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On 2017-12-09 at 11:19 PM, Bullroarer Took said:

So now we know who has been cast as Galadriel.

We do? Who? Or am I missing a joke?

I am hopeful this will be done right.  It seems to have the budget.  As authentic as possible please, no teeny bopper ness.

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Just now, Ywingscum said:

We do? Who? Or am I missing a joke?

I am hopeful this will be done right.  It seems to have the budget.  As authentic as possible please, no teeny bopper ness.

It was a (poor) joke based on the likeness of the alt-art Galadriel to Scarlett Johansson.

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On ‎1‎/‎3‎/‎2018 at 4:37 PM, Ywingscum said:

Got yeah;) 

In other news Ian Mckellan voiced a willingness to play Gandalf if they were to ask him.

I like Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf, but I personally hope they don't use actors from the films.  The series sounds like they'll be going their own route with the adaptation, and having the same actors, especially if they play the same role, could distract from that.

If they did want to have any of the film actors in there, just use them for a minor role, as an Easter Egg.

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I'm not familiar with any current Amazon series, so I don't know how true they'll try to stay to Tolkien; but I figure if they do a good job then we have a good series to watch, and if they do a poor job then we have a good series to riff. Win/win! (Just so long as they don't do anything truly offensive, such as having an army leap over the heads of a spear-wall to interpose themselves between its spears and a charging horde!  In all honesty, I was quite enjoying the Hobbit movies up until that point.)

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Your use of "truly offensive" make me feel really weird. It would suppose that your identity is questioned by this thing. It bother me even more since there is offensive things in the LOTR shows (like: having all color people, and only color people, being part of the evil empire).

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26 minutes ago, Rouxxor said:

Your use of "truly offensive" make me feel really weird. It would suppose that your identity is questioned by this thing. It bother me even more since there is offensive things in the LOTR shows (like: having all color people, and only color people, being part of the evil empire).

The Mouth of Sauron was a Black Numenorean.  And since the part of Middle-Earth that we're dealing with is supposed to be Europe, what other ethnicities should there be, apart from the armies that are coming from far away to heed Sauron's call? 

Also, didn't Lake-town have some darker folks in it, which makes a little sense, given the town's focus on trade, I guess.

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3 hours ago, Rouxxor said:

Your use of "truly offensive" make me feel really weird. It would suppose that your identity is questioned by this thing. It bother me even more since there is offensive things in the LOTR shows (like: having all color people, and only color people, being part of the evil empire).

It's true that modern use of the word "offensive" tends to focus on personal offense, but there are other uses. For instance, if something smells bad, you might say it "offends the senses". I think in this case the use of the word offensive was intended to be interpreted a little more abstractly. 

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6 hours ago, JJ48 said:

The Mouth of Sauron was a Black Numenorean.  And since the part of Middle-Earth that we're dealing with is supposed to be Europe, what other ethnicities should there be, apart from the armies that are coming from far away to heed Sauron's call? 

Also, didn't Lake-town have some darker folks in it, which makes a little sense, given the town's focus on trade, I guess.

The mout of Sauron is black. Yes. It was a choice and I question the reason behind the choice. Or, because there is no point finding if someone is racist or not, I want to argue that describing a world like that is not neutral and is a bad choice that we could avoid.

There is, and always were, a lot of non white people in Europe. There could be people who come to fight Sauron (people like the ones we help in cycle 7), there could be black and white people in both part of this world, because it is how the world work. It will be both more logical and more ethical. I'm glad that our devs fix that, even if it is only a little bit.

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52 minutes ago, Rouxxor said:

The mout of Sauron is black. Yes. It was a choice and I question the reason behind the choice. Or, because there is no point finding if someone is racist or not, I want to argue that describing a world like that is not neutral and is a bad choice that we could avoid.

There is, and always were, a lot of non white people in Europe. There could be people who come to fight Sauron (people like the ones we help in cycle 7), there could be black and white people in both part of this world, because it is how the world work. It will be both more logical and more ethical. I'm glad that our devs fix that, even if it is only a little bit.

