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 Post subject: Re: The Hobbit: The Tolkien Edit
PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2016 3:44 pm 
Elven Elder
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That would be like looking at a European history book and wondering why the only villains in the middle ages were Arabs. That's just how it as back then, but even BillFerny and the Dunlendings were white. Middle-earth is supposed to be middle ages Europe. It wouldn't make any sense for there to be black Rohirrim or asian Hobbits. As for the Hobbits themselves, it wouldn't be feasible to hire dwarves or midgets because Hobbits are supposed to have the same dimensions as normal people, the only difference is their height. Real life dwarves like Peter Dinklage have over sized heads and shorter limbs relative to their height, which is why children were used for body doubles more often than midgets.

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 Post subject: Re: The Hobbit: The Tolkien Edit
PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2016 11:57 pm 
Elven Warrior
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Draugluin wrote:
That would be like looking at a European history book and wondering why the only villains in the middle ages were Arabs.


I don't have a problem with the good guys being entirely white/European--my issue with diversity in LotR is as follows:

a) There was no reason for Tolkien to include non-Euro human enemies when the fantasy race of orcs was already being used as an enemy;
b) There is nothing wrong with non-Euro humans being enemies of the protagonists in a generic fiction; but being an enemy of the Free Peoples in LotR requires a knowing commitment to pure, unadulterated evil.

The implication, the unconscious racism on Tolkien's part, is that non-Euro peoples are inherently evil or inferior. Haradrim, Easterlings, Khandish, Umbarians, etc, did not need to be included in the story at all; but they were included, and they consciously joined the forces of evil.

The wars portrayed in LotR are not simply the result of a difference in culture or political opinion, where both sides have a plausible casus belli. One side is GOOD, one side is EVIL. Most, almost all, non-white human races have joined up with evil.

I absolutely agree that black Rohirrim, Asian Hobbits, etc, would feel forced and pandering. You could maybe get by with a few minorities in Gondor, Laketown, as we in fact saw on screen, but a black Theoden, for example, would feel like a betrayal of the story to political correctness.

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 Post subject: Re: The Hobbit: The Tolkien Edit
PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2016 7:38 pm 
Elven Elder
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That's entirely false. Not all the "evil" men followed Sauron of their own free will. Many were enslaved, Tolkien even made a point of saying that they probably didn't even want to fight in the first place and mentioned that the Blue Wizards did something that crippled Sauron's might, likely forming cults of Eru, meaning there were quite likely good Easterlings. As for why he made many of them evil, Tolkien was a Christian and a history buff. I don't think it's much of a stretch to think he equates Allah with a false god, which is what Sauron was to many of his followers. But Sauron didn't only use Haradrim and Easterlings, he also used Arnorians, Dunlendings, Numenorians and even some Rohirrim and Gondorians. Umbar was ruled by evil Numenorians, who were white. At least 3 of the Nazgul and the Mouth started out as white guys (Numenorians). It's not possible to say "all white people are good, all colored people are evil, so Tolkien was a racist." The reason it seems that way is that LotR takes place over the course of a single year, and most of that time is spent in the very north with all the elves.

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 Post subject: Re: The Hobbit: The Tolkien Edit
PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2016 10:57 pm 
Elven Warrior
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Draugluin wrote:
That's entirely false...


I didn't say, "All whites good, all non-whites bad." I said "most non-whites bad." I don't think the fact that some Numenoreons et all fought for Sauron changes the situation.

Equating Sauron with Allah makes no sense, nor have I come across anything that suggests that Tolkien intended that. The maiar and valar are a pantheon of non-historical deities, an aspect of the mythology Tolkien developed for Britain. Sauron would be more equivalent with a villain deity or entity in any given mythology or religion--ie, Satan, Loki, Malsumis, Amatsu-Mikaboshi, Ares/Hades, etc.

Tolkien didn't think Allah was real, so giving Allah power in his story makes no sense.

I want to make this distinction--if Sauron did not actually exist in the book, if he was just an idea, or the unrevealed or invisible figure of an Orcish/Easterling religion, then having Easterlings and Haradrim fight on the side of Mordor would not be racist.

In the canon of the LotR universe, the stories contained in the Silmarillion, etc, are not just "Numenoreon mythology" or "Elvish mythology," but rather historical fact. Sauron, and his master Morgoth, are living entities that interact frequently with the inhabitants of Middle-earth, and they are objectively evil.

