That Old Black Magic

[I want to say at the beginning of this post that I have not watched anything beyond the teaser-trailer for Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. ]

Having an elf of color has some white dudes hoods all in a bunch:

When ‘wokeness’ comes to Middle-earth: Why some say diverse casting ruins the new ‘Lord of the Rings’ series

And right off, the Some Say construction in the title at CNN, is my warning bell that ripe bullshit cannot be far away.

Brandon Morse has read J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” the “Lord of the Rings” series and watched extended editions of Peter Jackson’s ring trilogy so often that “I can almost quote them all line for line.”

I became devoted to The Hobbit in 4th grade (I even wrote my book report in Runes), and I understand this fandom. The Hobbit opened the world of fantasy to me that frankly those thinly disguised Christian Narnia books closed shut.

But Morse is dreading a new addition to the Middle-earth canon that he says “perverts and corrupts” Tolkien’s mythical medieval universe because TV showrunners have committed this storytelling crime…

Is it that this story was never published by Tolien, let alone never written by him? Is it that this is extending the story line in a prequel that heretofore did not exist? What is it that has Morse so wound-up?!

They are trying to “woke-ify” Amazon’s new series, “The Lord of the Rings: “The Rings of Power.”

Oh? Woke-ify. We found the bullshit.

So who is this Morse?

Morse is deputy managing editor of RedState, a conservative news site.

Red State, as we all know, is as close to Stormfront as you can get without having to learn German. Red State was founded by Ewick-Son-of-Ewick and sold for a fortune to Salem Communications. Ewick is best known for writing that Justice Souter is “a goat-fucking child molester,” so you know that Red State has been terrible since its founding and this sudden bout of racism is not a new thing.

He says “The Rings of Power” producers have cast non-White actors in a story based on European culture and who look wildly different from how Tolkien originally described them. He says it’s an attempt to embed “social justice politics” into Tolkien’s world.

And let’s be clear, the woke-ify-ness that he’s griping about is the Latino actor, Ismael Cruz Cordóva, who plays a warrior elf, Arondir, and Cynthia Addai-Robinson, whose mother is from Ghana and father is from the US, who plays the Queen Regent Miriel. They are not white actors.

And elves are not real.

We could go into the semiotics of this whole dust-up, but the bottom line is that this show is not history, this not even classical literature as Tolkien was a 20th Century writer (and in the age of Bridgerton, well, purity to the urtext is at best old fashioned).  Elves, hobbits, dwarves, orcs, wizards, dragons, etc., are not real, and no one owns the rights on imagination.  None of us have any right/reason to say that elves cannot be tall/short/thin/fat or black or white. Hell, we don’t have the right to say that about our own, very real species.

“If you focus on introducing modern political sentiments, such as the leftist obsession with identity issues that only go skin deep, then you’re no longer focusing on building a good story,” says Morse, who wrote an impassioned essay about his misgivings. “You’re effectively making propaganda, or art meant to fit a message, not a message to fit the art.”

Which seems like a strange way for Morse say that this he is uncomfortable with people of color, but that is exactly what he is saying. Because he cannot imagine a Black elf, then this is propaganda. As Morse cannot imagine a Black elf, it is not a far stretch to wonder if he could not imagine a Black president, and yes, Red State was ground zero for the Birthers.

In the end, an elf is still an elf. It’s still imaginary. But Morse’s words are real, and the ideas behind them are racist, and that’s not propaganda.


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10 Responses to That Old Black Magic

  1. Jimmy T says:

    I’m a few years older than you, for me it was the Tom Swift junior books that got me first interested in science fiction. Then I discovered Stranger in a Strange Land, and wow my reading list quickly expanded. I’m fairly certain that I read The Hobbit, but don’t remember it well. Been looking for good scifi on Amazon, so I will give this movie a go. Could be a lot of fun…

    Liked by 1 person

    • tengrain says:

      The Tolkien stuff is not Sci-Fi, it’s barely fantasy (in a lot of ways), but it is a consistent world-building exercise, and if you get the rhythm of it, it is captivating. Sci-Fi readers (at least in my experience) don’t like this.



      Liked by 2 people

  2. ali redford says:

    This entire entry is beautiful.

    Aside from that, I read “The Hobbit,” but just could not make myself finish a single other book in the series; don’t know why. But I love “The Hobbit.” As you say, who says what the characters look like? I’m not the only reader who re-reads books and sees characters differently sometimes, over the years. Sheesh-what a thing about which to freak out.


  3. Richard Portman says:

    People, i read the books. That’s what we had to work with. They were good.
    Never could i have imagined that they would be taken hostage by global corporations and reduced to a commodity.
    It is a fairy tale, a romance, a story of good and evil.
    And so begins another story.


    • Richard Portman says:

      Also please think again before you use this word “woke “. It is beginning to sound like “nigger” or radical leftist democrat.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. roket says:

    Joseph Camble would say that the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy were about a hero’s journey. Brandon Morse is a racist piece of shite. Did I leave anything out?


    • Richard Portman says:

      Yes, you spelled Campbell wrong. Other than that, all is ok.
      I want one of those teapots, the magic kind, where i could brew a tempest.


  5. I was a HUGE Tolkien fan, I had almost all his books, The Silmarillion & everything (lost all of them in a move). I am also a big fairy tale fan. I have really old German fairy tale books that are family heirlooms.

    ELVES. Are. Not. White. Elves come in all colors. Wood elves are brown. Forest elves are brown & green, dressed in leaves, like Peter Pan.

    Only white supremacists insist on white elves. Only people who haven’t read books, who don’t know fairy tales beyond what they see in a Disney movie insist on white elves & sparkling white fairies.


  6. pagan in repose says:

    Most of the time when I read things written on the right like Mores’s or Ewik of Ewik’s I end up yelling at my computer: “Why don’t you just move to Russia? It seems that they would be much happier there and they wouldn’t run into all the “woke, woke-ness’s” they keep braying on about.


  7. Sam240 says:

    It is canon that Tolkien had brown-skinned hobbits. One of them, Samwise Gamgee , even had a major role in the Lord of the Rings.

    When Peter Jackson made his movies, he cast white-skinned Sean Astin as Samwise.

    If Morse or Erik ever complained about that departure from Tolkien, I haven’t seen it.

    (I even told another blogger who complained about Black characters in “The Rings of Power” about Samwise Gamgee. It never appeared in their comments list.)


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