Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Welcome to the Hobbit read-along!

Ch1 | Ch2 | Ch3 | Ch4 | Ch5 | Ch6 | Ch7 | Ch8 | Ch9 | Ch10 | Ch11 

Richard Armitage as Thorin
It's safe to say that I know nothing of JRR Tolken or any of his books. I have never read them, not have I had any desire to. I sat through the first three lord of the Ring movies because they were so popular but by the third film I was literally willing the movies to finish. They were not very obliging.
While I read fantasy books, I generally only read those set in this universe, in familiar places. Real life with a twist if you like, things like urban fantasy, speculative fiction, horror etc
I have read a few fantasy novels set in their own universes (such as some of the Diskworld series) but most of the rules in these invented universes just seem pointless and done for comic effect, but it is obviously a sense of humour that I don't understand.
For example, a flat world that rides through space on the back of an elephant which sits on the back or a turtle, or something. A weird image but only in the “WTF!” sense. I'm sorry but to this geek's mind, all universes must follow the rules of physics; they are universal, after all.
Another reason I actively avoid these invented worlds is that, while my exposure is limited, they do seem to be very sexist.
Some unintentionally so in that the author probably didn't think to include many women; indeed among a cast of thousands, you will sometimes find barely enough female characters to count on one hand. The Lord of the Ring films seem to be a perfect example of this thoughtless sexism and I can't see that the books will be very different (probably worse).
The other kind of sexism is much more overt in that the authors seem to think the only role of women is as slaves; scantily clad, beautiful specimens of womanhood who's purpose is only to be submissive and please their male masters, often in a sexual sense as well as in terms of being a servant to him. The Gor novels for example, are sadomasochistic in their treatment of women; rape, torture and beatings are common. Why would I read something by an author who makes it clear that he hates me and my sex?
In both kinds of books, women never feature in the plot, The Great Quest which the male characters must undertake.
So it's hardly surprising that as a feminist I avoid sexist fiction. I experience and read enough about inequality in real life, I hardly want to spend my downtime immersed in more of the same crap I deal with day in, day out.
So you can imagine how depressed I was to find out that two of my favourite actors have been cast in the Hobbit movies. Seriously? I have to watch two more of these sexist, over-hyped, self indulgent and long-winded movies?
I fully intended to avoid both films like the plague. Just because I am a fan, doesn't mean I have to watch everything an actor I like is in, especially if it disagrees with my principles. However being both a Richard Armitage and Aidan Turner fan I have simply been unable to avoid information about the films. It seems that Peter Jackson is quite good at this publicity lark and information has been trickling out in the form of official set videos, pictures, blogs from AICN and so many interviews and articles I couldn't possibly begin to count them. I'm learning about these films by osmosis without even wanting to, the same way I know what Kim Kardashian looks like and that she had a sham marriage, even though I have no idea why I know this.
Of the Hobbit cast list of 35 on Wikipedia, just two women appear and none of them appear to be among the main cast. That's 5%.
Women make up 50% of the population, Hollywood, wake up and smell the sexism!
I'm not saying that Peter Jackson should disregard the original book but he changes things that he wants to in order to adapt the book to the screen, surely he could have also adapted the book for a 21st century audience and perhaps made one of the dwarves female? Out of 13 dwarves, is that really such a departure from the original that fan's of the books will boycott the movie? I don't think so.
All of the recent super hero movies seem to understand that you need at least one kick-ass female role, even if the original didn't have them, why is Middle Earth so very different?
Anyway, despite myself this trickle of information has piqued my interest and so I will attempt to read The Hobbit and find out for myself what all the fuss is about.
I will then attempt to blog about it, chapter by chapter (assuming it doesn't piss me off or bore me to the extent that I cannot continue).
So, if you fancy coming along for the ride, chapter one will be posted tomorrow.

Update: Intro | Ch1 | Ch2 | Ch3 | Ch4 | Ch5 | Ch6 | Ch7 | Ch8 | Ch9 | Ch10 | Ch11
              Ch12 | Ch13 | Ch14 | Ch15 | Ch16 | Ch17 | Ch18 | Ch19

Buy your copy and read along! Amazon UK | Amazon US

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