Mechtild (mechtild) wrote,

Frodo's Birthday Mathom ... and the use of film-Frodo's image for erotica

Before the Fire-TEASER

*drum roll*

AND NOW, for more than a "Glimpse"....

Greetings, hot Frodo fans, I finally am back from work. I was crushed, crushed, crushed to have to leave this journal entry in a state of "hobbitus interruptus," but it couldn't be helped.

Well, here goes....

Happy Birthday, Frodo!!!!!!

Now, I promised in my "glimpse" notice (re-posted above), that I would be serving up a hot Frodo manip in celebration of his birthday. I think I have one on my hands (so to speak). Bear in mind that although it is not actually pornographic, it is erotic and NOT WORK-SAFE (unless you work in a pretty liberal place!). I would rate it a mild "R".

After the Bath: Frodo Before the Fire....


*Sigh*... Although it is not a literally faithful illustration (the towel is of a modern sort and he is not dripping wet), I thought it would make a wonderful illustration for Ch. 11 of Threshold, "The Fire Upon the Hearth."

I find it utterly, utterly swoon-worthy.

Edited to add:

A reader of this LJ entry who doesn't know me wanted to know if I'd done any other Frodo manips. I had put a link to my stuff on my User Info page, but I suppose no one looks at that. *rolls eyes*

For you who don't know of it, I have done a several manips in which I finesse a film-Frodo face into a work of art -- a painting or sculpture -- in order to highlight what a classical beauty I think he is. Some are rather funny; some are beautiful. Some were made just to see how film-Frodo looks in the dress of other eras.

Here's a link to my 9-page album of "Frodo Art Travesties":


There is another version of this manip. I will post a link for it below. I would rate it, "NC-17", and, I would call it porn-ish. Bearing that in mind, if you found the "R" version not work-safe, the "NC-17" version would be work-safe only if you worked in a bordello.

The trials and tribulations of looking for the right body...

Credit must be given to Shoesparks in the making for both versions. The inspiration to make them at all sprang from seeing a manip she made the other day. I was browsing my Friends list when I scrolled past an entry in which she said had made an EW manip that was "Mature! Not real! A manip! NC-17! Not work-safe!".

Naturally, I simply had to look at it.... (If you want to see her very racy EW manip, it's "friends-locked." But on her User Info page, shoesparks does say that she is quite open to friending people.)

Her EW manip was definitely, explicitly ... hot. As very racy erotica goes, I really liked it. I thought her manip was far more explicit and, happily, far less "prettified" than what most makers of Frodo erotic manips produce (such as the sort a fan presented to EW during a press conference and which was flashed onscreen when Graham Norton interviewed him before the Oscars -- racy but rather artificial looking; perhaps because of all the airbrushing and the mismatch of facial expressions).

What Shoesparks did was simply to put an Elijah Wood head onto the body of someone who was a fairly good match for him, a nice one. The body wasn't the usual sort available -- if you have ever tried to Google up images of naked men. I did -- for hours -- when I was looking for a body like the one Shoe used in her manip. All the "naked men" sites seem to cater to gay men and feature herky, body-builder guys with a ton of muscles. If I looked up "naked boys" I also got gay sites, but filled with non-descript snaps shots of pimply, stringy older youths with forced or nervous "Come hither" looks on their faces as they posed on beaches or their bedrooms. None of these would do. I wanted a nice-looking body of a young adult male, but not herky. Was that so much to ask? I wanted to do a Frodo manip, after all, not one of Boromir or an Uruk-Hai.

The body Shoesparks had used was verrrry nice in a lightly-built way. He was shown seated, just from the tops of the thighs up. I knew it wasn't Elijah Wood's body, of course. Not only would EW never pose for such a shot in a million years, the torso was nicer than what EW displayed in Cirith Ungol (cute as it is with his little tum-tum). When I could not find a comparable body on Google images, I finally e-mialed Shoesparks and asked if I could make a Frodo manip using whatever she used for her EW manip. She is such a kind person, she sent the original image along and gave me a lot of good manip-making advice, too. (* See OT note about Shoesparks below.)

