If you’re an avid Pundit League reader (and of course you are), you know that some of us are, well, geeks. We might even be dorks. Me? I’m a giant Tolkien dork, in part because I’m a huge linguistics geek. So when TNT re-ran Peter Jackon’s three film Lord of the Rings series over Christmas weekend, I watched in between swigs of bourbon with my sister and conversations about how really good method actors can produce snot on cue. Woot Brad Douriff!
My sister and I, both huge theatre geeks in high school and college, had something of a collective nervous breakdown over the awesomeness of Bernard Hill as King Theoden in The Two Towers. We were straight tripping over how he inhabits the role of the redeemed yet misguided king at Helm’s Deep when several lines caught my mind’s eye for another reason entirely. My sister readied her eye roll, already stunned by my anti-union schpiel (go Peter Jackson!) and exasperated with my propensity to see politics in every little thang. I apparently have a “tell” when I’m gonna go all right wingeriffic, and it’s something to do with my shoulders and the way I catch my breath. Then I launch into a discussion (sometimes less charitably named a tirade) that starts, “And this rather reminds me of…”
It started like this: “The message of these films, of the books, I’ve always believed, is that your way of life is worth fighting for, if you wish to be free to choose it.” I looked at her. She was listening, which she kindly always does. “If a hostile force threatens your freedom, threatens to eradicate your way of life, even old people, children, women, everyone will need to defend it, to the last person standing.” She was still listening, so the tirade rained down in full.
“You know how this ends. Frodo and posse return to Hobbiton and nobody cares. Farmers are more interested in giant pumpkins than the people who saved their way of life. But Frodo and Sam and all of them just shrug it off and have a beer, because they didn’t fight for recognition. They didn’t suffer for notoriety. They did it so these ignoramuses could continue to lead their pumpkin loving lives without ever fearing from hostile forces. They did it to protect their innocence. And it rather makes me think of friends like Kurt [a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army and frequent target of libtrolls on Twitter] who go out and get the job done so jerks with 37 Twitter followers have the freedom to tear him down and call him a hateful warmonger.
I mean, look at this Orc army lining up in the thousands to destroy these people’s way of life. Like Aragorn said, they don’t come to take Rohan’s crops. They come to kill its people. And here, when Theoden says ‘What can men do against such wreckless hate?’ and Aragorn says ‘Ride with me. Ride out and meet them’? It’s like this BS where we don’t even know how to deal with jihadis and folks like the guy in Portland. Portland friends were like ‘What did we do?’ and people either want a peaceful solution or are at a total loss like Theoden. Aragorn is saying ‘It doesn’t matter what you did. They just hate us. So let’s go meet them and end this.’ Why sit around and wait for them to come to you? You know who they are. They announce it. They hate us. It’s as plain as orcs. Find them and put and end to it.”
My sister didn’t stop me, so I kept babbling. “It’s a fairy story so it’s less threatening to little boys and bigger boys who still collect action figures and all that other crap. Tolkien was teaching boys to be men. Orcs are instantly recognizable as evil and don’t have orc wives and little orc children that could be hurt, so waging all out war back on them is quite black and white. The thing is, that’s how it is anyway. You can recognize the orcs of the real world the same way you recognize the orcs in the books and films. They come from a factory mindset. Conformity, uniformity are programmed into orcs by their creator, who is also their leader. They are given equal food, water, and shelter of low and mean quality. Orc healthcare is one-size-fits-all; they take a swig of nasty fluid or die. They are for the most part one race; there is no mixing and they look at other races as prey. They are all of them replaceable so not even the elite Urukai are afforded any luxuries. The leaders, Sauron and Saruman, live in towers and look down upon their people. Hi, this is, like, every totalitarian regime! Nazis, Communists, jihadis.”
When Theoden and Aragorn ride out to meet the threat rather than hide from it behind breached walls, the tide of the battle turns. It doesn’t hurt that Gandalf shows up with his staff and freaks out the light-hating orcs. Who’s to say Gandalf couldn’t be a 3 megaton nuclear warhead? Just the idea of Gandalf sends the enemy into a tizzy. It gives the kings and their companions, an elf and a dwarf, time to do some serious damage to some orc keister. Yes, Lord of the Rings is a fairy story, and you may arguably find this an oversimplified observation. When I talk to soldiers, however, I find that it is not. These men have a job to do. It’s to protect us whether we idiots notice or not. If they didn’t protect us, we would notice as sure as the families of the Westfold did.
Soldiers are maimed and killed so that we can show each other pumpkins or tweet about Dancing With The Stars and post endless Farmville updates to Facebook. The enemy doesn’t come for our pumpkins or b-list stars or Farmville crops. They come for us. The bravest men and women stand in the way of this wreckless hate. Show the utmost respect, and gratify them by leading a free and self-directed life. It’s the way of all the free peoples of Middle Earth, and it also happens to be the American way.…