Tolkien’s Lobelia Sackville-Baggins is probably a misogynist satire of women's rights campaigner Victoria Sackville-West

Lobelia Sackville-Baggins is a Lord of the Rings Hobbit, one of the few, rare female characters in that series, and she's a nasty piece of work: a bitter enemy of Frodo and Bilbo, she is mostly depicted trying to either steal their stuff or buy it at deep discounts from them: she ends her days first imprisoned and starved, and then dead shortly after she's sprung. Read the rest

The only path to victory in the Middle Earth election is to appeal to the moderate orc voter

David Howard, McSweeney's: "Let me tell you, it’s hard out here for an orc. We experience tremendous insecurity, not knowing whether we’ll have a job, or be able to raid peaceful villages, or if our friends will eat us. Sauron appeals to us economically challenged goblins because he offers us the chance of a decent wage, respect for our values, and renewed pride in being the corrupted spawn of Morgoth." (Image: Guise, CC BY-SA, modified; Chicago Costume Company) (via Bruce Sterling) Read the rest

Former Archbishop of Canterbury on Tolkien as a warning against fascism

Here's former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on J.R.R. Tolkien, often seen as a reactionary but also the creator of a myth of Englishness completely opposed to fascism and other rotten boughs of capitalism.

So, how do we now respond to Tolkien’s imagined world, a world that is hierarchical, notoriously short on female agents, and which was accused by the poet Edwin Muir of being populated exclusively by different-sized schoolboys? As with Lewis, the complaint about implied misogyny is regularly coupled with worries about racial stereotyping, the romanticising of violence and the reduction of moral issues to cosmic battles between absolutes.

It is worth noting that Peter Jackson’s superbly visualised film versions of Tolkien’s novels if anything intensify some of these problems. But things are not quite that simple. ...

...he ends up writing, despite himself, a story that is more of a novel than a myth. Myths have no authors, it has been said. Even with the apparatus of invented language and ethnography, Tolkien’s history and “legendary” are haunted by the self-awareness of a particular type of 20th-century author: English, Catholic, academic, intensely aware of the devastation of a very specific England by industrialisation and urbanisation, more stoical than optimistic, yearning for a shared social narrative that would reaffirm certain solidarities of faith and mutual respect; deeply conservative but just as deeply opposed to unexamined power and the tyranny of profit.

Read the rest

How Warner Bros. used The Hobbit to strongarm New Zealand's acting union

Following the smash success of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, New Zealand's actors' union pushed for similar compensation and benefits as American actors. This detailed autopsy of how their demands were met with fierce studio lobbying that ended with politicians changing New Zealand's law in favor of the studios. Read the rest

Fan re-edits The Hobbit single, reasonable movie

Sara writes, "It has been a few years since The Hobbit has its theatrical release and some fans have been toiling since then on the perfect edit.

Joblit has posted links to his latest versions.They include the personal favourite Theatrical Edition (runtime 2:42), a somewhat indulgent Extended Edition (runtime 3:45), and a brisk Ludicrous Edition (runtime 2:10). He notes to keep in mind that the credits are 13 minutes long, so playback is considerably shorter.

If you're a fan of the films and also like an early night then these film edits are for you." Read the rest

Lovely watercolor illustrations of The Silmarillion's first chapter

Evan Palmer's reverent watercolors capture the verbal harmonies and surprising glories of J.R.R. Tolkien's origin story for the universe he created. Read the rest

Hilarious, bawdy princess rap battles

Youtube sensation Whitney Avalon has a brilliant new entry to her amazing Rap Battles series: a rude, hilarious battle between Belle and Cinderella, starring Buffy's Sarah Michelle Gellar. Read the rest

Meet the man who remade Middle‑earth

Ethan Gilsdorf interviews John Howe, Tolkien Illustrator and Conceptual Designer of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Movie Trilogies

Rock cover of "I See Fire," from Desolation of Smaug

Anaria covered Ed Sheeran's "I See Fire", the end credits from The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, in rockin' style. Here's the band's YouTube Channel. Read the rest

The Desolation of Tolkien

Ethan Gilsdorf reviews The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, where we see more clearly Jackson's vision to give The Hobbit the look, feel and slow majesty of The Lord of the Rings.

