madman needed to be stopped and diplomacy wasn't the answer, also to simply hit a person once in the face will not stop them. I think Gandalf needed to incapacitate Denethor long enough so that he could restore order among the troops. Again, I don't think that was put in for a chuckle.
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Old 04-29-2005, 12:43 PM   #65
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Sorry for not being clear Amrod. I meant humour. So-called humour. 'Humour'. The word humour said with the inverted commas sign made with your hands. As in, humour that is not really humour. Fraudulent stuff. The kind of stuff that was in The Lord of the Rings films too much for my liking.

Don't need humour.....I say.

Anyway, Saucepan and mormegil. I apologise for using that rotten example of abuse. I don't know why I said that. Abuse is, of course, one of the funniest things in the world. So I take back that point. Apologies.

However, I am committed here to saying that some things are not funny. A group of thugs could throw stones at an elderly woman and find the whole occasion hilarious. This can only be funny on a very high level of realisation about the absurdity of human behaviour. Taken at face value though , in an everyday situation, this abuse of the old woman is not funny. Yet the thugs think that it is.

Tell me, am I unjustified in thinking this? Is there, then, a standard of humour?
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Old 04-29-2005, 01:30 PM   #66
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Taken at face value though , in an everyday situation, this abuse of the old woman is not funny.
But we are not talking about everyday situations here. Or even real life situations, necessarily. Lalwendë made a similar conflation. Few of us would find Basil Fawlty's treatment of Manuel funny were we to witness it happening in real life.

Perhaps that is the reason why you do not see the humour here. LotR (the film) is not a comedy sketch, but a serious story interspersed with moments of humour. You might find a Dwarven warrior belching in front of a King in a comedy sketch funny, but not in what should be a serious film adapted from a well-loved epic story. So it may well be that I do not take the LotR films as seriously as you do (or, at least, as you feel the story ought to have been taken).
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Old 04-29-2005, 03:44 PM   #67
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I don't think it has anything to do with the difference between comedy (or fiction) and real life. After all, what is 'real life'?

Reality is overrated.

If something is funny in a film then it is funny in everyday life too.
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Old 04-29-2005, 04:16 PM   #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eomer of the Rohirrim
I don't think it has anything to do with the difference between comedy (or fiction) and real life. After all, what is 'real life'?

Reality is overrated.

If something is funny in a film then it is funny in everyday life too.

I have a difficult time accepting that tie you're attempting to create between film and reality. There are plenty of things that are funny on film but would not be so in real life. Take for example the first though that came into my head after reading your post. In Naked Gun at the end we see the character potrayed by OJ Simpson in a wheel chair and he gets a pat on the back, the force sends his wheel chair careening down the stairs of a baseball stadium. He hits the end and goes flipping head over heels onto the field. As a preteen I laughed like mad at that, however if I saw a real person do that (still I might laugh on OJ in real life ) I wouldn't think it a bit funny. While there are many other instances almost any slapstick humor could disprove your theory.
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Old 04-29-2005, 07:45 PM   #69
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eomer of the Rohirrim
If something is funny in a film then it is funny in everyday life too.
I'm sorry, Eomer, but that is an unarguable proposition. There is much that we will find humorous in fiction (comedy fiction particularly) that we would not find remotely funny in real life. I have already given a few examples.

Having said that, I would probably have snickered had I been a fly on the wall in Theoden's chamber while strategy was being discussed and Gimli belched.
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Old 04-30-2005, 09:10 AM   #70
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Well, well, we could just have a standoff here!

Here's a little story for you, one which (by the sounds of things) you will end up despising me for but I'll take the chance anyway. My cousin was telling me of this guy who was hit by a car in the middle of a road. He slowly got up to his feet after a couple of minutes, and was promptly hit by another car. This story provoked the usual chorus of "Oh my god"s and "How terrible!"s but my cousin and I could not help but see the funny side.

Go ahead, shake your head in disgust.

That does sound like a Naked Gun style joke, and it would be hilarious in a comedy film, but I will certainly argue that it is also funny in real life. Of course it is easy for me to say that because I am completely detached from this person, and if it was someone I knew that was hit by the car then I would be horrified. However, the absurdity of the whole episode is funny. You can laugh and cry at something like that.

But I think I've gone off the rails a bit.....

Let's get back to Gimli. I think that even a witty and clever joke would have been slightly out of place in the Theoden-strategy scene, let alone a crude vulgar joke. Does anyone think that there is just too much humour in the films?
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Old 04-30-2005, 03:09 PM   #71
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I guess we are all rather intransigent on this point. I think in fiction something like that could be humorous but in real life it's tragic.

As far as there being too much humor in the movie I don't think it's there in excess. But the difference I see between us is what we think is meant to be humorous whether we find it so or not is different. So it's entirely dependent upon our perception as to whether or not it's funny. Again I didn't think Gimli's eructation was funny but I also didn't find it crude and vulgar. Could there have been better places to insert a burp? Yes. Could there have been worse? Again yes (i.e. Council of Elrond) but the reality of that is that Gimli did just get done eating and drinking, and despite their long and noble lineage he is a dwarf. What I mean to say is, elves are much more noble and regal than dwarves and therefore are much more likely to burp after dinner. Had I been director I don't think I would have put that in there but I don't see it as point in which PJ's humor is necessarily flawed.
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Old 05-02-2005, 12:25 PM   #72
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From what I described, the incident was not tragic. And death is not itself tragic either. Many deaths are comic.

