Perhaps if Tolkien had been more into the wacky tobacky, he would have given the Beatles permission to do their version of LOTR. Man, that would have ruled.
“Is,” yes. Nowadays, “weed” is indeed a slang term for marijuana. But in the past, it also (and perhaps exclusively, though I can’t say for sure) meant “tobacco.”
I seem to recall that even in The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton (and didn’t we all read that when we were adolescents?), the characters use the word “weed” to refer to plain old tobacco cigarettes. Ponyboy and Johnny and Dallas and the others were always smoking those weeds, weren’t they? Somehow, I don’t think our parents and teachers would have encouraged us to read a book that so often referred to “weed” if it meant marijuana.
The Outsiders was published in 1967. Tolkien’s books were published years before that, so if a reference to “weed” meant “tobacco” as late as 1967, it stands to reason that it likely also did earlier in the twentieth century, when Tolkien was writing his trilogy.
Tolkien was a pipe smoker himself, and his characters smoke pipes. I see no reason to believe that his characters were smoking anything other than Tolkien’s favourite blend of pipe tobacco–and that he did not intend his use of “weed” to mean anything other than tobacco.
I read somewhere (sorry, can’t find cite as it was many years ago) that Tolkien was horrified when hippies mistook his “pipeweed” references for pot. The old man was not amused in the least.
I don’t doubt that Tolkien did not intend drug references.
However, I believe drug references by Jackson are quite intentional. (Not only with “weed,” but I thought I detected some sniggering fascination with mushroom references as well.)
I disagree with Fiver’s view that this shows a disrespect for the material. Nothing wrong, in my view, with a knowing wink to the hippies who embraced the books. Just a little good fun.
If it hadn’t been for the stoner hippies in the 60’s, these books wouldn’t have been nearly as popular as they were. I think Mr. Jackson’s weed subtext is quite intentional. I disagree with those that say he is being disrespectful to the material. It’s a freakin JOKE fer chrissakes. Lighten up.
(or light up, if that’s your preference…)
I think people today tend to overlook the psychoactive properties of tobacco, especially when you don’t smoke all day every day and become strongly habituated. You can definately get stoned off of tobacco. And older writers don’t tend to have our current artificial distinction between “drugs” and “not-drugs” that we have. Sherlock Holmes for instance didn’t seem to see much difference between taking tobacco and taking cocaine. Nicotine, caffiene, and alcohol aren’t fundamentally different from cocaine, THC, or opium, they are all psychoactive drugs of various strengths.
Plus, how many people nowadays smoke tobacco in pipes? Not as many as there used to be.
I think the snickering could be like how everyone jokes that Obi-Wan is a drunk.
Another (superfluous) argument that pipeweed = tobacco is that “Old Toby” is a favoured blend.
“Toby” has (unsurprisingly) a long assocation with tobacco. Apart from “Toby” being a diminutive form of the word “tobacco,” Cheapish cigars were called “Tobies,” (similar to the American “'Stogies”,) and the common denominator of traditional Toby Jugs was the three-cornered hat associated with colonial Virginia, and a pipe.
Some may object that “Old Toby” refers to Tobold Hornblower, who introduced pipeweed to the Shire. Based on the order that the material is presented in, I think it’s nearly certain that Tolkien made up the history of pipeweed after naming Old Toby.
Further, the men of Gondor called pipeweed westmansweed, since it was introduced from a far-off land west of Middle Earth, across the great sea. Sort of like… you know.
Anyway, I don’t doubt that Jackson is being playful-- I just object to folks who try to put it across that Tolkien was a head. There will always be potheads who try to argue for decriminalization by resorting to dubious appeals to authority/popularity, and I think it’s not only unecessary, but reflects poorly on cannabis users in general.
Please tell me you meant this in a Joe Friday voice! Because that’s how I heard it in my head and I laughed at the image of Jack Webb confronting a bunch of elves and lecturing them on their wasteful and dissolute lifestyle.
The mushroom thing is in the book, too. Hobbitts consider mushrooms a delicacy, and Frodo used to sneak from Buckland to Farmer Maggot’s farm to steal mushrooms. Think of how we prize shitakes and truffles, after all.
I seem to remember reading somewhere that pipeweed was called tobacco in early drafts, but later changed because it was too mundane- he wanted to be clear that middle-earth was not earth, and including something like tobacco may have confused that.
Yes, I know. But I think Jackson used the mushroom references as another playful wink to hippie fans.
I do hope you’re not imputing to the professor an intention to have placed Middle Earth anywhere other than on the third rock from our sun.
Middle-Earth is Earth. It just happens to be in a prior geologic age.
“Legolas served 30 years for Murder at the battle of Helm’s Deep…” BUM buh BUM BUM!
I just had to post in this thread! That’s because my very first post ever on the old Arpanet was back about 1980, in a JRRT discussion group. I asked what the hell was in pipeweed anyway?
I got replies chastising me for even bringing it up as it was certainly tobacco; mixed with replies that it was a wonderful blend of Acapulco Gold and Primo Cuban leaf.
I’m in no position to argue this, so please don’t rag me on it, but I have heard both sides. Some people argue that Tolkien considered this to be simliar to, but completely seperate from, our Earth.
“Old Tobey, the finest weed in the South Farthing,” to be exact. Not exactly a party remark (unless you’re in Hobbiton).
But I agree with several of the others: Tolkien meant tobacco. PJ…might have been winking.
When I was in Junior High School, our chorus sang a song called “The Weed.”
The words to this song were a 17th or 18th century poem. A 17th or 18th century poem. About. Tobacco.
Much too much to assume.
In fact, my friend and I were first in line at 3:00 PM on the day before the premeire, and we waited all that time in the cold without food, blankets, chairs, or anything like that.
Neither of us are very big LOTR fans. We both casually enjoy the movies, have never read the books, and wouldn’t mind not seeing the movies in the theaters. I didn’t see the second one in the theaters, and I didn’t see the first one until its second run.
We waited in line for so long mainly because our friends are pretty big fans, and they had finals so they couldn’t wait in line. Also, it was a fun experience and I had never waited in line like that for a big movie premiere. And I got free dinner from my friends. Also I went crazy listening to the AMC Movie Tunes “radio station”…
So, yeah, anyway, unforgettable experience and all that, but am not that big of a LOTR fan.
For those interested, they had a program in NPR yesterday about Tolkien. It is a very interesting program, and has Ursula Le Guin as a guest speaker! It goes into some detail about Tolkiens past and possible intentions. Here is the link- http://www.npr.org/features/feature.php?wfId=1553102