The world was shocked today when echelons of Gondor light infantry crossed the Mordor border and skirmished with bands of orcs, constituting a death knell for the peace process. They also exchanged fire with bands of brothers, but Steven Spielberg was not available for comment. Gondor’s aggression came as a surprise despite the fact that this conflict has protracted for several millennia now, and frankly, there are few atrocities left to commit. But since mainstream media still laps it up like an errant Jackson nipple, so will we.
A fair amount of the surprise can be attributed to learning that Gondor and Mordor are real places. Actors filming the upcoming movie The Hobbit were reportedly shaken to discover they weren’t actually on a film set at all. That’s right, they’re real places. Remember Kosovo? Had to look for that on a map didn’t you? But you did find it. Because it exists. And how insulted did the Kosovars feel when no one had even heard of them? Pretty friggin’ awful. And would you really wish that same feeling of worthless irrelevance upon other ethnic minorities? Would you? No, you wouldn’t. The smart thing to do would just be to take my word as gospel, leave your atlas on the shelf, and read on.
This latest chapter in the Middle Earth conflict is a sad one. A sad chapter in a many-volume series of large, sad tomes full of many similarly sad chapters, some of them long, some short, but all of them sad. Very very sad. Honestly, the roots of the conflict are totally irrelevant but people like to pretend otherwise, because they’re based in religion. Other religions. And people seem to think that matters.
What it boils down to is a dispute over sovereignty of the land between Gondor and Mordor. While Gondorians traditionally identify it as their home land, many recognized it for the worthless patch of dirt it is and moved further afield to more fertile pastures. Suffering from the highest population density in Middle Earth, Mordor orcs in search of a bit of lebensraum simply moved in. At this, thousands of Gondorians very sensibly left their hugely affluent lives in safer parts of the world to put themselves in obvious danger. For the worthless patch of dirt. The chief export of which is olives. And chickpeas. There’s a lot of money in chickpeas.
The situation has since progressed into an acerbic slugging match. Gondor denies that Mordor is a state, a claim taken as a personal insult by Sauron, heard frequently to professes “l'État, c'est moi”, predating Louis XIV by at least six millennia. In return, orc youths are frequently seen sharing racial slurs. “Gondor? More like Gaydor!” Education in Mordor is found wanting. The situation is further complicated by what is frequently seen as meddling by Rohan, the world’s sole superpower. Rohan’s Middle-Earth Agenda for Peace, or Ro’MAP, is not widely welcomed. Residents of the region are suspicious that Rohan is only interested in sapping its minerals and eating its babies.
Of course what neither party appreciates is that the true beneficiaries of the land are we, the followers of Frodo. The fact that few Frodologists live in the disputed region in no way diminishes our claim to it; we simply want to stay out of harm’s way and cross our fingers it will all work out for the best. Following one or two crusade-related misunderstandings by some of Frodo’s more fervent opportunists, it’s sort of a bad neighborhood for us to be in right now.
Since the conflict invariably only flares up when no one is paying it any attention, the months ahead should prove tense as the world’s media willfully ignores everything but the US elections.