The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum


Visit The *EVEN NEWER* Barrow-Downs Photo Page

Go Back   The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum > Middle-Earth Discussions > The Movies
User Name
Password
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 09-07-2022, 06:09 PM   #1
Formendacil
Dead Serious
 
Formendacil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Perched on Thangorodrim's towers.
Posts: 3,327
Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
Send a message via AIM to Formendacil Send a message via MSN to Formendacil
Sting The Perils of Pedantry

Three threads are about to go live at once--assuming, of course, that I am not triggering some anti-spam software in attempting it. All three of these threads are responses, in different ways, to an attitude that I see nibbling about--here, of course, since this is where I am most active, but anywhere that Tolkien fans gather.

That attitude, if the title did not give it away, is pedantry.

Now, the Tolkien fandom has a long and noble tradition of pedantry. I was quite a vociferous pedant myself, back in the First Age, and there is something good that it bespeaks: a kinship of sorts between the readers and Tolkien himself: we match his devotion to all the details in his creation by treating each of those details with the same love and care that he did.

But...

It can also be really toxic.

Not necessarily for the pedant themself, all the time (though I do think that acting ignobly does corrupt the soul, even if that might be over-stating the case ever so slightly), but I don't think it's possible to argue that pedantry is, at best, tolerably amusing to those not doing it and, at worst, the mortar shells of violent gate-keeping in which the trueness of one's fandom is determined by the breadth and length of one's knowledge of the footnotes in the HoME.

And, despite being a former pedant, that's starting to [expletive-self-censored] me off.

My son, a 4 year old, is turning into a fact-hound about dinosaurs. He can correct your identification of a Parasaurolyphus when you meant a Pachycephalosaurus, knows that an Argentinosaurus is the heaviest and Brachiosaurus is the tallest. And he's not exactly shy about correcting you. But there's a difference between what he's doing and what I see growing in the fandom--yea, even here sometimes on the 'Downs!--apart from that fact that he's 4 and thus cute, is that he's not mad if you got it wrong: he'll tell you what it should be, but it's done with joy.

I don't see much joy, or much that is child-like in the pedantry of the Tolkien fandom, but I do see a lot of childishness. It's been particularly bubbling up and bubbling over with regards to The Rings of Power, and so I am taking advantage of the welling of Tolkien-related discussion and DOING something about this, hence these Threads Three.

First, having been a scornheeper once myself, I thought nothing would be more delightful than an old school, masterful trolling: I would post a thread in the Movies forum JUST to push buttons. But, being a rule-abider more than a rebel and thinking it was the better part not to fight fire with fire, I decided this was more appropriate as a Parody Middle-earth Mirth Thread.

Second, because this really didn't scratch the itch, and because I realised that there actually is ample room for pure delight: some people--myself included!--are finding some things they actually like in this show, so I've also started a thread that is just for happy enjoyment: what did you LIKE about RoP?

But those two threads are incomplete without this thread: two groping hands in the dark that need some light to help them find what they're looking for. Or perhaps its the soul of the fandom that needs some light shone upon it: our love of particularity, of complexity, of faithfulness to the enormous labour of one man has its dark side. It's something we can--and should--talk about it: why do we do it, HOW do we do it, what is the aim in doing it, and why is it so often done as if the poster doing it is Tom Shippey descended from Valinor with the editorial authority of Christopher Tolkien?


NOTE TO THE ADMINS: I put this in Movies, because it's been occasioned by the Rings of Power, but it might really be more of a Book discussion. Please move, especially if the conversation veers thither.
__________________
I prefer history, true or feigned.
Formendacil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-07-2022, 08:05 PM   #2
Boromir88
Laconic Loreman
 
Boromir88's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 7,556
Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.
Send a message via AIM to Boromir88 Send a message via MSN to Boromir88
I've thought about this for several years now. Although, I refer to it as a "hobbitish" impulse, and not me being pedantic.

I call it a hobbitish impulse, because this quote from the Prologue to Lord of the Rings sums it up perfectly and sounds better than admitting I was a pedant (former pedant? reformed pendant?):

Quote:
Hobbits delighted in such things, if they were accurate: they liked to have books filled with things that they already knew, set out fair and square with no contradictions.
I'm not sure exactly what caused the switch. In general, I wasn't enjoying reading anymore. I had never read The Silmarillion or any of the HoME books. I only treated those as references to scrounge for facts when I wanted to post something on here. So, I made a concerted effort to actually read those books and they're quite different, but I got a lot of joy out of them. I wasn't trying to find some fact to "win" a debate. I don't even think I was posting on the forum, I just read them for my own enjoyment.

I noticed in The Silmarillion "it is said," (or "the Wise say") might be the most commonly used phrase in the book. So, it's kind of hard having a hobbitish impulse of wanting "no contradictions." I think that impulse was the cause of my loss of interest. It was actually a quote from Leonard Nimoy that got me rethinking about how I approached reading Tolkien. (Now that I'm also typing this out, it can probably fit in to Bethberry's thread).

