Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reading YouTube Comments

Today I was on YouTube when I saw a video with a picture of Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn as the thumbnail.  Intrigued, I clicked on it and was led to the video "5 Famous Movies That Don't Mean What You Think" by the channel called Cracked.

Towards the end, the video talked about The Lord of the Rings "trilogy" (sigh):

"Written in the 1950s about many countries teaming up to fight the army of wizard Hitler...The Lord of the Rings is about World War II, right?  Wrong.  It's about the evil of trying to cheat death; an evil that spreads through: Isildur, Gollum, the Nazgul, Sauron.  But death reaches all, even Sauron's giant angry fire eyeball.  Which is also why good characters graciously accept death more or less."

Normally I would be uncomfortable with a video making such a broad generalization about the story such as asserting that the main point of the story is the theme of death.  But at least they debunked the WWII myth (which Tolkien was adamantly against) and they did succeed in pointing out at least one important theme.

What really perplexed me were the comments people left.

The first comment is pretty much right on!  There are a couple themes he left out, but that is not a big deal.  I'm just glad Tolkein's allegory views were pointed out. 

But quickly (and unsurprisingly) the comments become very, very wrong.

The third reply seems to say that there is nothing deeper than the story itself.  I could be wrong (maybe that's not what the author meant) but if it is, it is incorrect.  Of course there is more to the story than just the events, but people do have to be careful to assign themes that do not belong.

I am so happy with WranDm's reply, however.  It was exactly right!  The reason that there are similarities between WWII and The Lord of the Rings is because both stories share a common denominator: human themes.  WWII might have lessons to be learned about power, and so does The Lord of the Rings, but the latter's is not derived from the former's.

The next comment totally caught me off guard.  I have never heard of any comparisons between Jewish people and dwarves.  Apparently people seem to think that because the dwarves are greedy they represent wealthy Jews during WWII.  But if that were true, wouldn't the dwarves be sent to camps by Sauron?  Wouldn't they be murdered?  They're not!  This is very far fetched.

But then, it gets even weirder when someone suggests that Tolkien's wife was Jewish.  That is just an incorrect fact.  His wife was Protestant prior to her conversion to Catholicism and their marriage.  It is true that Tolkien loved Jews though from when he said (to German publishers ascertaining that he was not Jewish and was Aryan): "But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people." (From the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien).  Clearly he held Jewish people in high regard and would not portray them as money-hungry dwarves.

The next comment talks about The Chronicles of Narnia, and as far as I am aware, Tolkien did have a certain level of dislike for it since it was a clear allegory.  And it is true that while Tolkien does not have one to one substitutions in his work, there are still elements of his faith in it--how could there not be?  It was a big part of who he was and what his views were.

People can twist Tolkien's work around in order for it to say whatever they want.  I'm sure I'm not the only fan who is frustrated when they see comments like this on public forums.  It is comments like this that wish that I had a YouTube account so I could set the record straight.  What do you think of these comments?

A quick note: I have nothing against the author's of these comments, and I'm glad that they shared their views!  I would encourage them to read up on the subject so they can make informed decisions about the themes in The Lord of the Rings as I will continue to do :)


  1. Lol! "'trilogy' (sigh)"

    I agree with you. Those comments really went downhill super quickly. Jews?! Where did they get that from?

    All we can do is spread the truth. Hail the faithful fans! ;D