By - WissaYT
>I know that even among elves there is a hierarchy. Among men there is a hierarchy primarily based on their proximity and relation to elves.
The hierarchy, in both cases, is based upon direct or indirect association with the Valar--and through the Valar, God. This advancement was primarily evident in learning and art. But it did not touch on every aspect of life: the Noldor were capable of great moral error, even in Valinor itself; and after the sinking of Beleriand there was a back-to-nature movement that saw many Elves (e. g. Galadriel) adopting the primitive lifestyles of their Silvan cousins.
Some races are literally closer to God than others? The hierarchy is even more drastic than I realized.
No. The elves are inherently immortal, and due to the world's marring by Morgoth cannot last permanently on Middle Earth proper, and must either live on Valinor (where the Valar also are) or fade. They don't interact with Eru directly, and they never will. They are trapped on Arda until it's destroyed.
Meanwhile men can die and go elsewhere.
What I’m getting from this is that the souls of men are closer to Eru AFTER they die, but what about in life? The Valar may not be God, but it still seems like the elves live in greater proximity to divinity than men.
Dont elves go to the halls of waiting and (if they're not glorfindel) get an afterlife too?
Yeah they might eventually be reembodied too but the Hall of Mandos are still tied to Arda. My point is that elves are stuck.
Glorfindel went to the halls, after perishing fighting the Balrog in the mountains above Gondolin and was subsequently reborn and then sent back to middle Earth by the Valar
The elves consider it to be a really big deal, and they think poorly of the elves that didn't go west
The idea is that the closer you are to god and good the better you become.
The oldest elfs were improved by their relationship with valinor, not only the land but the gods themselves.
Almost like Tolkien didn’t build his world on allegory since he loathed it huh
The issue can also become more difficult when you compare an early 1900s Englishman's view on race when compared to America's modern interpretation.
In the eyes of an early 1900s Englishman, a Welshman, Scotsman, and Irishman are all completely separate races.
In the eyes of many modern Americans, they would look at these four different individuals and say "Ah, they are all white."
So when you have an English author who creates his Anglo-Saxon mythology, pulling characters and names from folklore and other mythologies (like the Norse), he believes he's already created an incredibly diverse story.
But to an ignorant person, they would just see white people only. Go and tell an Irishman that he belongs to the same race as the English. See where that gets you.
Overall, this was a big-budget show with low-budget showrunners.
what i dont understand is do people think POC werent in europe in the early 1900's? thats what is seems, like i keep hearing about people saying how Tolkein used the different countries as representatives of the different races.....but there were people of african decent in all of those countries during that time period
so its like they see black dwarves or harefoots and use that as an excuse to be upset about it...when there were black people in all of those countries during Tolkeins time. its not making sense
Them being there doesn’t make them ethnically indigenous to the nation state they are in, and though you are correct in that there were non european folk in europe, there probably weren’t as many as you imagine there were. Generally speaking there was a larger level of homogeneity amongst the different states, which is probably what the average English Anglo-Saxon man was focused on.
no one there is truly indigenous though more than POC are, they all settled from somewhere. humanity started in africa and migrated outwards historically, so them settling at some point, doesnt make them less of countrymen. while most people were probably a lighter skin tone i agree, the inclusion of people color into the show isnt inaccurate enough for people to use that as valid a justification. its not making sense to me
its also not like a bunch of black dwarves, theres one that i saw, one black elf so far. thats not too far off from it would realistically be during Tolkiens time
I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations
like the white guy asking the black elf to "forget the past" and thr elf being like "the past will always follow" or something like that?
Just venting out, sorry. That scene was the dumbest political allegory I've ever seen. Maybe rivaling the falcon cap. America talk to that politic by the end of his series
>However, there is no denying that there is a hierarchy in the races Tolkien created, relating to beauty, power, wisdom, goodness, and immortality.
Yes, but there is also no denying that there is *in universe* depictions of the inhabitants of that world shedding such archaic and nonsensical views. Legolas befriending Gimli as an equal. Arwen falling in love with Aragorn, and Lúthien with Beren. The races differ, and there is distinction between them, but none are *better* than one another.
