Pondering Peter Jackson, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and vision realized in the presence of one’s audience

From dooce, again:

Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 7.05.18 PM***

I’ve quit commenting on reviews of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, even those written by friends. Not because there isn’t anything I’d like to comment about. I’d love to discuss the movie a bit or a lot more. But the level of anger in some of the posts is so palpable that I almost sigh in relief when I can click the X to close the window. I feel my own anger rising when I read that stuff. Right now, that’s not the person I want to be if I can avoid it. I want my anger to be mine — as there’s a legitimate place for one’s own anger, and productive uses for it — but I need to avoid the bleed of feelings that I don’t actually share and don’t want to transmit. I quite obviously need to start applying the “don’t like / don’t read” rule more quickly in my own life.

Then again, every time I’ve been to the actual theater, the mood has been great. Last night, as I left, a grinning woman noticed me grinning and said, “The Hobbit?” and I said, “Yeah,” and she said, “Can’t wait for next year!” So I may just be talking to the wrong people. It’s something I’ve wondered before.

How do you develop that shared big picture vision? The one that makes people smile?

***

From a conversation with a fellow fan toward the end of October:

FellowFan: “I am going to put something out there … and I know it is something that you have considered. If you transitioned the time spent blogging to writing your novel you’d have a first draft completed in no time. Not an easy decision to make, on many levels, I know..”

Serv: “Yeah, it’s clear that if I spent less time blogging I’d spend more time writing. However, it would be the equivalent of turning off the oxygen tank.”

FellowFan: “I was hesitant to bring up the blogging, because I know what it brings you.”

Serv: “I know what you mean. But I get out of bed wanting to write about Richard Armitage and the writing is still euphoric. It’s just getting myself to that point. The community, I’m struggling with. Obviously, plenty of people have always been great and are still great. And to be honest, for those I’m struggling with, it’s not their fault. They’re struggling with me, too, because I am changing, and it’s not going to end anytime soon. The comments are so often frustrating these days. With Armitage getting more famous, new readers come who don’t know what the blog is about for me, and on the worst days it reproduces all the worst parts of the classroom — constantly having to reassert the authority even to speak or to speak about what I want to speak about. I really don’t need to get involved in a power struggle over my capacity to interpret Richard Armitage; apart from having been and continuing to be the catalyst for everything else, Richard Armitage is kind of beside the point. But the fans come for that, of course, and I’ve made precious friendships and connections this way that have pulled me onward, even against my will. Still — the comments take a lot of energy. People were hacking at and oneupping each other and me all summer, and I didn’t have the energy to stop it, but I’m going to have to intervene shortly for the sake of my sanity and I’m going to lose a lot of good will. I’m just going to have to turn off comments for people who will not accept that I have a right to interpret and / or appear primarily with the purpose of jumping down my or others’ throats about this or that detail. I’m not grading, after all. Not just that, but as this whole blogging self-development project has developed I’ve become able to think about stuff I wouldn’t have said before. If I stay true to the project of the blog, more uncomfortable stuff is coming, and some of it will make people even angrier than they already are. I know I should quit, it’s not entirely rational, the amount of time I put into this. It’s just that the blog is the source of everything else, all the other writerly energy I have. It’s like that little fire that I have to keep burning. The little shrine where I am putting my self together.”

FellowFan: “First and foremost, you don’t owe anybody anything. You are a writer who has connected with an audience. That doesn’t require you to help or befriend or respond to everyone or anyone. There is this weird transference thing that happens when you connect with an audience, and when you create something that is successful. But do you think that published authors spend this much time responding to the quibbles of their audiences? My suggestion is write your posts, since that is what you enjoy, and don’t moderate the comments. Say what you have to say and let the comments fall where they may. You are not obligated to monitor or respond to every single comment. I know this sounds new age-y, but speak your truth. Say what you have to say and move on. Don’t get caught up in how people are going to react or their reactions.”

Serv: “Sure, and the blog is about that — learning to speak and not care — but that’s not the whole story. Most important is constituting a self, and learning to accept what it is, and I need the blog for that, because it’s the way I’ve found and it works better than other things. If I had had the self I’ve been building before I’d stepped into that abyss I wouldn’t be here now. But my life turned out this way and not that way, and this is a source of strength for me and at the moment it’s the prerequisite for everything else. I’ve got to clear the space for that now. I think that’s why people write to me, because they need that as well, to figure out how to get a grip on the idea of how to be themselves. Not that I know, but they see I’m at least asking the questions. I just don’t know what to do about that. The fan aspect of the blog seems to be conflicting so much with the identity development project that I’m constantly confounded. The issue with comments is the concrete manifestation of that.”

