Friday, December 18, 2009

J.R.R. Tolkien Is Overrated / The Sacrificial Hero

There... I said it. Tolkien's overrated.

And why is it that I said that?

More importantly, why is it that I feel like I need to explain that Tolkien is overrated? I mean, the man is the grandfather of modern fantasy. He is the architect of everything that came after him. Everyone who came after owes a bit of gratitude and a bit of thanks to him. And trust me, this isn't going to be totally negative. Why should it be? Tolkien's the man. He's earned his spot in the annals of fantasy history. He's earned every bit of copying people have done from him. Everything from motion pictures to other fantasy series to Dungeons and Dragons have borrowed creatively and visually from Tolkien's Middle-earth.

If by "borrow" you mean "pillage" with some copyright infringement thrown in for fun.

Wait, where was I? Oh, right. Tolkien. Overrated. Let's get cracking with this major gripe.

It was too damn long! People bitched and moaned about the film adaptation of Return of the King being too long and having too many endings... those people have no idea what it is like to read it! This is something that fantasy does way too much, and it's thanks in part to J.R.R. Tolkien. The denouement of a work of fiction should not be a hundred pages or more. Yes, Tolkien was sending a message with "The Scouring of the Shire," but Tolkien has also been quoted as saying that he wrote his books not with any significant message or symbolism in mind, but for entertainment purposes. Let's be frank: there is no entertainment value whatsoever in dragging the story that far past its conclusion. The entire series was about the destruction of the One Ring. The climax of the entire series should have been Aragorn's desperate gambit to distract Sauron just long enough, hoping and PRAYING that Frodo would be able to destroy the Ring.

I just really wanted to go off on a rant about sacrificial heroes. So instead of stifling the creative juices, I'm gonna go with it.

People have said that Frodo should have died at the end. That hero characters should automatically have to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the quest. Of the world. Well that's stupid. Do some hero characters have to sacrifice themselves for the world? Yeah. Sometimes that's a necessity for the destruction of the Dark Lord. And a sacrifice is made in The Lord of the Rings. But it's not Frodo's.

It's Aragorn's.

Let's look here. He had an army of maybe ten thousand at his disposal. True, in the movies you could have just the Fellowship taking on all the legions of Mordor by themselves.

Scratch that. In the movies Legolas can take on all the legions of Mordor by himself.

There. Fixed.

Don't forget things based off the movies either. In every video game level based off of that battle, you take control of the Fellowship and simply dominate everything Sauron can throw at you for an extended period of time until they decide that Frodo's had enough time to destroy the Ring and cut to credits.

But in the books, and in the way the movies actually went, it really was a desperate gambit. They said so themselves. It was essentially a suicide mission for them. All so that two little Hobbits could maybe, possibly, potentially get their chance to topple the Dark Lord.

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