Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Speaking for the dead

I just finished watching a documentary of sorts about Tolkien, though to be honest it was so lacking in content that it went through the entire bloody Lord of the Rings plotline with really crappy stock footage to accompany it.

The thing that got me was how able and willing random dickheads were to speak the mind of someone who is dead. "Tolkien believed..." said Stupid Bint, Library Critic. "What Tolkien was trying to accomplish was..." said Some Ass, Military Academy. "It wasn't about that at all. It was about..." said Numb Nuts, Tolkien Historian.

Who the hell are they to know and communicate the inner thoughts of a dead man, especially one who in his life was extremely private? I'm sorry, but there were interview clips with JRR Tolkien himself, and I honestly could not understand 1/10th of what that guy was saying. His accent and speech mannerisms were atrocious, especially for a philologist! I'm surprised even he could communicate his own thoughts in a way that others could understand. Two of his children were shown -- sparingly -- and they could be understood no problem. (I thought it interesting that Christopher Tolkien was not the son interviewed, considering his up-take of his father's literary aftermath.)

It just bugs the hell out of me that people possess such arrogance that they attempt to say, without doubt or concern, that someone that they never knew in the entirety of their obsessive lives believed X, Y and Z. Am I the only one who finds that simply stupid? I'd rather see 10 minutes of interviews with Tolkien himself (via a translator, thank you) than 2 hours of 'expert testimony'. One guy (who was actually quite well-spoken) even had the gall to say that Tolkien wrote women 'out of the gender box'. My ass he did. Eowyn was the only woman that was a woman of action; all the rest just looked pretty behind the scenes. Same in the Silmarillion... only Luthien was 'active'. The rest were just sort of there on a pedistal, Astrophil and Stella style.

Anyhoo... it just occurred to me how stupid it is to make such glaring suppositions about someone you've never met. Seeing 3 people in a row say 3 very definitive statements about someone they'd never spoken with just sort of blew my mind. I hope I'm never famous or inquired-about after I die so I don't have a bunch of assholes stepping forward to tell the world what they know I really thought.

Gah. Angry.


PG said...

Interesting. Being a philosophy and history guy yourself, I would have thought you would have long recovered from the blatant lies that can be found in "authorities" in secondary sources.

I agree that it's infuruating to see people make statements about issues that cannot be proven (or easily contradicted, except when showing the lack of evidence to back the argument). A few "It appears", "It is likely", "One can easily imagine" or "Based on his works, X demonstrated a tendency towards... "

The fact is, Tolkien is dead. With the movies giving his books a second (or third) life and increased popularity with non-Fantasy readers, a resurgence of documentaries on his life was bound to happen. I wouldn't sweat it. He isn't the first famous person to be misquoted.



Anonymous said...

Everybody: what *I think* Patrick is trying to say here is...oh nevermind. I just got the jist of your blog.

Kidding! Hope you're shaking that cough Patrice! If I get sick I'll assume you coughed on my timbits when I wasn't looking