Hard News by Russell Brown

But which one is John Howard?

Okay, so here's a bold new interpretation of Tolkein: In his review
of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman muses that just as The Fellowship of the Ring's "elemental vision of good and evil locked in cosmic battle was said, by many, to echo moviegoers' post-9/11 feelings about the state of our own world," The Two Towers is a metaphor for the War on Terror.

"Those hesitant to support the conflict have to be convinced; by the end, even a marvelously charming ancient talking tree joins the coalition. All this to defeat a thin-faced, gray-bearded megalomaniac in mystic robes who is intent on starting -- and winning -- the mother of all wars."

So Saruman is Bin Laden. And that makes George W. Bush Frodo? And Tony Blair is Sam Gamgee? This would be funny, except that Gleiberman actually appears to regard it as serious analysis.

Something about Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy does seem to attract the most preposterous self-obsession and insularity from some Americans. Earlier this year, American Kevin Klerck launched an online petition demanding that the name of the forthcoming second film in the trilogy be changed to something other than The Two Towers.

Apparently unaware that the name comes from J.R.R. Tolkien's 50 year-old book, Klerck claimed that the film's title was "clearly meant to refer to the attacks on the World Trade Center". This, he said was "both offensive and morally repugnant."

Most of the thousands of people who responded to the petition heaped scorn on Klerck - but he clearly had at least one admirer. A new website, the Two Towers Protest, has been launched and is looking for donations.

Barbarity is on the march …