How Peter Jackson is Oktoberfesting The Hobbit

October 23, 2012

National Magazine award-winner Kaitlin Fontana is regular contributor to Hazlitt, where she writes, among other things, the Venn Again column. Her...

Sometimes seemingly disparate parts of our culture intersect. These intersections are not meaningless. In fact, they might be the only thing that means anything.

At the risk of offending my German friends out there—Oktoberfest is, at least in its Canadian iteration, not a real holiday. I checked with a German-Canadian friend, and she confirmed it. In Germany, Oktoberfest was/is a celebration of the harvest—a nice, pagan get together to show appreciation for all this wheat and barley and let’s dance and sing about it, thanks. In Canada, it’s a reason for anyone with a smidgen of German blood to wear drindls and lederhosen and drink beer—that marvelous byproduct of wheat and barley—until they pass out and wake up next to a pile of puffy blouse, short green pants, and suspenders on the floor.

There is, therefore, a kind of beautiful circularity to Oktoberfest: it is a holiday celebrating beer, in which the primary method of celebration is drinking beer. A beer drinking circle jerk. How nice for you, Germany! You had a rough last century. You deserve it.

I, for one, think there are far too few things in the universe that cleave to the simple structure of Oktoberfest. And this is why I am excited about the forthcoming film series of The Hobbit. Initially, I was concerned that Peter Jackson is producing three films from this one (albeit awesome) book. His Lord of the Rings films were, all told, very close to the original books in narrative scope. In this post-Harry Potter, Twilight era of event filmmaking, it’s easy to forget that LOTR was once the OG of nerdly anticipation. Each LOTR film—far less sexier texts than the aforementioned ones, with fewer attractive youths involved—once drove fantasy literature geeks worldwide to a kind of frenzy (I mean, I’m not saying that anyone I know* got a tattoo of her name in Elvish or learned to write the language or anything, but…).

But loyalists to Tolkien’s text are, understandably, concerned about taking the source material of one book and stretching into three films. Is Peter Jackson just looking for another LOTR-sized payday, we wonder? Is he overextending one tale by making into three, perhaps at the expense of making one truly great film? Maybe so. But there’s another lens through which to view the Hobbit trifecta: he’s Oktoberfesting it. He is, in a sense, celebrating the movie by making two more movies (and Hobbits know from short pants and beer drinking). Masturbatory? Perhaps. But relax. No one ever died from loving themselves too much, right? I hear the worst that happens is, you go blind.

*Me. I did this. I have an Elvish tramp stamp. You’re welcome.

National Magazine award-winner Kaitlin Fontana is regular contributor to Hazlitt, where she writes, among other things, the Venn Again column. Her work has appeared in The Walrus, Maisonneuve, Event, SPIN,, and CBC Music. Last year she published her first book, Fresh at Twenty: The Oral History of Mint Records (ECW Press). Kaitlin is also a comedian; recently, she was named one of the funniest people in Vancouver by WE, so she left. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.