Quote:
"Canon is only important to certain people because they have to cling to the knowledge of the minutiae. Open your mind! Be a Star Trek fan and open your mind and say 'Where does Star Trek want to take me now.'" - Leonard Nimoy, May 2009
I'm more of a casual Star Trek fan, I watch the TV shows and movies (that is I'm not on any Star Trek forums nor do I visit any of their websites) but I thought his quote was interesting. I like to think now I have a "Nimoy approach" when I'm reading Tolkien. I think about "where is Tolkien trying to take me now?" For example, today, I always thought it was just Sauron vs. Gil-galad and Elendil. Pitch disagreed and I can see where he's coming to that conclusion. So which one of us is right? For myself, it doesn't really matter anymore. We both made our points and it's nice to look at something differently, even if I might disagree.

This change is also why I've loosened about adaptations. I watch movies and shows for different reasons. It's a chance to (hopefully) see something different. If I wanted a Tolkien story I would just read his books. Of course in any adaptation, there are certain expectations that it has similar themes or a same "feel." But these are subjective and going to be different from person-to-person. What I'm generally trying to say (as this is getting long enough and it's approaching time for sleep):

I appreciate the creativity and depth of the fandom. It's truly astonishing. It spans generations and cultures, each of us with different experiences of why we adore the same author. I love the lore and the history, others get inspiration from creating art or writing stories, and others get really interested in Tolkien's languages. That's the neat part to me. We are all so different, but have this one very specific thing in common.
__________________
Fenris Penguin

Last edited by Boromir88; 09-08-2022 at 06:01 PM.
Boromir88 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-2022, 07:41 AM   #3
Thinlómien
Shady She-Penguin
 
Thinlómien's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: In a far land beyond the Sea
Posts: 8,385
Thinlómien is wading through the Dead Marshes.Thinlómien is wading through the Dead Marshes.Thinlómien is wading through the Dead Marshes.Thinlómien is wading through the Dead Marshes.Thinlómien is wading through the Dead Marshes.Thinlómien is wading through the Dead Marshes.
I think you're onto something there. My general attitude towards life, to be fair, seems to be that being too pedantic about anything just makes things less enjoyable. If you stop having so specific expectations and caring about whether things go exactly the way you imagined or not - well, things are so much less stressful and so much more fun. But I guess to a degree this is a personality trait/ question of temperament which one has limited control over.

It is an interesting question though, why pedantry seems to strike me (and many other people) specifically when it's about adaptations of literary works we love. Is it what we care about the most? Both a lovely and an alarming thought. I think it is certainly partly because artistic choices are so much more than just pure artistic choices - they also reflect our values and what's important to us.

Am I being too pedantic, for example, in my criticism of Galadriel's portrayal in The Rings of Power? Someone might think so, but I'm not just upset it's not how I imagined it or how Tolkien describes it. I'm upset because when I see Galadriel being portrayed as a pretty young woman among middle-aged men while those middle-aged men should be much younger than her (they are her cousins' children after all), I see another instance of the predominant (Anglo-)American media being obsessed with female leads being young and attractive while male leads are allowed to be older and/or uglier and it irritates me as a woman, a feminist, and well, as a person who has eyes and sees there are women of all ages and appearances out there.

But am I being too pedantic when I criticise the show's portrayal of ?Finrod? Probably; the main source of my irritation there seems to be simply that I always loved Finrod in The Silmarillion and thought his death scene was one of the coolest things Tolkien wrote, and therefore to see him look and act differently than the character I imagined while reading and the change of his death scene were disappointing to me. If I let go of my pedantic fixation on the epic Finrod Felagund in my head, I can not care about the show version and be much happier. Also, as a criticism of an adaptation, I don't think simply "this is different" or "this is not like my personal mental image" is worthless - "this artistic choice sends a message that contradicts the original theme/idea/subject of the work" is a much better (and more interesting) criticism.

Of course, sometimes nitpicking about things is just fun bonding with your fellow geeks, and a bit of an ego boost too (don't we all know Tolkien's works so much better than these silly writers? ) And it's a very natural urge. I'm certainly the same person who at 12 or 13 went to see The Two Towers in the cinema and launched on a rant about how Aragorn's horse is the wrong colour (not to mention it has a different name and backstory ). I think we should keep that all in mind just as long as we keep in mind the flip side - that complaining about the horse colours to your friends sitting on the same couch is already different from posting the same thoughts as "critique" online for everyone to see, not to mention directly contacting/harassing the creators about it. (I absolutely hate the current culture of tweeting at writers/directors/actors with all kinds of impolite and irrelevant junk, but that's an entirely different can of worms already.)

I guess what I'm trying to say is - the nitpicking can be fun in like-minded company, but one should make a difference in their head between it and actual thoughtful criticism of an adaptation, especially when posting their thoughts online. And accepting your own dislikes and disappointments as subjective and minor in the grand scale of human existence does wonders to your mental health.
__________________
Like the stars chase the sun, over the glowing hill I will conquer
Blood is running deep, some things never sleep
Double Fenris
Thinlómien is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-2022, 07:46 AM   #4
Mithadan
Spirit of Mist
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Tol Eressea
Posts: 3,171
Mithadan is a guest at the Prancing Pony.Mithadan is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
For all too many of us, "steeped in the lore," it is all too easy (and seductive) to spar with others about the "minutiae" and voice our displeasure at every deviation from "canon" (whatever that is). My views on canon have changed over the years. My desire to seek consistency has not. But I generally do not extend my views to the cinematic interpretations (with the exception of Jackson's Hobbit which I simply did not like and found far too unfaithful to the source material). I try to enjoy them, or not.