FellowFan: “Yeah, okay, if you need to keep blogging, you need to keep blogging for all the reasons you say. And you’ll have to manage the other stuff as best you can figure.”

***

Scene from 1995. I’m attending a conference with my doctoral advisor, after a year in Germany, and suddenly the books of a scholar whom I’d respected deeply were no longer giving me the insights they did before, mostly because my growing level of professional acuity let me spot numerous technical and especially translation and transcription errors I couldn’t have seen before. She’s the keynote speaker at the conference. A year earlier I’d have been thrilled over the opportunity to hear her; now I’m more critical.

We were seated toward the back of a huge banquet hall, filled with about five hundred people, right in front of a lot of older scholars who were of my advisor’s generation, all of whom were murmuring throughout the talk in frustration. One of them got up and left after snorting in outrage, knocking over his chair and generating nervous laughter from the podium.

“Uch,” I said to my advisor, afterwards. “She missed … and she got that wrong … and really that piece of evidence doesn’t mean that, but this. There were just so many needless errors.”

“Ms. Servetus,” he said to me, “You’re missing the forest for the trees. What was her big picture argument?”

“It was…” I said, and stated it.

He said, “Okay, good! So you were listening to what she argued. Do you have a problem with that argument?”

I said, “It seems to me like a rejoinder to Scholar Q’s important book on the topic, and I don’t know if I agree with her or not, but the fact that she gets all this evidence just slightly off suggests to me that she is probably wrong.”

“Where is Scholar Q?”

“You know that; he was your doctoral advisor! He’s been dead for fifteen years.”

“Indeed. May he rest in peace. Who did the leaders in the profession ask to speak at this conference?”

“Her,” I say. “Why are you asking me questions we both know the answers to?”

“I’m saying,” he said, “that she was on the podium because people in the profession think she’s said valuable things in the past, that she’s part of a conversation with a scholarly tradition, and that her rejoinder to Q in itself is valuable. I’m saying that the people sitting in the back of the room murmuring were not asked to deliver the keynote. I’m saying they were here only because they thought they had to defend Q.”

“So…”

“Does Q’s work need defending?”

“Um… not if Q was right and she is wrong?” I venture.

“Precisely,” he noted. “And did you notice me defending Q?”

“Um, no … but why not? He was your advisor. Don’t you want me to defend your work someday?”

“No. My work stands and falls on its own merits. If I was right, it will be preserved, and if I was wrong, it should and will be revised and my books will be taken from the shelves and replaced with ones of greater acumen and greater meaning to the people who read on this topic.”

“Oh.” I fell silent.

“So who were they defending?”

“Q,” I said. “I said that already.”

“But you also said Q didn’t need defending.”

“Yeah …” I trail off.

“So think about who they were defending. Isn’t it obvious? If not Q? Who did they need to defend?”

“I don’t have any idea what you want me to say,” I blurted out.

He laughed, and smiled at me a little condescendingly.

“Ms. Servetus, it comes down to this: do you want to be the person in the back of the room, or do you want to be the person on the podium?”

“But why didn’t she take the time to get everything right?”

“I don’t know,” he said to me, “and obviously I want you to be careful in your scholarship. But equally–“

“If I don’t take risks–“

“If you don’t take risks, you’ll never speak from the podium. If you spend all your time listening to the people with quibbles, you’ll never write anything big, you’ll never set the terms of the debate. If you’re kept prisoner by the possibility that you could never get anything wrong, you will never get anything right, either. You should be polite, you should keep your ears open to hear whether there are bigger problems with what you’re doing, and so on. You should seek out the advice of intelligent people who care enough about the subject to minimize their own ego investment and to give you helpful, constructive criticism. I certainly hope you won’t turn into one of those people who feels she needs either to ignore or to destroy every single one of her critics. But at a certain point, you will know your stuff, and you will know what your vision is, and you will need to state it, and be ready to defend it where that’s necessary and ignore pointless criticism. Even when you make mistakes.”

I looked at him a little longer.

“If you don’t ever a develop a vision,” he said, “even if it’s wrong–“

“I’ll never be the keynote speaker.”

