The Hollowest Example of Diversity Yet
I have resisted writing about Amazon’s desecration of JRR Tolkien’s works with their show The Rings of Power, mostly because I am not a Tolkien scholar and have not read the books (though I have stared to read The Fellowship of the Ring). I have, however, seen Peter Jackson’s brilliant Lord of the Rings trilogy and his lesser-received The Hobbit trilogy (which I thought were nice enough, but I do agree it could have just been one film).
But I have to say this. Seriously, this stupid show is due to premiere on Amazon Prime in early September, and I’ve been watching more and more YouTube videos criticizing this show, the show runners and the cast, and I just have to have my say.
I agree with all the criticism and I actually have some points to make that these YouTubers haven’t – at least, the ones I’ve watched so far.
So back in 2017, Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, wanted his own Game of Thrones. This was at least two years before the disastrous end of that show, and it’s no surprise that he, or anyone, really, wanted to cash in on the pop culture juggernaut that Game of Thrones was back then.
Bafflingly, he wanted to use JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings as his basis for Amazon Prime’s own Game of Thrones. I say “bafflingly” because this is so incredibly lazy and is quite evident that Bezos doesn’t understand either Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings to think that they’re interchangeable, or that Lord of the Rings could ever be anyone else’s Game of Thrones.
Lord of the Rings is a timeless story about good and evil and how, through the power of friendship, evil can be overcome and defeated by even the smallest person (hobbits). Tolkien never meant for his story to be an allegory – to be timeless and able to “speak” to people of any era. It does not necessarily shy away from the absolute darkness of the world, but does not revel in it either.
Game of Thrones, on the other hand, is a story about how good people don’t always win, and is about how truly ugly the world really is. Yes, both the show and the novels it’s based on revels in the absolute darkness of the world, not shying away from gruesome events (the Red Wedding, for example; one character feeds a girl to his dogs, another character literally sacrifices his daughter to a pagan god so that he can gain the upper hand in capturing the Iron Throne of Westeros, and of course, characters are raped and sexually mutilated). The world of Westeros is painted in shades of gray.
I like both, so I am not criticizing one or the other, just acknowledging that both are very different. Sorry to use Wikipedia, but this entry for the series Game of Thrones is based on, A Song of Ice and Fire, has this to say about George RR Martin’s inspiration for the series:
“The medieval setting has been the traditional background for epic fantasy. However, where historical fiction leaves versed readers knowing the historical outcome,85 original characters may increase suspense and empathy for the readers.84 Yet Martin felt historical fiction, particularly when set during the Middle Ages, had an excitement, grittiness, and a realness to it that was absent in fantasy with a similar backdrop.86 Thus, he wanted to combine the realism of historical fiction with the magic appeal of the best fantasies,87 subduing magic in favor of battles and political intrigue.26 He also decided to avoid the conventional good versus evil setting typical for the genre, using the fight between Achilles and Hector in Homer’s Iliad, where no one stands out as either a hero or a villain, as an example of what he wants to achieve with his books.88”
I think that’s why the show was so popular – it was fantasy, but felt like historical fiction – very grounded, striking a perfect balance between the fantastical and realism. And, of course, titties and dragons.
Meanwhile, these are the themes present in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings:
“Scholars and critics have identified many themes in the book with its complex interlaced narrative, including a reversed quest,3334 the struggle of good and evil,35 death and immortality,36 fate and free will,37 the addictive danger of power,38 and various aspects of Christianity such as the presence of three Christ figures, for prophet, priest, and king, as well as elements like hope and redemptive suffering.39404142 There is a common theme throughout the work of language, its sound, and its relationship to peoples and places, along with hints of providence in descriptions of weather and landscape.43 Out of these, Tolkien stated that the central theme is death and immortality.T 11 To those who supposed that the book was an allegory of events in the 20th century, Tolkien replied in the foreword to the Second Edition that it was not, saying he preferred “history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers.”