With Rings of Power, the source material is scanty. It is, primarily, the appendices to LoTR. Amazon does not have rights to the Silmarillion or HoME at all. I do not know how Amazon deals with the rights to LoTR that Tolkien conveyed during his lifetime to Zaentz (and further conveyed to New Line). I am told that the Estate can be asked to allow use of other materials, but it does not have to agree. The result is great gaps in the "lore" and an inability to address and use source material to which Amazon lacks rights. On the plus side, this leaves room to be creative, speculative or even to deviate from "canon" (that Amazon lacks rights to).

As an older fan, I can say this. If Rings of Power had come out in the 1980s (ignoring the lack of cinematic technology available then), I would have been overjoyed at the opportunity to watch a fantasy show of even moderate quality "based upon" Middle Earth. Becoming "steeped in lore" by HoME and repeated rereads of LoTR and the Silmarillion is a cause of viewer dissatisfaction, and I will concede that I am susceptible to this. But, so far, I have enjoyed the show and will try to do so going forward.

Am I concerned that viewers who have not read (or devoured) the books may view RoP as some type of "canon?" Yes. But places like the Barrow-Downs can help there. And if we end up with more folks encouraged to become "steeped in lore" then all the better.
__________________
Beleriand, Beleriand,
the borders of the Elven-land.
Mithadan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-2022, 01:28 PM   #5
Formendacil
Dead Serious
 
Formendacil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Perched on Thangorodrim's towers.
Posts: 3,327
Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
Send a message via AIM to Formendacil Send a message via MSN to Formendacil
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thinlómien View Post
It is an interesting question though, why pedantry seems to strike me (and many other people) specifically when it's about adaptations of literary works we love. Is it what we care about the most? Both a lovely and an alarming thought. I think it is certainly partly because artistic choices are so much more than just pure artistic choices - they also reflect our values and what's important to us.
You know, now I wonder about this... I think there's something unique about books and about adapting them, but I also think there's something about Tolkien specifically that brings it out more than any other author. I think that the Harry Potter movies are an instructive case: also fantasy, also in the English language, also with a massively popular series of blockbusters in the 2000s--but I don't feel like that fandom ever had the same core of nitpicking curmudgeons that Middle-earth has had.

Is this because there were middle-aged (or older) Tolkien fans who had survived the scorn of earlier, less nerd-friendly decades and those battle scars are manifesting now? Is it because the Tolkienian text just didn't translate to the screen as well (i.e. harder to adapt)? Is it that Tolkien draws in far more fans who like to be pedantic? Is it just over-determined?

I don't think Austen fans get as mad about details.

EDIT: Oh, and I've already had another thought: how much of the more sour part of the Tolkien fandom is culture war-related? At least on the western side of the Atlantic, it seems sometimes as though EVERYTHING has to be divided up into "our" side and "theirs." I remember being somewhat uneasy in my earliest 'Downsian years at the way some kinds of Christians wanted to make the LotR into a quasi-Biblical text. Is this partly a result of that--or analogous to it: is it simply that Tolkien has become yet another plaything in Great Tug o'War and the more acerbic nature of the pedantry that I'm complaining of is because the pedantry is actually a way to prove that the "REAL" LotR is on "MY" side of the war, and anything that makes me think it's becoming appropriated by the other side must be wholly discredited?

On that note, I think Mithadan's point re: how something like this would have been taken in the 1980s is an excellent point.
__________________
I prefer history, true or feigned.

Last edited by Formendacil; 09-08-2022 at 01:35 PM.
Formendacil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-2022, 02:10 PM   #6
Pitchwife
Wight of the Old Forest
 
Pitchwife's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Unattended on the railway station, in the litter at the dancehall
Posts: 3,299
Pitchwife is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Pitchwife is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Pitchwife is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Pitchwife is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Pitchwife is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
I'm more of a casual Star Trek fan, I watch the TV shows and movies (that is I'm not on any Star Trek forums nor do I visit any of their websites) but I thought his quote was interesting. I like to think now I have a "Nimoy approach" when I'm reading Tolkien. I think about "where is Tolkien trying to take me now?" For example, today, I always thought it was just Sauron vs. Gil-galad and Elendil. Pitch disagreed and I can see where he's coming to that conclusion. So which one of us is right? For myself, it doesn't really matter anymore. We both made our points and it's nice to look at something differently, even if I might disagree.
You know, in that little debate I was just flexing long-unused muscles for auld lang syne. My interior version of this scene has for yeni unotime been that it was Isildur who finished Sauron off (by cutting off the Ring) after the two kings fell, and I think I could find a quote that says so if I could be bothered, but I'm not married to that version. I don't really care whether Elrond was a combatant in that war or not. What I do care about was the larger debate in which the question came up, and which was largely about the question of female characters non-conforming to traditional gender roles; but that is ultimately a question of personal beliefs and can probably not be settled with any amount of Tolkien-quotes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thinlómien View Post
Am I being too pedantic, for example, in my criticism of Galadriel's portrayal in The Rings of Power? Someone might think so, but I'm not just upset it's not how I imagined it or how Tolkien describes it. I'm upset because when I see Galadriel being portrayed as a pretty young woman among middle-aged men while those middle-aged men should be much younger than her (they are her cousins' children after all), I see another instance of the predominant (Anglo-)American media being obsessed with female leads being young and attractive while male leads are allowed to be older and/or uglier and it irritates me as a woman, a feminist, and well, as a person who has eyes and sees there are women of all ages and appearances out there.
Not pedantic at all, and this is actually the best criticism of RoP's Galadriel I've seen so far. (Over in Bêthberry's thread I said she reminded me of Korra - with Gil-galad as Tenzin? I mean, the colour palette fits...)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thinlómien View Post
Of course, sometimes nitpicking about things is just fun bonding with your fellow geeks, and a bit of an ego boost too (don't we all know Tolkien's works so much better than these silly writers?
That's largely why I'm here posting now. I've been keeping an eye on that other thread from time to time, and TBH the amount of bile and vitriol unleashed there by some of our holy grail-keepers has been quite off-putting. That's not the kind of discussion we used to have in the good ole days, and it's no fun. It was only when I saw people like you, Formy, Legate and Agan posting about the show on Facebook and Bb opening her thread here that I actually felt it would be fun to come and talk to you about the show, like in the good ole days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mithadan View Post
As an older fan, I can say this. If Rings of Power had come out in the 1980s (ignoring the lack of cinematic technology available then), I would have been overjoyed at the opportunity to watch a fantasy show of even moderate quality "based upon" Middle Earth.
Me too! The Bakshi movie scratched that itch for me, and I'll defend its virtues with my dying breath, viking Boromir and pantless Aragorn notwithstanding.
__________________
Und aus dem Erebos kamen viele seelen herauf der abgeschiedenen toten.- Homer, Odyssey, Canto XI
Pitchwife is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-09-2022, 09:14 AM   #7
Legate of Amon Lanc
A Voice That Gainsayeth
 
