Speaking of Lord of the Rings: I'm not the biggest McSweeney's fan, but sometimes they hit it out of the park. And I couldn't stop laughing when I read the Unused audio commentary by Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky for Return of the King. There's a larger version of it in book format, that includes a mock Dinesh D'Souza and Ann Coulter commentary session for Aliens (I'm dying to read that). Here are some excerpts from the webpage to get you to check out all four parts:
CHOMSKY: Now here Denethor is about to commit his act of protest against the madness going on outside the gates—heroically burning himself in protest of Gandalf's colonial war.
ZINN: There's a sacred quality to this. It's imbued with spirituality.
CHOMSKY: And beauty. And symbolism. Of course, Gandalf corrupts the holy sanctity of this suicide ceremony by riding in on Shadowfax.
ZINN: Sam's jealousy has taken a dark turn. He completely lacks sympathy for Gollum's plight, and uses Gollum's mental illness—I think one can call it that—as a justification for his own murderous thoughts.
CHOMSKY: You're right. Sam has clearly said that he would kill Gollum if he had the chance, whereas Gollum struggles with whether he should kill Sam or not. Is not Gollum the more ethical of the two?
ZINN: I would like to point out the discipline with which the Orcs march out of Minas Morgul. You know, I think they're a handsome people. I know Men are taught to demonize them, but I think their culture is lovely, cooperative, and utterly unstandardized.
CHOMSKY: This is an insurgency that feels at home in its own land. Orcs don't feel the need to put on false identifying garments that somehow unite them, as the men of Gondor and Rohan do. Orcs are united by the very fact that they're from this place.
ZINN: I agree. But I also think it's unwise to view Orcs uniformly. Do all Orcs want to massacre Men? Surely some Orcs want to do that, but it seems very far-fetched to argue that every single Orc is bent on killing every last Man. It's interesting to note the one group of Orcs that did employ the symbols of Man—the white hand of Saruman—were all wiped out … by Men.
CHOMSKY: Let's not forget this victory is not that of Men over Orcs, good over evil. It's the success of a vile pact between Aragorn and the dead over the vital, living forces of a Mordor insurgency.
ZINN: We've been accused of being Orc apologists. I don't think that's fair.
CHOMSKY: I admire their pluck and I'm impressed by their loyalty to one another and their homeland, but I don't want to glorify them either. For example—
ZINN: The Orcish hazing that goes on.
CHOMSKY: Yes, Orcs do seem to haze one another. Calling each other "slugs" and "maggots," and what have you.
ZINN: But they're pulled from the earth. Being called a slug or a maggot might not be such a bad thing from the Orcish perspective. In the end, we shouldn't be talking about humanizing Orcs. Perhaps we should be talking about Orcanizing humans.