I share Murphy's lack of enthusiasm for Jackson's films, but I can't agree with the notion that the man's grotesquely drawn-out depictions of Middle Earth have failed to influence Kiwi culture. Over the years I've argued, cantankerously but intermittently, that Jackson's films have prompted a redefinition of New Zealand culture and identity, as propagandists for the tourism industry and lazy foreign journalists have begun to characterise this country as a ruritarian paradise populated by happy hobbits, rather than as a complex and contradictory modern society.
I don't know if my arguments against the hobbitisation of New Zealand have won over all of the readers of this blog, but I have gotten some sympathy from the University of Wollongong's Michael Organ, who cited one of my Jackson-bashing posts in his recent, splendidly titled essay 'Please Mr Frodo, is this New Zealand? Or Australia? No, Sam, it's Middle Earth?'.
Do the words of Murphy and Organ suggest that Jackson's attempts to reinvent New Zealand are beginning to lose credibility? Are Kiwis about to reject citizenship in Middle Earth, and migrate mentally to the troubled, exciting New Zealand of films like Utu or Goodbye Pork Pie? Here's hoping...
[Posted by Scott Hamilton]