Legate of Amon Lanc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: In that far land beyond the Sea
Posts: 7,606
Legate of Amon Lanc is spying on the Black Gate.Legate of Amon Lanc is spying on the Black Gate.Legate of Amon Lanc is spying on the Black Gate.Legate of Amon Lanc is spying on the Black Gate.Legate of Amon Lanc is spying on the Black Gate.Legate of Amon Lanc is spying on the Black Gate.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
You know, now I wonder about this... I think there's something unique about books and about adapting them, but I also think there's something about Tolkien specifically that brings it out more than any other author. I think that the Harry Potter movies are an instructive case: also fantasy, also in the English language, also with a massively popular series of blockbusters in the 2000s--but I don't feel like that fandom ever had the same core of nitpicking curmudgeons that Middle-earth has had.
I don't know and I wouldn't be so hasty. Caustic LotR community is certainly more visible. However, I don't know about you but at least I have not been a part of any Harry Potter community, so I can't tell, however I can imagine something similar happening there to a degree. It only depends how much. I assume LotR community is obviously bigger, so that would influence also the absolute amount of caustic fans present. But I have no data to say whether the LotR community is simply 350% bigger and therefore 350% more caustic, or whether it is actually 350% bigger but in fact 500% more caustic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Form
I don't think Austen fans get as mad about details.
I don't know, I also wouldn't make such statements before checking some Austen forum... I can imagine someone being "in this adaptation, Elizabeth has wrong hairstyle!!!" or even "it CLEARLY states: 'the shadow of his coat spread from wall to wall like vast wings', OF COURSE Mr. Darcy had coattails!!!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Form
EDIT: Oh, and I've already had another thought: how much of the more sour part of the Tolkien fandom is culture war-related? At least on the western side of the Atlantic, it seems sometimes as though EVERYTHING has to be divided up into "our" side and "theirs." I remember being somewhat uneasy in my earliest 'Downsian years at the way some kinds of Christians wanted to make the LotR into a quasi-Biblical text. Is this partly a result of that--or analogous to it: is it simply that Tolkien has become yet another plaything in Great Tug o'War and the more acerbic nature of the pedantry that I'm complaining of is because the pedantry is actually a way to prove that the "REAL" LotR is on "MY" side of the war, and anything that makes me think it's becoming appropriated by the other side must be wholly discredited?
The latter may be very spot on, I think. I am also not sure how common it is, but I think - and this can be generalised, to anything from LotR to Star Wars but also to a debate about the Bible or about grocery selection, I think - often people tend to make "proxy wars" in this sense (in the same sense that e.g. the two major Cold War powers used e.g. Vietnam as proxy battlefield without having to actually meet head-on).

And I just wonder whether it is conscious or unconscious - I think it often may be even the latter: that one is presenting, even to themselves, "I am arguing here about whether Aragorn was right to claim the throne of Gondor, but what I in fact mean is to prove whether my homeland of Austro-Hungary should have the right to own Poland", or "I am presenting arguments whether Beren and Lúthien were right to marry according to Elvish law as witnessed by HoME vol. III §22" while I am in fact arguing whether it is right to marry without your parents' permission, because that is what I have mentally equated these with.

The way out is to realise that I am falling into this trap, that what I am arguing for here is in fact a defense-mechanism of my self-constructed "tribal identity". But in the context of this forum and all similar discussions, we are, first of all, travellers in Middle-Earth. We should remember that.

