RA Challenge ♡ #19: A Ship I Can’t Stand

Oh wow, the dreaded #19 of the RA Challenge has totally crept up on me. This is a really tricky question. Really, who the F came *up* with these questions??? What, me??? I must have been temporarily out of my mind!!! Tricky, because ships are the sort of things that fandoms can split over. And the last thing I want to do with my series of RA questions, is cause uproar. I do want discussion and arguments, but I don’t want a trench war over a topic that is essentially meant to be fun and feel good. So I could just answer it like this:

A ship that I cannot stand

Lucas boards the ship in episode 1 of Spooks season 9. Grah, tainted by what goes down from the end of this episode.

But that’s a total cop-out. We are not talking maritime vessels here, we are talking about worshipping a particular pairing, whether it is two characters in the canon (like Guy and Allan a-Dale), or non-canon characters (like Guy and OC Genevieve in Zeesmuse’s Manna), or RP like RA with another actor. The thing with character canons is that I find all of them valid. There is no reason why fans shouldn’t enjoy the fantasy of two characters as a pairing, even when it is completely non-canon or goes cross-universe. I find that imaginative and fun, and even though I am not a huge fan of the Bagginshield or Thorinduil ships, I have often included fan art on that topic in my weekly round-ups because I really enjoy the creativity that such ships produce: Since there is no original material to swoon over, shippers have to produce their own content, and they do so with great art and enthusiasm. However there is one ship which I am not fond of at all, and it concerns an RP pairing.

This is where it gets really tricky because the intention behind disclosing my least favourite is NOT to shame or criticise the respective shippers, or make a judgment on the implications of the ship. Shippers are free to ship who they want, and in whichever way they want. I have never felt the need to police them or to tell them off publicly even though I do not always agree with their way of expressing their ‘shipment’. Don’t like – don’t read – don’t engage. So let me say that my stance on RP shipping is actually quite liberal and tolerant. I think of it as a creative approach to a possible RL pairing. I also have no problem with RPF, for instance, and I like the idea of a creative RP ship between RA and director Yael Farber, for instance, as in ‘shipping the creative partnership between director and performer’.

So, the elephant in the room aka ‘least fond of RP ship’ is Richlee. Purely because I personally believe it hits too close to the bone. Not my bone, but *their* bone. And personally, with all the speculation surrounding RA’s private life, I’m not comfortable discussing that publicly.

But don’t mind me. I am a prude and a coward. Everything goes, and no one needs my permission to engage in their own ships. Disliked by me or not, it is part of the Rich tapestry see what I did there? of fandom lore and love, and if it creates bonds and friendships, that’s good. I just am wary of ships or theories which have the potential to create divisions that cannot be breached by the underlying, shared interest in/appreciation of the guy we are in this for.

Otherwise, when it comes to good looking two-somes, I really like the rear pair of twin peaches on a certain bod. I totally ship *them*.

56 thoughts on “RA Challenge ♡ #19: A Ship I Can’t Stand

  1. you are not a coward, quite the opposite. I thought this post was really well written, giving your opinion of the act of shipping and answering which ship you’re not a fan of, without shaming anyone at the same time. I agree with you on all counts: I think shipping, of all kinds, can be a fun & creative outlet for fans. there are definitely kinds I like to avoid but that’s just my own preference. as with all things though, some fans become overzealous and either end up shaming the real life people they are shipping, or they shame anyone who doesn’t agree with them (that goes for both sides of the coin: those who ship and those who don’t). I’ve seen how overzealous shippers/non-shippers can divide fandoms, many times over. it’s frustrating and sad. as for me, I guess my least fav canon ship would be Guy/Marian (with the understanding that no one actually ships Lucas/Genevieve) and least fav RL ship would be Richard/Michelle Forbes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Kelly! (Grah, just realising that I still owe you an e-mail… I was lying low in order to rest my arm a little bit the last few days, and even though I was typing all day for work, I have the impression that the pain has lessened. So I will eventually get round to replying!)
      Anyway, this was a tricky post – I do want to be honest (despite yesterday admitting to my heinous plan of scruplelessly denying my fangirl status should I ever come face-to-face with RA), but some topics are very delicate in this fandom. I’ve tried to make it clear that I am not policing anyone – just that I am not on board with that particular ship due to privacy issues. I would have no problem with officially sanctioned ships, I guess.
      Yeah, least favourite ship is definitely Guy and Marian, too. RA/MF is an interesting idea, too. Come to think of it, I am generally not particularly into RL ships. Partly because I generally don’t feel like there is any point or reason for applauding a relationship. Mind you, there are some celebrity couples whom I quite like – like Hugh Jackman and Deborra Lee-Furness.

