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Commentary :: Human Rights
The Racist Tapestry of Lord of the Rings!
24 Dec 2003
I don't imagine that it was the intention of the director or the producers of the Lord of the Rings films to paint a racist stereotypical tapestry over what could be described as a basic set of principles of humanity's behavior in the natural environment and with each other.
The Racist Tapestry of Lord of the Rings!

By Lloyd Hart

I don't imagine that it was the intention of the director or the producers of the Lord of the Rings films to paint a racist stereotypical tapestry over what could be described as a basic set of principles of humanity's behavior in the natural environment and with each other. However, the fact is that the only people of skin color in the entire three part series of films are all associated with the Dark Lord Sauron, the destruction of the earth and all of its occupants. Not to mention the elephant riding mercenaries that resemble the cultures of the Arab world as well as Africa, Persia and East Asia and the fact that the Monarch of the land of Rohan, King Théoden a white guy yelled out "You great warriors of the West" in the final part of his speech to rouse the troops into battle in the third film.

In these times when a homicidal maniac from Texas (the Texas capital punishment policy under Bush) has stolen the American throne and called for a "crusade" against the "evil doers" in nations that white people have been invading, terrorizing, raping and pillaging in for 5000 years with zero provocation, I think we could manage some cultural sensitivity in our popular culture which one must acknowledge has a powerful propaganda affect on the general population that participates in it.

Can you imagine how people of skin color, of Persian, Arab and East Asian ethnic background feel when they come out of these films where all the heroes are white and all the "evil doers" are of dark skin. Being married to an Asian American I watch people disregard my wife everyday while regarding me, simply because of her skin color. Being part of a European family that has lived on the North American continent for 400 years I've been lucky enough to gain perspective that when you create an evil character (Uruk-hai) that resembles native Americans as they have done in the Lord of the Rings films a great deal of cultural and racial alienation will occur.

I am sure that once the filmmakers read this article there will be claims that they had to stay true to the story that J. R. R. Tolkien wrote, but the fact is, African and Asian cultures have always been a part of the European fabric whose ancient legends and fairy tales gave birth to J. R. R. Tolkien's epic portrayal of the battle between good and evil. And what about the Ancient Picts, a tattooed darker skinned cultured that once dominant in the UK. As someone who has grown up in one of the nation's of the Commonwealth of the British Empire, I know for a fact that J. R. R. Tolkien's generation were deeply influenced and thus deeply moved by all those people of skin color that fought alongside white members of the British forces in World War One and World War Two forming lifelong friendships and deep emotional ties.

In fact all Europe's mathematics, reading and writing and technological advancements in transportation and warfare are all based on African and Asian concepts. The reason that Western medicine has not advanced to the enlightened technological level as Chinese herbal medicine and why most Western technology is diametrically opposed to all life on this planet, poisoning our air and water and causing widespread disease and death is for the simple fact that the Freemasons and the Church have not yet let go of the death grip they have on each other's throats. In other words, the enlightened knowledge that the church has attempted to destroy that the Freemasons attempted to save and capitalize on with Western patents has turned into a death struggle that has created destructive technological paradigms here in the West that are now being forced on the populations of the entire earth destabilizing life and bringing with them the pollution of the air and water that once existed only in Christendom.

Of course there are redeeming images and ideas portrayed in the films such as the Ents protecting the forests by destroying the industrial military complex as well as the fact that white people can be turned to evil to join forces with all the evil dark skinned man flesh eating Orcs and Uruk-hai.

It is important to understand that young people are impressionable and influenced by the symbols foisted on them by the popular culture. It would not have been that difficult to make a contemporary version of the Lord of the Rings that included the heroic symbols of people of skin color. I think J.R.R. Tolkien wouldn't have minded including people of skin color as heros in these films if he were alive today. Especially after witnessing the rise of the civil rights movements in both the U.S. and the U.K.. I'm so glad that the Dwarfs, Elves and Hobits finally got their due but unfortunately this was washed away by the lack of heroic images of people of skin color. After watching the Lord of the Rings films I thank the universe and Mother Earth for the Rap/hip-hop culture and the counterbalancing influence the Rap/hip-hop culture has on the youth here in America and around the world.

http://dadapop.com

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Re: The Racist Tapestry of Lord of the Rings!
24 Dec 2003
Come on dude! Its a movie ... and what about the Hobbits and the dwarves are they part of pro whit plan. Arch villian Sarun is the whitest guy in the world he along with his WHITE assitant Grima wormtounge.

