Friday, December 14, 2012

When did "Sexy" Become a Prerequisite for "Enjoyable"?

I saw The Hobbit last night. I really really really liked it. To be fair, it is a movie based on one of my absolute favorite books in the universe, but I did go into it very apprehensive. I came out mostly converted, with very little to complain about save a few aesthetic choices and some obnoxiously cliche dialogue. Additionally, I saw it in IMAX 3D, without the 48fps, so I can't comment on the higher frame rate. I can, however, comment on how I thought the movie adapted the book, whether three movies is a mistake or not, and how much I loved Martin Freeman as Bilbo (spoiler alert: alot.)

But the reason I'm writing a blog post today is largely in response to the Negative Kotaku review of The Hobbit, which made me extra mad because it was written by a journalist I typically love and respect.
Here's the review, for your own reading pleasure (or displeasure, as the case may be): The Hobbit Feels Like a Video Game and That's Not a Good Thing

Moving past the frame rate argument, which is probably legit since I hate motion blur, my problems lie within the second half of the article, which responds to problems with The Hobbit's story line.
Kirk states: "There are almost no women in the movie, and it's all so unsexy it makes Fellowship of the Ring seem like the Downton Abbey Christmas special."

First of all, I don't know when movies started needing to be sexy in order to be enjoyable. By that logic, there are a lot of very well-respected, highly celebrated and award-laden films that shouldn't have ever been made, let alone enjoyed by international audiences. In fact, after spending a few weeks trying to get on the Game of Thrones bandwagon, a fantasy world entirely unmarred by overt sexuality was refreshing.

Second, who says the movie WASN'T sexy, just because it didn't have women in it? Do you mean it's unsexy to you, as a male viewer who is into ladies? I think that's what you meant. Because personally, I found Richard Armitage as Thorin to be sexy in the same way Christopher Eccleston's Doctor was...enriching.  Additionally, I rather enjoyed staring at Martin Freeman. And Elijah Wood. Oooohhh did I enjoy staring at Elijah Wood, as I did in all three LoTR movies. This point doesn't contradict my first, as there is still no PATENT sexuality, either plot-wise or thematically. All I'm saying here is that "No Women" does not an unsexy film make.

Finally, there's a distinct lack of women in the movie BECAUSE THERE'S A DISTINCT LACK OF WOMEN IN THE BOOK UPON WHICH IT IS BASED. If there were random female characters thrown into the mix, it would only be for the sake of Hollywood and the adoring fans. In fact, correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Galadriel an addition from the world of the book? I don't seem to remember her in the text, but that could be my faulty memory at work. Imagine what would happen if Peter Jackson just started throwing ladies around for the sake of a sexy film. Suddenly "An Unexpected Journey" would have an entirely different connotation all together, and that's a different movie for a different day.

I had several other problems with Kirk's review, not the least of which being his disparaging remarks towards the entire Star Wars prequel trilogy, but the sexy argument really grinds my gears. Ultimately, the story of The Hobbit is about just that: A Hobbit, on a quest. There are dragons. There is gold. There's a lot of stomach grumbling and lost ponies and such, and by the end, there's a happy ending. Tonally, the book is much MUCH lighter than the Lord of the Rings, so it makes sense that the respective film would also lay the humor on with a heavy hand. Why shouldn't there be singing, specifically when the songs come straight from the original text? Why shouldn't there be troll bogies? Why shouldn't the goblin king have such a chin that I've nicknamed him "fatty beard"?

You explain that to me, and that will be the day I stop wishing I was a hobbit.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Books: A Reference List

Books I have read multiple times (since middle school), and approximately how many times I have read them:

  • The Hobbit (2-3 times. At least twice in seventh grade.)
  • Dangerous Angels (4-6 times. Picked up while volunteering at the Ferguson Library. Haven't put down since. My favorite book.)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (2 times. Once for school, once because of reasons.)
  • The Princess Diaries (2 times. Also picked up at the library.)
  • A Wrinkle in Time (3 times. Once all at once, while sitting in Standsted Airport overnight, waiting to fly to Italy to see Sarah.)
  • Beowulf (2-3 times, at least twice for different classes.)
  • The Canterbury Tales (2 times, some stories more than that. At least part of it was read while IN Canterbury.)
  • Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (3-6 times. The first book I read that taught me one could simultaneously function within the rules of AND satirize a genre. Douglas Adams is one of my heroes.)
  • Harry Potter (anywhere between 2 and 6 times, depending on the book.)
  • Twilight (3-5 times, depending on the book.)
  • The Great Gatsby (2 times in completion, though I took a crit course in college that made us apply all the different types of criticism TO Gatsby, so... more than 2).
  • Peter Pan (millions. I was obsessed in 8th grade.)
Books I wouldn't read again if you paid me:
  • The Red Badge of Courage (it gave me nightmares)
  • The Scarlet Letter 
  • Ethan Fromme
  • Pride and Prejudice (still gives me nightmares)
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • Lord of the Flies (which I have read twice and hated both times.)
  • Most of what I was supposed to read in 11th grade.
  • Most of what I was supposed to read in any English survey course in college.
Books I will never stop recommending
  • See List #1 (Save, perhaps, for Twilight.)
  • The Princess Bride
  • Zen in the Art of Writing
  • For that matter, anything by Ray Bradbury, especially Dandelion Wine.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  • John Green's entire body of work
  • The Courtship of Princess Leia (for the rancors!)
  • Seriously, Peter Pan.