I have been disquieted by the stoush over the filming of The Hobbit, a dispute of truly theatrical and labyrinthine proportions. Whereas the media, and many commentators, have painted it as a battle between the heroes (Sir Peter Jackson and his team) and the villains (Actors’ Equity), I see a much sadder complexity. Regardless of the Australian union manipulations, I am hugely impressed by Jennifer Ward-Leyland and Robyn Malcolm’s staunch public advocacy of improved standards and conditions for New Zealand actors and a little disappointed that Jackson’s necessary kow-towing to Warner’s means that he is unwilling or unable to support their cause. A classic example, I suppose, of what happens when you get into bed with big business. Socialism versus neo-liberalism played out on the world stage. And while, in fact, all the local players may deserve hero status, a stageful of goodies doesn’t make for riveting drama.