Some commentators have criticized the book for being a story about men for boys, with no significant women; or about a purely rural world with no bearing on modern life in cities; of containing no sign of religion; or of racism. Other commentators responded by noting that there are three powerful women in the book, Galadriel, Éowyn, and Arwen; that life, even in rural Hobbiton, is not idealised; that Christianity is a pervasive theme; and that Tolkien was sharply anti-racist both in peacetime and during the Second World War, while Middle-earth is evidently polycultural.444546”
That last paragraph is completely barfworthy, but at least a rebuttal to those whiny talking points was included. You can read the relevant section of the entry for Lord of the Rings here, or you can check out the full entry on the themes of the trilogy here. I include that second paragraph because it is very informative when discussing The Rings of Power.
So much of this show is just so wrong. First of all, Amazon hired two dudes who have almost no meaningful writing or directorial credits to their name to run the show. Second, for some reason, the only rights Amazon could actually get were the rights to the appendices of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Since Tolkien didn’t write much about the Second Age of his legendarium, the show runners have decided to set all five seasons of their show in the Second Age.
But the ridiculousness doesn’t end there. Since they’re working with very, very thin gruel here, they’ve had to make up a bunch of characters and had to compress the timeline so that ordinary human characters can co-exist along with the elves, who live much longer lives. The notable characters from the book series they’ve managed to write, Elrond and Galadriel, are completely and utterly changed from what Tolkien wrote. Galadriel is now some bleached blonde Xena who can see into the future, while Elrond is a short-haired soy boy just sitting around his palace or whatever, begging Galadriel to “be careful” and not get herself hurt. Based on the trailers I’ve seen, Elrond is basically worthless. He does absolutely nothing.
One press photo shows the Queen of Númenor, the island ruled by men that fell, Míriel, is shown standing across from Xena – I mean, Galadriel, even though these characters never met in the actual book series, and Míriel is Queen in the show, even though she was never queen of anything in the books. Oh, and the fair-eyed Míriel is being played by a black woman. How, if the men of Middle-Earth were descendants of the people of Númenor (these men going on to establish the cities of Gondor and Endor), was their queen a black woman? Looking at the Peter Jackson films, it’s as if all of this queen’s descendants all disappeared.
Oh, and even though the dwarves are a race that lives underground, their princess is a black woman. And the actress that plays her has been going on, and on, AND ON about being the “first female dwarf” and the “first dwarf of color” as if anyone cared. Um, do these people know how melanin, the pigment of one’s skin, contributed to the evolution of black people? Here is what Wikipedia has to say about melanin:
“The melanosomes in each recipient cell accumulate atop the cell nucleus, where they protect the nuclear DNA from mutations caused by the ionizing radiation of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Early humans evolved to have dark skin color around 1.2 million years ago, as an adaptation to a loss of body hair that increased the effects of UV radiation. Before the development of hairlessness, early humans had reasonably light skin underneath their fur, similar to that found in other primates.58”
So no, a race of cave dwellers aren’t going to have rich, chocolate skin because they aren’t exposed to sunlight. And yeah, I know it’s a fantasy show and dragons don’t exist either, but I can’t suspend disbelief over this, especially since the ONLY reason why ANY of the non-white actors were cast in this show was purely for the diversity points, not because they were the “best actors for the job” as Princess Disa’s actress keeps saying. If that were the case, they would have cast some Chinese actress as Galadriel to cater to the Chinese market.
Oh, and that brings me to the title of this post. Where are the Asian actors? Where are the Hispanics, the Indians, the Muslims, the non-binary freakazoids, the gay elves, the wheelchair-bound dwarves, the quadriplegic men, etc? The only bit of diversity I see in this entire wretched show are four black actors, two of whom are women. Oh, and I have to correct myself a bit, because the actor that plays the black elf is, in fact, Puerto Rican. None of them appear to be transgender, or homosexual, or non-binary, or gender fluid, or differently abled, or whatever else. Just four black actors.
Don’t these people realize they’re being used? They’re shields against criticism. We’ve seen this with so many works over the past couple of years, from a crap ton of Marvel shows to failed franchise reboots and now this.
