I've got a new column up at Time.com. It's about parental responsibility and my lack of interest in seeing The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Some snippets:
I will be chaperoning somewhere between one and 100 friends of my 12-year-old son. As dispiriting a prospect as Smaug is on its own, it's coming at the tail end of a year that has already birthed The Lone Ranger, The Croods, The Smurfs 2, One Direction: This is Us, Free Birds, Thor 2, and a dozen other kid-friendly, parent-annoying movies that adults have blissfully repressed from memory.
I understand that billions— if not trillions—of people love The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit both as novels and as movies, and I'm happy to admit that I am the problem here. Yet surely I'm not the only adult American who is sick and tired of living under the reign of terror foisted on us by Tolkein's imagination lo these 40 years after his death. For too much of the 21st century, it seems that the year-end holidays exist only to provide space for yet another family reunion with the Bagginses of The Shire (why won't they ever come to our house?). Director Peter Jackson ruined the holidays in 2001, 2002, and 2003 with his three Lord of the Rings movies and then just last year darkened the season anew with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first in a three-part sequence.
It's worrisome that Jackson seems bent on making bigger and longer movie franchises out of Tolkein works. Think about it: With Lord of the Rings, Jackson did three movies out of three books. With The Hobbit, he's doing three movies out of one book. May Sauron have mercy on us all if Jackson ever sets his sights on creating a franchise out The Silmarillion, which even most Tolkein enthusiasts grant is unreadable. It seems plausible that The Silmarillion might well comprise two dozen or more installments, thereby ruining Christmas for the rest of most of our lives.