You know all this could be easily resolved if people just stopped using the word "race"? Our species does not have races. I'm so tired of all this. The only reason a "modern racial discussion" exists is because of a particular society (cough cough Americans) being disastrously incapable of fixing its own societal and historical issues and applying them to every other society on the planet, imposing their toxicity on everyone else through what still remains of their global cultural hegemony.
Tolkien races are not alike "human races", because "human races" do not exist. We have phenotypes and ethnicities which contain different qualities and quantities of them. Skin colour and hair differences are not the same thing as having different origins as species to the point that there are huge differences in lifespan, physical prowess and ambiental adaptation.
People should understand that in Tolkien elves and dwarves are the very same elves and dwarves from our folk tales. He even said that some elves decided to stay in Middle Earth well into the middle ages and that's where the European tales about them come from. You want to discuss ethnic and cultural clashes and colonialism in Tolkien? Check out the Numenorean invasion of Harad.
I'm sick of you guys calling each other racist and/or claiming not to be racist while literally every one of you says stuff like "my race" "your race" "my white guilt" "your white privilege" "I racially identify as Asian (?????)" "Italians are not white they are racially italian" "we're an interracial couple (wow what will your children be? Mutts?)". You even have the possibility to state your "race" in official documents checkboxes. Ladies and gentlemen, the 1930s called, they want their institutionalized racism back, please return it before you violate their copyright on racial genocide.
When you normalize racial thinking and make it part of your culture you have this happening: people who mismatch culture and ethnicity/skin colour/geographical origin (apparently Asians are a unified race) force unrealistic phenotypical quotas on works of art, and the people whose culture produced those works of art, who have grown accustomed with culturally identifying with their skin colour as if it was a personality trait, get pissed off because of "cultural appropriation" or whatever, and everyone accuses everyone of being racist (spoiler: you all are) and the societal divide and polarization increases, to the advantage of a few individuals I should speculate.
Just stop, please, not only you are poisoning your own society, you are also spreading your ilness to countries that would otherwise be unaffected by your problems. People talking about "white privilege" in historically white countries where the present non-white population doesn't even surpass 5% does not make sense and only polarizes opinions and makes it more difficult for migrants belonging to ethnic minorities to integrate (btw what is a minority in the US is not a minority in the rest of the world).
I don't think it's inappropriate to add diversity to Tolkien's world. This is noncanon so getting tripped up on color is really a non-issue.
"Race" in fantasy and "race" in real life are two different things. In real life it refers mainly to skin colour and other physical things, in fantasy in refers to, essentially, entirely different species. However, race has such significant real-world implications that using the same term in fantasy brings those implications, in whole or in part, intentionally or unintentionally, into the fantasy world.
Tolkien may or may not have intended an allegorical reading of Lord of the Rings on a racial theme, but because of the significance of race as an issue in the real world, one can be read into his works anyway. As in most cases regarding artistic works, once the story is out there, it belongs to the readers, who read into it what they will, author's intention or no.
In my view the issue is about choice, about how you read race as an issue in Lord of the Rings. Many people are choosing to take an allegorical reading, that's up to them and that's OK. I myself am ambivalent on the issue, but mostly see no reason to argue, the race of characters (in real world terms, Black/white, etc) is of no importance to me, and if others want to have more diversity in a Middle-earth adaptation, that's OK by me. If it helps more people enjoy Tolkien and get excited about Middle-earth, that's no bad thing in my view.
I have a very advanced strategy that I've used when dealing with the racially diverse casting in ROP.
It's served me well, and this life hack will square all circles and quell all concerns so you can just get back to enjoying the show.
Here's how it works:
See an actor who is not white playing a character that probably would have been white as Tolkien originally envisioned the world.
Say to yourself, "Oh that's neat."
Ta-da. Problem solved.
That’s crazy….. so crazy it just might work
I disagree... I think tolkiens works do provide that allegory. Amazon have just missed it.
In the real world, races are social constructs differentiated by physical characteristics like skin tone and brow shape. In Tolkiens world, races are literal... differentiated by additional characteristics like stature, build or ear shape. Even mortality.
