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Is Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Racist? Backlash to POC Characters in The Rings of Power Proves Tolkien Fanatics Adhere to an Outdated Fantasy That Needs to Change

lotr racism

J. R. R. Tolkien’s high fantasy works have amazed readers around the world for decades. The fascinating world spun by the author was given life and color with film and TV adaptations. These proved to be incredibly successful. So when news broke of the arrival of a fresh series titled The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, fans of the Middle-earth cannon were overjoyed. The premise was promising and everything was going hunky-dory. Alas, this didn’t last long.

The show’s glow and shine were eclipsed by the racism of many fans. This disheartening development has punctured the enthusiasm of many. We examine.

The Racist Backlash To POC Characters in The Rings of Power

Cast Rings of Power
Sophia Nomvete as Disa and Ismael Cruz Córdova as Arondir

Many, many fans were apparently unhappy with non-white actors being cast in the show. Some branded the same to be a part of the “woke culture” taking over their treasured fantasy world. Comment sections, chat forums, and various websites were awash with the complaints of unhappy fans. A few conservative commentators chipped in and tried to articulate the grievances of the mob. They argued that “forcing diversity” on a story based on “European culture” was wrong.  All this was such a mess that Amazon was forced to intervene and block reviews for a while.

This sparked a wider debate among fans of the authors’ world. Some even branded J. R. R. Tolkien a racist. However, was the celebrated writer a bigot?

Related: The Rings Of Power: 5 Things Fans Should Know About The Second Age

J. R. R. Tolkien’s Views on Race Remain Contested

Lord of the Rings - Rings of Power Galadriel
Morfydd Clark as Galadriel, The Rings of Power

To be fair, scholars remain divided on the question of J. R. R. Tolkien‘s views on race. Some have opined that portions of his literature reveal problematic biases. Then there is a private letter where the author characterized the subhuman orcs as “repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types”. On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that he was an egalitarian figure who opposed Nazi Germany’s racism. On the whole, Tolkien was very much a product of his time, and the same is reflected in his works.

Related: “How’s 12% viewers watching it is a flex?”: Rings of Power Amasses 25M Viewership On its Premiere, Fans Troll That It’s Barely 1/8th of Amazon Prime Users

Change Needs to be Embraced

Lord of the Rings Rings of Power

The fact is that Tolkienverse is fantasy and NOT history. Therefore, characters, events, and other details can always be changed with time. The works were written in a bygone era, where attitudes and audiences/readership were different. Modern film and TV adaptations of the show have to inculcate artistic freedoms to best craft their work for today’s audiences.

These productions are no longer exclusively watched in the western world but are equally treasured and loved everywhere around the globe. Going forward, being inclusive and representative of the wide fan base would be indispensable for the makers. This should be welcomed and embraced by all.

Related: ‘People being honest is not racism’: Internet Blasts Amazon for Suspending the Rings of Power Reviews, Gaslighting a Bad Show as Review-Bombing

Written by Angad Singh

Angad is the Exclusive Editorials Head at FandomWire. Besides editing and writing duties, he procures material and manages the direction of our site's exclusive editorials. A lawyer by degree and a writer at heart, he prefers sleep over everything.