The latest buzz on the net has been the brouhaha over a Pakistani actor who had been turned down for being an Hobbit extra because her skin was too brown. Naturally, Twitter exploded in outrage. The casting director got fired, heads are rolling everywhere, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah. And retaliation has been just as severe, with a facebook group being created to keep the hobbits white. So some nasty stuff is getting slung around, even before the movie has yet to get a single cel filmed.
At first, I was like, "Well, yeah. Hobbits are white. The only dark-skinned folk are the ones down south who got roped into being slaves for Mordor, thank you very much for doing so, Mr. Tolkien." But then a friend of mine was like, "Well, actually, does it even say what their skin tone was?" And I was like, "Well, we know that they’re curly-haired…but…" Then we sort of stared at each other in puzzled silence.
So then I went home and consulted the source: Tolkien. Unfortunately, the only source I had was the Silmarillion, which, while useful to see how Tolkien world-built his world, surprisingly does not contain anything to do with hobbits…or if there was, I didn’t see it. I then went back to the above mentioned article, where at the bottom, it reads:
In the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien described three races of Hobbits inhabiting the Middle Earth fantasy world which is the setting for the movies, including harfoots, who "were browner of skin" than the others.
I’m going to have to read the Lord of the Rings all over again now, because I don’t remember that when I read it the first time. I should have glommed onto the fact that there were brown-skinned hobbits. Or maybe I did read that, but thought, yeah, but there’s brown-skinned, and then there’s dark-skinned…
Which made me think of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Because, you know, when you think of Tolkien, you always have to think of C.S. Lewis. Both of them being British dudes and all.
I’ve seen the first movie, but not because I wanted to. I saw it because it was something my hubby DVR’d, and it was a Saturday night when I had nothing better to do. I know the other movies have come out since, with the latest being Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but I have no desire to see them.
It’s all because of Jill, you see.
The Silver Chair happens to be my favorite book of the Narnia series. That was because of Jill. She wasn’t part of the Penvensie clan–she was completely outside of the family. And because Lewis never really gave a detailed description of her, she could’ve looked like, well, anyone. So, in my nine-year-old mind, I was convinced Jill was black. Sure, the pictures in the book showed her as white, but pictures could be deceiving. I always went by what was in the text.
Jill was cool. Jill was bad-ass.She didn’t take no guff from anyone. But she also knew when she was wrong and owed up to it. It was easy to project myself onto Jill, because I could see myself in her (I always hoped that after The Last Battle, she and Eustace hooked up because they made a cute couple together.)
So when I learned that they were going to do movies of the Chronicles of Narnia, it left me…well…dismayed. Because I know that what’s up there on the screen isn’t going to match up with my picture of Jill. I probably would be disappointed even if Jill was white–nothing on the screen could possibly match with what I had in my head.
Or can it?
Maybe, in limiting myself, maybe I am missing some pretty good renditions of my favorite books. I mean, I loved Lord of the Rings. The Chronicles of Narnia may not be on the same caliber, but I’ve heard from people that it’s really good. And you know, it could be possible, you know, that they might cast Jill of a different race…
So maybe this means I ought to start watching movies again. I mean, now that Disney’s out of the fairy-tale market, that means movies should start getting good now, right?