The Hobbit, which has already walked through the fires of Mount Doom just to finally reach early pre-production and casting stages, has now run into another snag. This time it's a problem of political correctness run amok. They’re being accused of racism because they don’t want to cast people who don’t look at all like hobbits to play hobbits. No, really.
A British woman of Pakistani descent who claims to be a fan of LOTR, but whose attitudes make it seem as though she has neither seen any of the Lord of the Rings movies nor read The Hobbit, is running to the press accusing Peter Jackson’s production of being racist because they didn’t want to hire her to populate the Shire. As reported by various publications she says, “The casting manager basically said they weren't having anybody who wasn't pale-skinned.” That’s right. Because Hobbits are kind of pale skinned. It would be like hiring Dita Von Teese to play Chaka Khan.
This woman states her complaint this way: “It was the opportunity of a lifetime. I would love to be an extra. But it just seemed like a shame because obviously hobbits are not brown or black or any other colour. They all look kind of homogenised beige and all derived from the Caucasian gene pool.” Yes. They are absolutely derived from the Caucasian gene pool. You’re right. Not just any caucasians but the palest, pastiest, whitest caucasians ever to walk this planet. Have you seen the English?
There’s nothing to complain about, because you see, here’s the thing about Tolkien’s books: He wrote them to be a sort of fantastical, mythological history for England, a region which was in the past populated almost entirely by those super-pale Caucasians. For much the same reason that only Chinese people are cast to play all the roles in movies about the mythological history of China, it wouldn’t really make much sense for hobbits to have a beautiful tan. So what’s all the ruckus about?
The problem here is the same one that’s plagued the production of The Hobbit all along. In a word: Greed. No one cared what Peter Jackson was doing when he made Lord of the Rings because no one knew if it would be a success. In fact the whole thing was a big gamble, so people got out of his way and let him roll the dice. Now the world smells money and everyone, from the biggest studio lawyer to the smallest New Zealand extra wants a piece of the pie. I suspect this woman, and most of the incredibly stupid people championing her cause, are no different.
Unfortunately, even though this is incredibly stupid, Peter Jackson has already been forced to pretend it isn’t by apologizing. His spokeperson says, “It is not something the producers or the director of The Hobbit were aware of; they would never issue instructions of this kind to the casting crew. All people meeting the age and height requirements are welcome to audition for The Hobbit.” Countdown until Jackson’s forced to cast a bunch of multi-racial hobbits to keep Jesse Jackson off his ass starts right now.