J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic The Lord of the Rings has embroiled itself in a controversy. The fingers are raised mainly after the release of the much-anticipated prequel series The Rings of Power where the show added a tinge of diversity to the franchise. This led to many fans complaining that the inclusion of POC characters is not doing justice to Tolkien’s original writings. But on the other hand, another set of the audience presented several pieces of evidence about how Tolkien’s writing in the LoTR books always promoted racism.
According to some reports revealed recently in an article, J.R.R. Tolkien used real-world racism and concepts like anti-nazism in his writings. As the report suggests, Tolkien’s work always fascinated the racists even before we realized that.
Tolkien’s work caught in the storm
It is being reported that J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth was nothing but an amalgamation of all the modern world problems. But it is not said as nicely as it sounds. The Deakin University Professor Helen Young unveiled some proofs using which she wants to convey that the writer’s views were even outdated during his period also.
Helen Young picked up a letter written by Tolkien where he condemned Hitler which read:
“ruining, perverting, misapplying, and making forever accursed, that noble northern spirit, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I have ever loved, and tried to preserve in its true light.”
As explained by Young, this demarcation by the author sets a precedent that some people are different than others and is foundational to racism. Elaborating on her point, she said that in his universe, Tolkien has set hierarchies for the fictional species and this also exists among humans.
Helen Young then quotes how The Lord of the Rings not only centered around the whites but Europe and especially the Northwestern Part and depicted the villains as orientalists. This she explains by giving the example of a part of Two Towers:
“men of Gondor, yet their blood was mingled, and there were short and swarthy folk among them” because some of their ancestors are not “High, Men of the West.”
She even cited that in a letter Tolkien described the Dwarves as the Jews:
“I do think of the ‘Dwarves’ like Jews: at once native and alien in their habitations.”
Helen Young didn’t stop there as she presents another letter which had Tolkien describing Orcs as Mongols:
“Orcs are … squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes; in fact degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol types.”
By summing up all this evidence she produced, she claimed that Tolkien’s writing mainly catered to the Europeans and the racists. She even added that this amalgamation of racial stereotypes with fiction entertained the racists and fueled their ideologies.
The Rings of Power gets review bombed
It can’t be denied that all these controversies and talks are intensely affecting the popularity of the ongoing series. While it is being said that the ongoing series has rectified the mistakes which were done by Tolkien, a certain section is still bashing the show. Amazon Prime already gave a statement that Tolkien’s world never had any boundaries and free people from all cultures are welcomed there.
The criticism is not limited to the show but also to the POC actors who are cast. Alongside the Tolkien enthusiasts who are defending the show, even the original cast of the trilogy came forward to support them and address the issues.
‘The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power’ releases weekly on Amazon Prime Video
Source: The Conversation