Raging Hobbit

Confession time.

I am not going to see The Hobbit.  I very much doubt I ever will see it.  I am among those rare few sci fi / fantasy fans who didn’t love Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I enjoyed them okay.  I didn’t mind watching them.  I don’t own them.  I don’t watch them if they’re on TV.  I really just ultimately feel kind of blah about the whole affair.

Let me be clear before someone starts accusing me of dismissing the importance of either the original books or the films.  I would never suggest they aren’t important.  They are very important.  Probably some of the most important works in fantasy literature / film.  And good for them.  Good for Tolkein.  Good for Jackson.  Good for all the fans.  Good for everybody.

But I was not particularly impressed with them.

Believe me.  This isn’t an easy thing to admit.  Especially as a writer.  Especially as a sci fi / fantasy writer.  Even now, I can hear the clatter of angry fans as they begin writing their comments about how incredibly stupid I am, how uncultured, how the LOTR trilogy is an amazing, fundamental work of fantasy fiction and to say it isn’t the most fantastic thing ever created is to show my own ignorance.  Such comments are certainly welcome on this site, provided they remain civil.  But, please, at least read the rest of this post before deciding to eviscerate me for daring to not be in love with them.

Can we just have an honest difference of opinion here?  I get being a fan, and the fanaticism that comes with it.  I hope one day to have fans as devoted.  But it isn’t a personal insult to anyone to suggest that while they might love something, some of us might not.  And it isn’t automatically because we’re uncultured or too stupid to know better.  And it’s not just someone trying to get a rise out of you either or being too hip for the room.  Sometimes, folks just don’t like stuff as much as we do, and we have to be grown up about it.

This is what bothers me about fandom (in all its forms).  It’s one thing to be devoted.  It’s another to be so blinded by one’s devotion that any criticism is viewed as attack.  We need to stop doing that.  And, yet, in a world where anyone with a computer and an internet connection can share their opinions with the world, we still don’t seem to understand that people are going to have different opinions.

This is why I cringe every time I read a negative review for The Hobbit, scroll down to the comments section, and read all the nerd rage to come.  And that’s what it is.  I think the very notion of nerds is something of an antiquated concept.  We’re all nerds now.  Whether it’s our love of gritty crime shows like Breaking Bad or The Wire, our obsessiveness over My Little Pony, our joy over our fantasy football team roster, being nerds is just what we are.  And I actually like that quite a bit.

But then comes the dark side.  The people who have almost turned their fandom into a religion.  To question their preferred passion is to summon their wrath.  And while they might not declare holy war, they sure as hell will jump on your forum to tell you how stupid you are for daring to not feel the same way.

Get over it.

In the interest of defusing some of this (though the odds are slim), here are a few guidelines to writing a rebuttal to a negative review of your favorite THING, whatever that might be.

If a review gets some small detail wrong, it doesn’t automatically disqualify their opinion.  So what if they spell Smog the dragon instead of Smaug.  It might be glaringly obvious to you, but it doesn’t mean they’re wrong.

If a reviewer suggest that they were bored by some aspect of a film, you don’t need to write a comment about how wrong they are for being bored.  Boredom is an individual experience, and just because you can sit there for half an hour listening to dwarves sing about mountains, that doesn’t mean everyone else can.

If a reviewer thinks the film is good, but not great, they are not necessarily being “too hip” to enjoy the film.

MOST IMPORTANTLY:  When someone dislikes something you like, they are NOT automatically calling you dumb for liking it.  I pretty much despised Tron: Legacy but a lot of people seemed to like it.  Sure, they’re wrong for doing so, but they’re not dumb.  Disagreeing with me doesn’t make you stupid.  It just makes you a person with your own opinions, and, hey, that’s cool.  (And I was just kidding about being wrong.)

Remember, we all go to the movies/ read books/ play video games for different reasons.  Your needs are not my needs, and that’s just fine.  I couldn’t give a damn about folk songs and the geography of imaginary lands.  I’m more of a rocket punching giant monsters guy.  (Speaking of which, the newest trailer for Pacific Rim pleases me and The Mighty Robot King very much.  If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.)  Even the original books had too many characters for my tastes, was too melodramatic, and paced too slow.  But that’s just my opinion.  I know that not everyone will agree.

So, hey, let’s have our spirited discussions.  Let’s share our thoughts and indulge our inner nerds.  But let’s do it without going over the edge.

Unless we’re talking about Skyfall.  Whoo boy, is that a stinker of a film.

