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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
An open letter to the Hobbit forum
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Silverlode
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 2 2016, 10:03am

Post #1 of 35 (33211 views)
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An open letter to the Hobbit forum Can't Post

 I've noticed a lot of frustration and repetition in this forum lately - well, not just lately. It's been long enough that there are probably people here who don't remember it being any other way. But there's a lot of taking of "sides" and drawing up of lines, and I've noticed a lot of people making exasperated commentary on other fans, regardless of the topic. Specifically, a lot of labeling into "apologists" or "defenders" of one sort or another. It's my observation, based on nearly 16 years' membership on this forum, that nobody here is actually defending either Peter Jackson or Tolkien, though I have heard some claim that they are, and many accuse others of trying to. Neither Tolkien nor Jackson need defending (both were/are perfectly aware that their work was not going to be to everyone's taste), nor are any of us authorized or charged with their defense. They each produced a work and put it out into the world, and the work itself is not in any way altered by anyone's opinions of it. It remains there, on the bookshelf or the media shelf, exactly as it was made.

What people actually end up defending is themselves: their own loves, their own preferences, their own tastes, their own experience or perception or interpretation. Each person loves what they love, and hates what they hate and we all end up identifying with and investing a part of ourselves in those things. I think most people, if not all, feel happier and more secure when they find people who share the same likes and dislikes, and that is what many people come here looking for. The problem is that they arrive and find that their assumptions about how other fans will align with them are mistaken. Because we as fans personally identify with the things we love, because they have affected us deeply in some way, opposing opinions feel personal. In the case of the movies, elements of the adaptation also feel personal, whether we felt they were transcendent or terrible. This only becomes a problem when people get their reactions mixed up with the thing itself and start criticizing or blaming others for not reacting the same way. Many are surprised, shocked, or otherwise made uncomfortable by viewpoints that it never even occurred to them that anyone could seriously hold, and so they are not satisfied with an exchange of ideas, or even the expression of their own - they feel they need to somehow correct the ideas and preferences of others. And then those they "correct" feel the need to defend themselves or correct the other person in turn. There's a certain inner desperation at the thought that we (whatever opinions we hold) may find ourselves in a minority or disregarded and the thing that we love will somehow be lost or devalued or trampled along the way.

Next thing you know, everyone feels unwelcome and put upon. This is true no matter what "side" people find themselves on, and both sides in the same conversation feel exactly the same frustration at the wrongness of the other person(s) and their inability to just let them have their say. As a Moderator, I know of what I speak. I hear the same laments from both sides. Everybody feels like the "balance" is skewed in favor of the other side. Everyone. We take agreement for granted (because of course...) and disagreement hits us hard, so the disagreement seems greater, no matter what the actual numbers are. We tend to only feel secure, or that things are truly balanced, when they're skewed at least a little in our favor. And it means that an awful lot of people approach conversation as a tug-of-war, or keep score, afraid to let anyone else have the last word lest they "win".

Diversity is an idea we tend to praise right up until we realize that it means others will actually be annoyingly different and keep on being annoyingly different, never coming around to our (obviously correct or I wouldn't hold it, stands to reason) point of view. We all want others to love the things we love as much as we love them and in the same way, because then we could share it. But often that doesn't happen. If there is one thing I have learned from being part of this community, it's that many people will love the things I hate, be touched by things that leave me cold, and somehow manage to be supremely oblivious to things, both major and minor, that I love passionately. But everyone is here because they love - the books, the movies, or both.

So may I encourage everyone: While talking about what you love or don't, pay attention to whether you're falling into the habit of telling someone else what and how they should think or be. Because it's not your job to make them be like you, even if you're right, and they won't appreciate it any more than you do when it goes the other way. Nobody here represents a block of opinion, or a monolith of sentiment - we are all individuals and between us we cover pretty much the whole spectrum of opinions on any given question. That's what drives debate and discussions and keeps them interesting, but it need not make them antagonistic. Your fellow fans may have weird tastes, be incomprehensible in their reasoning, and have their priorities all out of order (compared to yours), but they're not your enemy. It's always a good idea to remind ourselves how much common ground we share when differences start to feel like they're filling up all the space.

Silverlode

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.




