Turkish Court to Rule on Whether Stoor Hobbits Are All Bad
December 3, 2015 11:31 AM   Subscribe

In Turkey, insulting the President is punishable by up to two years in prison, so when Dr. Bilgin Çiftçi posted side-by-side photos of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and screenshots from the Lord of the Rings movies, he went on trial. Çiftçi's attorney asked the judge whether he was familiar with this "Gollum" fellow, and the judge admitted he had not seen all of the movies and empaneled five experts to report on the character.

The experts -- two academics, two psychologists, and a film expert -- will report back in February when the trial resumes, but in the meantime, another expert has weighed in:
Peter Jackson is rejecting a Turkish court’s attempt to determine whether or not Gollum from the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” franchises is good or bad, as the pictures in question depict Smeagol.... "Smeagol is a joyful, sweet character. Smeagol does not lie, deceive, or attempt to manipulate others. He is not evil, conniving, or malicious — these personality traits belong to Gollum, who should never be confused with Smeagol."
posted by Etrigan (34 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
he went on trial. Çiftçi's attorney asked the judge whether he was familiar with this "Gollum" fellow, and the judge admitted he had not seen all of the movies and empaneled five experts to report on the character.

Franz Kafka's The Trial becomes more prescient day by day. I mean wow....
posted by Fizz at 11:36 AM on December 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


This is like when Yoko Ono tried to copyright the likeness (rather than just individual photographs) of John Lennon, and so in opposition a lawyer hired a professional Lennon lookalike and asked 'is this man now illegal?'
posted by colie at 11:43 AM on December 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


oh god please please let them subpoena Stephen Colbert
posted by poffin boffin at 11:56 AM on December 3, 2015 [30 favorites]


Between this and the preceding Turkish Delight post, I'm beginning to wonder if MeFi is celebrating Turkey Day a week later.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:02 PM on December 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Smeagol is a joyful, sweet character. Smeagol does not lie, deceive, or attempt to manipulate others. He is not evil, conniving, or malicious — these personality traits belong to Gollum, who should never be confused with Smeagol."
Hmm. But did Smeagol become Gollum the moment he saw the Ring? It was Smeagol who killed his relative Deagol when Deagol fished out the Ring and refused to give it to Smeagol, and only later over time did Smeagol become twisted into Gollum.

This is an interesting position because it would mean that rather than amplifying the negative impulses in a person, being influenced by the Ring turns you into a completely separate entity.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:03 PM on December 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


What happy people the Turks must be, to have so many doctors that they can afford to just throw one away over stuff like this!
posted by Naberius at 12:12 PM on December 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


Was Boromir a hail-well-met guy who was a jerk sometimes, exaggerated into full on assholitude by the Ring, or was he ensorcelled into one whole-cloth?

Evil cannot create, only tempt and ruin in Middle Earth.
posted by bonehead at 12:14 PM on December 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


And Turkey still wonders why it's admission to the Kingdoms of Men the EU is in limbo.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:23 PM on December 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


If the comparison is to Smeagol, that'sounds actually sort of a compliment - you're generally a decent guy, but can be corrupted by possibly the most powerful object in the world, created by arguably the second-most powerful force of evil to ever exist. What mortal being wouldn't fall into that category?

A comparison to Gollum, who's already been corrupted, is a bit more problematic.
posted by LionIndex at 12:24 PM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


. "Smeagol is a joyful, sweet character. Smeagol does not lie, deceive, or attempt to manipulate others. He is not evil, conniving, or malicious — these personality traits belong to Gollum, who should never be confused with Smeagol."

If Peter Jackson is being serious, he's fundamentally misunderstood the moral outlook of Lord of the Rings. I admit to having stopped watching the films after the first one, for my own reasons, but (agree with it or not, and there's a host of reasons not to) Tolkien wrote from a serious moral and theological perspective, and the different reactions of Bilbo and and Sméagol on encountering the ring are fundamental to the point of the story.

To wit:

'What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!'

'Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.'
posted by howfar at 12:29 PM on December 3, 2015 [15 favorites]


This is an interesting position because it would mean that rather than amplifying the negative impulses in a person, being influenced by the Ring turns you into a completely separate entity.

Or perhaps Jackson's taking the same position as Tolkien's original text, which presented Smeagol and Gollum not as separate entities, but as two opposing halves of a split personality.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:29 PM on December 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


Wow, insulting the president is punishable up to two years in prison? That's straight out of the empire ages. The attorney would be wise to play it up as flattery as much as possible.
posted by yueliang at 12:31 PM on December 3, 2015


And Turkey still wonders why it's admission to the Kingdoms of Men the EU is in limbo.

Well, sure. They can't even figure out if someone into recreation boating is a baddie.

RECREATIONAL BOATING
posted by The Gaffer at 12:32 PM on December 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


And here I thought Erdogan deserved harsher analogues, for secretly supplying the Wainriders.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:46 PM on December 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


But if Erdogan is Smeagol/Gollum, does that make Putin into Bilbo Baggins?