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  2. So it doesn’t float your boat you say? (sorry, had to go there! 😂😂😈😈)
    Of the fictional ones i’m always sort of surprised about Bagginshield, i personally don’t quite see it, like not with the movie material i mean, but maybe i am just stuck on the films as they are. Having said that there are some utterly cute drawings out there and some lovely written fan fic so it clearly is a good impulse for the imagination. More power to that. Im Kopfkino anything goes 🙂
    As to RL, you had to stick that photo in there, had you? 🤓
    I personally fall into ‘i’d rather not know’ category. One way or another, one person or another that is.
    I’m not beyond being interested in family details or other personal stuff shared publicly by the person, would be inhuman not to be curious. But beyond that i prefer not to know too much or anything really and not too speculate either beyond the odd passing comment if it comes up.
    Where love/relationships are concerned we’re all ‘stupid/irrational’ to some degree and you never know where it takes you and only the participants know what it is like. I find it sad when i bump into news of personal stuff going meh or some such as humanly it’s never pleasant time for anybody, famous or not. And in this day and age being a public figure makes it even harder for people to deal with such things when it is in the public eye.
    For my own protection i’d rather not know or only know what is consciously shared publicly. I’d rather not worry about how somebody is doing or be sad because something went wrong or so. For once i’m going to refrain from my job-induced bad habit of giving examples to illustrate. I’m actually grateful for that side of his intent on privacy. Anyone can imagine whatever they want or like and so on and i don’t have cause to worry or trouble my little head with anything. Best option all round as far as i’m concerned.
    And i am also mostly grateful to be left in my ignorance of choice 🙂

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    • Yes, you could say that I am not on board with that. Hehe.
      Bagginshield – oh, I totally get it from the films. The hugs, the looks, the gifts. It’s kind of fun to imagine it, too.
      You have no idea how long I looked through all those photos from the Apple event until I found the appropriate one.
      Ok, as for privacy etc. Sure, of *course* I am interested in personal stuff – if it has been disclosed by the people concerned themselves. In the absence of any confirmation, I kind of take it that the matter is either off-limits, or untrue. Speculation is great fun, I won’t deny it, and I do like speculating about projects for instance. Fan forensics never cease to amaze me. But I prefer to stay away from the personal stuff. I just don’t want to know *unless* it is official.

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      • nodding along and i confess to scrolling quickly past the photo every time but boy is it big! I too like fan forensics in all areas but the one. Ignorance is bliss, eh 🙂
        As to Bagginshield… hmmm.. that would be one hairy kiss though! On the + side Bilbo is a good cook 🙂 (Sorry, so prozaic! 🙃🙃😆😂😂🤣)

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  3. Very well-expressed answer. I can’t help but speculate in my mind about relationships of actors I like. But I would also not be comfortable discussing it in print. And we really just have no idea of the reality.
    But I have to say that I found the bits I read of The Secret Diary of RA and LP to be cute. But like much of that type of fiction, being written by women it really doesn’t sound like two guys, but more like how women might talk.

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    • I think it is human to take an interest in people whom one somehow admires or follows. I definitely feel interested too. And I won’t deny that I haven’t discussed the private life of RA with others – but I prefer to do that off-record.
      I’ve seen those “diary” fics, too, and may even have linked to them in the roundups. I don’t think I ever read more than the visible intro on tumblr.

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  4. I’m not a fan of that RP ship, for much the same reason as you, I think. I want RA to be happy (with whoever) but I’m not interested in the details.

    But I do like Bagginshield – which for someone who generally goes for rare pairs is strange. I think it’s something to do with bringing the two characters together.

