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About LotR films commercializing Tolkien

Tol Eressea

Nov 23 2012, 9:56pm

Post #1 of 16 (560 views)
About LotR films commercializing Tolkien Can't Post

The Simon Tolkien thread below reminded me of Christopher Tolkien's comment about how he disdains the way Tolkien has become a money making mass product.

I felt a bit hurt by that comment, considering I too buy LotR merchandice, and yet I also consider myself a Tolkienist who above all else values the artistic and intellectual quality of his subcreation.

Then the thought moved on this route: those who abuse Tolkien's popularity to make cash quite likely do not understand him, nor care about him. But it's a mistake to confuse those who sell to those who buy. Even if humans are treated as a mass by the commercial powers, this is always an illusion, and that mass is made of thinking and feeling individuals.

And a soothing realization came to me: there are good products and bad products to sell to these "masses". There are subpar movies and books which still become incredibly popular for a reason or another. They then proceed to have their negative, stupifying or outright immoralizing effect on the people who consume them.
But some of the extremely popular franchises are a good influence on people. I honestly believe LotR is one of these. It has a good, encouraging, optimistic, pro-life, pro-friendship message to send.

This inner goodness of Tolkien is what has always drawn me to him above all other story tellers. And I believe that while PJ's movies aren't as fine as Tolkien's books, they sill contain that deepest heart, that love for life, people and world.

Or am I being incredibly silly here? You see, for me Tolkien's world is so loveable because Tolkien himself loved it so much. It's like seeing an artifact made by a craftsman who has put all his skill and passion to it. Tolkien cared about things (his mother, Edith, trees, homeland, friends, languages, stories, horses...), and much of the spirit of his books is a mixture of this caring, and the sense of pain and regret caused by losing them.

In the bleak, cynic and nihilistic time we live, it's not a bad attitude to have. And it first reached me via PJ's movies, which were like a lightning and completly revolutionized my frivolous thoughts, opening them to the world of beauty and dignity.

That's all~ Heart

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


Nov 24 2012, 4:21am

Post #2 of 16 (396 views)
I agree [In reply to] Can't Post

I love all the Middle-earth products we get. It's not like a fan of Tolkien is forced at gunpoint to by the merchandise. There's a variety of merchandise for a variety of fans. I love the LOTR games, for example. Love LOTRO, and recently got Lego LOTR. These products don't necessarily ruin Tolkien's name, rather they enhance it by branching out to more fans in different mediums who can appreciate it. I also like to collect the figures, and to some they may seem like cheap cash grabs, I think they are fun to collect, as when you go to the store or whatever you never know what you can find, and if you find something you want you get this little joy inside you where you're just bustling with happiness for Middle-earth. Sure, there are cheap cash grabs (the slot machines, for example), but there is a lot of quality LOTR merchandise. Merchandise, for me, enhances the property, and allows it to live on longer than just in a passing memory. It also gives you something to look forward to if we don't have a movie coming out or something like that. Like whilst waiting for The Hobbit movies, we got LOTR games throughout the years (some good, some meh) that gave us that little fix we need to immerse ourselves into this world, or we get a tie-in novel to the films that we can grab and reread.

Lover of Medieval Fantasy
"I know what I must do. It's just... I'm afraid to do it."


Nov 24 2012, 4:57am

Post #3 of 16 (369 views)
Ditto [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, some things are crappy and kind of mock the world Tolkien created. However, the items I buy which we show on our FP I think show the great things people can buy to show off Middle-earth and the world Tolkien created. As you said its something to look at and have fond memories of Tolkien's work and other memories tied to them. So while some may be cash grabs there are some I'm thankful because they allow me the things I mentioned.

(This post was edited by Elessar on Nov 24 2012, 5:01am)


Nov 24 2012, 5:21am

Post #4 of 16 (429 views)
Very well put! [In reply to] Can't Post

And I agree wholeheartedly. It's the beautiful themes in Tolkien's work that I cherish the most. Some of the toys and games and the like are just a fun little extra.Wink

Use Well the Days


Nov 24 2012, 9:34am

Post #5 of 16 (386 views)
Christopher Tolkien is naive [In reply to] Can't Post

Welcome to today's society, Mr.Tolkien. As good as every successful author faces this very issue, and if he wanted to avoid it, well, then maybe his father should not have sold off the rights for cash.

The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.


Nov 24 2012, 11:42am

Post #6 of 16 (344 views)
There was a big difference from society then as to now [In reply to] Can't Post

in regards of merchandise. But then that is why there is a lawsuit happening right now to define tangible.

I dont think personally they will be able to prove what that specifically means because although they will have good lawyers, WB's will be better.

I think what a lot of people are put off by is that WB obviously doesnt care about the works or Tolkien they are just wanting to make money for their shareholders, that is all.

Welcome to the real world - sometimes its great, other times i wish i was born years ago.

Ultimately it is about where people want to see Middle-earth go - do they want the movies to be the leading iconography or the books. If someone likes the books more, they will more likely side with Tolkien Estate, if someone prefers the movies then the opposite.

For me i think its sad that it can basically be exploited to this point. Had Tolkien been alive today and sold the rights, he would have been a lot more savvy in terms of merchandise and the limits he set, rather than just saying any tangible merchandise as that could be different for you and me. For me that means books, bookmarks, posters, calendars for others it may mean gambling machines, or any of the other plethora of merchandise.


