[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. ]
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.