Keelah Se’lai

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,


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  1. Alberto
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 4:38 am | Permalink

    Ah, Pacific Rim. As I was watching the trailer I couldn’t but think that someone had given a five-year-old a multi-million dollar budget to develop whatever film he liked

  2. Jesse
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I’m curious to know what you think about the newest Superman trailer. I thought it was a bit too dark for the kind of Superman story I generally would like to see and given your taken on the Nolan Batman movies I’m wondering if you agree.

    • A. Lee Martinez
      Posted December 14, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      So far, I remain unimpressed.

      It’s probably no surprise that I am not a Nolan fan, although I do respect his ability to get the audience completely on board through sheer determination. But any further critique of his directing style is unimportant. The guy knows what he’s doing and does it very well.

      But, as you correctly guessed, I think the trailers for the new Superman are so bland and pretentious that I couldn’t give less of a damn about them. What I love about Superman is how down-to-Earth he is. He’s a character designed to fly and fight evil and save the day.

      I’m just sick of writers trying to give him “Depth” by making him seem conflicted or confused. Clearly, there’s a whole blog post here on that subject, so I’ll just leave it at that.

  3. Doug Johnson
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I’ve read The Hobbit and the Ring Trilogy and agree that it is a masterful work of literature (kind of) but wasn’t enthralled and couldn’t understand why…until I read a book on writing (I believe it was Orson Scott Card’s “Characters and Viewpoints” but could be wrong) that described the different types of novel structures available and described Tolkien’s work as the “travelogue” style. And a light went off.
    In this style the character will arrive somewhere and then explore it for a while, setting the story on hold while they do so. Wizard of Oz (the book…yes, I’ve read the first one) is similar. If you like that kind of book, you can easily become a fan(atic).
    Your”A Nameless Witch” or some of the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett MIGHT take that route but, fortunately for me, do not. It is possible to write a novel that moves through a lot of time and space without having it become a travel piece…even when about time travel. Go figure.
    I don’t read travel books. I barely skim that section of the Sunday paper. I prefer my travel to be live rather than vicarious. It’s a preference rather than a religious war.
    And while I don’t necessarily share your love for Fighting Flaming Robots, I do enjoy your quirky characters and gravitate toward those kind of novels.
    I think the slathering fan hasn’t managed to go meta….to rise above the first level of “I love this” to wonder why. So at that personal level an attack on “the love” is an attack on the fan directly. And some fans need to fight back, to defend their love. As if Tolkien needs defending.
    Thanks for your insights. Thanks for your novels. And I’ll defend your right to write about Fighting Flaming Robots to the death, or at least the bottom of my beer.

  4. Tempestt
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    I share your indifference. I tried getting into the series when I was a child and I found it boring & as I got older and the movies were popular, all of my friends were really excited about them and couldn`t stop talking about how amazing they were, so I decided to watch them to see if my tastes had changed but I still found them boring for the most part. Don`t get me wrong, some parts were kind of cool, but wasn`t it really my cup o` tea.

  5. Paul Glenn
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Re: paragraph 11

    My favorite THING is obviously John Carpenter’s version, because I’m not a mouth-breathing Neanderthal. To imply that either of the other versions are valid contenders is to reveal yourself as the uneducated, uncultured idiot you are.

    And, by the way, it’s “THE Thing,” not “Thing.” If you didn’t pay enough attention to get even that detail right, your opinion counts for nothing.

  6. Nathan Briggs
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    China Mieville also has expressed a dislike for Tolkein.. I wonder why? Maybe folks who write Weird Tales have no use for high fantasy? Or, the Tolkein estate’s jealous guardianship of his works? I, for one, would like to read more about Shelob. Of all of Tolkein’s beasties she is most like something out of a Lovecraft story. She is also one of the few monsters to survive and as far as we know she’s still lurking in a cave going mad with hunger and a desire to consume the world.
    ps, Could the undersea monsters from Pacific Rim be a dry run for the adaptation of At The Mountains of Madness that del Toro is supposed to be working on? I sure hope so!

  7. Kyle White
    Posted December 19, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    As a youngin’, I saw The Hobbit animated movie and loved it. The story opened new worlds I hadn’t known existed.

    As an adult, I read the book and liked it (except for the long & borning poems/songs).

    As a much-older-adult, I saw the recently released movie. Eh. It was OK, but I’m not excited to see the next installment. At this point, it’s doubtful I will.

    My two cents on some other topics mentioned in the comments.

    Pacific Rim – didn’t the Power Rangers already cover this topic? The movie looks stupid.

    Superman – dark, but that appears to the be ‘new’ thing. I agree that I’m not too happy and probably won’t spend my money.

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