And another trap - against which LotR itself is a warning - is the desire to own, and to control (in this case: to own and control Middle-Earth), as opposed to just watch and enjoy the beauty. That is, I believe, also what we should constantly ask ourselves about when replying here or there.
__________________
"Should the story say 'he ate bread,' the dramatic producer can only show 'a piece of bread' according to his taste or fancy, but the hearer of the story will think of bread in general and picture it in some form of his own." -On Fairy-Stories
Legate of Amon Lanc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-09-2022, 12:45 PM   #8
Formendacil
Dead Serious
 
Formendacil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Perched on Thangorodrim's towers.
Posts: 3,327
Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
Send a message via AIM to Formendacil Send a message via MSN to Formendacil
Quote:
Originally Posted by Legate of Amon Lanc View Post
I don't know and I wouldn't be so hasty. Caustic LotR community is certainly more visible. However, I don't know about you but at least I have not been a part of any Harry Potter community, so I can't tell, however I can imagine something similar happening there to a degree. It only depends how much. I assume LotR community is obviously bigger, so that would influence also the absolute amount of caustic fans present. But I have no data to say whether the LotR community is simply 350% bigger and therefore 350% more caustic, or whether it is actually 350% bigger but in fact 500% more caustic.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Legate of Amon Lanc View Post
I don't know, I also wouldn't make such statements before checking some Austen forum... I can imagine someone being "in this adaptation, Elizabeth has wrong hairstyle!!!" or even "it CLEARLY states: 'the shadow of his coat spread from wall to wall like vast wings', OF COURSE Mr. Darcy had coattails!!!"
These are fair points--I am very much writing from WITHIN the Tolkien fandom, so even where I may at times being a more pan-fandom environment (LiveJournal 15 years ago, Tumblr now), I more attuned to mentions of Tolkien than I would be to, say, Rowling or Austen.

That said... I don't actually think I'm overstepping the bounds of the probable: there is something about the Tolkien fan experience that rewards detail-oriented fans more than most fandoms and this creates a higher rate of pedantry--it's more baked in.

I don't think it's UNIQUE to Tolkien, but the best analogies for "rewards detail-oriented fans" are otherwise going to be the giant, corporation-made fandoms like Star Wars or Marvel. But while there's certainly acrimonious fans in fandoms like that, and while they certainly do have their grumpy pedants, the fact that the acrimony can be pointed towards a particular corporate scapegoat changes the dynamic: Tolkien fans are quite unlikely to direct ire at Tolkien himself and insofar as any adaptation may be wrong (howsoever they perceive it to be wrong), the easiest thing to do to discredit it is to APPEAL to Tolkien.

I actually think there is some of this with Star Wars fans, because George Lucas can be seen as the author--the problem is that his work has never been perceived as a unity in the same way as Tolkien's (I'm thinking of the big split between the original movies and the prequels), and his work was always the product of many minds and hands, no matter how involved he was.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Legate of Amon Lanc View Post
And another trap - against which LotR itself is a warning - is the desire to own, and to control (in this case: to own and control Middle-Earth), as opposed to just watch and enjoy the beauty. That is, I believe, also what we should constantly ask ourselves about when replying here or there.
"The [fans] delved too deep [into the footnotes of The Nature of Middle-earth."
__________________
I prefer history, true or feigned.
Formendacil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-09-2022, 01:00 PM   #9
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,814
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Janeites most certainly do get into a rage if one of the books is improperly adapted. Maybe not over hair colour as this wasn't often described, but the recent Netflix version of Persuasion had lots of criticism. The Fleabag-esque breaking of the third wall was not popular, nor were the scenes of public affection. Captain Wentworth was also seen as too young. The race of the actors, however, was not a problem.

Being a pedant really isn't limited to 'nerdy' things like Tolkien or Doctor Who. My dad refused to watch any more of Pearl Harbor after a line where the star Ben Affleck claims the Americans were instrumental in the initial Battle of Britain. We have football facts nerds, grown men who argue about the motorway network, and Alfie will correct you immediately if you mis-pronounce the name of any Pokémon.

It's a badge of honour to correct another fan. Absolutely right though, while you or I might get a kick out of it, especially arguing with someone objectionable (I enjoyed correcting Darren Grimes no end on twitter), if you're trying to be welcoming to newer fans, it's not good. Formendacil is right - there's no joy in it. It's not a shiny badge, to me it feels a bit spoiled afterwards?
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-09-2022, 06:46 PM   #10
Morthoron
Curmudgeonly Wordwraith
 
Morthoron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Ensconced in curmudgeonly pursuits
Posts: 2,483
Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
That attitude, if the title did not give it away, is pedantry.

Now, the Tolkien fandom has a long and noble tradition of pedantry. I was quite a vociferous pedant myself, back in the First Age, and there is something good that it bespeaks: a kinship of sorts between the readers and Tolkien himself: we match his devotion to all the details in his creation by treating each of those details with the same love and care that he did.

But...

It can also be really toxic.

Not necessarily for the pedant themself, all the time (though I do think that acting ignobly does corrupt the soul, even if that might be over-stating the case ever so slightly), but I don't think it's possible to argue that pedantry is, at best, tolerably amusing to those not doing it and, at worst, the mortar shells of violent gate-keeping in which the trueness of one's fandom is determined by the breadth and length of one's knowledge of the footnotes in the HoME.

ped·ant·ry
/ˈped(ə)ntrē/
noun
excessive concern with minor details and rules.