To make an equivalency--let us assume, for example, that traditional Christian theology is entirely true, and everyone knows it. Everyone also knows which side is good, and which side is bad, and that the bad side wants to destroy the world and torture everyone forever. Satan shows up and establishes an empire in the east. The vast majority of Europeans oppose him. Why not? It's a no-brainer. Nonetheless, some Europeans join up, some Africans are enslaved, and by and large nearly all of the non-white people of the world volunteer to fight for Satan.

What?

That's my interpretation of "race relations" in LotR. The story could have been told without non-Europeans, but when they do show up in the story they're all fighting for "Satan" (or any evil deity/entity in any given world religion or mythology), for one reason or another.

I don't think Sauron is a 1:1 equivalent of Satan, just to make things clear, but I do think he represents an objectively evil deity. I should also mention that I do not think that LotR is just a fantasy version of medieval Europe. I think it's meant to be prehistoric British mythology.

Your interpretation may be different. That is often the case with art and literature. And that's okay.

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 Post subject: Re: The Hobbit: The Tolkien Edit
PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2016 1:53 pm 
Elven Elder
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The events of the Silmarillion are definitely not common knowledge. Very few men (just the remaining Numenorians), the elves and the Wizards know what happened and who Sauron really is. If Satan set up an actual empire, it would take a single generation for his people to no longer know anything but what he told them. The reason it's safe to equate Sauron with Allah is that both are "deities" that gained religious control over eastern peoples that tried to conquer the European/Middle-earth continent during the same technological time period. Yes, Silmarillion was meant o be a British mythology, but LotR wasn't. Gondor most closely resembled Greece/Rome, Rohan was just "Vikings on horses" and dwarves were sorta "awesome Jewish warriors that no one liked for some reason." It's hardly a stretch to equate Haradrim with "Moslem invaders", especially when both saw defeat from cavalry from the North (Rohan/Poland) after wreaking havoc on the south eastern most part of the continent. By the late 3rd age the only truly British people were the Hobbits.

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 Post subject: Re: The Hobbit: The Tolkien Edit
PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2016 2:01 pm 
Elven Elder
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The Valor are also not a Pantheon. They most closely resemble the Biblical Arch Angels. 14 beings who struggle against the chief of their order who has seduced other beings to his side. All of whom were created by one all powerful creator. That is literally the Judeo-Christian view of heavenly beings.

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 Post subject: Re: The Hobbit: The Tolkien Edit
PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2016 12:40 am 
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Draugluin said:
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That would be like looking at a European history book and wondering why the only villains in the middle ages were Arabs. That's just how it as back then, but even BillFerny and the Dunlendings were white. Middle-earth is supposed to be middle ages Europe. It wouldn't make any sense for there to be black Rohirrim or asian Hobbits.


The issue with this analysis is that Middle Earth may inspired by history, but it is not history. I don't understand why you think it is believable to have dragons, fellbeasts, hobbits, elves, dwarves, magic, orcs, trolls, wizards but that black and asian people are not believable. Middle-Earth is a fictional universe which means ANYTHING can happen. If Aragorn and Boromir were black would that really make the quality of the films any less? In my opinion, as long as they are good actors, then it shouldn't matter what the colour of their skin is. Skin colour is a descriptor in the books but it holds no plot device which means it is largely irrelevant. If half the fellowship/thorin's company were people of colour would you think any less of them simply because of their ethnicity?

Draugluin said:
Quote:
As for the Hobbits themselves, it wouldn't be feasible to hire dwarves or midgets because Hobbits are supposed to have the same dimensions as normal people, the only difference is their height. Real life dwarves like Peter Dinklage have over sized heads and shorter limbs relative to their height, which is why children were used for body doubles more often than midgets.


Hobbits already have different dimensions than people who are not little (their feet) and regardless, who cares if they have different size proportions? Again, this is a fantasy film. Giving lead roles to little people tells audiences that it is OK to have different body proportions. There is nothing wrong with that. In addition, according to the "Little People of America" the term "midget" is considered to be derogatory. I am not saying that you are consciously being ableist but I just want to bring awareness that some prominent little people communities would be offended by that term. You can see more information here:
http://www.lpaonline.org/the-m-word

Jamros said:

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TL; DR: LotR is a celebration of European, especially British, culture and ethnicity. As a minority myself (in the US), I am not upset about the lack of color in the LotR or Hobbit films.

