Amazon: Cage to Play Aragorn

Following a bidding war between media streaming giants Netflix and Amazon, it was announced earlier this week Amazon had purchased the global rights to J. R. R. Tolkien’s hit fantasy series for some $329 million and would be turning it into a television series. The Tolkien Estate and Trust ultimately decided going with Amazon because of the online merchandising giant’s superior streaming infrastructure, corporate stability and, of course, on account of it being a global purveyor of books and literature.

The announcement to develop a television-based prequel to the Lord of the Rings was received with mixed reaction by fans. Fans, for instance, of the blockbuster trilogy produced by Peter Jackson in the early 2000s have had reactions ranging from ecstasy on the one hand to righteous self-indignation on the other. Literary purists have also repeatedly brought up the fact J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, opposed the idea of ever bringing his Middle Earth epic to television.

Nonetheless, the television show will include new storylines preceding the first book, The Fellowship of the Ring. Amazon has committed upwards of 1.3 billion dollars to a five season run. The deal also includes the rights for a potential additional spin-off season, depending of course on the success of the show.

“The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen,” Sharon Tal Yguado, Head of Scripted Series, Amazon Studies, said.

“We are honoured to be working with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line on this exciting collaboration for television and are thrilled to be taking The Lord fans on a new epic journey in Middle Earth.”

Disclaimer: this article is entirely satirical. I was curious to see how many visitors would fully think about and read the article versus jumping to conclusions based upon reading the title alone. There’s no way in hell Nicholas Cage should ever be cast as Aragorn. 


Remembering George

When I was a boy I was fascinated by war stories. I read book after book about World War II. I had the great privilege of visiting with my Great Uncle George every Sunday. He landed on Juno Beach with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Europe on June 6, 1944. He was a tiny man (which is probably why he survived). I remember sitting in the living room with him–he sat quietly, his fat black cat stretched out on his lap. We didn’t say much but those afternoons were formative. As I grow older finally, finally, I’ve reached the only conclusion available to a reasonable man about war: I hate it. Yet, we need familiarity with it. We need to learn about it. We need to remember what it cost. For if war remains strange or abstract to us it will continue to be a viable option for people inured to its cost. War, I hate war.

Teaching White Hatred…Accidentally

There are a lot of websites and videos online illustrating how terrible Europeans were with respect to establishing their overseas colonies or how poorly minorities have been treated in the former colonies of Canada and the United States. These sources are often used in primary, secondary and university classrooms. These ideas have their place in an accurate retelling of Canada’s and every other Western nation’s history.

I wonder though: how effectively is this information being presented? Is it taught in a nuanced way where students emerge with an appreciation for the overall ethical and historical significance of these events? Or is it taught in such a way as to push people towards fascism, towards obstructionism, or to reinforce an ideology like progressivism? Regrettably, the way these things are taught sometimes has unintended consequences.

The unstated premise of “white people have enjoyed unearned privilege and power” could be “white people are the enemy of progress.” I accept, historically speaking, that because of that power white people have inflicted–intentionally and unintentionally–a lot of pain and repression on people of color and other marginalized peoples. Also, I totally support the justice aims of everyone being secure in their person and equal under the law; however, the villianizing of white people will no more establish a culture of tolerance, or a more equitable and sympathetic society, than the repression of marginalized peoples could.

I am white (and a male) but I most certainly did not establish the reserve or residential school system. I never held the opinion that women could not do anything a man could do. I have always argued in favour of Canada possessing a progressive tax regime where the nation’s most vulnerable have access to healthcare or unemployment insurance. My being the prototypical “white male” has nothing to do with the values I hold; a sense of justice isn’t limited by or an expression of genetics.

So, I think it would be great if schools taught the facts–that yes Canada has some sordid periods of history–but avoid teaching this collective white guilt nonsense.

To illustrate: when I learned about Catholic repression of Lutherans during the 15th century when I was in my grade 10 history class, I automatically sided with the Lutherans and came to detest Catholicism. This is because I had no larger context to operate under. I had a knee jerk reaction (typical of emotion rather than reason at work). I just saw injustice in the most immediate sense and failed to see a larger picture (mainly because my history teacher was substandard). Over time I came to see the issue in a more nuanced way and that I did not have to practice self hatred (I was a Catholic) in order to feel fraternity with Protestants.

I have since studied race relations at the university level and had professors tell me only white people are capable of being racist or repressing others. I challenged that notion in class by appealing to racial/ethnic differences being the cause of genocides in Rwanda and Turkey in the 20th century; and I pointed to the fact that the Chinese have an unflattering term used in reference to white people that translates to ‘garbage’ and that during the 1930s and 40s Japan taught master race theory to its people. My professors largely ignored me (one literally telling me to just be quiet).

So it seems I had crappy professors and teachers at every level: myopic intellectuals fixated on the moment or present need, incapable of seeing a larger picture.
If we are realistic we accept the fact any individual can not only experience racism but also be a racist. Schools that teach a limited narrative, that refuse to build an appropriate overall context are inadvertently teaching young white people not only to hold a greater sense of civil responsibility to others but also, potentially, to feel a sense of “white guilt.” This is counter-productive; and while this might appease the emotional requirements for revenge held by some of the more emotionally charged folks out there, it results in the creation of a self defeating fiction.

Effective teaching would not result in this happening. If you go into teaching, please do not do this.

The Right to Potentially Offend

“I hate your opinions but I will die for you to have the right to express them.”

Voltaire (sort of)

Nowhere in Canada’s Constitution does it say you have a legal right not to be offended.

In fact the Charter protects your fundamental right to speak your mind and potentially offend.

Nowhere in the Constitution does it say we cannot wear whatever we want when we want; that right to wear whatever is upheld by the Charter. And so on and so forth.

Progressives are well-meaning individuals who, regrettably, mistake their deep conviction for the legal colour of right. They also mistake the advent of political correctness for genuine progress. They seem to fail to appreciate exactly what it means to live in a liberal society governed through the rule of law in their attempts to childproof society.

Specifically, it is not reasonable to shame or morally coerce citizens into accepting that parts of the language are off limits because you feel certain words should not be expressed; we do not live in a theocracy–secular or otherwise–where words like Jehovah or phrases like “manning the table” (a male micro-aggression) are off limits; political correctness is intellectually stultifying and I have a legal right to speak my mind short of promoting active hatred of others. You do not have a right to promote hatred but you do have the right to disagree.

Thus, while I accept the fact I am not absolutely free, but that responsibilities follow from possessing and practicing fundamental liberties, I reject the apparent moral authority of leftists who seek to reshape society into some sort of childproofed utopia (by using their personal feelings on any given matter as the standard by which we should all judge a thing right or wrong).

Democracies are supposed to be messy; and although many of the aims of progressives are admirable the means by which they attain them–the shouting down, black balling and public shaming of opponents, the wrong headed indoctrination of the young in high schools and universities churning out social justice warriors unwilling to entertain nuanced positions on complex issues–demonstrates, at least to me, that they are more of a threat to genuine progress than anything else. Why? Because they push for greater tolerance through their own intolerance; they push for greater freedom by seeking to restrict the freedom of others; and they claim the moral high ground when in fact this cannot be achieved through bully tactics but through genuine dialogue while agreeing, potentially, to disagree.

If this post offends and you want to unfriend/unfollow, I respond, “So what? It is too bad our friendship couldn’t weather such disagreement. I wish you well.”

If I was a betting man I would say we are going to see the successful push for sanity from actual liberals (centrists) and conservatives in the coming years. Political correctness is a blight on our society and I will resist it unto my dying breath.