But let's leave that particular scene alone. What about Gimli (yea, him again) trying to blow away the ghosts? I found that painful to watch. Was this comedy? I think it was included as comedy but maybe that's an assumption too far?
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Old 05-02-2005, 01:18 PM   #73
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Well,some humour in the movie was inaprotiate,and Tolkien wouldn't be happy if he saw that,but remember,it's a movie.
And every good movie director doesn't make a movie only good-he puts in something that will attract people to the cinemas.
Battle scenes were for those who love action,Aragorns dreams about Arwen (which became boring-he dreams of her and he's back from dead if needed ) are for those who love romantics,and PJ made Gimli way he made him only to attract people who love comedy.
And,well...I find that some of his actions are funny,but not all of them,but that's ok.
The only thing that I dislike is the way PJ made Legolas-he is a street-skater.Both in TTT and ROTK he has to skate on something.
See,that's what I noticed to be bad.You noticed too much humour,so it's a matter of personal taste,and we can't argue about that.
(If we continue this tread I will have to add Eomer to the Buddy list-he's so good in defending his opinions )
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Old 05-02-2005, 02:27 PM   #74
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Eomer began by questioning humour in the movies that didn't exist in the books. And discussion has mainly focussed on movie-Gimli. I wonder if we can look at the question from a different perspective.

Are there any instances where Tolkien used a humorous portrayal in the books that were not carried over into the movies? If so, would this help us expand our consideration of humour and its purpose?

For my part, I have always regarded as funny the small exchange between Frodo and Lindir in the early chapter, "Many Meetings." It seems to me to be a stock joke about the insensitivity of races to other races. And the joke seems to be at the expense of the elves, although the elf in question doesn't think it is at his expense.

Quote:
'What!' cried Bilbo. 'You can't tell which parts were mine, and which were the Dunadan's?'

'It is not easy for us to tell the difference between two mortals,' said the Elf.

'Nonsense, Lindir,' snorted Bilbo. 'If you can't distinguish between a Man and a Hobbit, your judgement is poorer than I imagined. They're as different as peas and apples.'

'Maybe. To sheep other sheep no doubt appear different.' laughed Lindoir. "Or to shepherds. But Mortals have not been our study. We have other business.'
So, is this Tolkien poking fun at the limitations of elven nature? And, if so, does Jackson ever set the elves up for jokes the way he sets Gimli up for jokes?

Why or why not?

Answer in less than 300 words, please.
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Old 05-02-2005, 04:23 PM   #75
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Are there any instances where Tolkien used a humorous portrayal in the books that were not carried over into the movies? If so, would this help us expand our consideration of humour and its purpose?

....Answer in less than 300 words, please.
Ouch! That hurt's. But I'll give it a try.

Sometimes the humor is missing because the character or incident that generated the smile has been cut from the script. This can be clearly seen in the early parts of the movie. There is a certain amount of humor in these scenes but most of it has been concentrated on the characters of Pippin and Merry....perhaps excessively so? We also have some of Bilbo's humorous comments about his neighbors. But the actual neghbors have been cut. We no longer have scenes of hobbits digging for gold in the cellars, discussion of the "presents" that Bilbo earmarked for his various relatives, or, perhaps most critically, we are missing the confrontation with Lobelia and her husband, whom I do find both humerous and annoying.

It's interesting. PJ has left us with the pranksterism of Pippin and Merry (and how very different this Merry is than the efficient planner of the book). What we do lose is the layer of sarcastic humor--poking fun not only at hobbits but at ourselves. (An element, incidentally, which modern critics still fail to see.) Some of this gently sarcastic humor is preserved in Bilbo, but a great deal has been simply discarded.
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Old 05-02-2005, 06:31 PM   #76
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Child of the 7th Age

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
Are there any instances where Tolkien used a humorous portrayal in the books that were not carried over into the movies? If so, would this help us expand our consideration of humour and its purpose?

....Answer in less than 300 words, please.

Ouch! That hurt's. But I'll give it a try.

So much for my self-deprecatory humour and the winking smilie I had originally included after that word please!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
Answer in less than 300 words, please.
I have been accused of setting up 'essay' topics and last night in chat Sauce was suggesting he is tired of writing long analyses. If you look at this thread, Child, you will quickly see who are the most verbose posters here. (In fact, this is just your first post here, so I couldn't have been referring to you.)

I guess I will just have to be more clear in making my humour understood!

