Is there any reason for a revolutionary to watch a fantasy movie like The Hobbit? Activists and radicals, perhaps more than anyone, must live in the real world.
Uninterested in escaping from the struggles of life, a radical mind sees real social situations brimming with injustice to be fought and wants to do something about it. Perhaps this is why there are not too many fantasy writers among the literary heroes of the radical left. We tend to favour poignant and sensual descriptions of real world conditions.
This season’s debut of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, or the performance of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, that tragic social commentary of the experience of itinerant work during the great depression at Sydney Opera house this year, are the food of great progressive political sentiment.
By contrast, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit along with other blockbuster fantasy movies like Harry Potter, X-Men, and the Twilight saga are read by the kind of people who are more concerned with the coming zombie apocalypse, or masked Super-Villains, than they are by the plight of the urban poor. They inspire people to fight evil wizards, or deranged mutant supremacists, not bosses in a union.
Fuckin’ hoi polloi, amirite? You turn your back on them for one goddamned second, and they’re off indulging in their various opiates or building golden calves. I swear, it’s like they don’t want to learn what’s best for them. All is not lost in this case, thankfully, as our vanguardist hero has discerned how even Tolkien’s conservative parable can be subverted in service to the revolution. The things we do for you ungrateful lumpenproles…
To borrow and repurpose a line from Gayatri Spivak, it’s ideologues incapable of seeing art as anything more than propaganda for their cause who are “the least interesting and the most dangerous.”