Festival of Fiendishness: GOLLUM
Gollum from the Lord of the Rings trilogy is today’s beautiful baddie and he’s not just a client, he’s the president of the This Is Why You Need to Put Down the Controller society. I’m talking to you, Xboxers, Playstationers, Wii Wiis. Look at my man: homie ain’t right.
For those of you who decided to leave your Dungeons & Dragons playing back in the 8th grade and, I don’t know, enter puberty and touch a girl with some confidence (until Game of Thrones came out and made fantasy cool AND sexy), Gollum is this freaky little dude horribly obsessed with a ring of invisibility. We first met him in The Hobbit where he was stuck underground by himself, eating raw fish and having a passionate affair with this ring he called “Precious.” No, this is not an episode of My Strange Addiction (but it oughta be). Bilbo Baggins tricks Gollum, snatches the ring and defeats the dragon, winning acclaim and armor and an invitation back to the Elves’ house for drinks. Gollum, on the other hand, is stuck in his little hole, Precious-less, and alone. Until the ring surfaces again.
Turns out this little trinket is the most powerful piece in a World of Warcraft-style battle for domination of Middle Earth (which is just outside Cleveland) sponsored by a really big eye named Sauron (and yes, geek squad, I am thoroughly aware that the Lord of the Rings—or LOTR for the uber-geek—precedes World of Warcraft by decades—this ain’t a history report. Put your wand down and stay focused.) The ring is more than just a ring of invisibility; it is a living thing that has an irrestible power of everything that comes in contact with it. It is the most powerful ring out there (even more powerful than that brilliant cut in the little blue box) and presses everyone around it toward insanity and destruction. It’s no little thing: it starts wars.
And Gollum had it all to himself.
He killed his homeboy over the ring without knowing what it was, just because he wanted it. Beat my man down with a rock to the skull. He loses everything that matters to him—his family, his friend, his hair, his skin tone—simply to be near the ring. His story reads like an episode of Intervention: all he wants in the ring, come hell or highwater. And even though it places him in a constant state of misery—it’s both extending his life and killing him at the same time—he not only can’t look away, he loves it.
When I first started this exploration of villains and what makes them awesome, I was looking at what we can learn from them as readers and writers. For Gollum, what makes him awesome is his commitment. Check it out: when Bilbo takes the ring from him, this cat spends YEARS—like 60 years—bitter and intent on getting his Precious back. 60 YEARS. For a ring. Not something that breathes or can talk back. A ring. But wait—there’s more! He actually spends the entire trilogy walking through a war determined to get his shit back just so he can have it. He’s like a walking J.G. Wentworth commercial: “It’s my ring and I want it now!” This cat chases folks into a dungeon that damn near kills the wizard, into the mountains populated with spiders the size of Volkswagens (and my man is barefoot, FYI), bites Frodo’s finger clean off to get his ring and, when it looks like the ring might be destroyed, Gollum does a Greg Louganis swan dive INTO A VOLCANO to save it. That is commitment.
Tomorrow, “the Power of Christ compels you!” We’re gonna look at the demon who turned Linda Blair into the creepiest girl EVER: Pazuzu.