Gollum is a somewhat polarizing figure within the world of Middle Earth. For years the debate has raged amongst Tolkien fans: Is he a tragic hero, or nothing more than a villain tainted by his lust for "the one true ring"?
Is Gollum good or bad?
In what is set to be one of the most bizarre court cases in our history, a Turkish court is ordering Lord of the Rings experts to determine the character of Tolkien's fictional Gollum.
Turkish media are reporting that their legal system will take on the Gollum debate due to the trial of a man, Bilgin Ciftci, accused of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with a meme featuring the Lord of the Rings character.
Turkish news agency DHA has reported that the judge in charge of the trial has appointed five Lord of the Rings experts, after admitting he had only seen parts of the film series. A cardinal sin, if you ask me.
In case you are wondering what a panel of Lord of the Rings experts looks like, it is as follows:
- Two academics
- Two behavioral experts
- One expert on cinema and television productions
The accused, Turkish doctor Bilgin Ciftci, claims that the meme was not an insult. Instead he insinuated Gollum was in fact the true hero of the Lord of the Rings story. His lawyer has even joked that the trial has now turned into "a case of saving the pride of Gollum."
Peter Jackson weighs in
The media coverage has now garnered the attention of some heavy hitting names in the Lord of the Rings world. Oscar winning director of the trilogy Peter Jackson, along with screenwriters Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh, have released a statement via The Wrap to set the record straight:
If the images [above] are in fact the ones forming the basis of this Turkish lawsuit, we can state categorically: None of them feature the character known as Gollum. All of them are images of the character called Smeagol.
Smeagol is a joyful, sweet character. Smeagol does not lie, deceive or attempt to manipulate others. He is not evil, conniving or malicious - these personality traits belong to Gollum, who should never be confused with Smeagol.
Freedom of speech in Turkey
In Turkey, insulting the president is a crime punishable by a prison sentence. Staggeringly, between August 2014 and March 2015 no less than 200 people have been investigated for "insulting the head of state."
Unsurprisingly, this isn't the first time that an individual has been brought to court for their use of social media. Back in October, the Telegraph reported how Turkish police arrested a newspaper editor for insulting president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Twitter.
The court has given the panel two months to deliver its findings, with the fate of both Dr. Bilgin Ciftci and Gollum hanging in the balance.