Left: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends the COP 21 United Nations conference on climate alter, in France on Monday. Proper: Gollum in the 2012 film Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Photos and New Line Cinema/The Kobal Collection
toggle caption Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Photos and New Line Cinema/The Kobal Collection
A man in Turkey is on trial for making a meme that compares the character Gollum to Turkey’s president. Michael Drough, a Lord of the Rings scholar, talks about no matter whether Gollum is a true villain.
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Bilgin Ciftci, who is a doctor in Turkey, has been fired from his government job and faces up to two years in jail. Why? He posted a meme – side-by-side photos comparing Turkey’s President Erdogan to the character Gollum from “Lord Of The Rings,” Gollum, that little, slimy creature who lives on raw, blind fish and is obsessed with putting his knobby hands on the 1 ring to rule them all.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “LORD OF THE RINGS”)
ANDY SERKIS: (As Gollum) Yes, valuable.
SIMON: But the case against Bilgin Ciftci will take time. Gollum is not as nicely-recognized in Turkey as he is in, say, most American middle schools. The judge overseeing the case has postponed it until February to give a group of professionals time to answer the query, how evil is Gollum? What would you say? Michael Drout is a professor of English at Wheaton College in Massachusetts and a extensively published Tolkien scholar. He insists…
MICHAEL DROUT: Gollum is not meant to be a pure evil character ever. That wasn’t Tolkien’s intent. And that’s not how he comes out.
SIMON: Professor Drout says he sees one particular argument that may spare the physician jail time. The ring with which Gollum is infatuated that offers its bearer the power of globe domination, Gollum is the character who destroys it.
DROUT: You know, I’m attempting to put my greatest lawyer spin on this, appropriate, is that what the comparison to Gollum is actually saying is that from the outside, the president looks evil and grasping and just searching for power on his personal. But in the grand scheme of things, he, in truth, will be the one to save us all from domination of an evil power.
SIMON: Or Bilgin Ciftci could just say that he thought Gollum was Leonardo DiCaprio and President Erdogan ought to be flattered.
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