(This post was edited by Silverlode on Mar 20 2016, 11:24am)


BlackFox
Half-elven


Mar 2 2016, 1:25pm

Post #2 of 35 (32864 views)
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*mods up* // [In reply to] Can't Post

 



Eruonen
Valinor


Mar 2 2016, 3:15pm

Post #3 of 35 (32827 views)
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Well stated. [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Ettelewen
Rohan

Mar 2 2016, 4:35pm

Post #4 of 35 (32796 views)
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This. [In reply to] Can't Post

"Diversity is an idea we tend to praise right up until we realize that it means others will actually be annoyingly different and keep on being annoyingly different, never coming around to our (obviously correct or I wouldn't hold it, stands to reason) point of view."

Very profound, and quite true. Thanks Silverlode.


Starling
Half-elven


Mar 2 2016, 5:27pm

Post #5 of 35 (32771 views)
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Wise words. [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you, Silverlode. This is thought provoking and beautifully articulated.

I think maybe that's just one of the reasons you are one of our really rather terrific mods. Smile




RosieLass
Valinor


Mar 2 2016, 5:48pm

Post #6 of 35 (32781 views)
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Yes. [In reply to] Can't Post

We are all entitled to our own opinions, and we are NOT entitled to try to force people to conform to our opinions.

I feel like I need to cut and paste this post on my Facebook page, but change it from Tolkien/Jackson to conservative/liberal/Republican/Democrat. You are never going to change anyone's mind if all you do is sling insults and put them down because they think differently than you do.

"Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it."
--Joyce Meyer

A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP
--Leonard Nimoy

(This post was edited by RosieLass on Mar 2 2016, 5:48pm)


TheOnlyOneAroundWithAnySense
Rohan


Mar 2 2016, 6:06pm

Post #7 of 35 (32756 views)
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Golden, right here [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"And you can trust me. Because I don't care enough about you to lie."
- Parks and Recreation


dormouse
Half-elven


Mar 2 2016, 6:46pm

Post #8 of 35 (32738 views)
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You're absolutely right.... [In reply to] Can't Post

...well said, and sorry, Silverlode.

For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood and every spring
there is a different green. . .


Darkstone
Immortal


Mar 2 2016, 7:19pm

Post #9 of 35 (32733 views)
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So.... [In reply to] Can't Post

...when we discuss things on TORn we should do so in a way that reflects Tolkien's themes of love, humility, brotherhood, tolerance, and forgiveness?

******************************************

I met a Balrog on the stair.
He had some wings that weren't there.
They weren't there again today.
I wish he would just fly away.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Mar 2 2016, 8:22pm

Post #10 of 35 (32690 views)
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Agreed... [In reply to] Can't Post

I've tried not to be confrontational, but I can't say that I've always completely succeeded. I can only try to do better.

"Things need not to have happened to be true.
Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure
when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot."


- Dream of the Endless


Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Mar 2 2016, 8:33pm

Post #11 of 35 (32693 views)
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Not only what Silverlode said... [In reply to] Can't Post

...but what Rosie said, too. I felt the same way when I read the words of wisdom from our esteemed moderator!

Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow....


Bracegirdle
Valinor


Mar 2 2016, 10:49pm

Post #12 of 35 (32632 views)
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Thank you Silverlode - Well said! [In reply to] Can't Post

I confess to being as guilty as anyone (perhaps guiltier than most) of being single-minded and a bit argumentative when trying to get a point across. The written word or posting can quite often be misinterpreted as it can be difficult (for me at least) to put into a single posting one’s true feelings, whereas were the participants in disagreement in a physical face-to-face their thoughts could quickly be concluded (whether or not they come to an agreement).

Ok, I agree with all you have said!!
It’s what you haven’t said that may need to be addressed. I believe that there are occasions of a ‘line-in-the-sand’, of a definite right and a definite wrong. A silly case in point might be a ‘newbie’ (or anyone) that says, “Gandalf is an Elf.”. Should we feel free to correct that person or should we let this error slide for fear that the poster would be personally offended or of Mod. chastisement? Of course, in this case, the error should be addressed, but hopefully with thoughtfulness. As Darkstone hints, should all be “love, humility, brotherhood, tolerance, and forgiveness”? Then all of TORn may become a sweet hug-fest with little substance.

