Saturday, June 12, 2004

On a Lighter Note...

Putting genocide denial aside, I always felt Chomsky was a prime target for satire. Here's a marvelous riff on Chomsky and Zinn's DVD commentary to The Fellowship of the Ring.

Some choice moments:

Chomsky: The film opens with Galadriel speaking. "The world has changed," she tells us, "I can feel it in the water." She's actually stealing a line from the non-human Treebeard. He says this to Merry and Pippin in The Two Towers, the novel. Already we can see who is going to be privileged by this narrative and who is not.

Zinn: Of course. "The world has changed." I would argue that the main thing one learns when one watches this film is that the world hasn't changed. Not at all.

Chomsky: We should examine carefully what's being established here in the prologue. For one, the point is clearly made that the "master ring," the so-called "one ring to rule them all," is actually a rather elaborate justification for preemptive war on Mordor...

Zinn: You view the conflict as being primarily about pipe-weed, do you not?

Chomsky: Well, what we see here, in Hobbiton, farmers tilling crops. The thing to remember is that the crop they are tilling is, in fact, pipe-weed, an addictive drug transported and sold throughout Middle Earth for great profit.

Zinn: This is absolutely established in the books. Pipe-weed is something all the Hobbits abuse. Gandalf is smoking it constantly. You are correct when you point out that Middle Earth depends on pipe-weed in some crucial sense, but I think you may be overstating its importance. Clearly the war is not based only on the Shire's pipe-weed. Rohan and Gondor's unceasing hunger for war is a larger culprit, I would say...

Chomsky: And now, with Frodo in the midst of a hallucinogenic, paranoid state, we meet Strider.

Zinn: Note that the first thing he starts talking about is the ring. "That is no trinket you carry." A very telling irony, that. It is the kind of irony that Shakespeare would use. It is something Iago might say. And did you hear that? "Sauron the Deceiver." That is what Strider, the ranger with multiple names, calls Sauron. A ranger. I believe today we call them serial killers.

Chomsky: Or drug smugglers.

Zinn: And notice how Strider characterizes the Black Riders. "Neither living nor dead." Why, that's a really useful enemy to have.

Chomsky: Yes. In this way you can never verify their existence, and yet they're horribly terrifying. We should not overlook the fact that Middle Earth is in a cold war at this moment, locked in perpetual conflict. Strider's rhetoric serves to keep fear alive.

Read it all, its absolutely uncanny.