Happy Downfall of Sauron Day, 2012 (or SR 1451 in the great LotR-verse in my mind).
I have watched again the Epic Rap Battle between Gandalf and Dumbledore
and fixed clearly on why I don't find it very funny, despite some cuteness: the Gandalf the Grey vs. White antics, for example. It has a couple of superficial failings: too much reliance on gay jokes, as louderandlouder
observed to me, and likewise, the virtual lack of any attempt at English accents.
But the primary thing that undercuts the humor for me is the line in which Gandalf refers to himself as something like, "the one rapper to rule them all." Now, this is not a criticism of the Nicepeter team. It's a purely idiosyncratic response on my part. But it's painful for me in exactly the same way and for exactly the same reason that it's painful when, in LotR, Pippin refers to Frodo as "the lord of the Ring." Both are references, though the rap reference more oblique, to someone other than Sauron commanding the Ring.
And this, to me, isn't funny. You see, I take the Ring very seriously. Yes, I know it's a work of fiction. And I do generally adhere to the position that most anything can be funny in the right context. But the Ring is a very important symbol. It speaks to the same principle that has enshrined checks and balances in the Constitution of the United States. It represents for me the idea that there are forces in existence no one can control. There are attempts at a kind of power that can only lead to one's corruption, regardless of one's motives or one's native goodness. The Ring tells us that trying to master the Earth will backfire, that fascism is not a good system of government, nor totalitarianism. It's why Dr. Haber ended up insane. It's Donald Worster's explanation of why the most stable and sustainable peoples are those whose social codes strongly limit their sphere of action in the world. It recalls us to the necessity of humility.
The Ring is profoundly frightening. And for all that I tend to poke fun at the say-it-not-even-in-jestiness of so many in Middle-earth, this I do not jest about. Gandalf knows better--this is fundamental to his character--and to invoke the idea that he doesn't, even in farce, just isn't all that funny.