And I hope the above paragraph is not taken as a slam as it is not intended so.
Nevertheless, I’m with Otaku and shall try to do better.

I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of
gold there grew:
Of wind I sang, a wind there came and in the branches
blew.




TheOnlyOneAroundWithAnySense
Rohan


Mar 2 2016, 11:52pm

Post #13 of 35 (32606 views)
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I would hope we can correct that [In reply to] Can't Post

It would be way more in line with love than letting that person believe falsely forever.

If not, God help us all.

"And you can trust me. Because I don't care enough about you to lie."
- Parks and Recreation


Silverlode
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 3 2016, 1:09am

Post #14 of 35 (32588 views)
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Opinions are different than facts, of course. [In reply to] Can't Post

If the disagreement is over a factual error, then yes, of course the error may be pointed out - as you said, preferably reasonably politely and without additional disparaging remarks on the intellectual capacity of the person who made the error. Citing sources is always welcome as well, especially if the source is not universally known (not everyone has read HOME or the Letters, for example). Usually errors of fact can be cleared up fairly quickly by referring back to the source, and debates over text and canon can usually be carried on without personal animosity (which is one reason the Mods rarely need to intervene in the Reading Room).

But most of the arguments we have here, especially the ones that seem to go on and on and create such a contentious atmosphere, are based on differences of opinion or perception. That's where my post was aimed. There is a large area where interpretation bears a larger part than fact.

It gets most complicated when people get into the area of adaptation, i.e. "how things were/should have been done". That's where people often begin trying to campaign or convert others to their own point of view. When we read the books, each person envisions what the text is describing. While we're all reading the same words, our imaginations mix those with our own memories, knowledge, experiences, and interpretations so that the resulting mental images can be very different indeed. To take a classic example: Balrog wings. There are several brief descriptions in the text, and yet people have managed to interpret and envision them in very different ways. I, personally, am firmly in the "metaphorical wings" camp. While I may engage in a debate with others who read it differently or first encountered the Balrog on the movie screen, if I made it personal and wouldn't let it go, bringing it up on all occasions, and making remarks about the kind of people who held other views, I could quickly make a real nuisance of myself while convincing no one. In the end, I must let others hold their interpretations as I expect them to allow me mine. Because, in addition to those who simply interpret the text differently, there are also those who approach the question with a different priority, and they don't care about parsing the text because it's cooler with the wings and they just like it better. My #1 priority: What Tolkien Meant. Their #1 priority: The Visual Awesomeness Factor. It's not going to do any good to tell them they shouldn't rank that high on their list because it isn't high on mine, or vice versa. They're just going to go on being annoyingly different.

For some who get a great deal of enjoyment from visuals, the practical effects or CGI are one of the most important things in a film, and if they aren't up to their standard it ruins their enjoyment, while another person only needs them to move the story along and not distract them, and as long as they do that, it's all good. There is no right/wrong there, and in the end, they simply experience the same thing in very different ways. You can't tell the people who love Visuals to ignore them, nor can you tell the people who are all about Story that they must become analytical and critical of technical details that don't interfere with their enjoyment.

For each person, something about the story resonates deeply with them - but what that is is different for different people. One person's very favorite thing may have been left out, or changed somehow, and they feel the loss of it every time they watch. For another, an addition or change may speak directly to something deep in them, and they are likely to feel that no matter how different it is from the text, it still conveys the spirit of it because it touches the same spot in them that the book does. Is the spirit of the books/movies friendship, courage, loyalty, adventure, sacrifice, fear of death, or good vs. evil? Yes. But each person will rank those in a different order of importance, and add some categories of their own. We get a lot of people arguing hotly that other people don't value their own #1 priority enough, or that they have ranked something ridiculously high which ought to be at the bottom of the list. We needn't grudge people their enjoyment just because it isn't ours and we didn't get it all our own way.

Silverlode

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.




TheOnlyOneAroundWithAnySense
Rohan


Mar 3 2016, 3:04am

Post #15 of 35 (32560 views)
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I think you said [In reply to] Can't Post

Just about all that can be said. Nicely done.