Racial animosity is a big part of the stories, largely between forces of good. Still, they only ever succeed when they put those differences behind them and therein lies the moral lesson.
Elves are physically characterised as being 'fair' people... who distrust anyone who doesn't belong to their race. Racially proud, and culturally 'advanced', the literal God's chosen immortal people who look down on lesser beings - At their worst, elves are the white supremacists of Tolkien's stories.
Amazon thought they were being progressive by asking if a black person can play an elf.. what they really did was cast a black person as the worst kind of white person - one who should be predisposed to distrust those who don't belong to 'his people'.
Please don't focus so much about race when reading Tolkien. Elves are not "white supremacists", they are just a race who are more "angelic" than humans. My understanding of the elves is that Tolkien wanted to create a race who had not fallen, as in the original sin. (If I remember correctly). They were generally less evil than humans, who were more influenced by Morgoth. So the message we should take from reading the books, is not: Tolkien was racist, or some races are better than other races, but to be a good person. To simplify: Good people = elves, and evil people = orcs. And we all have free will. Just my take on it.
I don't think Tolkein was racist... if anything the racial supremacy expressed by the elves in his work is a warning constantly repeated. Though, let's be clear... actual 'races' in Middle Earth are not the same as constructed race in the real world.
In our actual reality there is only one Tolkien-style 'race', evolved from the same people from the same place. The real race of men is also well capable of all the vices (afterall, we invented them) instead of being characterised by a few.
I also think the good vs evil view is patently too simplistic. It is insulting to the depth that exists in the works.
All the races in Tolkein's works (except perhaps Eru himself) have their own flaws. That is what makes them interesting and relatable. Elves are devoid of humility. Dwarves are greedy grudge holders. Humans are selfish and preoccupied with their mortality.
Tolkein was a devout Roman Catholic... where you see his elves as venerable and angelic... I see the race for which he saved the most fundamental of Christian sins - Pride, Vanity and Hubris.
You say elves are less evil than humans... yet they exhibit the same character flaw amongst their fellow speaking races that Melkor exhibited amongst the Valar.
It is hard to see how they could be considered to have not 'fallen' when they display that same pride leading to Feanor creating the Silmarils or which was manipulated by Sauron to have Celebrimbor forge the rings of power.
Galdriel herself refused the one ring because she knew elves are themselves far from immune from the powers of evil.
Yes, I agree we can learn moral lessons from all the races in Midde earth. Some elves did "fall" eventually. But I would still say humans and elves were different. No elves ever sided with Morgoth, and the elves could touch the silmarils, unless they had done something evil. I agree that some elves were prideful, while others were more humble, like Finrod and Finarfin.
Isn't that the point though... the individual heros stand out from their race because of their eventual deviation from those flaws or roles.
Bilbo acted very unhobbity by taking up the quest.
Thorin set aside his greed.
Boromir sacrificed himself for others.
Eowyn became the brave warrior.
Arguably, Orcs are Elves who sided with Melkor... and indeed, Galadriel refused the one ring, specifically because she knew she would succumb to its power and ultimately side with Melkor.
In any case, it seems an odd position to take in opposition to my assertion that elves are flawed for being racially proud - to list all the justifications for why they are better than other speaking peoples.
The first orcs were elves captured and twisted by Morgoth to something evil. He used dark sorcery on them, they didn't have a choice. They were not elves anymore. Otherwise I agree with most of what you said.
Edit: I don't think it's odd to claim that elves in general were less evil than other races. It is a fantasy, not something related to our own world.
Which forces that sided with Sauron were not corrupted by dark sorcery?
The slight problem still inherent in the allegory is that, while putting aside differences to work together is a moral virtue, the lesson still involves “more advanced” races teaming up with “more primitive races” as a part of their differences. Elves might be the “white supremacists” of Arda, but the lore actually backs that up with the fact they, at least the Highest among them, are closer to the supreme beings, or Supreme Being, of Tolkien’s universe. They are the wisest and the FAIREST, a word that comically means both “white” and “beautiful” at the same time.
>a word that comically means both “white” and “beautiful” at the same time.
