Saturday, 25 November 2017

If The Hobbit were written today...

Image result for the hobbit

I think that if Tolkien had written The Hobbit today, he would have trouble pitching it to literary agents. Why, you ask?

Well, first off, what is the targeted age group? I can't define The Hobbit as a book for adults, yet the main character is an adult, and how are kids or teens supposed to relate to someone outside their age range?! *eyeroll*

Second, women and girls are shockingly underrepresented in this book. Gandalf or Thorin Oakenshield should have been female to amend that. What's up with the all-male dwarves, anyway? Time for a female dwarf protagonist, with or without a beard.

Three, diversity. Do you recall even one person of color in The Hobbit? Me neither. Why not make Bilbo the scion of the one black family in the WASP Shire, struggling against racism and bigotry? It would be a good thing if he has confused sexual identity, too, and finds himself entangled in a romance with Thorin (whether the latter is male or female).

What about some action in the beginning, huh? What is it with the pipe smoking and tea drinking? Give us a dragon falling out of the sky, or an earthquake that destroys half of the hobbit holes on the first page, or we'll lose interest.

Finally, what about #ownvoices? How can Tolkien be trusted to represent dwarves in literature, when he was of average height himself? I say this is shameless cultural appropriation.

Bottom line: I'm thankful that Tolkien lived back in the time when one could simply tell a good story without worrying about social agendas, when one didn't have to dance on eggshells trying to accommodate diversity, whatever that means, when it wasn't a point of shame to be white, male and straight, and when readers were expected to have an attention span exceeding five milliseconds.

10 comments:

  1. This might be my favorite thing you've ever written

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  2. I think this is so true about many great books from the past. Unless something checks off the right boxes today in genre fiction, publishers pass. Thank goodness for independent publishing. I also believe Stephen King might not get a book deal if he was starting today. His first book was about a girl who killed a bunch of people at her school and in her town. I doubt publishers are wanting to jump on stories about weird people committing mass slaughter.

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  3. Tracy, this is definitely not just about The Hobbit, or just about fantasy. I think the gatekeepers of the publishing industry should humble themselves a little and take off the hat of social revolutionaries. And yes, thankfully, indie publishing will continue to thrive, being reader-driven and dynamic.

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  4. Excellent post, Hannah, and you're completely correct. It's my opinion that if publishers / agents had simply published the best stories they received that readers wanted to read so many readers would not have migrated over to independent publishing on Amazon. It's incredible the arrogance they're displaying by trying to shove their preferences down the throats of the average fantasy reader.

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    1. Alec, arrogance is just the word. There's no knowing how many inferior books were and are given the advantages of a traditional distribution just because they fit a certain agenda.

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  5. Yes, social revolutionary wannabes; that's all a lot of them seem to be. I get that they care about issues, but use a separate account if it's going to be the main theme.

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    1. I think it's a highly unprofessional attitude, for starters. Publishing is supposed to be about good reads. Social issues need not be either suppressed or foisted on the book-reading public.

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  6. Thank you for writing this. It's something I've been banging on about for ages. There is so much awful stuff being served up as literature because it was written by or about one of the fad minority groups. Who can even get this junk churned out before the fad moves on to the next way out must-write?

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    1. Thank you, Jane. It's astounding how few people dare to talk about this; it's like rejecting the "progressive" agendas marks you with a big black stain.

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