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    • Tbh, if there are ever any official details released, I will be happy to congratulate and rest assured that he has a fulfilled private life. I would wish that for anyone that I feel a modicum of interest in. In the meantime, I can satisfy my need for romantic shipping with the fictional characters.
      Bagginshield is so attractive because of the ‘opposites attract’ scope of that relationship. The homely hobbit and the rough dwarf. I can see where the ship is coming from.

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  5. I can’t get to the level of “can’t stand” with regard to a ship because I just don’t read about ships I don’t enjoy. All the stories are tagged and I just avoid stories with tags like Thorinduil (for instance). I love Dworin, though there’s not much of it, and I adore Bagginshield. I hope that goes on forever. It’s a really important part of my emotional life these days, although since there is little love lost between me and Martin Freeman, I avoid Richartin just like Thorinduil. But again, I can’t imagine saying “I can’t stand that” about any of those things. I think I’m more bothered by depictions of the figures in the stories (whether characters or real people) that don’t agree with my notions of how they should be than I am by pairings that don’t interest me.

    “I can’t stand” is more than that; it implies caring enough about something enough in order to be actively resistant to or offended by exposure to it. Seen from that perspective, I don’t think Armitage + Farber (or creative partnerships in general) rise sufficiently to the definition of constituting a ship. If that were the case, one could ship Armitage + Jackson, Armitage + Hewson, Armitage + Fuller, etc. Enjoying work people do together or wanting them to work together again IRL is not a ship in the fandom sense. Not wanting them to work together again (which is how I feel about Fuller) doesn’t really constitute “not being able to stand a ship,” mostly because the sort of emotional investment held by the shipper is of a different quality.

    To me it’s a defining quality of a ship that one thinks of the pairing (whether totally fictional, totally real, or some combination of that) as at least highly emotional and/or minimally romantic, if not sexual / erotic (which is the reason that ships are controversial as RPF — because readers become emotionally committed to narratives that potentially imply or state an untruth that are thought to touch on the personal and professional identities / privacy rights of the people depicted). As far as I have noticed, people don’t write RPF or develop elaborate fantasies about Farber and Armitage’s creative relationship, but if they did, it would be hard to make it controversial as they are known to have a creative or at least professional relationship. I suppose maybe if someone wrote RPF about them creating Coca-cola ads together or something like, it could be controversial. But I still can’t imagine why anyone would care unless the RPF depicted a romantic involvement. (Then someone would get angry because their real-life loyalties are both thought to lie elsewhere.) If you’re asking yourself “am I ok with RPF or real-life ships” you’d have to ask yourself not just about a RL pairing, but an RL pairing that involved something beyond working together to develop a project. To me it would be a significantly, qualitatively different thing to write a story about about a creative cooperation between Armitage and Farber than to write one about even a simple friendship between Pace and Armitage.

    You reference not liking ideas that have the potential to create divisions, but inevitably ships create divisions based at the very least on taste — and RPFs more so than others because some people think there is a plausible argument that they are either morally wrong or damaging to those depicted, either for the reason cited above, or because someone doesn’t like the shipping selection. But to be honest, in the case of Richlee, I don’t think it’s the hypothetical or fandom ship that is creating the divisions (and this again gets at the definition of “ship” — a lot of people, although not me, would say RichLee isn’t a ship because it is a real relationship). There was — relatively speaking — little fandom strife over the fictional or hypothetical ship in 2012, when that was all it was. The stress has come over the possibility that the real people are in a real relationship. I also call that “shipping,” i.e., wanting the real people to be romantically involved in real life, in absence of definitive knowledge that they are or aren’t. But I still think it’s a different matter.

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    • clarification re: “a lot of people, although not me, would say RichLee isn’t a ship because it is a real relationship” — what I was trying to say is that a lot of people who think RichLee is real don’t characterize what they do as shipping but as “supporting.” I use “shipping” to discuss both actions.