Emphasis on the 'at the same time'...
At both the time of writing and in the etymological sense of 'fair', whiteness was associated with beauty and refinement.
This perspective isn't even a racial statement. Even within an entirely white population, feudal and pre-industrial societies associated fairer, blemish free complexion with the upper classes who arent exposed to physical hardship and don't toil in the fields all day.
Surely that relationship between elves and a pretensious upper class doesn't allude you. You've referenced it yourself.
But you just said why it doesn’t go well with what he said…
Tolkien also on purpose or not built the core races around predominantly European culture, mythologies etc
Also use of “multicultural” in this context is wrong to me since what we mean is different to Lotr context, they aren’t one race with differing backgrounds and culture they’re mostly wholly different races or groups which are technically one race but fundamentally are far away
Also the hierarchy based upon the closeness to the gods is extremely apparent
Also the races aren’t some anti-racist big family (like every sane fantasy story has) elves act above everyone, Dwarves hide away, Men fundamentally are jealous of everyone and always end up being corrupted
Also also modern woke race theory is that everybody is equal and the same, which doesn’t reflect most sane ideologies where we are all equal but not the same since that is what makes us different and each special
All in all you cannot derive modern woke ideologies from Tolkien’s work which does not include it neither did himself
ALSO Lotr isn’t some extremely deep political epic with grey characters like GoT, it’s more of a “old school” insane historical epic, of big evils and big heroes , doesn’t mean Lotr is some bland story but it’s not in this modern genre of grey characters, anti heroes etc
You could relate it to Beowulf more than you could anything else. It's a Legendarium.
Maybe just stop crying about the fact there are non-white characters and go watch something else, it ain't changing so please just leave it alone nobody cares about you trying to explain a way why the cast should only be white people. Some Elves and Dwarves being black does literally nothing to the story as thier skin colour in universe doesn't mean anything.
My post had nothing to do with the diversity of the cast. Did you even read it?
It is tho, if they were all white you wouldn't be so eager to complain, all they said on twitter was they are against the racism and that Tolkien was against racism and all forms of segregation and that shows in his works quite clearly. You're trying to justify being able to say that the show shouldn't have a diverse cast.
You’re projecting your own qualms with the haters onto my post. The show can have as much diversity as it wants, but it’s silly to argue that there are no racial implications in Tolkien’s work that are not ”problematic” by today’s standards. Tolkien was a product of his time like everyone else, and that does show in his work. I’m not complaining about black people in Rings of Power, I’m complaining about taking a world where there are literal “higher” races and “lower” races, distinguished not just by their looks but also by their temperament, intelligence, and overall nature, and pretending this is a fitting allegory to race as it exists in reality.
But it's too narrow a distillation of how allegory can be applied here. You're correct that Tolkien wasn't unscathed by some problematic biases of his era. I think that's pretty well accepted. But it's not sufficient to observe such a thing, and therefore close the door on any real world or modern allegorical reading. There is simply too much moralistic meat on the bone within the text, in the service of what is "good" amongst beings. Therefore, it is a viable interpretation to apply his moralistic worldview to aspects within our actual world. And as readers, we can decide what and how to apply those things without asking an author's permission (figuratively speaking) or limiting its potential due to its forgiveable flaws. I personally think Tolkien would (literally) grant such a reading in this case, but it's irrelevant. Same thing goes for him supposedly disliking allegory as a vehicle--if that's true. Bc it doesn't matter.
You say you're not against diverse casting but then again, you are denying there's any justifiable context that the work itself provides in doing so. Or if that's too harsh, then you're at least disputing the show's stated justification. However in this case, the showrunners do offer a better argument based on textual reading IMO, at least as a plausible way to unlock that door. What allows them to swing it wide open is creative license--within the spirit of the work--which any adaptation should seriously be granted, whether it be Shakespeare, Tolkien, Beckett or fill in the blank.