Short video on origins of Elvish, Klingon, Dothraki and Na’vi

From TED Ed: "What do Game of Thrones’ Dothraki, Avatar’s Na’vi, Star Trek’s Klingon and LOTR’s Elvish have in common? They are all fantasy constructed languages, or conlangs. Conlangs have all the delicious complexities of real languages: a high volume of words, grammar rules, and room for messiness and evolution. John McWhorter explains why these invented languages captivate fans long past the rolling credits." Read the rest

The real (?) "One Ring" Of The Hobbit

This cursed Roman ring may have inspired the One Ring of JRR Tolkien. It's now on display at The Vyne in Basingstoke, England. The Guardian has more on this artifact and the strange story surrounding its theft and subsequent curse. Read the rest

Zazzle: Tolkien estate told us to take down the badge. Wait, no they didn't!

Last week, I got an email from a lawyer representing the Tolkien estate informing me that his clients hadn't demanded that Zazzle remove Adam Rakunas's badge reading "While you were reading Tolkien, I was watching Evangelion."

So I wrote to Adam and asked him what Zazzle had told him about the affair. He was good enough to post all of his correspondence with Zazzle over the matter. On February 28, "Mike" from Zazzle wrote to Adam to say:

With regards to details of the infringement, all legal documents are confidential therefore I cannot release this undisclosed information. But we ask that you do acknowledge the fact that we were contacted by The J.R.R. Tolkien Estate, and at their request to prevent and remove any unauthorized and infringing third-party uses of their copyrights, trademarks and intellectual properties.

But when Adam pressed them for details (and after a lot of bad publicity), "Mike" wrote back:

This email is in regards to the deletion of your button entitled "While you were reading Tolkien,I was watching Eva". After corresponding with representatives from the Tolkien Estate, it's been brought to our attention that the design was removed inadvertently due to a miscommunication on our part.

I've written to several addresses at Zazzle seeking clarification, without an answer. But here's my guess: the Tolkien estate had previously contacted Zazzle and said, forcefully, "You keep carrying things that infringe our copyrights and trademarks. We expect you to take them down and prevent this from happening in the future." So Zazzle instituted a blanket policy of removing anything that even smelled of Tolkien. Read the rest

UPDATE: Tolkien estate didn't take down badge, claims Zazzle found it "potentially infringing"

This morning I heard from Steven Maier, partner at the Oxford law firm of Manches LLP, on behalf of the Tolkien estate. He wrote to say that the estate was not involved in Zazzle's takedown of a badge reading "While you were reading Tolkien, I was watching Evangelion." According to Maier, "Zazzle has confirmed that it took down the link of its own accord, because its content management department came across the product and deemed it to be potentially infringing."

Which is odd, because Adam Rakunas's post on the subject implied that Zazzle had told him they'd written on behalf of Tolkien's heirs. I've written to both Rakunas and Zazzle for an update.

I'm sorry for misidentifying the Tolkien estate as responsible for this inanity. While they have used copyright threats to censor at least three novels tangentially involving Tokien's characters or personage (that I know of), this button wasn't their fault, it was Zazzle's.

Tolkien estate censors badge that contains the word "Tolkien"

(Thanks, Steven!)

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Weta collectibles auction to benefit Christchurch quake victims

New Zealand special effects house Weta has put a collection of its fine models up for auction on eBay, with proceeds going to benefit victims of the Christchurch earthquake. I own two of Weta's rayguns, and they're among my most prized and beautiful possessions. Up for sale are two models based on the Lord of the Rings movies (one signed by Peter Jackson, the other by Richard Taylor) and one of the Doctor Grodbort's rayguns, customized and signed by Greg Broadmore.

Weta Limited - eBay

(via Super Punch)

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Eye of Mordor/US dollar bill mashup tee

Threadless's dschwen and murraymullet created this Eye of Mordor/US-dollar-bill-pyramid mashup and have put it to the vote on Threadless. I'm for it! I think the Elvish script under the sigil really makes this.

The All Seeing Eye by dschwen (via Super Punch)

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