Erotica or soft-core?

In my manips, both versions of "Frodo After the Bath" were made from the same raw materials: a famous film-Frodo headshot, and the body from the picture she sent me: a young man with a forgettable face but a very nice, lightly-built torso who appeared to be posing for soft-core porn or a "male pin-up" site.

For my "R" version (the "tasteful" version, LOL), I cropped off the naughty bits from the original and did some additional colour work. I also painted over the model's leg, which, in the uncut version had been thrown over the arm of the chair in which he is seated. Once the pubic portion of the image had been cropped off, it made the bit of leg that remained look extremely odd. So I added extra towelling and painted over the rest of his leg to match the abdominal area.

The end result of the changes was to produce a manip that looked far more like a painting than a photo. That is why I think, although it is erotic, it is erotic in a tasteful way. Even more does it come across as "tasteful" because there is no sense that Frodo is thinking any sexual thoughts in it. The viewer may have all the sexual thoughts she wants, but, in the image, Frodo could be thinking absolutely anything at all.

In the linked "NC-17" version I made, below, that claim cannot be made, since the subject is touching himself sexually. It is not just that a portion of the genital area shows. After all, David's genitals show even more in Michelangelo's famous sculpture, yet few people think the statue is pornographic. But in the statue, although David is completely naked, he is not portrayed in an eroticised way. He's just standing there, not fiddling with himself, as if he were trying to sexually excite the foes of Israel into submission, for heaven's sake.

However, I have defused some of the "porn" flavour of the original photo I used by not using direct eye contact. In the original photo the model is handling himself while looking directly at the viewer. This immediately reads as pornographic, since the implication is that the model is handling himself because he wants to excite the viewer. In my version, since I have used a contemplative Frodo face that is looking away, the resulting photo implies that the viewer is observing Frodo unawares. The picture does not suggest that he attempting to excite the viewer, merely that he is pleasurably fondling himself. That makes a very different sort of effect, in my opinion. The resulting manip comes off for me as "erotic," more than "pornographic," although it is explicit.

After the Bath: Frodo Before the Fire ~ NC-17 Version....

Note: I had posted a link to this image then got cold feet and deleted it, asking people to email me, instead. In the morning I thought I was being silly. "Who reads these entries other than about a dozen people, all of whom know that I have a penchant for Frodo erotica, all of whom are of age? They can make their own choices." I restored the link. But, what do you know? I decided to delete the link again. *sheepish face* The fact is, who can resist a link, even if they are sorry they looked once they have clicked it? I never can resist, personally, and have seen things I wished I hadn't. Anyway, if I feel this conflicted about it, I guess I should take it down. If you just "must" see it, here's my email address again:

My apologies for my shilly-shallying.

The only thing I have done to "tone down" my own "NC-17" treatment of that porn shot is to trim back the view of the sexual parts slightly and to warm up the colour a great deal, to produce a "firelit" look. Most of all, it has been de-porn-ized by choosing a head shot that is not looking at the viewer. If I had used a Frodo head shot looking right at the viewer, it would be a straight porn shot. For him to be looking away, unaware of the viewer, softens the effect of the picture quite a lot (I think).

I wanted to address a touchier subject than what makes a picture erotica or porn, however, which is the prickly affair of using the body of a real person (as opposed to a painting or sculpture) to produce a manip. For me, it changes the "feel" of looking at this NC-17 version of my manip, to know it has been made from a photo of a real person, and not from a work of art. I know that I am looking at somebody's real stuff, even if he's a paid model. Of course, someone posed for the David, but that was ages ago, and it wasn't an erotic depiction, anyway. This photo's model is probably still around. And the photo is clearly meant to arouse the viewer; it was never intended to be "art."

Using film-Frodo's image for fanfic or fanart.

Which brings me to what has been an even touchier subject (for me, anyway): the legitimacy of putting film-Frodo's head into such pictures. Film-Frodo is the creation of a real person using his real face and body. Should I feel so free to use his image as Frodo in these ways? Ever since I saw those manips that appeared on the Graham Norton show, I have been thinking, "His head may make a hot manip, but is it right? Is it respectful or courteous to use his film image for erotic pieces?" I haven't finished thinking about it, but here's a bit of what I think at this point.