“No, you won’t,” he said. “That’s not bad. Some people don’t want the notoriety, they don’t want the vulnerability, and they are happy creating their intellectual worlds around them and living in them mostly without other scholars. Those people come to these meetings, listen, nod, and go back to their offices and think and maybe write something or tell their students about what they heard. They’re happy. Some people come because they want the inspiration of the intellectual exchange and they will go back to their offices and write something interesting in response that will advance the state of knowledge. But some people come because they want to sit in the back of the talk and mumble all the way through. They’re not there to listen; they already know what’s right and they won’t be moved. If they do ask a question, it’s not to learn anything, but only to correct the view of the speaker.”

I looked at him, and breathed out. “It’s not an attractive picture of the profession,” I admitted.

“It’s a picture of humanity, though it’s not the habitus of a true intellectual,” he said. “But more than that — you need to decide who you’re going to be and whether you want to be the person on the podium or the person in dialog with her, the person who listens to the person on the podium and does her own thing, or the person who sits in the back of the room and is convinced she could have done everything better.”

“Hmmm.”

“Even if you don’t want to be the person on the podium, the person everyone assembles to listen to,” he said, with emphasis, “do you really want to be the person who mumbles?”

“No,” I said, a bit crestfallen.

“Indeed,” he said, winking at me. “Now we need to find a glass of wine, no? Or several? I believe the Society has an open bar tonight. We can find some people and drink a toast to Q together. I hope that you will do that for me, when I am gone. Probably that gentleman who left in high dudgeon can be persuaded to lift a glass with us, as well.”

***

How to fight an identity battle with just myself and no collateral damage? What part of identity development requires the presence of others? Steel upon steel? Is bad feeling something I have to respond to? Or just accept?

Do we all use loyalties to others as a primary mechanism for defending our own identities? Is it usual to think that we can’t defend our views on the grounds that they are ours? That our own identity is not worth defending without reference to someone else? It seems to be a mechanism of constructing a self. Hanging on a transitive other. Something I do, aggressively, sometimes several times a day, the flip side of prioritizing projects that involve other people over my own goals, something I used to do all the time and felt was right.

When is it enough? How do you gain the power to close yourself off? And if it’s not either / or, what’s the right place?

***

I’d heard so much negative chatter about the likely plot of The Desolation of Smaug in advance that the whole thing was starting to get on my nerves. When Evangeline Lilly said, on Nov. 4, “Don’t be a hater,” however, that bothered me even more. On the one hand, all the insistence ahead of time that the film was going to suck because it wasn’t faithful to the book. On the other, the apparent reaction on Lilly’s part that people who weren’t going to like her character were “haters.” I didn’t feel this was fair of her, nor did I care for most of what she said that evening. I thought that among other things, it was likely to make precisely the fans who were most inclined to be negative about her character even more negative. But she was obviously responding to something I’d read earlier from NYC ComicCon 2013: “Re Tauriel – the panel asked for the fans to be tolerant of her. They clearly love Evangeline Lilly and are concerned that negative fan opinion will be devastating to her. She put ‘her heart and soul’ into the role.” And really, that wasn’t about Lilly or anything she did or didn’t do. Lilly could have realized that, I think, thinking about it now. I’ve felt all along that that was either a cynical or a juvenile move, and I’ve been blaming it on Lilly, but I’ve perhaps been wrong about the source of her remarks. She was possibly badly advised by PR or marketing people.

Should Lilly worry about what fans will think? When her work is already over? Something was niggling in my mind about some failed figure from classical history. Alcibiades, I think. I can see the professor standing in front of the room and saying, his fault was that he wanted too much to be loved.

Then I got into a conversation about Richard Armitage’s attitude toward fans who didn’t like Jackson’s style of narrating or visualizing the story. The author  — whose reappearance honestly made me really happy — argued that his response to dissent about Jackson was too simplistic. I looked at the evidence and I didn’t see Armitage dissing anyone, particularly given his many statements in the past that clearly indicate how hard he worked at learning all of the Tolkien canon in order to put its subtexts into his characterization of Thorin Oakenshield. At the same time, assuming he was, he probably wouldn’t do so on purpose, so I was trying to figure out what he could have said that he shouldn’t have. The conversation that ensued seriously made me question my grasp on both reality and the English language. In the end I realized the subtext was about Jackson, again. When I read the final response, I felt like I was on another planet.