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    • The terminology used in these questions is frequently throwing a spanner in the works for me, too. In most cases so far, I have found the expressions used much too strong, i.e. I do not “hate” a character, and I can’t think of many fandom-related things I “can’t stand”. Those terms imply a level of interest and emotional investment in the matters that I simply cannot muster. I rarely truly *hate* in my life.
      However, I have a different experience when it comes to your explanation to why the “can’t stand” adage doesn’t apply for your disregard of ships you don’t enjoy. I am a full believer in the “don’t like – don’t read” approach, but unfortunately there are some ships that you simply cannot avoid reading about. The one I have cited here is one of those. Note, though, that I am not using the expression “can’t stand” for it. I call it “least fond of” – a deliberate choice of words because as said above, I simply am not emotionally invested enough in the matter to care that much. Anyway, to loop back to the terminology, I suppose I should really take on the blame for the wording of the questions – I based my rewrite of the challenge on an existing, random fandom one – and the potential for problems with those terms did not occur to me at the time of rewriting it.
      I don’t really want to get into a semantic discussion about what shipping constitutes. But just to say that in the absence of a rulebook on shipping, I would assume that shipping *usually* refers to a romantic pairing – which also leaves room to apply the term to a different kind of relationship. Afaik know there are even ships that apply to a person in relation to an inanimate object, too? I happily stand to be corrected – I am not invested in my example of what I called a “creative ship”. It was just something that came to my mind, as an example for a section of the fandom feeling enthusiastic about a collaboration between the two artists on more than just one project. Creative relationships, btw, tend to be emotionally heightened and can take on the quality of a romantic investment without being sexually involved. In that sense, the term “shipping” would apply. But that depends on your individual *Kunstbegriff*, too.
      I’m afraid I do not want to comment on your final paragraph. It veers exactly where I do not want to go – meta or not.

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      • How is that you can’t avoid reading about it? I don’t understand that. In my experience it shows up in certain places as a regular topic of conversation but only very occasionally / tangentially in others.

        I just don’t see how anyone could get so emotionally invested as a third party (either positively or negatively) about something like Armitage + Farber as a purely creative partnership (as opposed to an emotion of a different kind) for it to rise to the level of a ship. I can’t imagine anyone blogging about it, or writing fan fiction, or starting a discussion strain to hypothesize about it. It is a thing that exists and about which certain things are known; it never enters into the realm of fantasy and I don’t see why it would (shrugs).

        I guess for me the issue of defining what we’re talking about specifically is really important, precisely because you say you don’t want to talk about certain things.

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        • You can avoid reading about it if you block the source. That is if you know the source. On some platforms it is very hard to avoid stuff you don’t want to read especially if you are perusing general tags.
          I disagree. There are takers for anything. The fact that one person doesn’t find it stimulating, doesn’t mean that others can’t either.

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          • Hmm. I guess maybe I’m doing it wrong, then. I don’t have a problem limiting my consumption to when I want to see it.

            Look: I don’t discount the possibility that there is someone out there who is intensely emotionally involved in shipping a creative partnership that involves Armitage and Farber. (Sort of like medieval history: it can be hard to say definitively “that never could have happened”). I could also ship Armitage and Warner Bros., for that matter. It’s a business relationship. But if we look at, in general, the broad center of what constitutes a ship for fans, those kind of relationships don’t rise to that level. And I think that’s important here for two reasons. One is that we’re talking about ships that cause intense negative reactions and I don’t see how one could get to “I can’t stand” Armitage + Farber, so it’s not really a good example of what I understand you to be discussing. The other is that I am not convinced by a claim that the possibility that one could ship a creative partnership and that would be fine emotionally means that there are no problems in shipping more typical ships. They are different things even if we want to call them both “ships.”

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            • I don’t think a creative partnership is a business relationship *at all*. It is intensely emotional and no money in the world can make it work if the two people involved are not invested. But I give you that – there is no reason to get romantically stimulated by shipping a creative pairing. And as such it doesn’t fit your definition of shipping.
              No, I do not think you are doing it wrong *at all*. My point is that neither you *nor* I are doing it wrong. (Although I have to point out here that I am not shipping any RL pairing. The Farber/Armitage thing was an example.)
              I didn’t understand your last two sentences.

