Not to prejudice Jonah’s judging, but here are my thoughts on what has come into my mail box:
Lots of good tries coming in about why a liberal would really groove on Lord of the Rings:
– It’s anti-industrialization, anti-technology, pro- environmental themes (my take, I’ll buy it in part – but sort of side issue. If you’re really a first-rate GreenPeace’r then how do you get past all the other stuff (especially the violence) for a chapter or two of marauding Ents?) Lots of people made this argument (most cogently from Jonah’s ass-kicking guy) but to really believe it you’ve got to accept LOTR as an environmental manifesto and tract on the level of Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring.’ And it is definitely not that. I hear you, but for this book to become a cult classic for Hippies and yet not be listed on Friends of the Earth website or anywhere else in the green world sort of belies the enviro theme as driving liberal acceptance of LOTR. So there is a connection there – but too faint to justify liberal obsession (and hijacking in a way) with LOTR for so many years. My own sense is that Tolkein is green in that English yeoman sort of way – hunting, shooting, walking, etc.)
– It’s anti-power theme (i.e. the Ring). (my take – I guess in theory, but then how do you explain the modern liberal’s yen for collectivism and the all-powerful state?)
– Lot’s of weed smoking. (my take – creative and funny, but nobody actually gets high or acts high in the book. I’m a cigar smoker so I could relate to the smoking too. Lots of beer drinking too….ahem…Jonah)
– Liberals could compare all the nasty things to Amerika (my take – probably true – but I’m not buying it. I just don’t see how you can see Aragorn as a hippy – Even though Viggo Morgenstern tried his hardest to make the case. Thankfully his feebleness as an intellectual is inversely proportional to his talent in this role in the movie version).
– Anti-corporate. (my take – variation on a theme above and from a guy who saw Michael Moore in line in NYC to see the movie! Now that is research. And, he’s probably right. Perhaps for MM it’s Roger and me all over. Except in this version, I’m skinny, brave, and good with a sword).
– Revolutionary – a small group changing the world. (my take – good one. Except it’s us conservatives that are the minority revolutionaries. I guess that doesn’t stop a liberal from thinking he’s perpetually up against the Man).
– Pacifist. (my take – don’t confuse pacifism with reluctance. Pacifists refuse to fight. Many warriors kill with reluctance. BIGGGG difference. Everybody draws blood in this movie, Frodo least of all but he’s still sticking when needed)
– Paganism. (my take – see Jonah and Rod’s archived thoughts on Tolkien as a conservative catholic)
Finally, while Jonah is the judge, the response that most motivates me to donate $100 to NRO because it hit on the most cylinders – reprinted in entirety from Matt:
Reasons liberals like LOTR:
1.) No Christians, or mention of any God at all. The paganism of the elves
is probably appealing to them, as well (I am making the assumption that
there aren’t many conservative Wiccan’s out there, but whatever).
2.) They could choose to view it as an allegory on nuclear weapons. The
ring (the bomb) is sought after by one evil power (the United States), with
the only resolution being the destruction of the ring, to save the world
3.) It is referenced in a Zepplin song that many many many liberals got high
to in the 70’s.
4.) Look, liberals play the pacifist, we hate violence game well. They talk
about how much they hate war, and killing, and so forth. But they’re liars.
They’re human, just like the rest of us, and LOTR (and other fantasy worlds)
allows them to vicariously experience the violence that they need so badly,
but can’t ever express in public. It also allows them to disassociate
violence and humans, because who cares if orcs die?
5.) Viewing the book as a metaphor for the Vietnam war. Once again, the
evil (United States) monsters invade the unblemished paradise, and are
beaten back by wily underdogs through “jungle tactics”.
See, you’re thinking that liberals see themselves as we see them. They
don’t They see themselves as the courageous, adventurous heroes, fighting
against the forces of darkness against overwhelming odds, but coming through
somehow in the end.