I recall seeing Disney's The Sword in the Stone when I was a child. I enjoyed it at 5 years old. It was captivating as a kid. But when I was old enough to read T.H. White's The Once and Future King (from which the Disney cartoon is "loosely" adapted), I was angry, heartbroken and sick to my stomach all at once.

That such a grave, often uproariously funny, and at the same time infinitely sad, novel could be turned into an animated dung heap of cliches, misrepresentations and out-and-out fabrication became detestable to me. I haven't seen the cartoon since, but I read the novel every decade or so because it means as much to me from a literary fantasy point of view as Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

Believing an adaptation to be egregious fan-fiction cod-swallow would not, in my estimation, be considered pedantry. I made it through the roller coaster ride of Peter Jackson's LOTR films, finding solace in the occassional bright sun peering through the clouds of CGI inanity -- that is until that rollercoster ride left the rails altogether during The Hobbit films faster than Arrakis sandworms could tunnel through the roots of Mount Erebor.

I've read the spoilers regarding the Amazon adaptation The Rings of Power. I've seen the presentations of the various characters with bad haircuts, read reviews, and followed the commentary here. I find I am not desperate enough for a film variation of Tolkien to want to watch it and try my patience, because any of you who have known me over the years know I have no patience for nonsense. I've already done that with Peter Jackson's ever-mounting pompously fan-fictionary rewriting of LOTR and The Hobbit.

Based on comments I've read here and on the BD Facebook page, it would seem any commentary I would provide would not be welcome. Evidently, to point out that numerous items (both minor and major) in the first few espisodes are simply absurd, unsettling or just plain dumb will ruin the immersive effects of this Tolkien-lite for the rest of you.

Therefore, I will not add any further comments regarding this piece of...art. Sorry for being "pedantic", but I have too much respect for Middle-earth to settle.
__________________
And your little sister's immaculate virginity wings away on the bony shoulders of a young horse named George who stole surreptitiously into her geography revision.
Morthoron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2022, 12:40 PM   #11
Formendacil
Dead Serious
 
Formendacil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Perched on Thangorodrim's towers.
Posts: 3,327
Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
Send a message via AIM to Formendacil Send a message via MSN to Formendacil
Quote:
Originally Posted by Morthoron View Post
Believing an adaptation to be egregious fan-fiction cod-swallow would not, in my estimation, be considered pedantry.

....

Therefore, I will not add any further comments regarding this piece of...art. Sorry for being "pedantic", but I have too much respect for Middle-earth to settle.
So, I've debated with myself if I ought respond to you, Morth, since I think there is something healthy to saying "I won't say anything more" and probably something unhealthy in me provoking you to say more--and if you feel unwelcome, you feel unwelcome. But I want to at least split hairs for the record that I think there are two different things at play:

First, there is any evaluation or appreciation for The Rings of Power (or any other adaptation--but the RoP is what's on the table now and in the immediate future): this show is good; this show is bad. I liked this show; I didn't like this show. This thread is not--by me anyway--intended to suggest anyone has to like the show. Or think that's it's good adaptation. It's entirely fair to think it a travesty.

But, the other thing at play, I think it is not within bounds to use knowledge of the canon to browbeat anyone who does happen to like the show into either discarding their opinion or into silence. I think this is particularly pernicious where the "facts" of the matter are inconclusive, such as where Tolkien himself came to no final opinion or where it's a wholly invented element within the adaptation.

Perhaps it isn't content that I don't like so much as tone: the "pedant" as I am calling this sort of person, is entitled to dislike the adaptation, and entitled to dislike it entirely for what I am calling pedantic reasons, but if my disliking something turns into browbeating your liking it, with the implication that you are a bad fan for liking it and here's an itemized list of reasons everything you think is WRONG.

Perhaps what I'm trying to get at it is judgementalism and the acrimony that goes with it. There's a world of different between "here's the 37-point of reasons *I* don't like it" and "here's the 37-point list of reasons *you* aren't allowed to the like it." And this point of this thread then, maybe, is to say that there's an easy danger of slipping from the first to the second, and there is a THING right now in our fandom where this seems to be happening a lot.

Two relevant quotes from above that basically say what I'm trying to say here:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
If I wanted a Tolkien story I would just read his books.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thinlómien View Post
Also, as a criticism of an adaptation, I don't think simply "this is different" or "this is not like my personal mental image" is worthless - "this artistic choice sends a message that contradicts the original theme/idea/subject of the work" is a much better (and more interesting) criticism.
__________________
I prefer history, true or feigned.
Formendacil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2022, 12:49 PM   #12
Bêthberry
Cryptic Aura
 
Bêthberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,117
Bêthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Bêthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Bêthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Bêthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
....

But, the other thing at play, I think it is not within bounds to use knowledge of the canon to browbeat anyone who does happen to like the show into either discarding their opinion or into silence. I think this is particularly pernicious where the "facts" of the matter are inconclusive, such as where Tolkien himself came to no final opinion or where it's a wholly invented element within the adaptation.

Perhaps it isn't content that I don't like so much as tone: the "pedant" as I am calling this sort of person, is entitled to dislike the adaptation, and entitled to dislike it entirely for what I am calling pedantic reasons, but if my disliking something turns into browbeating your liking it, with the implication that you are a bad fan for liking it and here's an itemized list of reasons everything you think is WRONG.