Originally, I had been shocked and offended to see and read things portraying Frodo in compromising situations, which explicitly used film-Frodo's image -- that is, not just manips or drawings, but fanfics, too, in which the Frodo depicted has clearly been made in the image of film-Frodo. I thought it was wrong to use a real person's face in this way.

I have modified that opinion since then. Perhaps it is merely a matter of becoming more jaded, but I think I have come to agree with what a certain poster said at K-D on this issue. She wrote that at this point, she no longer closely identified Elijah Wood the actor with the character he created for the screen the way she once had; the actor and his portrayal were now two different entities for her. EW has moved on, she said -- she could finally see it. His film-Frodo would remain in glory, no matter what he did or didn't do during the rest of his career, but film-Frodo now had a life of his own. I thought about it and decided she was right. For example, when folks see a picture of film-Frodo, they don't say, "I just loved Elijah Wood as Frodo!" They say, "I just loved Frodo!" Screen Frodo is a separate entity from his actor now. When I see an image of film-Cowardly Lion in an ad or sequel or a spoof, I don't think, "Ah, that's Bert Lahr [as the Cowardly Lion]," I think, "Ah, that's the Cowardly Lion." Period. Bert Lahr created the role, but the film portrayal has became a separate thing; the screen interpretation of the Cowardly Lion has had a life of its own for generations.

I think this now is true of film-Frodo. It is clear that some version of film-Frodo stars in much fanfic -- and virtually all erotic fanfic. Why should I be surprised to see film-Frodo's image being used, in a visual medium, to depict fanfic-Frodo (i.e. eroticised Frodo)? Few seem to mind this, in principle, when I think about it. I rarely hear objections made against artists or writers using film-Frodo's image (or personna) if they are using it to depict Frodo in a gen work (whether written of visual). The use of his image is only decried when the Frodo in the piece is depicted doing something highly rated (whether het or slash).

When I put it that way, it seems to me it should amount to the same thing. Nevertheless, I still have a lingering sense that it is indiscreet (if not wrong) to use film-Frodo's image for highly rated work (whether by the use of words or by the use of line and colour). Some are offended on Elijah Wood's behalf ("What must EW think so see his image used that way?!?!?"), some are offended on book Frodo's behalf ("How could anyone depict canon Frodo that way -- as if he would ever do such things -- especially looking like that!"). Some hate Frodo portrayed in anything highly rated no matter what sort of image of him is called upon for the purpose.

I suppose I just wanted to say that I am aware that what I have done in my fanfic and even my "tasteful" manips takes liberties with film-Frodo's image and personna, and with Tolkien's Frodo. I suppose I am confessing that I although I am going ahead and doing it, I feel the ambiguity of it. Maybe, for me, how uncomfortable I am about it depends on the degree or tone. When I read or look at work that features Frodo erotica I find that if it is well-done, and does not demean or trash its protagonist, I enjoy it. When I feel that it does seriously demean or warp Frodo, I don't.

But, having said that, I guess it's still a matter of preference. My "tasteful erotica" is someone else's "smutty trash."

Well, it's late and I wasn't supposed to have fiddled with this all night. *looks around to see the pub is empty*


*Important OT note on the goodness of Shoesparks ... I don't know her, really, but she must be a big-hearted person. Here is a link to one of her recent entries, scouting around for anyone who knows of Hurricane Katrina victims who have become homeless and are looking for somewhere to live. She and hers live a large piece of rural land with room for others to come and stay. It sounds as though her wider community would be welcoming to refugees of the hurricane, too. I am posting her link, in case any of you know of any folks looking for shelter after the disaster.

Heads up, Bree, since you are down in LA and have been volunteering in relief efforts.

Shoespark's entry regarding offering Katrina victims asylum:

~ Mechtild
Tags: art manips, erotica, fanfic, frodo and art, frodo art travesties, frodo manips, manips

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