The actors from this show are no different, and even Bleached Blonde Xena has jumped into the fray, thinking her random Welsh ass can tell us what to do:
The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power’s Morfydd Clark Admits Show Is Perversion Of Tolkien’s Work, Tells Critics To “Shut The F*** Up”
Morfydd Clark, who plays Galadriel in the upcoming The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series, admitted the show is a perversion of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work. She then followed that up by telling critics to “shut the f*** up.”
This woman is obviously an obnoxious feminist, as she has this to say about Amazon hiring a pair of unknown randoms to butcher Tolkien’s work:
“Clark admitted the show is a perversion while speaking with Time Magazine telling the outlet, “I didn’t read the books and think, ‘I wish there were more female characters,’ because I just took it as given that that was the way things were.”
However, she added, “I’m standing on the shoulders of women who spilt metaphorical blood to get to this point. I hope young people, should they watch this, will think, ‘This is just the way things are.’”
Oh, you get to question the “way things are” but we can’t. And what the holy hell is this bullshit about women spilling metaphorical blood for some stupid, overpriced Amazon Prime show? IT’S A FUCKING TV SHOW YOU DUMB BINT! You aren’t a revolutionary, you aren’t paving the way for anyone or anything but your pocket book – your ego is completely out of control. Calm the fuck down. Oh, and anyone that criticizes the show is racist, and anyone calling out the actress who plays the dwarf princess, Sophia Nemvete, for her equally ridiculous hyperbole, is also racist.
Might I remind everyone of my own race card – half black, half Hispanic, so yes, I can disagree with both of these bitches and you can’t call me racist. So there.
I think this hyperbolic marketing of the show, more than anything, more than the show itself, will contribute to its failure, and the same goes for other franchises.
Black Panther was not the first superhero movie starring a black character. Not even the first Marvel movie starring a black character – that honor goes to Wesley Snipes and his Blade trilogy. Yes, it pre-dates the Marvel Cinematic Universe but Blade is still a Marvel character so it counts. Just like Captain Marvel was far from being the first superhero moving starring a woman. Supergirl starring Helen Slater, the god-awful Catwoman starring Halle Berry, Elektra starring Jennifer Garner and Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot all have her beat. I am sure there’s probably some films I’m missing, but those are the ones I know of. Nobody cares for this kind of marketing anymore because we all know better. At this point, the “first <fill in the blank>” just doesn’t matter anymore. Is it a good show? How is the cinematography? Are the costumes cheap looking? Is the writing any good? How about the score? How is the pacing – is it too fast or glacially slow? Is it just plain fun to watch? Nobody cares if it stars the first paraplegic non-binary bi-polar trans woman of color. That has no bearing on whether or not it’s any good.
Gizmodo has a good run down of everything happening with this garbage series so far, if you want to know more about it.
Inspired by the events detailed in J.R.R. Tolkien’s history of Middle-earth beyond The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, explores what happened long before the events of those novels, dubbed the Second Age of Middle-earth. Set thousands of years before the events of the books (which Rings of Power has a…
And the guys at TheOneRing.com break down everything wrong with the show:
YouTuber Breaks Down Everything Wrong With The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power Using Just One Image From The New Trailer
YouTube Channel The One Ring decided to explain all the problems with Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power by examining a single shot from the recently released trailer that debuted at San Diego Comic-Con.
I hope it flops. There’s plenty of woke fantasy novels chock-full of diversity that Amazon could have made into a show, but they didn’t have the built-in fanbase that Lord of the Rings has, plus, it’s probably more fun for these assholes to ruin existing franchises than to promote the ones that meet their lofty standards. I am not even going to hate-watch this show. I will probably watch the House of the Dragon as it’s not quite as obnoxiously woke, and is a prequel to the Game of Thrones and despite how horribly that show ended, I miss the world of Westeros.
My favorite YouTubers are probably going to watch it, as it will be a goldmine for critical content, and that’s the only thing related to this show that I’ll actually watch. So who knows – maybe we’re wrong and it’s not that woke, but I doubt it.