Hot Dwarfs? Yawn. And this is my problem because?

[This post is also intentionally vague in places.]

Here, courtesy of their facebook feed, is the latest bit from TORn about the projected hotness of the dwarfs. (Dwarves? WordPress spellcheck likes dwarfs.) In what is mostly an extensive comment on Kili (Aidan Turner), the author mentions that The Hobbit fans are on edge waiting to see how Thorin looks, and mentions that what we’ve seen so far suggests that he is “suspiciously hot.”

Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

My main reaction to the photo above is that Thorin looks suspiciously short.

Now, I’m not opposed to hot. This blog spends more than its fair share of time discussing / analyzing the sources of the Armitage flame. I was really disappointed in this piece, though, which seemed to do nothing but try to fan the dying flames of a discussion that was already framed in unhelpful ways in the first place. I don’t think there’s any way not to be shallow when discussing this question, so flinging around charges of shallowness seemed beside the point. Now, maybe if you’re a diehard female Tolkien fan and you have to put up with what reads to me like the clear misogynism of a socially inept, immature, and hopefully tiny segment of diehard male Tolkien fans — you know who you are — who unfortunately probably completely fulfill the probably over-generalized social stereotypes about male adolescent fantasy / sci-fi fans, the picture of Aidan Turner reads a bit like “Peter Jackson finally did something for me.” I’ve taken women’s studies, dude, I get that in patriarchal societies, some women sign on for whatever benefits they can get from the existing pattern, even if that means they profit from the spoils of a mirror sexism rather than grasping the opportunity to change the paradigm.

But really? This is all fatiguing. Suspicions of the talents of beautiful people for the mere fact that they are beautiful are just as offensive as both mean-spirited and offhanded attacks on the less beautiful for their failure to be beautiful. This whole discussion screams insecurity about appearance even more than it does shallowness. As Frenz notes: is the worst criticism they have that he’s good-looking and has enthusiastic female fans? (Question: is there any really successful male actor who lacks enthusiastic female fans? Would there have been any way to circumvent this problem other than hiring complete unknowns? Shouldn’t we want them to hire the best actor? As opposed to the ugliest? You know, it’s not like John Rhys-Davies is all that hard on the eyes, either.)

What I don’t get is: why don’t people just change the discussion about Armitage?

I know there’s no shortage of Tolkien fans, so maybe it doesn’t matter to many of them that this sort of discourse is a huge turn-off to people who might like to discuss Tolkien but don’t care to be hazed in order to do it. If I am going to invest in this particular fandom (which I’m not, because I have developed an allergy to the sort of insecurities discussed above), then I want to meet a fan who has something interesting to discuss beyond whether or not it is acceptable for an actor who is handsome according to the twenty-first-century standard to play a challenging role. This question was settled for me a long time ago, and the answer is nowhere near as hard as some people want to make it: if the director casts him, he can play the role. If Tolkien fans — or to be fair, a tiny segment of them — want to continue talking about this, let them.

But let’s us talk about some interesting things; let’s create our own new world in which aesthetics are one piece of a performance that in turn is an element of a much wider landscape. I want to know things like: what is the standard for a good performance in this context? How do actors who’ve played the role of Thorin in other settings frame the tasks they’re challenged with? Read this interesting post by mulubinba on the voices of past Thorins. Helpful and informative also her other blog, here. How does Tolkien’s medievalism and its relationship to actual medieval history influence the director’s and the actor’s choices in this setting, which is so heavily conditioned by the need to market such an expensive film effectively? What are the potential dramatic and interpretive choices involved in playing Thorin, and how might Armitage choose to come to terms with them? What was Tolkien’s original aesthetic vision or dynamic, in what specific ways has Peter Jackson realized that background, and how much room is available for actors like Armitage to innovate here?

Those would be interesting questions. And the discussions might avoid both shallowness and reverse sexism but also — what is more — all of our personal insecurities about our beauty and its value, or lack thereof.

~ by Servetus on July 13, 2011.

32 Responses to “Hot Dwarfs? Yawn. And this is my problem because?”

  1. Someone pointed out in a review of a mini-series based on a best-selling book that one must judge the film and the book on each ones’ individual merits and vision, and realize that while they will certainly have a relationship with each other, the film is an adaptation–not necessarily a blow-by-blow re-creation of the source material.
    Thus the screenwriters and director may use a certain amount of creative license without destroying the original concepts of the book.
    In other words, it’s Sir Pete’s show, and he gets to do what he wants to with it. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    And I think you can enjoy a book and enjoy a film adaptation of it even if said adaptation departs in certain ways from its source.

    I will be very interested to see what Richard does with this role, how he approaches it, how he will use his voice and his body (considering on screen he’ll be a whole lot shorter) . . . what I know for sure is, Sir Peter is no dummy, he wouldn’t have cast the man (it’s not like he didn’t have a huge pool of experienced actors who would give their eye teeth for such a role) if he didn’t think he was up to the task.

    Yeah, he’s handsome. Yeah, he’s got an enthusiastic female fan base. As you pointed out, plenty of other actors also fit that description.

