Peter Jackson was always known for being a bit of a hobbit himself. New Zealanders are pretty comfortable with bare feet pretty much anywhere, even out and about, and Peter Jackson was no exception.
But that has changed.
Ian McKellen, the actor who plays Gandalf writes a bit of a blog about it. When asked if all the fame has changed Peter Jackson, his answer was, “Not really.”
With one big exception.
Oh, one surprising change I have noticed. Shoes are optional in New Zealand and most days Peter shot LOTR barefoot as a hobbit. But on The Hobbit filming he was always well shod, padding through the leaf mould and rubble of the sets in regular footwear.
No reason for the change is given, but it it disappointing.
In fact, other parts of New Zealand are getting disappointing.
Air New Zealand has been getting into “The Hobbit” mood and tying all sorts of promotions to the movie. For instance, they’ve redecorated their baggage carousel at Wellington Airport.
They’ve even gone so far as to redo their flight preparation movie. That’s the film they show telling you about seat belts and tray tables. It has a host of Middle Earth characters, and even a cameo by Peter Jackson. Here’s one shot.
Now that’s pretty pathetic. Hairy toe socks?
But they also have something more in line with the movie:
Note that I say “more in line with the movie” as opposed to “authentic”, because, as I wrote about in Megapodic Movie Hobbits there is absolutely nothing in “The Hobbit” or “The Lord of the Rings” that said that hobbits had particularly large feet. (Hairy, yes.)
That was another disappointment from Peter Jackson. He made all those stupid foot protheses when all that was needed was to have the actors wear foot wigs.
Here’s the full presentation.
Air New Zealand is also pretty disappointing in a much worse way. (Sorry, it’s a day for disappointment.) Yeah, they show barefoot (such as it is) hobbits on their plane, but if you actually try to fly their airline barefoot, look out for trouble.
First of all, I should note that their Conditions of Carriage contain nothing regarding bare feet. This is actually better than most airlines, which do usually require footwear. The section of the document that usually contains the restriction is the “Refusal of Carriage” section (page 5 of the document), and there is nothing there. They do say
We and/or Our Operators may at any time prior to boarding refuse to carry you or your Baggage if, in the exercise of our reasonable discretion, we decide or establish any of the following:
such action is necessary for reasons of safety.
But you would think that Kiwis, after seeing a decent portion of their population safely navigating their streets and such in bare feet would not think that the aisle of an airplane would be unsafe. (And if it is, they have a real maintainence problem.)
But I found at least two stories of barefoot passengers being trouble.
In Air NZ sends shoeless musician on wheelchair wild goose chase, they made a musician, perfectly capable of walking, ride a wheelchair because he was barefoot (and they couldn’t find shoes to fit his feet).
That story says that, “Air New Zealand forbids passengers to walk barefoot on the plane or across the tarmac.” I guess it’s OK to sit on the plane barefoot, though.
Note that this is not in the Conditions of Carriage, and again, should not be a safety issue since Kiwis see barefooters everywhere and should know that they can easily walk on such surfaces.
In the other story, Air NZ pilot won’t fly with barefoot kids, the pilot refused to take off because two children weren’t wearing shoes.
What is wrong with these people?
In this case, it’s not even OK to sit on the plane barefoot, and there’s not even a safety excuse. From the story:
The airline has defended the decision not to fly, maintaining that its customers expect a “reasonable standard of dress” and that children without shoes risk possible injury.
These people are morons. This is New Zealand, for pete’s sake. And children without hard hats also risk possible injury. In fact, in rough air, that is much more likely.
In the end, the captain allowed the kids to put on socks, and he then flew them.
And the airline had the usual nonsensical excuses:
“In our view, customers expect a reasonable standard of dress, which extends to footwear, when they are travelling on board our aircraft.”
Young children had to wear shoes to protect them from “potential injuries”, including from the drinks trolley and other passengers’ bags.
But, as other passengers noted, jandals (what they call flip-flops) are allowed, and there was nothing on paper to say that shoes were required.
And those “potential injuries” are just hokum. How did socks protect the kids from the drinks trolley or other passengers’ bags? For that matter, how would jandals?
These are all just post hoc rationalizations.
For once, I’d like to hear a corporate spokesperson use their brain, not give a gut-defense of stupidity, and just say, “We were wrong. Yes, you can fly us barefooted. We will make sure that all employees know that.”