And I think you are very right that so much of the humour concerning Bilbo and the poking fun at our own foibles has been left out. I wonder if Sauce or someone else can suggest why Jackson took the story more seriously in these points than Tolkien did.
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Old 05-02-2005, 08:09 PM   #77
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If you look at this thread, Child, you will quickly see who are the most verbose posters here.
Ouch! In light of that comment, I shall try to keep this brief.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
So, is this Tolkien poking fun at the limitations of elven nature? And, if so, does Jackson ever set the elves up for jokes the way he sets Gimli up for jokes?
Jackson does not really have the luxury that Tolkien had in setting up the intricacies of Elvish nature. Such as we see is represented in primarily Elrond and Galadriel and it would have been inappropriate to poke fun at either of them as they are set up as serious characters. Although I do think that, through the much-maligned (film) Gimli, he pokes fun at Elvish pomposity, in the form of Legolas.


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Originally Posted by Bęthberry
And I think you are very right that so much of the humour concerning Bilbo and the poking fun at our own foibles has been left out. I wonder if Sauce or someone else can suggest why Jackson took the story more seriously in these points than Tolkien did.
Tolkien uses the Hobbits to poke fun at the petty and isolationist aspects of human nature. I think that it's a shame that Jackson did not pick up on this. But it would have required precious time to do so.

He does poke fun at human nature in other ways, particularly through Gimli (again). For example, in Gimli's proud boasts which he is not always able to live up to (eg his boasts of Dwarvish endurance as he huffs and puffs behind Aragorn and Legolas on the chase through Rohan and his fearlessness put to the test in the Paths of the Dead). Similarly, the antics of Merry and Pippin, although (as I have said) I would have preferred to see them used less obviously for comedic value and for more distinction to be made between their characters.

But isn't much of this kind of comedy rooted in the observation of the (sometimes) ridiculous nature of the human condition? We find many things funny because we recognise something of ourselves or our own experiences of others in it.

And now I shall sign off - before this post becomes too prolix for Bb's (and my own) tastes.
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Old 05-02-2005, 08:15 PM   #78
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For my part, I have always regarded as funny the small exchange between Frodo and Lindir in the early chapter, "Many Meetings." It seems to me to be a stock joke about the insensitivity of races to other races. And the joke seems to be at the expense of the elves, although the elf in question doesn't think it is at his expense.

So, is this Tolkien poking fun at the limitations of elven nature? And, if so, does Jackson ever set the elves up for jokes the way he sets Gimli up for jokes?
Interesting. Never saw that 'scene' as particularly funny, or as meant to be funny. Just thought that it showed that Bilbo could speak such to an Elf (familiarity), and that the Elf (or elves) really didn't care that much about such nonsense.

And Frodo makes a joke regarding elven 'decisiveness' when he meets the traveling group in the Shire ("yes and no"). Think that PJ kept it simple with elves et al as he wanted to make sure that the films would be 'popular' . Elves were wise and aloof, hobbits earthy and amicable, etc.

An example for me where I think that PJ skipped out on some book humor was the 'Sam as the main conspirator' scene (in Buckland?).
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Old 05-03-2005, 07:46 AM   #79
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In light of that comment, I shall try to keep this brief.
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Originally Posted by Sauce
But isn't much of this kind of comedy rooted in the observation of the (sometimes) ridiculous nature of the human condition? We find many things funny because we recognise something of ourselves or our own experiences of others in it.
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Originally Posted by alatar
Interesting. Never saw that 'scene' as particularly funny, or as meant to be funny. Just thought that it showed that Bilbo could speak such to an Elf (familiarity), and that the Elf (or elves) really didn't care that much about such nonsense.
Sauce has suggested why I find that scene funny. It reminds me of the old claim about occidental racism concerning orientals. Europeans were said never to be able to tell Chinese apart. When viewing "the other", individuals could never be seen, only the broad difference. It is a manifestation of the elves's parochial nature and self-centeredness to be insensitive to or to lack curiosity about other races. I thought it was a funny way--highlighting a failure of human community--to demonstrate that elves weren't infallible. Whether Tolkien intended this to be funny I don't know. That doesn't stop me from laughing sardonically.
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Old 05-03-2005, 09:24 AM   #80
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Sauce has suggested why I find that scene funny.
Strangely enough, when I re-read this passage recently, I found it rather offensive. Or rather, it suggested a failing in Lindir's nature (and perhaps Elvish nature in general) which I found dislikeable rather than humorous.

Possibly it is my modern sensitivity to phrases suggesting that all members of a particular race "look the same" to others which precludes me from seeing the comedy in this moment, even when used by, and in reference to, races which exist only in fiction. Of course, social attitudes have changed greatly in the last 50 years or so and certain "humour" which would have seemed harmless even 20 to 30 years ago is now considered to be offensive (for example that used in a number of mainstream UK sitcoms in the '70s).

Having said that, I still find the fun poked at Gimli's size in the LotR films as funny whereas, as Lalwendë pointed out earlier, there is an element of prejudice ("size-ism" if not racism) here. Perhaps that is because the jokes made about Gimli's size are more in the nature of friendly banter in the context of the growing friendship between Legolas and Gimli, whereas Lindir's remark to Bilbo comes across (to me at least) as dismissive and unfriendly.

Then again, perhaps I would have found it funnier if Lindir had f**ted in response to Bilbo's poetry.
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