I know that lately when I say anything at all, people find it too forceful. Twice this week I said something and an entire post disappeared. My point in talking to people is not to detonate Armitageworld. If I’m creating the problem, I need to stop commenting. Given the mood, do I need to close comments, too? I’ve been wrong so often lately when thinking about what people were “about.” Would that make it easier to write honestly? Still, I need to signal my availability to the people who are on the same journey I’m on, and as several popped up during the summer I don’t want to shut off the antenna that transmits the available signal. Or, alternatively, have I already found all the members of the company who want to follow the quest? In which case, time to close ranks and get on with it?

To think about more.

***

In any case, all of this discussion made me a bit nervous about the movie. My desire to see some new footage of Armitage at work outweighed everything, but I wondered how we would ever talk about this film. I still wonder that.

Luckily, I also thought it was a hugely enjoyable film. It wasn’t perfect. I don’t care about orc fights; that was there for the videogamers. I thought the barrel sequence was too long, mugging for the sake of special effects and putting Orlando Bloom in the film. I thought both Tauriel and the romance superfluous. But on the whole, no film is perfect and this one had everything I require — a quick entry into the story, beautiful pictures, lots of interesting plot development, effective acting and characterization, a nice pacing — I was surprised that the time had gone so quickly when it was over, and my heart was racing at the end — and lots of fun action. The HFR and effects had clearly been tweaked to be less obviously SFXy and the darkness of the film helped that a lot. The things that I didn’t like didn’t ruin it for me or even irritate me all that much. Of course, you could say that I’m prejudiced or insufficiently critical. I’m not a Tolkien purist and I think his work stands on its own. My eyes are mainly for Armitage. But I don’t imagine that I’ll ever drum my fingers impatiently through the opening scenes, or take a ten minute nap in the middle of this movie, which is what I do in AUJ. There’s just too much to look at, too much to enjoy.

***

From a conversation a few weeks ago: “You’re an Aquarian,” observed yet another fellow fan with greater knowledge of the horoscope than I. “From what I have seen, you guys are all over the map and capable of entertaining notions that would cause amazing amounts of cognitive dissonance in anyone else.”

***

After I jotted down my first impressions I got into bed to let the thoughts and pictures play across my mind as I dozed off.

Armitage, I thought, and smiled. With that red cape blowing in the wind. Those eyes … those eyes … the pain and joy that work their way into that face …

Despite the fact that I’d been up for something like twenty hours at that point, however, something was niggling in the back of my mind, about Jackson … Jackson …

Yeah, I thought, eventually, that’s it. (Then turned on the bedside light to write a few words down so I wouldn’t forget.) Here’s the elaboration.

Like my buddy FilmProf, who is better informed that I, I don’t like what I understand about Peter Jackson’s influence on the film industry, and I found what I observed of his labor politics in 2010 nothing short of appalling. I still wonder about PETA’s accusations, although I admit that I didn’t follow the story to its resolution. In sum, I suspect very much that despite all of the positive things that actors including Mr. Armitage say about him, I wouldn’t like him very well if I knew him personally.

But I sincerely admire a few things I’m aware of about Peter Jackson. One is that evidence continues to suggest that (even if I find the no shoes shtick annoying), Jackson could care less about his appearance.

The second is how much he offers precisely to the fans, how much stuff he lets out of his set ahead of time to keep us all involved and feel like we’re seeing as much as is reasonable for a non-participant to see. I’m not saying we need to be grateful, because I don’t believe that — we like what we like, don’t like what we don’t like, in the capitalist world we live in — but in fact, we can only be exercised about stuff ahead of time because of our interpretations of what he’s telling us. Yes, he makes money off of doing it that way — but then again, fans don’t have to participate in it. Yet we jump to download and every vlog the second we encounter it. And lately, I’ve been thinking, as I watch the different canons and headcanons develop on tumblr and in fanfic — bodies of thought that involve not only the story of Tolkien, but also the actors who have played the roles — that in a way, the behind-the-scenes aspects of the story in the AUJ extended edition are sort of Jackson’s own Silmarillion. He’s creating a sort of midrash not only on Tolkien’s midrash, but even on his own midrash — the sort of thing that, should these films ever be remade, the new participants will have to chew through as well. The additional stuff that he produces will create another level of richness for future generations who fall in love with Tolkien to consider and weigh.

