The editors at Bloomberg View were nice enough to publish this charming drawing by Matt Leines alongside my op-ed, Kill the Hobbit Subsidies to Save Regular Earth (thanks Paula and Matt!).

(For those just joining us, the basic story is that Warner Bros extracted  $120 million in taxpayer subsidies plus support for a slew of bad labor and IP laws to keep production of The Hobbit in New Zealand.)

Returning to the matter at hand, the drawing raises some intriguing questions!

First, I confess I hadn’t fully thought through how to map the various heroes and villains of ‘Kill the Hobbit’ back onto ‘The Hobbit.’   But on reflection, this drawing seems a bit off.  In my version of the story, the hobbit is the villain, stealing gold from the people of New Zealand (I guess to take back to Hollywoodshire?)  This  would make Smaug the dragon the public, and Smaug’s giant pile of gold the commonwealth (that’s why it’s so large).  Smaug should be casting the Expecto Patronum (EP) spell to banish the Hobbit, not the other way around.

But hey, people may see it differently, and their right to publish those perspectives on our common culture is part of what’s at stake in ‘Kill the Hobbit to Save Regular Earth’ (pivoting  here to New Zealand’s support for the IP-enforcement-on-steroids Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement).

So with that in mind, I am happy to announce the ‘Kill the Hobbit to Save Regular Earth’ Initiative– KH2SREI for short (pronounced Kisstory, after the ancient Elven admonition to beware Hobbits bringing gifts).

I invite you to flesh out the Kisstory allegory in whatever direction makes most sense to you.  If you send me pictures, I will publish them here (as long as they are not obscene or gratuitously nasty).  I will even try to talk the good people at Bloomberg View into running them.  And if we get enough submissions we will have a public vote to award copies of the “semi-epic” Media Piracy in Emerging Economies  to the two most worthy entries (plus whatever other awards we can accumulate in the meantime.)  With luck, we’ll assemble a panel of distinguished judges to make these additional awards.

Some suggested guidelines:

  • Extra points for including other figures from the story, such as New Zealand PM John Key (gollum?) or Peter Jackson (Saruman?)
  • Extra points for representing the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
  • Extra points for contrasting a free and open Internet to some future, corrupted TPPA Internet.
  • Extra points for adding more Harry Potter references or other WB properties into the mix.
  • Extra points for combining this somehow with the Hawkeye Initiative.
  • Special awards for multimedia (Downfall anyone?)
  • Special award for the best pro-Hobbit, pro TPPA, pro Warner Bros art, if we get any.

Submissions will be accepted (and occasionally published) through Dec 31.  We’ll also set up some sort of public voting mechanism.

You can submit images or links to work to

All images will be assumed to be available under a CC attribution non-commercial use license, so that we can keep public culture public.

Rim hennaid, people of Regular Earth.

Update: Sadly, we are canceling the ‘Kill the Hobbit Initiative’ due to a lack of submissions.  Yet the people of New Zealand fight on!





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