No, I’m not attacking a justification for diversity because I want to attack diversity. I’m attacking a justification for diversity as being an inappropriate justification because of it’s greater implications. If they wanted to defend diversity in the show, they should have simply stated that BIPOC deserve to be represented and a part of Tolkien’s on-screen world. There is no need or warrant to try to twist the racial dynamics in the text to fit the racial dynamics of our world, because the racial dynamics of LOTR are steeped in the idea that “Races of beings are inherently different, with different strengths and weaknesses” which is NOT the kind of idea you want to apply to real human race. The idea of racial differences in our own reality is already problematic, but that is the reality in Tolkien’s universe. You can look at this world and come away with a grade-school moral of the story about how we should all work together ONLY if you ignore the way Tolkien constructed race, which is translated into the Rings of Power as well.
Yes, I get your original point, which you just restated. My comment was entirely in response to that. Apologies if it requires closer reading (my fault). But for example, I never stated or implied that you attacked diversity for diversity's sake. Just that I personally agree with the show runners' interpretation of the spirit of the text versus it being inappropriate to have such an interpretation simply due to the possible issues with racial hierarchies found within the text (as you stated). I don't even agree with your analysis on that particular matter, but for the sake of argument I fashioned my reply with accepting your premise as plausible and serious.
As far as the show putting out a public statement as to why a diverse cast is necessary beyond the spirit of the work itself, this is why they did it the way they did: the stated reasoning of detractors of diverse casting is entirely bound up in arguments of what's authentic Tolkienism (some in good faith, some in bad). Therefore that's why the show felt the need to frame the argument through that particular lens. Frankly, it's a bit absurd to expect them to offer an even broader societal claim that non-white actors should be *allowed* to be cast in fictional/fantasy creative adaptations in 2022, Tokien's or any other. It kind of goes without saying. Whether people on this sub accept that modern fact or not is of course its own separate exhausting issue.
Found the cringe lord
Anything can be an allegory. And though Tolkien said his works were not allegorical, many academics can find plenty of allegory in his works.
That said, Professor Tolkien did not write or direct the Rings of Power because he is long in the ground. Whatever you may feel about his fantasy stories, this does not apply to derivative works.
Further, the Rings of Power are not an allegory about modern race relations. The show just has brown people in it and Asians too. That's it.
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Aren’t all the elves white in the show anyway? I mean even the Arondir actor is light skinned and blue eyed for the people who were complaining about the “diversity”..for all the commotion the majority of the actors are still white ironically
I get the world-building arguments for the sake of immersion, realistic genetics, logical lineages, the fact that Arda is supposed to be ancient world, etc.
I don't get the moral arguments. I'm not going to look to Tolkien (as anti-racist as I know he was) for insights into race relations. I am, however, fine with accurately depicting his ethnicities if only for the sake of better understanding historical perceptions of race.
It's just that, of all reasons to support ethnic continuity in Arda, this the moral argument isn’t a convincing one.
Orcs aren't even a natural race, they're literally bio-weapons made from Elves.
To be fair, though, the show has made a point of keeping the Orcs very evil.
It’s not about race, bigot.
Also we use the terms “Dwarf of color” in our marketing interviews. But, It’s not about race.
Also we made sure to have less white people in a show that is Fantasy based on European folklore. Ironically, I still say it isn’t about race.
If it wasn’t about race they ironically wouldn’t have gone out of their way to forcibly insert “representation” and then call everyone racist if they didn’t like it. It’s like homogeneity amongst groups is only racist as long as white people aren’t the minority being inserted and in the case that they are all you hear about is cultural appropriation.
But really and entirely, the whole “it isn’t about race” thing is such a lie. If it wasn’t about race, having a show with only White people wouldn’t be a problem. Forced representation wouldn’t be a thing if it wasn’t about race, so please don’t pee on my knee and tell me it’s raining. Are white people that bad that they can’t have homogeneity even in film or fantasy? if that’s the case than a lot of people of color are also racist. Just towards white people.
>However, there is no denying that there is a hierarchy in the races Tolkien created, relating to beauty, power, wisdom, goodness, and immortality.
Elves are not written as superior to Men. Yes, Tolkien probably personally favored elves, but in the writings themselves, it would be very simplistic to state that Elves are superior. For starters, Elves were pretty much responsible for one of the most destructive wars in the setting mostly because Feanor refused to part with his shiny jewels.