But the final thing is that whatever I think of it, and thought admittedly I’m not a purist, Jackson is someone with a vision. I’ve said in many places that I’d never have read LOTR if not for Jackson, and I think his is a vision that has made Tolkien’s oeuvre, once primarily a niche interest, into a cultural moment of mainstream interest for at least two generations, and one that’s legitimate for non-geeks like me to consider. In other words, his vision is a broad-church one that responds to many concerns of specialists about the details, but successfully navigates the rights issues that plague Tolkien’s works and which has consciously decided to chart its own path. It’s a derivative work, perhaps, but one with its entire own trajectory. And he carries it out in the presence of the fans he’s invited in to watch —

People mumble because he dares to speak and not to apologize for his speech. People lob the ammunition he’s given them at him and he stands there and takes it. Because whatever the role of his inner critic is, it’s not paralyzing him; and neither are the comments of people outside. They don’t reawaken his scruples, whatever those are. Because he believes in the number of concessions he’s made already to fans, perhaps. And because he’s not afraid to be wrong — because he trusts what he’s doing and he trusts where his development as an auteur is going.

***

So, this will be a test of what FellowFan suggested. Let the comments fall where they may. I realize I’ve touched on seventy problematic topics here. What I want to talk about is how the artist attains and maintains vision, realizes vision, shares vision, and deals with the consequences. Particularly, I wonder how that works in a medium where you’ve made the conscious decision to allow your audience to observe your creative process up close — and where a significant piece of your audience is negative or even hostile about your project. How do you deal with the people you’ve invited into the room where your creativity occurs?

~ by Servetus on December 16, 2013.

17 Responses to “Pondering Peter Jackson, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and vision realized in the presence of one’s audience”

  1. I feel you are brave to let people read your thoughts on your journey though life. I keep so much in that letting others even see the light of day can be hard for me. I have opened up here more than I do at work, they just don’t need to know.

    Since I never go to the movies I enjoyed DOS, but then the last movie I saw was AUJ. I have never been one to go to the movies, so it takes something to even get me to go.

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    • Thanks. I think it’s easier to be brave when we don’t “see” each other. In a way we just speak into a sort of ether.

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    • Serb don’t stop writing I am new to your writings and thoughts. I feel as though I am on a great learning journey and look forward to hearing your thoughts each day. Keep it up.

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      • thanks — and don’t worry, I won’t stop writing, right now anyway. How do you feel about comments, though?

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        • I find your comments educational inspirational and certainly at times they course me to confront myself which is good. and healthy. I have been an RA fan since N/S in 2004. I am not a Tollkien purist read the books as a teenager and between your blogs and RA have come back to them again. Try to ignore these negative people and remember I will be thinking of you when I light my 4th candle on Sunday

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  2. I have to apologize in advance for leaving an uninformed comment. Due to some health stuff, I haven’t seen DOS and will be unable to for a few days. I haven’t gone on line much at all.In fact, In my favor I can claim to have an uncorrupted view of this controversy because I know nothing. I have no patience to spare at this time, so instead of reading every post of Serv’s to figure out what she is talking about, I will be lazy. Are you, Serv, contemplating ending moderating comments because a dialog sent you to another planet? I will have to read more to find out. Are Tolkien purists taking to the streets with pitchforks and torches? Do we care? If our primary focus is on RA and his career, are we concerned the “haters” will impact his career negatively? Personally, I was always in favor of PJ going off the Hobbit reservation as much as possible because I was hoping that TABA would have a different ending. Just a one or two less deaths would be lovely. So I am glad he chose to branch out plot wise. Glad to be back and I will catch up eventually. I missed everyone and everything.

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    • We missed you, too! (Me in particular, as you’ve always encouraged me to speak my mind.) Hope this message means you’re out of the hospital! And on the path you want to be on.

      I am contemplating ending comments here because they seem primarily to make people unhappy. My own comments elsewhere make people tremendously unhappy. I can’t figure out if this is just a bad moment, or a growing pains stage, or if something about the way I’ve changed in the last few months is causing the problem. I don’t consciously seek to make people angry but I obviously do it. And I’d rather spend my time following my own path and giving people an opportunity to enjoy themselves without the negativity.

      re: TDOS — Some Tolkien purists are extremely angry right now. I had hoped it would die down somewhat but in fact it seems to be growing. What I’m noticing is not just a listing of problems with the film (there are some, no surprise) but a vehement sentiment behind these problems that attributes malevolence or selling out or incompetence or a desire to ruin the books for everyone to Jackson. That is, of course, everyone’s right. But when expressing a different opinion means I lose a friend, as happened again this week, I have to think about what I say and what I’m going to do, because I am going to keep writing about this film for some time.