I don't have a problem with the good guys being entirely white/European--my issue with diversity in LotR is as follows:
a) There was no reason for Tolkien to include non-Euro human enemies when the fantasy race of orcs was already being used as an enemy;
b) There is nothing wrong with non-Euro humans being enemies of the protagonists in a generic fiction; but being an enemy of the Free Peoples in LotR requires a knowing commitment to pure, unadulterated evil.
The implication, the unconscious racism on Tolkien's part, is that non-Euro peoples are inherently evil or inferior. Haradrim, Easterlings, Khandish, Umbarians, etc, did not need to be included in the story at all; but they were included, and they consciously joined the forces of evil.


I agree with your analysis here. I don't believe Tolkien was being malicious when he did this but he also grew up at a time where racism was the norm and so that filtered into his bias. I want to reiterate that as a British-Korean person living in the US, I am in love with Tolkien's books and Peter Jackson's films. However, just because I criticize the decision to cast no significant roles to people of colour or little people does not mean I am still not a fan.
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 Post subject: Re: The Hobbit: The Tolkien Edit
PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2016 5:21 pm 
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Sticky Fingersss, I would disagree that ethnicity doesn't matter. It doesn't mean anything about a person, their skills, talent, ability, etc. But on a purely visual level, they are different. It would break continuity for there to a random Russian hobbit unless a large sub-variety of Hobbits were ethnically that (not literally Russian, but whatever).

As for Middle Earth being based off history, the cultures and civilizations are based off of real ones. Is it racism then for the Orcs to be based off of Germans? When Tolkien fought in WW1, he got the idea for Orcs to be based off of the Imperial German troops he was against.
Gondor, Arnor, Numenor, and the Fiefdoms have heavy influence from later medieval Europe, while Rohan harkens to a more Nordic/Viking Dark Age style.
The Hobbits I guess would be more European-ish, being agricultural and all that. But they are pretty unique in other ways.
Elves have a lot in common with other fantasy Elves, which originate from Germanic folk-lore.
Dwarves are pretty fantasy-based too, with influence from Ireland and Scotland.
Dunland seems to be built off of Germanic barbarians, like the ones Rome fought. Even in their history too, where they were cast out by more civilized peoples and want to retake/sack Rohan.
As for the East, Arabia and Islam were huge opponents to Europe. The Crusades, Ottomans, and Moors all were part of a negative history. So naturally, countries geographically East in Middle Earth would probably pertain to Middle Eastern civilizations. It should be noted too that similarities can be drawn from Harad's merchants and the Golden King to the Byzantine Empire, which was basically the half of Rome that lasted a lot longer and was a large European bastion until the Ottomans came along.
Khand is a more mysterious Asian culture that seems to take a lot from Mongolia. The Mongols were heavily feared and hated and I don't doubt stories of their terror made it into Europe; however, they were also very distanced from places like England and France so limited information would be correct.
The Easterlings are also more Eastern, but are made up of various tribes from short and swarthy ones sporting Dwarf-like beards to tall, skinny, pale ones. Their inspiration in the films comes from Persians, Ottomans, a little Mongolian and southwest Asian, and countries in those areas.

So it would be fitting to give these highly distinct Middle Earth versions their own sort of race, and it would make sense for it to fit the culture their based off of.

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 Post subject: Re: The Hobbit: The Tolkien Edit
PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2016 8:16 pm 
Elven Elder
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Well, Tolkien did write it as an alternate history of Europe, so yes, it would be unbelievable and make a difference for Aragorn or Boromir to be black. This isn't a story set in modern times when people of all ethnic backgrounds mix together, this is set in an alternate version of Europe that just happens to have magic, magic that also happens to be fading away from the world. Just like the real world, people didn't mix with other people very well back then, which is why there is a certain degree of homogeny among the people of northern Middle-Earth. Partly because of the fact that living in the northern hemisphere is entirely why white people are white. That's how genetics works.

And no, Tolkien was not racist, he personally told the Nazis to go f themselves (in a polite British manner of course) for being racists. He hated them not because they would go on to try to conquer England, but because they thought that he was racist like them.

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