    He’s also a damned good actor and he’s got the right stuff for the role.

    Boyz, don’t be a hater because he also happens to be beautiful. Makes you look so very petty and small-minded.

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  2. Thank you for bringing wonderful and interesting aspects into the discussion about “The Hobbit”-filming, Servetus.
    I must admit, I do not follow the discussions of Hobbit-fans, as I would not be interested in the film at all if not for RA.
    When my sister and two school-friends of mine stopped talking to me, because I could not draw a map of Middle Earth (and at that time I hardly had heard about the Tolkien-books, but never had a chance to read one) I stopped taking interest in this exclusive fandom. The bad influence of the ring is really impressive.

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    • CDoart,

      I don’t follow the comments either, I only know what I get second-hand from the blogs. But it seems as if that fandom is developing a rather bad reputation, which is really unfortunate. I loved the Tolkien books as a teenager and enjoy the movies. But I save my crazed obsessiveness for RA ๐Ÿ˜‰ and the United Nations of Armitage is generally a pretty nice place to be. ๐Ÿ˜€

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      • Yes, Angie. I love the United Nations of Armitage (UNA ;o) as well. What a welcoming place to be. So I have no use for further fandoms ;o)
        I already have enough to do to keep my heartbeat in check after the CA pictures Bccmee posted today. To find out that he can even look good as a German ;o) Now I am really interested what he will do as a hairy and fierce dwarf. One stare from him and his enemies cease fighting.

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  3. Too right!! With regard to your last statement Angieklong, that is exactly what it makes them look like. Why can’t they suspend judgment until they have at least see the first movie. Just because Richard also happens to be a very beautiful man in no way detracts from the fact that he is first and foremost an incredibly talented actor. I don’t recall Sir Peter ever saying that he chose him for his looks. Rather it was for his acting abilities. To give an abbreviated summary of what JP said when he cast him, he is quoted as saying that, “Richard is one of the most exciting and dramatic actors working on screen today . . . . he will make an amazing Thorin Oakenshield. We . . . . feel very lucky that one of the most beloved characters in Middle Earth is in such good hands.” Why that couldn’t have put to rest any qualms any of the purists entertained that should have silenced then. Sadly it is only too obvious that in hasn’t.

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    • Because PJ also said something about Thorin giving Aragorn a run for their money as heartthrobs. I don’t think the problem is that some people think RA is lacking talent because he’s handsome but they suspect that his fans like him for the wrong reasons and PJ hired him for the wrong reasons. They don’t think he’s a bad actor, they just don’t see why he should be so special, they don’t mind him being in the Hobbit in a different role but do mind Thorin looking like him and Thorin made a heartthrob.

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      • In hindsight, it probably would have been better if Sir Peter had never mentioned the heartthrob aspect. Some people have latched on it like a terrier and won’t let go.

        I still wonder just how much of Richard’s work some of the biggest critics of the casting have actually seen, or if they are mostly basing it on publicity stills. John Standring would be a great example of a less-than-glamorous Richard in a less-than-stereotypical eye candy role (although he does clean up so nicely). Anyway, I think he’s going do a wonderful job and the vast majority of people will be favorably impressed by his performance.

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  4. Male pattern jealousy raises its hoary head again?

    Bring on the “hot” dwarves!

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    • @fitzg,

      That Male Pattern Jealousy just won’t quit, will it? *sigh* If they only could conceive how unappealing their diatribes make them. As it is, they’ll stil be stuck in their parents’ basement when old and grey. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    • Male Pattern Jealousy — @fitzg, you are so right. (With a dash of Tall Poppy Syndrome mixed in.) It seems as though British male interviewers usually try to embarrass RA by mentioning his female fans, putting him in the position of having to either belittle his fans or just sit through the implied putdown. Not nice.

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  5. Maybe the people making these comments look more like the traditional garden nome variety dwarf and expect their dwarfs to look more like they look. I didn’t want to go there, but I am in a mood today.

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    • Oh, @Rob, go ahead. ‘Cuz that is exactly what I have been thinking. “We can imagine our own unattractive garden gnome selves in these heroic adventures if only they cast people who look just like we do . . . what? They are hiring good-looking actors? Sooooo not fair!!! Whaaaaaaaaaaa . . .”

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  6. I remeber reading a review for Jane Eyre that stated Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender were far too attractive to plan Jane and Rochester. And I was like, really? Isn’t that the point of the movies to have attractive actors? Why would I want to see people that look like me?

    Like I said, I am in a mood, only approach if you are carrying chocolate and/or wine.

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    • @Rob. A little OT here but speaking of chocolates, I was quite blown away when two of my granddaughters returned from the UK bearing a gorgeous box of Thornton’s Chocolates for me. The box indicates it is their “Summer Collection” !! And here I was thinking that words like that only referred to fashion!! Silly me ๐Ÿ˜‰ Can’t bring myself to open them yet for some strange reason. They are good until August 31st so maybe I’ll wait until the 22nd and with a good wine raise a Birthday toast to the best lookin’ dwarf in town!!

