Playing Off Key: The Hobbit Schmoax
As the lights go down on the dreary, predictable final scene of Survivor: Hobbiton, who isn’t feeling a little bit cheapened by the whole affair?
It was in equal parts scam, sham and hoax.
It was a schmoax.
By visiting NZ and agreeing to lengthy meetings with the country’s Prime Minister and government officials, it is obvious that Warner Bros. never intended to walk.
Let me repeat: there is no way known such a visit, and such meetings, could have taken place if the outcome was even slightly in doubt.
Reputational considerations are paramount in these discussions, and Warners would never, ever have allowed bad news to flow from a strategy that involved meetings with leaders of sovereign governments, not to mention such extreme levels of national pride and sensitivity.
These are American film-makers, for christ’s sake, and the narrative arc in play was predictable even by their standards. Triumph was the only possible outcome.
What is less clear is who was in on the schmoax. A final reveal reel is needed.
Was this an elaborate plot to undermine unions and bolster the political Right? Were Key and Jackson in cahoots all along? Did the Warner suits just play along in return for an Antipodean jaunt? Or are they the master-villains here?
Who played whom, and in what order?
The answer is almost certainly none of the above. I never buy conspiracy theories because they always rely on non-existent levels of competence and superhuman discretion on the part of the alleged conspirators.
But, by the time Warners hopped on their plane at LAX, this deal was done and dusted. That much seems certain to me.
The casting of hapless Union officials as evildoers and the firing up of national sentiment was probably opportunistic rather than the product of deliberate strategy or conspiracy. But, by the end, it was cynical and fairly despicable nonetheless.