D&D, Fantasy, Film, Hobbits, Irony, Lord of the Rings, Movie Villainy, Movies, Storytelling, Tolkein
Which members of the Fellowship of the Ring are villainous? Almost all of them, if you ask me.
Just not Boromir though. He’s the one guy you can almost trust. Given a chance for power, he took it. Sounds like a straight-up kinda guy. He’s okay by me.
But those damned Halflings! They are just all bad.
We’ll save Frodo for later, but it’s short work to see that a couple of no-good thieves like Pippin and Merry are full-on bad guys, even if they are short and cheerful. Between starting fires, and raising false alarms, Pippin is a damned mess. I can almost understand his desire to steal the biggest marble in the known universe. That’s understandable. But with a petty offense like that, you gotta come clean when the jig is up. I mean, seriously, it’s Sauron’s marble. Pippin didn’t win it in a fair match. The least he can do is have a polite conversation with the man he’s cheated out of the coolest boulder on the playground. But no! Apparently, that was too much to ask. He has to cry to Gandolf and start a war over it, just so he can keep his prize. It wasn’t even a cleary, fer cryin’ out loud!
And then there is Merry stabbing the king of Angmar in the back during what would have been a perfectly honorable duel with an upstart Princess who has done nothing but disrespect her father, her brother, and every authority figure who tried to help her out in the course of the story. She was about to get taught a damned good lesson when that little runt goes and gets all 9th-level Rogue on her enemy. Absolutely disgraceful!
Don’t even get me started on that “faithful” toadie, Samwise Gamgee! Can there be any doubt that he is responsible for the terrible depression that befell poor Golem? I mean that guy is in the middle of a deep blue funk that lasts for well over a hundred years and this furry-footed bully goes around calling him names and picking on him constantly.
Plus, poor golem had lost his precious ring. Who the Hell can blame him for wanting it back? It was a damned good ring! And look who stole it? Hobbits. Hobbits, like the very two halfwits golem is now supposed to be helping, one of whom is flaunting his precious under the poor wretche’s very nose. This whole story-line is messed-up in a big morbid way, and there poor golem is on the edge of sanity. Leave it to the fricking henchman to push him off.
Then there is the Gimli and Legolas, with their friendly little competition over how many orcs they can kill. War is one thing folks, you gotta do what you gotta do, but this shit is way over the line! When did killing become fun, I ask you people? Just when did it become a contest? Apparently, when the killers became an elf and a dwarf. Oh look at the cute little creatures killing the ugly people! Let’s bet on who can kill the most!
And then of course there is Aragorn. I could go on and on about this geriatric black sheep of the royal family, but let’s just look at one thing here. Have you ever noticed Aragorn’s sword in the minutes before the final battle at the gates of Mordor? It’s got blood on it. Yeah that’s right, BEFORE the fight he has blood on his sword. Know why? Cause he killed a messenger from Sauron in a deleted scene.
No sooner had said messenger returned a lost mithril shirt that stupid Frodo lost somewhere in Mordor when Aragorn goes and repays this act of great kindness by killing the guy (in cold blood, and during a parlay, no less). Small wonder the director chose to cover that up. …but he couldn’t hide the blood.
No he couldn’t
Next time someone tries to tell you Aragorn is a hero, just keep asking him; “what about the blood?”
So, now we are down to the last two bad guys. Which is the worse? I know what you’re thinking; it’s Frodo right? After all, he is the one that destroys the most valuable piece of jewelry in all of Middle Earth, causing a great cataclysm which leads to the genocidal destruction of many of the world’s great kindreds. (Seriously do you not see all the orcs and goblins and trolls falling into a great pit at the end of this terrible tragedy? Are we supposed to cheer that shit on?) Yes, Frodo did that. All that destruction is Frodo’s claim to infamy, and it’s a damned good one. But it still doesn’t win him the prize for the most-hated villain at the Fellowship ball.
Before moving on though, I wonder if we need to say a thing or two about the little guy’s sappy buzz-kill attitude through just about the complete series? What do you do when you have the power to rule the entire world at your finger tips? Sulk and cry about it for three fricking over-long movies. Three of them, I tell you! That alone should get him an award for something.
Frodo is not the principal villain of this story. It’s Gandolf. What you have to ask yourself is why this big-ass powerful wizard uses his magic so sparingly. I know, I know, he’s only supposed to help and council people, not solve their problems for them. Right? He’s been sent by the powers that be to guide mankind in its struggles. Doing more than that would spoil the moral of the story for them and us. Yadayadayada! We’ve heard this yarn before.
That’s the excuse of every manipulative god-like being in all of history, real or imagined. Just what the Hell are people supposed to get out of all this anyway? Wisdom? A sense of accomplishment?
Tell that to the dead!
Gandolf could have ended the entire war with a bit of basic parlor-magic. He could have returned the ring to its rightful owner and all would have been right with the world of middle earth. Failing that, he could have gone wompy-stompy with his great powers and beat the crap out of his enemies in the first half of the first movie. Still the bad guys win that way, but at least it’s over with quickly. And that my friends is what makes Gandolf the ultimate villain. He doesn’t just want to kill Sauron, whose only crime was in gifting jewelry to the great leaders of the world. No, Gandolf wants to make sure a lot of people die unnecessarily along the way. If you ask me this villainous puppet-master is the worst of the bunch.
…which is saying a lot, because he has a real den of iniquity there in the Fellowship of the Ring. What’s the difference between the dirty dozen and these guys?
The whole series is rather ridiculously pro-war, isn’t it? I guess that has to do with when it was written, but there’s a lot of demonizing the enemy and calling out anyone who tries to remain neutral.
Well, much as I love this stuff (shh…), I do think it’s an interesting fantasy. It’s a world where race is real and substantial mental and physical differences go with it. Some peoples are inherently evil and some inherently good. That kind of social Manicheanism is something that normally makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. This isn’t to say that I’ll be protesting the Hobbit, or seeing it less than a dozen times, really, but it does mean the themes may be revealing a little more than meets the eye.
Thanks for the comment. This is an old one, wrote it back before anyone had noticed this blog.
I’m a fan of Terry Pratchett, who claimed to have sympathized with the orcs and trolls because they had no chance of ever bettering themselves. His portrayal of trolls in the Discworld series seems to have been inspired by this. Anyway, I enjoy Tolkien’s work, but I don’t necessarily agree with all of its themes.
Pingback: Difficult Mage | VoVatia
Pingback: One Story to Rule Them All! | northierthanthou