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              • A creative partnership can be many things. It can also be a business relationship; I can’t imagine that Farber would be all that interested in a hullabaloo involving Armitage if there were no other benefit from it (drawing audiences that fill theaters, etc.). Or, if she were, we certainly wouldn’t know about it, as he seems to be private about such things and the main reason for us to know is that we buy the tickets. But I wasn’t saying that that Armitage + Warner Bros. would be a creative partnership, but rather that if you want to include relationships that don’t have the romantic element in them, you might as well include business relationships. To me that is a possibility created by the origin of the term that doesn’t really encapsulate what most people mean when they use it.

                I just don’t think it’s the same thing to say “a creative partnership ship is fine” and “a RP ship is fine,” again given the common understand of the word. The first does not necessarily imply the second, even if the first is an example of the second.

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                • You mean, you don’t think it follows that I can be ok with people enjoying the idea of a creative partnership and simultaneously allow people to ship a RP pairing that includes romantic entanglement?

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                  • I think those are two different things, and the difference is important in this post, given the line you draw around what you say you don’t want to discuss.

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                    • Of course these two things are different. But I don’t understand why there is a problem with tolerating both? Why do I necessarily have to reject RP ships if I allow the admiration of creative partnerships? I don’t get this at all?

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          • Or to put it differently, if I said, “I ship Fuller + Armitage,” it would be unlikely that the audience for that statement would think I meant “I admire their creative partnership and want it to continue.” The most common plausible meaning for that statement is “I enjoy thinking about the possibility that they are in a personal relationship of some kind.”

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            • My definition of “shipping” was different then. I feel naive for saying this, but I took it as a synonym for “adore the idea of X and Y” without an obligatory romantic entanglement.

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              • I think the word origin is defined that way (“ship” comes from “relationship,” which is a big word) but I think its typical usage involves at the very least intense emotion that moves in the direction of a relationship that has a different endpoint than the typical creative partnership (even if the fantasy itself doesn’t necessarily formulate the content of that in specific — e.g., there’s plenty of gen Bagginshield, but the ending is implied if not specified.). Yes, I understand that creative partners sometimes end up in relationships with each other (just like musicians who play a lot of music with each other sometimes develop an attraction that moves beyond the music). A ship is not typically a friendship; it is a different thing to hope or believe that Armitage are close RL friends than it is to ship them.

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                • Ok, I don’t think there is anything to argue against that. Relationship as the term’s origin definitely implies romantic involvement. My interpretation of the term is too general. Forget about the creative partnership example. It doesn’t fit anymore.

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  6. Love the picture and the ship, the second one I mean 😍 I’ve never read RichLee fanfiction, but I like to think that the relation is real and I like to see the little bits that are given to us. At times I search on the dedicated tumblr sites and see gorgeous pictures as the one you’ve posted. I wasn’t always ok with it, but this is where I am now. Back to fiction, I don’t like bagginshield, I’ve read some stuff, but not too much because I don’t like the idea of shipping dwarves with hobbits.

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  7. As someone whose fandom rarely if ever includes any “shipping news,” I am fascinated by these debates. Granted that the creative scope for potential ships and emotional intensity/nuance is nearly infinite, what percentage of RA fan fics would you say involves some degree of physical desire? I am not trying to be reductionist about it–I am merely curious. Certainly the stories I have written always have that component.
    I am also interested by the fact that moral objections are cited against some ships or fics. It is hard for me to grasp how a fan fic (or any creative work) can violate someone’s privacy unless the author has privileged access to RL facts and is divulging them under the cover of “fiction.”

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    • Difficult to say re. the percentage of erotic fan fics. I think almost all of them certainly feature romance, and I would guess that the majority are erotic.
      The whole moral thing re. RP fics and ships is really a whole can of worms. I honestly have no objection to other people engaging in all of it, although I am more interested in fiction than in shipping *myself*.

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    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personality_rights ; Most fanfic defends itself on the grounds that it is not a commercial product. I am not defending this argument as it relates to fanfic, because it is often made in “slippery slope” form or rooted in innuendo (e.g., LOTR fans saying the reason that some of the main LOTR actors didn’t go on to bigger film careers was that slash written about them turned into gay rumors). Nonetheless, many fans do not see RPF as creative work and in some settings, objections to it are vociferous.