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      • That’s exactly more or less what we did last Sunday on my niece/nephew’s joint b’day (5 days apart) party. My other niece, Mitch, a friend Dianne and myself, when we saw each other, we were just smiling from ear to ear and laughing when we’re discussing RA’s latest photo.

        With glass on hand filled with champagne, we had a toast for RA not yet for his b’day but for the photos with cropped hair & short beard. Other guests were looking at us not knowing what’s happening when we chanted, “to Richard”. If there was a vid of this, I’ll post it cause you can clearly hear our voices. It’s one funny crazy moment we did spontaneously when we saw each other.
        We’re all wired up cause of RA. It was a lovely afternoon to spend with like-minded friends.

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    • The point of the novel was that both JE and Rochester aren’t attractive and that their love wasn’t about being attracted to physical beauty.

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  7. Just checked out the One Ring site, reading comments on the dwarf pics to date. And actually, my knickers aren’t in a twist. The reactions vary, the commenters express varying reactions; they’re just having their say (as we do, on our favoured RA blogs.) I don’t imagine there are enough “purists” -male or female, to influence movie reviews or the box office. All very funny.

    Book and film are definitely separate media, and must be approached according to their individual merits.

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  8. Good point. And this is a fantasy film with elves and dwarves and goblins–we don’t want them to look like the guy next door. Unless the guy next door happens to be Richard Armitage, of course. ๐Ÿ˜€

    I’ve got some dessert trio Blue Bell ice cream at home–three kinds of chocolate–chips, chunks and sauce– in a vanilla base. And chocolate syrup and hot fudge sauce you can add. Will that do? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Hang in there, @rob.

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  9. I would love to dip into that Thornton’s chocolate. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll be fine.

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    • Many years ago, whilst waiting to start a college course, I worked at Thorntons factory in Derbyshire for three months.

      I have to say that the chocolates and toffees are to die for and would recommend them for their delicious, melt in the mouth, velvety richness – especially the Special Toffee.

      They have a website, where you purchase their goodies online, which is:

      http://www.thorntons.co.uk/

      I don’t think that you will be disappointed … ๐Ÿ™‚

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  10. Servetus, thanks for another interesting blog post. I completely agree with your point of view.
    Yes, I’m looking forward to the day when PJ unveils Thorin – would I be an RA aficionada if I wasn’t? But not to see how ‘hot’ he looks. Not at all. I want to see Thorin, to see what kind of visual tools Richard has been given to make this amazing character come to life, to see how this incredibly talented actor, whose career I follow with nothing but respect for his craft, will look in what is going to be a defining role is his career.
    Yes, he’s a beautiful man. And he will probably be a beautiful, royal drarf. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating that beauty. But please, let’s not define Mr Armitage by his looks alone, there’s so much more to him.
    I don’t care if he looks like The Elephant Man: if it suits the character he’s portraying, that’s what makes him beautiful.

    @Angieklong The United Nations of Armitage – that’s exactly what we are! And like you, I’m enjoying my stay!

    @teuchter Great idea to open the chocolates on Richard’s birthday – have your own little birthday party in our man’s honour ๐Ÿ™‚

    x

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  11. Thornton’s Chocolates is having some financial problems, and closing a number of shops in England. So let’s grab any we can. Not sure how to access them in Canada. Research required…

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    • One of my daughter’s is heading off to the UK later this month so maybe I’ll have to get her to search out some more! Sad to hear they are having difficulties though.

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    • Well, it’s only some of the shops they’re closing. They’re still going strong when it comes to the chocolate factory. As far as I know. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  12. I just found a little tit-bit on Google re dwarfs or dwarves as the plural of dwarf and apparently Tolkien used the latter in his books as he thought it went better with “elves”!! Sorry if this is old news to some of you! It just caught my eye. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  13. No too sexy dwarves ;0) in

    http://movies.ign.com/articles/118/1181874p1.html

    BOFUR, BOMBUR & BIFUR

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  14. Ohholycow, Ana. They’re teasing us. 3 more?! The suspense is killing me. It’s on Sir Peter’s FB so it’s legit.

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  15. Great post! (Thanks for the mention, BTW). ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have to say that I really am waiting with suppresed excitement at the unveiling of Thorin. I think RA will be wonderful in this role purely because of his gravitas and ability to play characters who have an axe to grind (excuse pun). Thorin is deep down an angry character who has a great personal need to regain the land, wealth and status of his forefathers. The “looks factor” is irrelevant – at the end of the day I am hoping that his performance will be so convincing that the age/look of him will not matter a jot. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  16. […] For questions I’m interested in reading about on TORn and, more to the point, elsewhere, see the original post. I’m taking my own advice now about not reading things that only make you angry or bored or […]

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  17. […] paging through the blog reveals. I find this embarrassing, as I was initially extremely hostile to what I saw as a stupid debate over Armitage’s good looks as an obstacle to his performance, to the point of writing the only post I ever retracted. So yeah […]

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  18. […] would conflate me somehow with intense Tolkien fans, of whom I had, until approximately July 2012, a low opinion. Indeed, the only post I’ve ever retracted concerned an explosion on my part that related to […]

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