Perhaps what I'm trying to get at it is judgementalism and the acrimony that goes with it. There's a world of different between "here's the 37-point of reasons *I* don't like it" and "here's the 37-point list of reasons *you* aren't allowed to the like it." And this point of this thread then, maybe, is to say that there's an easy danger of slipping from the first to the second, and there is a THING right now in our fandom where this seems to be happening a lot.
Pretty much what I was thinking of writing to Morth. It isn't the criticism that drew my concern but the tone and attitude towards others.

It would be quite welcoming if new members who aren't loremasters join BD to learn more about Tolkien. I don't think they will do that if all they see is acrimony and snarky judgement to those who are excited about a series. Some of them might actually be too young to remember the reactions to Jackson's movies.
__________________
I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away.
Bêthberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2022, 10:53 PM   #13
Michael Murry
Haunting Spirit
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 83
Michael Murry is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
The Theory and Practice of Inoffensive Tonality

Quote:
Bêthberry: "It isn't the criticism that drew my concern but the tone and attitude towards others."
An interesting comment from one who addressed the following to me in another thread (the one about "reading" a television broadcast):

Quote:
“Where to begin? Well, with literary and cinematic theory, which use "text" as a metaphor for anything which is conceptualised as conveying meaning. These meanings are then interpreted. This is a relatively recent (well, in the last fifty years or so) meaning of the word "text" so perhaps you can be forgiven if you aren't aware of it, especially if you don't know much critical theory.
I find the tone -- which means "a speaker/writer's attitude towards his or her listeners/readers" -- of the highlighted passage both dismissive and condescending. I have not requested anyone's forgiveness nor do I require any. But I do thank you for the opportunity to highlight the distinction between propounding a Theory of Inoffensive Tonality and the choice not to practice it.
__________________
"If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic." -- Tweedledee
Michael Murry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2022, 03:41 AM   #14
Boromir88
Laconic Loreman
 
Boromir88's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 7,556
Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.
Send a message via AIM to Boromir88 Send a message via MSN to Boromir88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Murry View Post
I find the tone -- which means "a speaker/writer's attitude towards his or her listeners/readers" -- of the highlighted passage both dismissive and condescending. I have not requested anyone's forgiveness nor do I require any. But I do thank you for the opportunity to highlight the distinction between propounding a Theory of Inoffensive Tonality and the choice not to practice it.
You made an inaccurate comment niggling over Bethberry's word choice of "read" vs. "view." Now I took the post as an attempt to derail the thread to debate the word choice and not the topic. Bethberry defended why she chose "read" and corrected your inaccurate post. I've been corrected by Bethberry before, it's never condescending. I actually got corrected in the same thread. Thread resumes as normal.

Now you bring over comments from another thread to try to derail this one? Instead of debating the topic you seem to want to bring over a debate with another member.
__________________
Fenris Penguin
Boromir88 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2022, 10:47 AM   #15
Bêthberry
Cryptic Aura
 
Bêthberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,117
Bêthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Bêthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Bêthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Bêthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
perils indeed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
You made an inaccurate comment niggling over Bethberry's word choice of "read" vs. "view." Now I took the post as an attempt to derail the thread to debate the word choice and not the topic. Bethberry defended why she chose "read" and corrected your inaccurate post. I've been corrected by Bethberry before, it's never condescending. I actually got corrected in the same thread. Thread resumes as normal.

Now you bring over comments from another thread to try to derail this one? Instead of debating the topic you seem to want to bring over a debate with another member.
Thank you for understanding my meaning, Boro. Much appreciated. And good stuff that you want to maintain the integrity of this thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Murry
The Theory and Practice of Inoffensive Tonality
Quote:
Bêthberry: "It isn't the criticism that drew my concern but the tone and attitude towards others."
An interesting comment from one who addressed the following to me in another thread (the one about "reading" a television broadcast):

Quote:
“Where to begin? Well, with literary and cinematic theory, which use "text" as a metaphor for anything which is conceptualised as conveying meaning. These meanings are then interpreted. [bold] This is a relatively recent (well, in the last fifty years or so) meaning of the word "text" so perhaps you can be forgiven if you aren't aware of it, especially if you don't know much critical theory.”[/bold]
I find the tone -- which means "a speaker/writer's attitude towards his or her listeners/readers" -- of the highlighted passage both dismissive and condescending. I have not requested anyone's forgiveness nor do I require any. But I do thank you for the opportunity to highlight the distinction between propounding a Theory of Inoffensive Tonality and the choice not to practice it.
Yesterday 02:49 PM
I am very sorry, Michael Murry, if you found my words "dismissive and condescending". That was certainly not my intent. Having been challenged in my use of words, I simply wished to provide the provenance of that usage, a source which is thoroughly legitimate and meaningful. I had added a smiling smilie, which is not shown in your quote, to demonstrate my point was meant kindly and of good intent. It can be difficult to interpret smilies and so I take from this that perhaps in future I should use more words and fewer images.

See you round the forum.
__________________
I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away.
Bêthberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2022, 01:39 PM   #16
mark12_30
Stormdancer of Doom
 
mark12_30's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars
Posts: 4,405
mark12_30 has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via AIM to mark12_30 Send a message via Yahoo to mark12_30
Tolkien Pedantry about pedantry

I started a thread requesting a definition of canon from the Loremasters. It seemed strange to do it, but I did so partly in wondering whether the old definitions may have morphed in the last 15-20 years, and partly in my own joy in seeing a new expression of Middle-earth.