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      • Thanks for this. It helps me understand the objections, but I’m still perplexed about why they think RPF is not creative work, since plenty of admired “literary” works are RPF–the recent play about Prince Charles comes to mind. Granted, that play aroused some similar objections–that it was disrespectful, or that it damaged the reputations of persons depicted in it.

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        • I think the argument would go that nothing about the composition is original to the author except the things that are potentially libelous (on that view); in fact, the things that the author uses are not even intellectual property, but rather personal property. It’s not an argument I have ever defended. Personally, I think the objection typically comes from somewhere else (errors in empathy) and the arguments against it are made ex post facto to the negative emotional response.

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  8. I really dislike the Thilbo/Bagginshield/Thorinduil stuff. That certainly wasn’t Tolkien’s intention when he wrote them and he’d probably spin in his grave. Back then guys could be good friends without anyone shipping them. But I like movies that stay somewhat true to the books and that don’t create relationships that aren’t there. Still haven’t forgiven Fuller for the Hannibal/Graham mashup.
    In real life, I try not to speculate on his private life because it’s his private life. I really want to scream when people photoshop pictures and pass them off as real relationships. I’ve started keeping a file of the fraud pictures along with the real pictures.

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    • Hm, intention of the source or not – *that* is exactly the beauty of fanfic, though, the fact that in *our* imagination we can take these characters and make something new with them. I don’t really think that the original authors need to worry very much – most of the time, the original characters are well-loved (otherwise fans would not feel prompted to write fiction about them), which makes it a compliment rather than disrespect. Plus, I don’t really believe that fanfic has that wide a *public* reach to damage the canon.
      As for speculations about celebs’ private lives – I guess we all have our individual levels. I do have to admit that I am interested… I simply don’t like to discuss it in public, that’s all. I don’t really mind the photoshop pictures – they amuse me, if anything, and they often are a great show of the respective fandom’s creative talents.

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      • Tolkien’s work itself is just a huge fanfic about the material of northern European myth and saga. Which is fine with me. But I don’t understand criticizing people for adapting something that was itself an adaptation in the first place.

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          • LOTR in particular fits the bill, I find. All of those digressions to talk about the history of whatever language or ethnic group. It’s the kind of thing only a fanfic author would do and it’s hard to imagine anything like that being published today (and it was then, too, frankly). But the values conflict is real. If you think about how a Norse saga would handle something like the encounter between Bilbo and Gollum, of course Bilbo would kill Gollum in that setting. That he doesn’t is pretty clearly a Christian interposition. And then you have the Hobbit scriptwriters making that into some kind of New Agey thing about how the strongest people decide not to kill when they could or whatever. It’s all pretty much pastiche; I’m sure the authors of the Norse sagas stole their ideas from someone else.

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            • What you are saying makes total sense. It is very clear from LotR where Tolkien’s interests lay, and how he built on them. I think it is particularly cool how a work of fan fic inspired even more fan fic in the shape of a script, which again inspired fan fic.

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    • you’ve hit on one of my pet-peeves, snowyjo. male friendship. it really bothers me that it can’t seem to be depicted in film (or real life) anymore without viewers making it into something it’s not. I like fanfic, and one of the beauties of that outlet is that you can make whatever you want happen, but in general discussions about the original stories it seems that someone always ‘wink,wink’s or outright says that the two male characters are ‘obviously’ in love. I find that frustrating.
      as for the photoshopping, I am often impressed at how authentic some of them look! in past fandoms I would sometimes show the two pictures side by side to other fans just to show them what was real and what wasn’t, and also point out things to look for to tell the difference.

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      • But it doesn’t follow that because some people who write fanfic draw that conclusion, all people do. There’s gen Bagginshield that’s more or less about the question “what would have happened if Thorin and Bilbo had survived and become friends.” (Although I agree that most of it does imply more than “simple friendship”).

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    • Since Tolkien basically adapted all of his writings from medieval sagas and myths, introducing modern and at times very anachronistic elements into them (Christian sentiments and values), he doesn’t have much rationale for spinning in his grave. Most (if not all) of art involves adaptations to the times we live in.

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