Nasty Tricksy Hobbitses – why I am pro-union but still going to see the movie
Okay this one is completely off topic, but I figured it deserved a bit more than a Facebook update (boaties I will not be offended if you choose to sit this one out).
I am in a bit of a conundrum with the Hobbit.
Morally I should not want to have anything to do with it, but here I am getting caught up in the geeky, Gollumy, wizardy hype.
A bit of back-story for the non-Kiwi readers: Peter Jackson, the Hobbit’s director, was a bit of a folk hero for many of us - who spent our teenage years peering through our fingers, giggling hysterically at his B-grade splatter sci-fi monstrosities. We were horrified and enthralled by Meet the Feebles (you CAN’T do that with Muppets!), utterly grossed out by Brain Dead and Bad Taste and fascinated by the strange beauty of Heavenly Creatures.
Then our local boy went and done good – he and his Weta Workshop managed to land Lord of the Rings. They got to create some amazing critters, heaps of NZ actors and artists got exposure, the local movie scene took off and turning up to interviews barefoot became socially acceptable.
Fast-forward to 2010 when PJ broke my heart.
After many other film successes and a knighthood he managed to secure the Hobbit – and that was no mean feat (there is a whole other backstory there). More exposure for local actors, great opportunities for tourism providers – what’s not to be happy about?
Unfortunately Sir Peter then stuck it to the unions, denying actors minimum guarantees on wages and working conditions. He even spat the dummy and threatened to move the whole kit and caboodle to Eastern Europe if they didn’t play ball. At the same time we had our PM doing deals with Warner Brothers to change our labour laws. So much for supporting the locals!
So the answer’s simple right? – boycott the movie. Just don’t go.
And this is where I am torn.
I’m not getting hyped up because of the Hollywood of it all. I’m getting hyped up because it’s the Hobbit.
LOTR was my rebellion book.
When I was in primary school I was told by a librarian that I couldn’t take out Lord of the Rings because it would be “too hard” for me. I didn’t understand. I’d already read, and loved, the Hobbit and it was written by the same guy, I argued– the only difference was that LOTR was much longer. No dice.
So I borrowed a copy from one of my Mum’s friends (the whole trilogy in one volume so it was a big sucker) and read it ostentatiously in front of said librarian at every available opportunity. Yes I am aware of how nerdy rebelling by reading a book is – let’s just say I wasn’t in the ‘in crowd’ at school.
It was the beginning of a lifelong love of fantasy and sci-fi (though Michael Ende’s Neverending story still wins all the honours as far as I am concerned) and gained extra cool points because the hero was a short-arse (as difficult as it is to imagine I was even stumpier then than I am now.)
I will always have a soft spot for those books – and it makes me happy to see the brought to life on the big screen.
It’s not Tolkien or his characters’ fault that this whole mess has happened and I don’t think it’s my fault for wanting to see what the movie makes of the book.
But at the same time I feel for the actors who have been potentially done over by this.
I’ve made up my mind, I’ve going to the movie. I love the way you can spot Tolkien characters all over Wellington and the way people are really getting in to it – but it still niggles at me. I think Peter Jackson and Weta are doing some amazing things, but that doesn’t excuse the shabby stuff.
I am aware this is a gross over-simplification of what went on and would like to make it clear that I have not been privy to any of the detail – but it would take a lot to convince me that there was any good in what happened.
What do you reckon? Will you be going?
Before I shut up and get back to writing about boats – here are some pics of the awesome Gandalf sculpture going up at the Embassy theatre for the premiere – and Gollum at the airport.