I have been in various FB threads. And they reminded me of old conversations we had here at the Downs. Twenty years later, my favorite trick is (still) to find a relevant Tolkien quote and post it (straight from a kindle-copy when possible.) It still blows peoples’ minds. And I am still baffled that it does (word searches are so easy. Try it you’ll like it.)

Nevertheless my favorite RoP descriptor is fanfic— the same descriptor I used for Jackson’s movies (that now have a rosy sunset glow about them). It makes everything easy— canonicity is a bonus worth celebrating when it appears, whereas departures from canon can be explored for virtues in the fanfic/altfic.

So I can be both pedantic and flexible/accepting. I love quoting Tolkien. And I love good fanfic (when it is canon friendly.) (But what does that MEAN?)

The thing I DON’T want to be is unkind and arrogant. I have seen far to much of that in the recent months.
__________________
...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.
mark12_30 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2022, 05:13 PM   #17
Galadriel55
Blossom of Dwimordene
 
Galadriel55's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: The realm of forgotten words
Posts: 10,042
Galadriel55 is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Galadriel55 is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Galadriel55 is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Galadriel55 is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
First, I have to apologize, because I am making this post without having fully caught up to the thread, and what I have read was in bits and pieces. But a couple thoughts occurred to me which I will try to put down before they all buzz away out the other ear.

It occurs to me that sometimes what appears as pedantry may just be an attempt to express dissatisfaction with something much greater, but something that is perhaps difficult to articulate or put into words. You know this feels wrong, but you can't quite articulate why. And then you start listing all the reasons that are easier to define and therefore express, but are not themselves at the core of your dissatisfaction (i.e. had you seen this exact thing in a different adaptation which actually fulfilled your overall vision, you may be more inclined to forgive it rather than denounce it). I know I am guilty of this, because I struggle to express what it is that drives the feeling of wrongness - because it is not one scene, or one character, or one costume design. However, it's hard to even identify those emotions more concretely, much less express the emotion and the cause for it. So instead I end up ranting about specific examples of the wrongness, which individually could all be forgiven if there is a wholesome core, and which therefore appear as somewhat pedantic critiques or mini-tantrums. Which I suppose they are - it's a bit like a hungry child won't tell you he's hungry but will start tantruming at every excuse because of the discomfort he can't quite attribute yet and cannot yet express. While some pedantry can be toxic and disheartening, some of it stems from feeling hurt but perhaps not being able to quite say where or why.

(This thought was inspired by William's post here. And I feel like these blooming debates and discussions have been very good and very healthy, and if nothing else then they've helped me better define what I feel and why - a number of times recently, finding myself at loss to express a vague sense, I see a post by another Downer who puts it into words which make me go "That's it!")


The other thought I had was in reaction to someone bringing up Austen forums and pedantically criticizing Darcy's tailcoats (). And I thought it was so interesting that this should be brought up, because just last month I have finally found a film version of Pride and Prejudice which I liked. And it had nothing to do with the costumes, or the dialogue (most of them quote from the book for the majority of it), but the acting and the sense you got of the characters as you watch them. My favourite scene is Elizabeth vs Catherine (who knows the story will know what I mean). And if I see a rattled Elizabeth close to tears, or a plainly rude Elizabeth, I feel disappointed - because that's not Elizabeth. And last month I finally found one where Elizabeth was actually Elizabeth - smouldering anger but so very controlled, and smiling and not losing her composure but clearly holding her own and making her meaning show. And that's interesting because like I said, most versions of this scene quote from the book, so on the script it's all "canonical" throughout! I couldn't care less what colour her dress was or what hairstyle Catherine wore - this was an Elizabeth and a Catherine I recognized by the air of the scene, the emotions they radiated. It made me so happy. But what happens when a character is not someone you recognize? I get disappointed, hurt, angry, upset, dissatisfied, conflicted. And sometimes I can say what makes me unhappy. Sometimes it's just wrong, but the wrongness is harder to define. Sometimes it's not one character but something bigger, and the bigger it is the harder it gets. Am I a pedant for wanting the characters' temperaments in P&P to be just so, and visibly so too? Perhaps. But it's clearly possible to achieve. It's possible to achieve with Tolkien too - there are multiple fanfics and adaptations of sorts which I enjoy despite even outright deviations, because the heart is there, the core is wholesome. It's clearly possible to achieve, it's not an impossible standard. But when you ask the question of why something fails to meet that standard and you don't quite know, it's easier to blame it on the lace on Elizabeth's dress than to put into words the deeper undercurrents that are the true reason for your emotions. And sometimes the impulse is to try and "fix" the problem - pretend that if something was done differently, the show would be so much better. But when it comes to it, sometimes you can put all the lace you want on Elizabeth's dress, it still won't make her Elizabeth. In the same way, even if a bunch of trivial details in RoP were made "more true to canon", it would not necessarily make the show a better Tolkien adaptation - but we can't help but try to make it more like the version we would wish to see, and change the things that are again easy to change but are alas only lace when it comes down to it.
__________________
You passed from under darkened dome, you enter now the secret land. - Take me to Finrod's fabled home!... ~ Finrod: The Rock Opera
Galadriel55 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:31 PM.



Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.