Nov 24 2012, 11:40pm

Post #7 of 16 (304 views)
Grey Area [In reply to] Can't Post

I think things like the slot machines are playing in the grey with a license and I think taking advantage of it. Those are the kinds of products that I have an issue with and agree with the estate doing what they need to do. Now, I hope they don't have an issue with some of the high end stuff from Weta, Sideshow, Noble, etc those items do everything to represent the greatness of Tolkien's work and Jackson's adaptation. Another issue with items like these slot machines is they bring a negative view I'm afraid from other fans at items like I mentioned already. So in the end I hope items like these slot machines go away and the high end items are allowed to shine for how they push Tolkien's world. Cool


Nov 25 2012, 12:19am

Post #8 of 16 (292 views)
I think there is a grey area as well [In reply to] Can't Post

But defining that legally must be very difficult i would imagine?

I know some who view all but the books as tacky and tat. Others who like the items such as the statues, swords and i guess other high end items - doesnt have to be related to the movies but just tolkien - for example i have a pewter chess set which was licensed by the Tolkien Estate but has no connection to the movies.

Others see all of it as good quality products, slot machines included. I dont view gambling as a sin (im not religious) and i have no problem with it, i gamble myself every now and again. But i do feel it goes against certain things that Tolkien himself would have found acceptable or not. Ultimately though WB dont care as they are in it for just the profit so if they can make money in any legal way they will

So like you say it is hard where to draw the line and say this is acceptable but these things are not acceptable.

If only JRRT had sold just the film rights not film and merch!


Nov 25 2012, 1:04am

Post #9 of 16 (289 views)
Very difficult [In reply to] Can't Post

I would imagine it would be very difficult.

Yeah, there are some for sure that look at anything but the book as tacky. I don't understand that myself but I'm someone who buys these type of high end items so not being on the same page makes sense I think. Yeah, the items don't have to be related to the movies to be cool I've seen several items over the last several years that look cool that aren't part of the movies.

Sure some people are cool with it all. I don't subscribe to that as I don't subscribe to the other way as I said so both seem a bit odd to me. lol I have no problem with gambling and maybe losing some money to a Lord of the Rings slot machines makes it easier to deal with. lol I'm like you though as I think it crosses the line of what should be turned into a product. I can understand say a Marvel themed slot machine but something related to Middle-earth just seems wrong.

Agreed, I find these unacceptable but what is and isn't is an issue for all of us to agree on.

I'm glad he sold merch rights. It allows us to have some great items but sadly we gt some stinkers that slip through as well.Unsure


Nov 25 2012, 4:18pm

Post #10 of 16 (276 views)
Chris is right... [In reply to] Can't Post

I hate what the film franchise has done to Tolkien. I just ignore it all because it makes me sick and takes away from my enjoyment of Tolkien's work.


Nov 25 2012, 4:42pm

Post #11 of 16 (292 views)
To each their own [In reply to] Can't Post

I obviously don't agree as the films and the stuff that we report on here with the statues, replicas, etc IMO only help add to the greatness of Tolkien's creation. Continue to ignore it if it ruins things for you that's the great thing about how we approach things like this we can do it however we choose.

One thing I don't think Chris thinks about if it wasn't for the films people like me might not have become fans of his fathers work. I knew of Middle-earth but between my mother having read FOTR along with news of the movies it made me more interested. So while purists hate them I would hope they understand they have brought many fans into the fold.


Nov 25 2012, 7:45pm

Post #12 of 16 (285 views)
I just don't get it. [In reply to] Can't Post

What have "they" done to Tolkien? How did the film-makers in any way "harm" or "taint" Tolkien's works? They are what they are and always will be, the books remain untouched. The films won't change that, it will only spawn more fans of Tolkien in time. Sales for the LOTR trilogy sky-rocketed when the movies came out 10 years ago.

The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.


Nov 25 2012, 8:54pm

Post #13 of 16 (301 views)
Tolkien LOTR [In reply to] Can't Post

@macfalk I will say one word to you: Tauržel.

More seriously, a couple of weeks ago I happen to raise the subject of LOTR with someone and asked him simply: do you know Gandalf? he said to me: Yeah he's a film character. I was shocked. But these kinds of instances are very common, I don't doubt it. And it will inscrease with The Hobbit. The films, perhaps not in purpose, overshadow Tolkien's work. Lots people discover Middle-Earth with the movies ( I am one of them) but to to some it became the references of it. The film's influence keep getting broader.

(This post was edited by sam90 on Nov 25 2012, 8:56pm)


Nov 25 2012, 9:52pm

Post #14 of 16 (247 views)
If they do "overshadow" the books [In reply to] Can't Post

Then that shows how well the movies have fared to have made such an impression. I dont see how it's a bad thing - if we talked about any other popular book series being adapted for the big screen, they probably "overshadow" the book as well, but I don't see them whining about it. Harry Potter for instance, I bet many people would say "Yeah, Dumbledore is a film character".

The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.


Nov 25 2012, 9:55pm

Post #15 of 16 (246 views)
Eh [In reply to] Can't Post

Tauriel doesn't hurt the works nor did Lurtz. That's reaching at best.

Yes, some people are that way. As a matter of fact there may be a healthy portion of people who only know of these characters as movie characters but thats on them for not searching deeper knowing there are books out there. Some people are just lazy and don't like to read so this is how they get to know Tolkien's work which is in the end fine with me. The books are #1 first and foremost but I totally disagree with the thought that the movies have harmed the books because if anything they've made the books something people will look to get into. It has expanded the fandom of the great world Tolkien created and that IMO is a good thing.


Nov 25 2012, 9:58pm

Post #16 of 16 (314 views)
comes down to this i feel [In reply to] Can't Post

Ultimately it is about where people want to see Middle-earth go - do they want the movies to be the leading iconography or the books. If someone likes the books more, they will more likely side with Tolkien Estate, if someone prefers the movies then the opposite.


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