Media attention has focused on the controversy surrounding Amazon’s new series The Rings of Power since February when the cast included performers of colour.
Many Tolkien readers, whose mental images of Middle-earth feature primarily white characters, have taken issue with the show’s decision to cast almost exclusively white actors. They say Tolkien’s writings, which were inspired by ancient European cultures, have been cheapened by The Rings of Power.
The time period would not have included any persons of colour. Critics have called the show’s creators, McKay and Payne, “Hollywood woke” for their varied casting, arguing that the actors playing the main characters should all be white.
Princess Disa, played by Sophia Nomvete, is a female dwarf, although according to the texts, all dwarves, male and female, have beards, therefore this has caused some controversy.
These aren’t the harmless mutterings of anonymous internet users. They “review bombed” both Amazon and Rotten Tomatoes with fake, off-topic criticism about the show’s quality.
To further remove trolls from the review process, Amazon even temporarily disabled them for three days. They’ve also been bombarding the cast’s many minorities with hateful comments.
Ismael Cruz Cordova, a black actor, has been playing a new elven character named Arondir for two years, and he has received abusive direct comments because of his casting.
Who Is Defending This Programme?
The cast and crew of Rings of Power have spoken out in defence of the show’s diverse cast, and Amazon has followed suit.
According to Amazon’s official statement, the company will not “ignore it or accept” any such harassment.
Our “love and fellowship goes out to the people supporting us, especially fans of colour who are themselves being assaulted simply for existing in this fandom,” the firm continued.
Many famous people have been quick to point out that The Rings of Power is, after all, just a fantasy programme.
Since everything in this universe is made up, it’s impossible for there to be any inaccuracies regarding the depiction of people of colour.
Actor Lenny Henry, who portrays a type of figure known as a harfoots, remarked, “They have difficulties thinking Black people could be hobbits.”
He notes that the same viewers had no trouble accepting the existence of fantastical creatures like elves, hobbits, and dragons on the fantasy series Game of Thrones.
Most viewers’ enthusiasm has not been dampened by the racist remarks. The backlash has just increased curiosity among viewers who aren’t often interested in fantasy genre shows.
Although its audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is only 39% at the moment due to review bombing, the film has received an impressive 84% from reviewers.
What Is There in The Original Text?
The classic works by Tolkien are often cited by critics who are unhappy with the various casting choices, therefore it’s important to examine what they truly say.
Tolkien’s defenders also point out that the author never stated that all of his characters were white. Tolkien called harfoots “browner of skin,” as Gaiman mentioned in a tweet.
Amazon’s statement of support for the trilogy also makes note of the multicultural nature of Middle-earth, praising Tolkien for creating a “world that was multicultural, a world in which free people of all races and cultures work together, in fellowship, to combat the forces of evil.”
To paraphrase, “[It’s about] the forging of the rings,” he explained. The elves had their ring, the dwarves had their ring, the men had their ring, and Sauron had his one ring to fool them all with. It tells how all those different kinds of power arose and how they affected different kinds of races.
A Statement Was Issued by The Cast of “rings of Power” on The Recent Incident.
The actors who played our favourite hobbits in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy uploaded photos of themselves with the Rings of Power cast with the message, “You are all welcome here.”
The Rings of Power’s cast has issued a statement as well. Everyone involved with The Rings of Power issued a statement denouncing the racist backlash to the show.
Those of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) “belong in Middle-earth and are here to stay,” the declaration says.
After receiving a review bomb after the premiere of the first two episodes, Prime Video has temporarily disabled user ratings and reviews for The Rings of Power.
Reviewing a show based on its plot, production values, tempo, acting, etc. is totally fine. But a commotion due only to the casting? Let’s just abandon prejudice to the flames of Mount Doom, shall we?
There are indications that the power of these attempted takedowns is dwindling with each successive project they seek to bring down.
Despite similar objections, Netflix’s The Sandman adaptation successfully cast actors of colour in roles traditionally held by white performers in the books.