The Rings of Power showrunner hits back at diversity critics and frankly I’m in full agreement with them on this one. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know there has been a lot of hate aimed at the show. In a recent report from THR on The Rings of Power, showrunner Patrick McKay seemed distressed when discussing the very specific diversity critics, the results of which has seen actors personally attacked for daring to accept the roles they have.
“The spirit of Tolkien is about disparate peoples who don’t trust one another and look different from one another finding common ground in friendship and accomplishing big things,” he says. “That’s the spirit we’ve tried to inculcate into every single comma and period in the show. That this aspiration would be offensive to people and enrage them … it’s very hard for us to understand.” “
What are they protecting? I don’t see how people who are saying these things think that they’re fighting for good. There’s a line in episode seven where Galadriel says every war is fought from without and within. Even if you’re fighting for something you think is good, if you do something worse in that fight, then you become evil. I don’t see how people who are saying these things think that they’re fighting for good. It’s patently evil.”
Tolkien Vs Nazism
Trying to apply racial purity to Tolkien’s texts is worrisome. To give some context, Tolkien himself had to deal with the Nazi’s back in the 40’s and made it very clear to them he did not share their views. So it’s troubling to see racists using Tolkien’s words (and misquoting him) to back up their race superiority claims.
Here is what Tolkien said in response to request from a German publisher during the Nazi regime about publishing The Hobbit in German.
“I must say the enclosed letter from Rütten & Loening is a bit stiff. Do I suffer this impertinence because of the possession of a German name, or do their lunatic laws require a certificate of arisch origin from all persons of all countries?”
“Personally, I should be inclined to refuse to give any Bestätigung (although it happens that I can), and let a German translation go hang. In any case I should object strongly to any such declaration appearing in print. I do not regard the (probable) absence of all Jewish blood as necessarily honourable; and I have many Jewish friends, and should regret giving any colour to the notion that I subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine.”
“You are primarily concerned, and I cannot jeopardize the chance of a German publication without your approval. So I submit two drafts of possible answers.”
The first draft was just Tolkien ignoring the request. However here is what he said in the second draft. It is unclear though which of these if any was sent to the publisher. However what is clear, is that no deal was made at this time.
“Thank you for your letter. I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject—which should be sufficient.”
“I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.”
“Your enquiry is doubtless made in order to comply with the laws of your own country, but that this should be held to apply to the subjects of another state would be improper, even if it had (as it has not) any bearing whatsoever on the merits of my work or its sustainability for publication, of which you appear to have satisfied yourselves without reference to my Abstammung.”
I’ll leave it at that. If you don’t like The Rings of Power, and have valid reasons, then all good. However if you are instead furious that Amazon have had the balls to have a POC Elf, or Dwarf, then I’ll use this old saying. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything. A strange sentence for a critic to type. However I think this ‘campaign’ goes far beyond criticizing a TV show on its merits.
So, The Rings of Power showrunner hits back at diversity critics and frankly I’m in full agreement with them on this one. As for Tolkien, I never met him (can’t get the Flux Capacitor up to 1.21 gigawatts, yet), and will not speak for him. However you can read the best evidence we have that Tolkien didn’t hold racist views above. As always, leave any thoughts you have below.
Source for Tolkien quote