The Mouth of Sauron was described as a Black Numenorean -- the Black referring not to skin color, but allegience to Sauron.  There's no reason from the text to think his skin color was necessarily black, nor is he depicted as dark-skinned in Jackson's extended cut.  If there's something controversial about Jackson's portrayal, it's having Aragorn chop his head off, contrary to the text.

"White people" is a bit of a nebulous concept, even apart from the fact that no one but albinos are truly white, and the exact threshold of melanin required to cross the threshold into "non-white" is not well-defined.  With that said, there's no hint in the text of racial diversity, in the modern sense, among the free humans we meet in the text -- nor any reason we should expect it among an ancient and homogenous society.  However, the appendixes make clear that Ecthelion, father of Denethor, welcomed talented outsiders to his service from any background (such as Thoringil/Aragorn), so that certainly presents the possibility of "non-white" humans laboring against Sauron -- however, that's a previous generation and only the long-lived Thorongil makes a contribution in our time frame.

With the violence Jackson performed to the text during his movies, I can see that expecting him to take further liberties in the service of providing a diversity of skin not suggested by the text isn't inherently unreasonable -- but I can't just find it offensive when a filmmaker *fails* to take liberties with the text.  The diversity in the Free Peoples of the text is between *actually different* races, not just marginally different shades of humans.  Making the movies make a point of the latter would come at the expense of the former.

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2 hours ago, Rouxxor said:

There could be people who come to fight Sauron (people like the ones we help in cycle 7),

Yes, we have good Haradrim in the LCG, but that's because our heroes are actually in Harad at the time.  Why should they travel to Gondor or Rohan to fight Sauron when they're already busy fighting Sauron in their own lands?  (Not to mention, past grievances between the Haradrim and Gondor could lead to more than a little mistrust on both sides).

There's nothing wrong with diversity, but I personally think that trying to force diversity when it wouldn't make sense isn't necessarily a great solution.  I mean, suppose we were making a movie about the Mongols invading China.  Would you insist that we absolutely had to cast people of European or African descent just so the movie would be more diverse?

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The topic of race in The Lord of the Rings is a really deep one--one of these days I should do an essay or two on it for my blog.

But for the time being, I wanted to point out that when topics like this come up there are usually two different contexts that people use to analyze it:

  1. The narrative as it stands on its own, including in-universe reasons for why things are the way they are
  2. The work in the context of the greater world of fiction, where the work is one of many works that we interact with as we consume media

People often try to apply statements made in one context to the other context, which can lead to miscommunication and confusion.

In context 1, when considering the work on its own, it makes sense that The Lord of the Rings would focus on a very particular set of people (that is, white people).

In context 2, when we consider the great number of prominent works focusing on white people, as well as the real-world historical and current context of race relations, we can lament that this story (which we know well and love) neither challenges pernicious ideas about race, nor increases the representation of people of color.

There's lots more to dig into here, but it'll take more time and energy than I think I can put into a forum post. :) 

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1 hour ago, Authraw said:

In context 2, when we consider the great number of prominent works focusing on white people, as well as the real-world historical and current context of race relations, we can lament that this story (which we know well and love) neither challenges pernicious ideas about race, nor increases the representation of people of color.

I guess this is what I disagree with, the idea that every story needs to have such a moral, and that it's regrettable if it doesn't.  Not every story (even of those which have a moral) can have every moral, and trying to simply force a moral into a story that wasn't meant for it usually just  comes across as awkward and ham-fisted.  

Again, diversity can be good, but diversity simply for the sake of diversity is neutral at best, and bad if one does violence to the story just to make it fit.

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On 2/2/2018 at 10:55 PM, Authraw said:

In context 2, when we consider the great number of prominent works focusing on white people, as well as the real-world historical and current context of race relations, we can lament that this story (which we know well and love) neither challenges pernicious ideas about race, nor increases the representation of people of color.

I don't regret that the story doesn't increase "the representation of people of color".  He couldn't do that without materially changing the nature of the society he was writing about, and altering his writing for the purpose of promoting a particular moral message would be anathema to Tolkien himself (despite his friendship with C.S. Lewis, he was no fan of allegories).