Foop's Literary Law: Comparing real-life politicians to fictional characters is always a doomed exercise, even where it is not illegal. (Besides, only the worst hack writer would create somebody like Hitler, he Godwinned)
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:55 PM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Putin is Dobby...
posted by Segundus at 12:57 PM on December 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


...and Benedict Cumberbatch is an otter.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:14 PM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think both Erdogan and Putin both remind me a good deal more of the Eye/Shadow/Necromancer/Sauron than Smeagol/Gollum. That there is a criminal law that punishes insulting the ruler and that there is actually a trial underway which may imprison this man for mockery kinda makes that point. Shades of Pussy Riot and their imprisonment in Russia for "hooliganism."
posted by bearwife at 1:23 PM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


And there are so many other fascinating, flawed literary characters to judge in the days to come.

I don't miss 'dead authors' so much now.
posted by Ashenmote at 1:40 PM on December 3, 2015


I would be loathe to judge Peter Jackson on this point of mythology; it seems prudent to give an opinion that may stop a meme-making man from going to jail, regardless of his own actual interpretation.
posted by solarion at 2:53 PM on December 3, 2015 [24 favorites]


I'd never heard of this, but wonder how my daily internet experience would change if the US had a similar law.
posted by sfts2 at 3:29 PM on December 3, 2015


...and Benedict Cumberbatch is an otter.

this is deeply offensive not just to otters but indeed to all aquatic life on earth
posted by poffin boffin at 3:30 PM on December 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Didn't Putin accuse the Turkish president of getting oil from Isis?

I mean put Putin on trial. He would love the theatrics. He'd come rolling down the court to the ultimate warrior's theme, shirtless and using a tiger's head as a man purse.

Seriously though, it would be a trial to find out who's the dickhead. Turkish president if Putin is right, or Putin if he, himself, is incorrect.

But man, those entrance theme songs would be awesome.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:35 PM on December 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd never heard of this, but wonder how my daily internet experience would change if the US had a similar law.

I'm guessing dramatically improve if every Obama hating racist fuckwit was imprisoned.
posted by Talez at 4:45 PM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think both Erdogan and Putin both remind me a good deal more of the Eye/Shadow/Necromancer/Sauron than Smeagol/Gollum.

Yeah, I'd think Sauron/Saruman. Two political strongmen butting heads. They share a common distaste towards those holier-than-thou folk to the West, and you'd really think that'd make them buddies, but instead they end up butting heads with each other more and more due to mutually exclusive ambitions.

ISIS is a smaller, nastier, independent evil, out doing its own thing. Shelob, maybe, since it devours anything within reach.

I'd never heard of this, but wonder how my daily internet experience would change if the US had a similar law.

I'm guessing dramatically improve if every Obama hating racist fuckwit was imprisoned.


We'd have all been imprisoned back in the Bush Administration years. Which probably would never have ended.
posted by AdamCSnider at 4:59 PM on December 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


Wow, insulting the president is punishable up to two years in prison? That's straight out of the empire ages.

One example among many in the Wikipedia article on lèse-majesté:
Norway

The Penal Code of 1902, article 101, provides a fine or up to five years of prison for lèse majesté.
posted by XMLicious at 5:05 PM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


this is deeply offensive not just to otters but indeed to all aquatic life on earth

....Whuh? I was just riffing on a known meme. What'd I do?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:20 PM on December 3, 2015


I'm guessing dramatically improve if every Obama hating racist fuckwit was imprisoned.

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"
-Evelyn Beatrice Hall
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 6:22 PM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying it's a good idea or that it should be done. I'm just saying it would dramatically improve everyone's internet experience not to see "OBAMA MUSLIM TRAITOR TAKING MY GUNS!" borderline Stormfront shit on every political article.
posted by Talez at 6:59 PM on December 3, 2015


you're generally a decent guy, but can be corrupted by possibly the most powerful object in the world, created by arguably the second-most powerful force of evil to ever exist.

NATO?

I'll see myself out. [commence tap dance, exit stage left]
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:12 PM on December 3, 2015


I like that everyone involved seems to be dancing around the fact that Smeagol is ugly and decrepit, and that's more or less what the image comparisons are focusing on.
posted by picklenickle at 3:20 AM on December 4, 2015


In related news, a "popular Turkish website Ekşi Sözlük (Sour Dictionary), a whimsical, user-run online encyclopedia, has deleted entries on the Turkish prime minister’s aide who made headlines after kicking a mourner in the mine disaster-struck town of Soma, upon a court order."

If you haven't seen the photo, I highly recommend clicking through. Gollum is funny and stuff but this picture says a thousand times more about modern Turkish politics.
posted by daveliepmann at 11:39 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Gollum is funny and stuff but this picture says a thousand times more about modern Turkish politics.

"Yerkel went on sick leave after the incident due to an injury sustained in the leg he used to kick the protester."

Good grief.
posted by Copronymus at 10:35 AM on December 8, 2015


Charged with sedition, lèse-majesté and computer crimes:
Thai man arrested for Facebook ‘like’ of doctored royal photo
posted by XMLicious at 4:01 AM on December 11, 2015


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