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Race and the Media: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Bianca Renzullo

on 1 April 2014

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Transcript of Race and the Media: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Race and the Media
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

There is a wide range of different categories of characters in the Hobbit where a majority resemble one race; whiteness

Examples: hobbits, elves and dwarfs are all the heroes fighting against evil

There are however some exceptions. There are many Orc characters featured in the film who are represented as evil as well as spiders
and Smaug the dragon
Our case study
Our argument
We have chosen to argue whether the historical impacts of race has effected the creative decision making of the Hollywood film.

We want to explore whether this is a conscious or unconscious decision made by the film makers.

We aim to question why they have chosen certain ethnicities to play specific characters which are good and other ethnicities for characters who are bad/evil.
by Karl Rochelle and Bianca
Shape shifting
Peasants in Village
Black Themes
belle hooks
Further Readings
We have chosen to textualy analyse The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug directed by Peter Jackson (2013)
Deep exploration in race
Hidden meanings
written by J R R Tolkien (1937)
fantasy novel
converted into 3 part mainstream films
majority of fiction fantasy characters are white e.g princesses and super heroes
Azog and Bolg
Real human actors are used

These characters are played by ethnic actors

Why is this so important?

They are made to feel different to the rest of the society

They speak a different language which we are not made to understand it

During the early parts of the film (9:16) there is a scene where Gandalf is describing a shape shifter (a creature that turns from a human to a bear and vice versa.) He explains the dual personalities of the shape shifter as
-huge black bear: unpredictable
-great strong man: can be reasoned with
Throughout the film no black people appear in the cast until a scene (83:51) in a village

They are passive members of the community lead by a dictator like character. They are poor and obedient and have no say.

In mainstream media spaces blacks have typically been the objects but rarely the subjects of the practices of representation' (Hall. S , 1992)
There are many connotations and links to black themes in terms of the dark and the evil.

e.g - the dark riders
- black horses
- black dragons
- Nazgul character
Textual Analysis
Camera angles

"We are looking for light-skinned people. I'm not trying to be . . . whatever. It's just the brief. You've got to look like a hobbit." Humphreys, presumably convinced she looked like a hobbit, was outraged".
This resulted in the firing of the casting agent.
'the project of making whiteness strange
the awareness of being white' (1997, p.4)

'whites have central and elaborated roles and above all are placed as the norm' (1997, p.4)
the characters in the hobbit refrain from making whiteness strange amoungst their kind
however amongst the orcs are 'the pale orcs' which is them being aware of thier whiteness
'fantasies about the Other can be continually exploited' (1992, p.367)
Tauriel (elf) and Kili (dwarf) fall for one
Race will always have an important influence in decision makings in films
Sometimes concious sometimes unconcious.
We think The Hobbit carries unconcious decisions within and projects themes and ideas which represent white and black with the good and the bad.

Do you think it would be weird if other ethinicities were made the main cast?
Do you think the connotations of black and white with ever change?
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