However, I *do* think the story very much challenges pernicious ideas about race, given a world with *multiple* intelligent peoples, not just one like our own.  The prejudices and suspicions between nations and peoples are shown to serve the Enemy, while the cooperation between them helped bring him down.  Nothing in our world is as truly multicultural as the Fellowship of the Ring.

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Here's what Tolkien himself said in the foreword:

"The Lord of the Rings has been read by many people since it finally appeared in print; and I should like to say something here with reference to the many opinions or guesses that I have received or have read concerning the motives and meaning of the tale.  The prime motive was the desire of a tale-teller to try his hand at a really long story that would hold the attention of readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them....

As for any inner meaning or 'message', it has in the intention of the author none.... I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence.  I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers.  I think that many confuse 'applicability' with 'allegory'; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author."

It is certainly true that a work of fiction need not be an allegory to have a 'message' -- it is equally true that for any moral message you could name, there are more works written to promote it than I could possibly read in my remaining lifetime.  LOTR is by design not meant to convey any particular message, and though it does move me and I find much 'applicability' within its pages, I do not think that is or should be a reasonable expectation for great works of fiction.  Dumas' The Three Musketeers is certainly a feigned history, but I've been unable to detect any moral message in it that I approve -- but it's a thumping good read all the same, and that by itself is enough to justify its existence, IMO.  I don't share Tolkien's disdain for allegories, but I certainly find that writing, like games, frequently suffers when the message is more important to the creator than the story.

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I now have approximately four separate tangents I'm itching to go down; as I said, race in LotR is a deep subject. :) But instead of muddying the waters here, I'll focus on clarifying my original assertion.

Treating diversity as a moral that a story may or may not choose to center is still looking at the work through context 1--the context of the work by itself. In the context of any individual work, it may have some moral it's trying to pursue, or it may not. If Tolkien had wanted to write a story about "racial diversity", we would have gotten a completely different story. But that's not what he chose to write about--he wanted to tell a fantasy story based on European histories and legends. And that's great! When you look at the work on its own, there's really no problem here.

A problem only arises when you pull back the focus and look at the stories we tend to tell (and retell) as a society. You begin to notice trends--like the fact that people of color rarely appear as protagonists, but when they do appear it's frequently as antagonists. (This trend has been slowly getting better, by the way, which I would argue is the result of creators being aware of and intentionally trying to counteract the trend... but of course that's a tangent). No one of these stories we tell may necessarily be problematic on its own, but when you look at all of them together they form an uncomfortable picture about how we as a society tend to interact with race.

But this, of course, makes the problem difficult to talk about, because it means that any given work can be both part of a problematic system of thought and completely fine on its own.

From this point, there are lots of places you can go with the conversation. What are the responsibilities of content creators relative to the larger social systems with which they interact? What are the responsibilities of consumers of media? I have my own perspectives on these sorts of questions but I think the answers to them are far from settled.

Like I said, there's a lot to discuss here; I just want to make sure we're all having the same conversation.

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15 hours ago, Authraw said:

From this point, there are lots of places you can go with the conversation. What are the responsibilities of content creators relative to the larger social systems with which they interact? What are the responsibilities of consumers of media? I have my own perspectives on these sorts of questions but I think the answers to them are far from settled.

I suppose I would disagree with the idea that the author bears any of the responsibility.  The author has a story to tell; let it stand or fall on its own merit.  If part of that story is to interact with social norms in some way, that's fine, but it is grossly unfair to authors and their works to fault them simply because the author didn't concern himself with sociology.

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What's the use of all the arguing?

Racism is wrong. Tolkien was not a racist. The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, and the rest of Tolkien's works aren't great because they didn't support racism. They're great because they're good books. These are all cold, hard facts.

Amazon will probably not stay true to Tolkien's vision of Middle Earth, but then neither did PJ with the horrendous Hobbit trilogy. Either way, no need for an argument, however civilized. On a lighter note, what are the odds the new series will follow the events of our beloved game, or that some of the future cycles might be based off of whatever Amazon cooks up?

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