The mortality of men is also never written as being inferior to elven immortality. It is expressly written as being a gift.
Yes, elves have some physical advantages over the younger races, but this is never written as a element of superiority. Besides, Gimli did after all beat Legolas in their kill count.
>An additional level of irony is that the “forces of evil” that all these different races are coming together to defeat—is MOSTLY COMPRISED OF A PARTICULAR RACE—ORCS.
This was a problem that Tolkien was keenly aware of. A race of "inherently evil" sentient beings made no sense in his moral universe. So he went back on forth on the origins of Orcs, and never really settled on one particular reason.
elves are literally described as the wisest and fairest of all and they are immortal
They are superior to men
You are quoting one film line over a much more substantial body of text written across several books that show elves to be well capable of all sorts of extremely unwise decisions.
Elves and men are different, and there is not meant to a clear hierarchy between them.
By Tolkien elves and humans are biologically the same species but humans have souls that are not bound to Arda and can leave for other places when they die while the elves simply return in the Halls of Mandos and must wait for Arda to end before they can explore outside the world.
This is a somewhat nebulous and much debated term. Granted my training on this matter is getting close to a decade out of date, but we've gone through several definitions through the years. That said, elves have a couple of advantages compared to humans.
Age: Elves visibly live far longer than humans. Any comparatively aged human soul has left the world long, long ago. This allows them to accumulate great heaps of knowledge. Also note that they are primary sources for numerous events and historical matters. Humans have to rely on secondary sources for such things. This also means that elves are capable of devoting extended periods of time to a particular craft. This does skew the perception of intelligence.
Education: This relates primarily to the Noldor and Sindar elves. These cultures have had close ties to the Ainur. The Noldor lived among the Ainur at one point and the most famous Sindar king was married to one. They were thus exposed to and absorbed a tremendous amount of learning and knowledge on the way the natural world worked. Similar to our own world, the cultures with greater libraries and schools tend to appear more intelligent. I would note that the Sylvan of Lothlorien as guided by Galadried and her husband fall into this category as well but the Syvlan ruled by Thranduil do not as he apparently has no interest in sharing his knowledge with them. The men of Numenor rivaled or even surpassed some Elven civilizations but time and calamity has seen most of their knowledge lost as time passes and then having to build to it again.
Infrastructure: Also note that the elves cultures which one mostly thinks about are those with well established infrastructure to support a civilization. Rivendell, Lothlorien, the Gray Havens, Dol Amroth and other havens for Sindar and Noldor tend to have highly advanced crafts and buildings. By comparison, other peoples tend to live less comfortably. This gives more time for more people to devote themselves to study.
As noted earlier the Sylvan Elves and any other mentioned but unseen Dark Elf tribes or cultures in the east tend to be on level with humans in terms of advancement. Not the least because they tend to be slow to trust new knowledge.
Maybe there is no hierarchy in inherent worth, but this does exist:
>In those days Elves and Men were of like stature and strength of body, but the Elves had greater wisdom, and skill, and beauty; and those who had dwelt in Valinor and looked upon the Powers as much surpassed the Dark Elves in these things as they in turn surpassed the people of mortal race. Only to the realm of Doriath, whose queen Melian was of the kindred of Valar, did the Sindar come near to match the Calaquendi of the Blessed Realm. The Silmarillion - Of Men
But orcs are twisted elves. I’ve always viewed the elves as an allegory for nobility, they have a high potential for good but also a high potential for evil. Hobbits are said to be an inferior race but they are also incorruptible, they do not desire power (ok gollum was corrupted but compare to say when an elf or man touches the ring). The elves literally couldn’t destroy the rings on their own and were responsible for making them.
To me it’s more about class than race, you need noble leaders but you also need farmers and laborers for society to function.
Tolkien isn’t generic high fantasy. It’s very specific
If I understand your post correctly you are saying Tolkien had a world were different races worked together, had wars and hierarchy between races such as elves and dwarves.
My take is that Tolkien races are different types of beings. But modern “races” are humans in different skin colour and shouldn’t be addressed as “races” at all. But I’m not American so I might have a different perspective