The difference between Smeagol and Gollum could keep a Turkish man out of jail. If Peter Jackson has anything to say about it, it will.
Dr. Bilgin Ciftci is on trial for insulting Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan by sharing a picture comparing him to the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” character:
– Suad Alkhawaja (@SuadAK) December 2, 2015
Needless to say, Turkey's free speech laws are quite different from the United States'. Ciftci is now on trial and faces two years in prison if convicted, according to the Associated Press. He already lost his job at the Public Health Institute of Turkey.
His defense currently hinges on whether or not comparing the president to Gollum is an insult. A panel of five experts has been tapped to determine the strength of Gollum's character, but franchise director Jackson, along with screenwriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, have added a new possible defensive strategy, via Deadline:
“If the images are in fact the ones forming the basis of this Turkish lawsuit, we can state categorically: None of them feature the character known as Gollum. All of them are images of the character called Smeagol.”
Walsh also added:
“Smeagol is a joyful, sweet character. Smeagol does not lie, deceive, or attempt to manipulate others. He is not evil, conniving, or malicious – these personality traits belong to Gollum, who should never be confused with Smeagol. Smeagol would never dream of wielding power over those weaker than himself. He is not a bully. In fact he”s very loveable. This is why audiences all over the world have warmed to his character.”
Because the judge in the case hasn't seen any of the movies, the trial has been postponed until February.