      I am not worried about Armitage’s career. I still think that on the whole the benefits to him have been high. Then again I have never been worried about Armitage’s career. I’m more interested in the nature of what he does and how it works than I am in his professional trajectory per se (except as the latter affects the former).

      I doubt Jackson’s changes will matter so much to which characters die, although I confess that I’m not enough up on the plot to say that with any certainty. It would be neat if Thorin survived but I think we already know that won’t happen, and indeed he sort of has to die for the story thus far to make sense.

      The issue for me is how Jackson is developing his vision. Plot changes mean that he’s developing a storytelling capacity and a feel for the medium he’s using. That he does in the face of such a storm of criticism from precisely the fans sort of amazes me (and makes me wonder about myself).

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      • yes, I am home from the hospital and doing well. Thank you so much for noticing I wasn’t around. Not having seen what your comments were (the ones that are making people elsewhere unhappy or angry) I shouldn’t speculate on any reasons for such responses, but what the heck, I have less working filters every year.Although I am a mom, I don’t want to sound like one and say to you, “oh honey, they are jealous, uninformed, or just mean to get so upset at your comments. Don;t change anything you are doing because of them.” Maybe civil discourse is breaking down and this is a symptom. I have always found your comments well reasoned and researched, and never seen any “fight’in words” in them. But I haven’t seen a lot lately. Something or someone must have hurt you more than usual. What happened to “if you don’t like it, don’t read it” Serv? Maybe she’s on vacation like her students. Don’t forget to come back.

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  3. Loved reading this, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us! It still surprises me how vicious people can sometimes get with their feedback of a movie they didn’t like, tbh. I take heart in the fact that fan feedback (from both new fans and Tolkien readers alike) has been overwhelmingly positive so far compared to the really vicious, hate-filled responses. I just sort of steer clear of the hate posts when possible.

    And very inspiring, this part: “People mumble because he dares to speak and not to apologize for his speech. People lob the ammunition he’s given them at him and he stands there and takes it. Because whatever the role of his inner critic is, it’s not paralyzing him; and neither are the comments of people outside.”

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  4. Sadness hapens, but sometimes one comment in the flood of negativity makes me happy.

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  5. I like the thought of going forward with a vision/concept without worrying too much about being wrong.
    I think a lot of human (all?) of disagreements is just a battle ground of trying to decide who is right. Not really worth the fight if there’s no objective proof on a subject. Opinions are just different perspectives, based on individual experience and thought/ideals.
    This blog is your public writing tablet. Comments should be respectful to your views.
    I haven’t seen DoS yet, but I don’t have much invested in doing so, either – just the pure joy of watching Richard shine on the big screen.

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  6. Thanks for a really interesting post, Servetus. I especially enjoyed your story of the exchange you had with your advisor–such good points!
    I’m glad you’re going to keep blogging. You often have thought-provoking insights and are very eloquent in expressing your views. I appreciate those qualities, even though I don’t always agree with you. Furthermore, you’ve always been very respectful of me when you disagree with my opinions.

    Whoever Peter Jackson is as a person, I am in awe of his vision and his ability to stay true to his own creative course in the face of intense criticism. Some of the critical material I’ve read sounds justified, some of it is not, but always I’m aware that the critic has their own axe to grind and therefore is not presenting a balanced account. The more passionate the criticism, the less grounded in fact it seems to be.

    I agree with you, PJ does a great job of inviting fans to feel like a part of the effort, understanding the creative process and the thinking behind the choices he and his team make. I think that’s great — the more involved the audience is, the more they’ll appreciate it. And inspiring the creativity of others is a wonderful thing.

    I’ve seen DOS and I thought Evangeline Lilly did a terrific job. Her character was a wonderful addition to the story (obviously I’m not a purist). But I feel certain that many people who don’t like the addition of Tauriel direct their ire at Evangeline, instead of at the creative team who dreamt her up. It’s hard to be the focus of such bad feeling.

