Brin on Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien -- enemy of progress

[...] Now ponder something that comes through even the party-line demonization of a crushed enemy -- this clear-cut and undeniable fact: Sauron's army was the one that included every species and race on Middle Earth, including all the despised colors of humanity, and all the lower classes.

Hmm. Did they all leave their homes and march to war thinking, "Oh, goody, let's go serve an evil Dark Lord"?

Or might they instead have thought they were the "good guys," with a justifiable grievance worth fighting for, rebelling against an ancient, rigid, pyramid-shaped, feudal hierarchy topped by invader-alien elfs and their Numenorean-colonialist human lackeys?

If you haven't read his criticisms of Star Wars, they're well worth the time:

"Star Wars" despots versus "Star Trek" populists

Just what bill of goods are we being sold, between the frames? Elites have an inherent right to arbitrary rule; common citizens needn't be consulted. They may only choose which elite to follow. "Good" elites should act on their subjective whims, without evidence, argument or accountability. Any amount of sin can be forgiven if you are important enough. True leaders are born. It's genetic. The right to rule is inherited. Justified human emotions can turn a good person evil.

And parts 2 and 3:

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2 Responses:

  1. rpkrajewski says:

    I think Brin is oversimplifying Tolkien to exploit his Zeitgeist points. Tolkien is a product of the British Empire but ascendent elements in LOTR are the unexpected heroes (not elves but halflings) and the invevitable uncertainty of a world where men will have nothing but their own wits to rely on — no magic, no enchantment. (The Slashdot thread on this reads pretty good when browsing at +2.)

    On the other hand, Lucas has a lot of shit to answer for.

  2. kyronfive says:

    Naturally, this hustling of babies will wind up being the major subplot of Episode III -- which ought to be a real bummer of a movie: Coruscant and a zillion other planets are gonna have to fry as the emperor takes over, since that would only happen over the dead bodies of every decent citizen with any spirit. What a lovely way to finish the saga! But we'll still cheer as Obi-Wan manages to grab the twins, Luke and Leia, saving them from Dad's evil clutches as billions perish behind them. Hurrah!

    I almost pissed on myself when i read this.