"And you can trust me. Because I don't care enough about you to lie."
- Parks and Recreation


Bracegirdle
Valinor


Mar 3 2016, 4:21am

Post #16 of 35 (32524 views)
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And seconded !! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of
gold there grew:
Of wind I sang, a wind there came and in the branches
blew.




TheOnlyOneAroundWithAnySense
Rohan


Mar 3 2016, 4:46am

Post #17 of 35 (32537 views)
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Now if we could just all agree [In reply to] Can't Post

"The Hobbit" is an amazing trilogy, we'd be on the right track.




Wink

"And you can trust me. Because I don't care enough about you to lie."
- Parks and Recreation


Kim
Valinor


Mar 3 2016, 5:05am

Post #18 of 35 (32525 views)
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Thank you [In reply to] Can't Post

I've been mostly lurking on TH forum recently due in large part to this issue popping up in many posts. I hope we can move back towards just discussing what we like or dislike about the movies without reverting to making disparaging remarks about others here. That's what makes us different from most of the other forums and a place I want to visit on a daily basis. Smile


Bombadil
Half-elven


Mar 3 2016, 5:44am

Post #19 of 35 (32507 views)
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" THANG you Berry buch"..Dear Silverlode.. [In reply to] Can't Post

...Your
Bomby dropped out
back in October
because of
thizzz very
Thingie..?

Seemed that
sum would
start sum topic..

THEN?
Jus' Sit back &
watch the
word battles..ensue

NEVER to come
BACK to their topic
Ever again.

TIS..NOT worth the
aggravation to
argue....

THizz izz Your Bombyzz
first time to visit TORn in
@least 5 monthzz...

SOoo it seemz
not much hazz evolved...
Since then...?

xo...oxo...
bom
Crazy

www.charlie-art.biz
"What Your Mind can conceive... charlie can achieve"


Nuradar
Rohan


Mar 3 2016, 12:34pm

Post #20 of 35 (32450 views)
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Thank you Silverlode. Well put. [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Dame Ioreth
Tol Eressea


Mar 3 2016, 1:37pm

Post #21 of 35 (32448 views)
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See? *This* is why we pay her the big bucks. [In reply to] Can't Post

Wink

Thank you to Silverlode and the rest of the Modars for keeping our sandbox civil. Smile

_


Heed WBA when building blanket forts.
ITLs don't get enough FAS. :)

Where there's life there's hope, and need of vittles.
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings






entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 3 2016, 2:58pm

Post #22 of 35 (32417 views)
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Wonderfully put, Silverlode! [In reply to] Can't Post

One of the things I love about TORn is the passionate, intelligent, funny, friendly people and the discussions that occur. While most of us will take your words to heart, I think we all know that sometimes a member participates merely to stir the pot and cause trouble. They are usually easy to spot, and no matter how good our intentions, we sometimes find ourselves drawn in and start an argument. Remember, that's what this person wants, and the best response is to deny them what they're looking for and ignore them (although there are some of you here who are outstanding at using humor to de-fang the trolls).


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Mar 3 2016, 4:49pm

Post #23 of 35 (32393 views)
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Don't tell her!!! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
See? *This* is why we pay her the big bucks.


Geez! Now she might try to claim them. Unsure

"Things need not to have happened to be true.
Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure
when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot."


- Dream of the Endless


Altaira
Superuser / Moderator


Mar 3 2016, 8:23pm

Post #24 of 35 (32341 views)
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No worries [In reply to] Can't Post

Her check is in the mail. Wink


Koru: Maori symbol representing a fern frond as it opens. The koru reaches towards the light, striving for perfection, encouraging new, positive beginnings.



"Life can't be all work and no TORn" -- jflower

"I take a moment to fervently hope that the camaradarie and just plain old fun I found at TORn will never end" -- LOTR_nutcase





Altaira
Superuser / Moderator


Mar 3 2016, 8:24pm

Post #25 of 35 (32337 views)
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Brava! [In reply to] Can't Post

This post should be required reading. Very, very well said. HeartSmile


Koru: Maori symbol representing a fern frond as it opens. The koru reaches towards the light, striving for perfection, encouraging new, positive beginnings.



"Life can't be all work and no TORn" -- jflower

"I take a moment to fervently hope that the camaradarie and just plain old fun I found at TORn will never end" -- LOTR_nutcase




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