Friday, April 6, 2007

Did You Know? (1)

Yes, it's a "new" segment. Which may mean it'll never be updated again. But, hey, lets be optomistic idiots. Did You Know? will basically be a long-winded trivia piece, in my own trademarked Hyper Ramble style. I'll try to make them not all about Doctor Who.. like this week's!

*Ahem*

Although gene Rodenberry and his homies loved nothing more than taking full credit for the introduction of most slightly patchy storytelling techniques, they really can't claim credit for many. Deus Ex Machina, of course, was thousands of years old. HG Wells knew a thing or two about technobabble. I mean, really, I think they can only boast when it comes to sexy aliens that are fully able and willing to fuck humans.

But wait, the Trekkies scream, what about retcon? Nope. Fraid not. Retcon (that is, of course, a particularly sad and transparent method of covering for continuity errors most people probably never noticed anyway) as we know it today was brought kicking and screaming into popular culture by none other than literary luminati Professor JRR Tolkien. Before I elaborate, I wish to congratulate myself on that awful run-on sentence: Well Done.

Sooo what did Tolkien do that he needed to fix it in as dodgy a manner as possible? It's hard to believe given The Professor's usual care, but his mistake was a very basic one...

Glorfindel is a LotR character absolutely nobody remembers, because he didn't appear in the films. Along with Beregond, Bergil, Erkenbrand, Elladan, Elrohir, Radagas, Tom Bombadil, Imrahil and Fatty Bolger he is a completely unknown commodity to most LotR "fans". To cut a long story short (Just like Peter Jackson can't - ohhh, catty!) he's the one who shows up with a convenient piece of horse in the books when Frodo's about to cark it in the boos as opposed to Liv Tyler. Yeah, he probably would have been less appreciated. He also went head to head against the Witch King 2000 years or so before the story started with Aragorn's great-great(edited for brevity) grandfather where Glory-boy hauled Aragrand's arse away and gave him spoilers about only a woman being able to kill The Witch King, preferrably a tiny pale Australian one that nobody would suspect could even lift a sword.

So, just what is the problem? Well, one of the quirks about the elves is that they all have completely unique names: no two elves can have the same one. Please, don't ask me about the logistics of that. I know it'd be damned near impossible for all the millions of Elves there must be, but let's move it on Spara-style.

Tolkien, in addtion to producing Lord of the Rings, reckoned one of the greatest pieces of literature made in the 20th Century, also wrote The Silmarillion - one of the most unreadable. It's basically the Bible of Middle Earth. Hold me back.

Anyway, in The Silmarillion Tolkien revealed the genesis of those kick-arse ram-headed flame-mongers, the Balrogs. With the introductiion of such undefeatable bastards, he also needed a hero to defeat them - he picked the name 'Glorfindel', which I blieve menas 'Golden-headed'. See, it's nice and generic so it fitted the bill and, depending on who you ask, maintained his novels' subliminal theme of Aryan supremacy. Due to the generic nature, though, the Proff didn't twig that he'd already used it. And, naturally, Glory went down taking on three Balrogs with his trusty fruit knife.

"Oh bollocks!" is undoubtedly what the Good Professor said when he realised his mistake. But the pay-off was even better, the point I've been working to for oh-so-many paragraphs. A prime piece of dodgy retconning: the Gods of Middle Earth thought Glorfindel was awesome, and so resurrected him. Boss.

The bonus for Tolkien was that this retcon actually had some slim precedent, with Gandalf having been killed off while he depressedly wrote through the Battle of Britain, and then, huzzah! he's back alive later.

So Professor Tolkien, I salute you, for pulling off such dodgy work and not even being called a hack in return.

9 comments:

Youth of Australia said...

So Tolkien is responsible for the drugs used in Torchwood?

I'LL NEVER FORGIVE YOU FOR THIS, JR!!

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Are we talking about the drugs used in the show or the drugs used when writing the show?

Either way, the answer is yes.

(In seriousness the term "retcon" wasn't being used until the 80s)

Youth of Australia said...

Both.

And yes, I know. Painful, isn't it?

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