January 11, 2014

“You shall not pass!”


“You shall not pass!”
       Gandalf the wizard 
       These are Gandalf’s defiant words to a huge Balrog demon on the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, in a dramatic, pivotal scene in J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Fellowship of the Ring
       The Balrog is pursuing Frodo and the other members of “The Fellowship” who are trying to prevent Middle Earth from being conquered by the Dark Lord, Sauron, and his army of evil monsters. Gandalf saves Frodo and the others by standing on the stone bridge after they have crossed, blocking the Balrog. He tells the creature “You shall not pass!” Then he uses his magic staff to shatter the bridge to pieces. Gandalf and the Balrog both fall with it into the abyss below, presumably to their deaths. 
       Because Tolkien was a Word War I veteran, it is believed that Gandalf’s words may been inspired by the defiant war slogan “They shall not pass!” This slogan was originally made famous by French troops fighting the Germans at the bloody Battle of Verdun in World War I. In 1936, it was adopted by anti-fascist forces defending Madrid during the Spanish Civil War.
       “You shall not pass!” became an Internet meme after the line was used in Peter Jackson’s film The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), featuring actor Ian McKellen as Gandalf. The movie includes an epic depiction of Gandalf confronting the Balrog and saying the those words, while holding his sword and staff. There are now thousands of generally humorous uses and variations of the quote posted online. Some of my favorites are below...


“YOU SHALL NOT PASS...in New Jersey!”
       A headline in the Huffington Post’s Google+ feed, linking to a story about the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal.
       The scandal erupted in early January of 2014, after leaked emails revealed that a top aide to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie ordered the closure of certain traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge to purposefully create horrendous traffic jams into the city of Fort Lee, because the city’s mayor had declined to endorse Christie in the recent Gubernatorial election.


“You shall not pass judgement.”
       Slogan on a photo posted on The Confessions of a Geek Queen blog, showing actor Ian McKellen at a Gay Pride parade.


“You shall not pass!
Without research help
Ask a Librarian.”
       Online poster created by the Mississippi Library Commission


“You shall not piss!”
       Sign taped onto an out-of-order urinal, in a photo posted on the Karma Decay site 


“You shall not pass…gas in an elevator and blame it on someone else.”
       A graphic posted on the Meme Generator site. (One of many using “You shall not pass gas” that you can find online.)

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