    Perhaps Richard Armitage has found that immersing himself in Tolkien scholarship and Shakespearean works is his way of coping with a similar negativity. If he can look himself in the mirror and say, “I’ve done the best job I possibly could, been as careful as possible in my creation of this character, and I can hold my head up and be proud of the work I’ve done. That’s what matters, not what some critic says.”

    If that’s RA’s approach, then I think that’s the right way to go. It’s not easy, and maybe it’s not possible when critics are screaming in your ears, but ultimately, each of us can only be responsible for ourselves and our own choices.

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  7. I’d like to say that I wish many a fandom had such a voice among them. I, for one, have benefited greatly from your comments and the introspective tone and really informed type of comment, together with the permanent dialogue with “self”, make it good reading, firstly, and you make me ask myself questions and re-visit my preconceived ideas and try to deal with the issues that I have about RA, his world of thought, personality or relationships. After the comments I sometime read on the popular forums, your approach is a relief and a joy. I feel it rings true and I even saved some pieces because they were beautiful and lyrical and anguished and expressed some things I couldn’t express even to myself. It’s not easy to be in a fandom like this ever-expanding one but it is great when you find people who really have something to say and bring a depth to what means being a true fan.

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  8. “How do you deal with the people you’ve invited into the room where your creativity occurs?” Answer, or at least one answer might be: You don’t. You don’t because it is YOUR creativity, not theirs. How they react is out of your hands, and it is certainly not your responsiblity how they deport themselves reacting. Passion about a subject doesn’t excuse rudeness or hatred. I’d even say that rudeness and hatred prove that the one showing them doesn’t really care about the subject all that much than much more about some other, undisclosed matter.

    So, those so-called Tolkien purists hate the movie. Fine. Let them. Unless they come up with a better movie, I say ignore them. [Side note here: I haven’t seen it yet, but hope to enjoy it. No guarantees, but since I liked what PJ did with LotR….*shrugs*] I’m not paying money to see Tolkien brought to the screen word for word. Heaven forbid. I’m paying to see an adventure continue the beginning of which I liked very much. I’m not even paying for RA, I’m not that passionate of a fan of his that I couldn’t wait until the dvd gets here. I like adventure stories. Maybe because I am such an unadventurous person myself. I like to see someone transform his vision of what I basically think of as a rather boring book – great world building, but boring execution – into an adventure for all to share in. I can lose myself in that world. I wonder whether Tolkien himself would have, too. I’d like to think he would. Someone who showed so much insight into people that he could create a whole world with believable creatures of all sorts would.

    But back to your question. A different one might also be: Do I want/need them to agree with me? And then: Can I accept that some won’t? And can I accept that some of those will leave the grounds of fruitful discussion and venture into irrationality/anger/hatred?

    In response to that we come back to my inital answer. You don’t deal with them. You accept that they will show up no matter what you say and move on, because there are some fights just not worth fighting. It’s a waste of energy and time, because they basically don’t WANT to like/agree.

    I suspect that is the way PJ takes all the negativity. He is secure enough in his vision and old enough to know that he can’t please all the people all the time. He must have developed his own kind of lotus-effect with LotR already. It just got stronger with TH.

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  9. Ahh too many points to comment on all of them. My HS drama coach, taught us that our art is separate from us. She explained that the art, once it is created is its own separate thing, not an appendage. Once you create it let it go. Hard lesson for me to learn then and now. I was doing a screening of my documentary this summer, the audience knew a lot about the subject matter. They were really upset by the details that I had left out. The audience went on the attack to the point that the moderator stopped the Q&A and apologized after. First, the fact that the audience was so engaged and passionate was a good thing. And, secondly, I felt confident in the choices that I had made as a filmmaker, so it really didn’t bother me at all.

    As for you, and your writing, as long as the blog is creatively fulfilling for you, by all means keep at it. Altho, I really look forward to reading your novel someday.

    As for letting people in on the creative process, it ain’t easy, and it aint for the faint of heart that’s for sure.

    As for Taureil , as a woman, I really appreciated that there was a strong female character to connect with even tho she wasn’t in the book. I felt that the movie needed her.

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  10. […] People who are aware that they will not always be first choice or not always loved are capable of understanding different kinds of responses — whether critical or laudatory — for what they are in each case. They are capable of assimilating useful, constructive comment on their work, and ignoring useless feedback and concentrating on the main points. […]

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