The Monsters of Saruman were exactly like that monsters, Some of them had big noses and were hunched over maybee those were the Jewish ones?
HERE'S THE TRUTH!
25 Dec 2003
The writer is right. Why don't Lord Of The Rings use Warren Christopher and David Rockerfeller as the evil doers? They are! Face it... The movie industry wants ALL kids to grow up racist. Their way of thinking is?... Keep us fighting each other. While they screw us! THEY are the elite...
Re: The Racist Tapestry of Lord of the Rings!
25 Dec 2003
Samsel's comment seems a bit far-fetched for me, but the article was very well-written. I actually thought of this idea last year, and searched the internet for any articles pertaining to the issue. I came up with basically what is said in the article. J.R.R. Tolkien was most likely influenced by the symbolism present in the culture of his time; white equals good, dark equals bad. The symbolism still exists today, although not necessarily hand-in-hand with its racist manifestation.
stupid
25 Dec 2003
the lord of the rings series was supposed to be a legendary history of europe before the present age of when man is in the top spot. the people in euope are basically all white.

why werent there more white peope in shaka zulu?

maybe the last emperor ought to have had more people of different ethnic backgrounds as well.
What about Treebeard?
25 Dec 2003
Granted, Tolkien was white, and european, and christian, and male, and part of the educated elite, and best friends with an athiest...

I think that, for his moment in history, the whole ent war thing was pretty progressive.

-BostonRiot
Re: The Racist Tapestry of Lord of the Rings!
25 Dec 2003
it's a fucking movie.
Re: The Racist Tapestry of Lord of the Rings!
26 Dec 2003
oh give it a rest.
Re: The Racist Tapestry of Lord of the Rings!
26 Dec 2003
1. The Lord of the Rings is a book based on Western and Northern European mythology. Shall we add people of color to the legend of King Arthur? Perhaps some Hispanic Knights of the Round Table? Or maybe Odysseus should be portrayed by an American Indian? The Trojan War, after all, is just a racist account of white people dominating Middle Easterners.

2. Rap/hip-hop culture has done nothing but reinforce negative stereotypes about people of color.

3. Regarding an earlier comment (not shown in this excerpt), the reference to the "Men of the West" has nothing to do with Western culture versus Eastern culture on Earth. In fact, according to Tolkien, Middle Earth is the Middle East during the time of Pangea. The "Men of the West" are thus Middle Easterners! Regardless, it's just a part of the mythology. Over the seas to the west lies Valinor, where the gods live, and where Numenor used to be, which is where the people of Gondor come from.

4. Tolkien himself exclaimed time and again that The Lord of the Rings had no application to contemporary times. It is not an allegory. It's a story, a legend, and a myth.

5. To say that the Orcs somehow portray American Indians is a long stretch; in fact, I think you'd have to be pretty racist to make such a claim. First of all, most of the Orcs look English, which their accents and long faces. How many American Indian tribes wore steel armor, wielded swords and pikes, and used siege weapons? How many built towers of stone? How many were spawned from breeding pits? How can any such comparison be made?
Re: The Racist Tapestry of Lord of the Rings!
26 Dec 2003
well said all.
Re: The Racist Tapestry of Lord of the Rings!
27 Dec 2003
It is hard for me to comment on this. I love LOTR. The book was magical for me, and the movies come close to that same magic. So when I read this post I was taken aback. But after thinking about it and remebering what I felt as I read the books I have to agree that the people in ROTK as shown in the book and movie are sterotypes of a sort. I do not think that kids are going to watch this and be sp taken with the racial implications. They won't even know they are there. The comment by Kris Samsel was a bit much. Most people in Hollywood, and the whole of the rest of the media for that matter, care more about making money then any nefarious plot by the "elites" to subgigate us. Please everyone remeber that this is not JUST A MOVIE. Brother Bear is just a movie, 48 Hours is just a movie, almost any other movie is, just a movie, this story is modern mythology that has affected millions of people the world over. If people wanted to take bad things from this movie they could, but they could also take really good things. I am becoming more and more convinced that a work of art, be it movie, book, music or anything else can not influence you one way of the other. If you watch a movie about killing and then go out and kill...that impulse was already there. Art brings out what is inside. Hey after all remember the Kids Are Alright!!!
Re: The Racist Tapestry of Lord of the Rings!
27 Dec 2003
"... Western medicine has not advanced to the enlightened technological level as Chinese herbal medicine...."

Um, you mean the Chinese herbal medicine that uses rhinoceres horn, bear gall bladders, and other important parts of wild, threatened or endangered species? Yeah, wiping out species because you choose not to recognize the proven science behind modern Western medicine is really enlightened.

Maybe the next time the author of this drivel gets an infection, he can throw away the penicillin, and just chew on some tiger testicles instead. Good luck, pal.
Re: The Racist Tapestry of Lord of the Rings!
27 Dec 2003
now i agree that the books were written by a white european, and based on norse mythology, which accounts for all of the main characters being caucasian. however, i think that the portrayal of the evil elephant riders as stereotypical arabs was unnecessary.
what upset me way more than the racial aspects of the movie was the addition to the plot (at the overly drawn out ending) of Sam's wife and children. That wasn't in the book, as far as i recall, and was a way for the writers to cancel out any suspicion of a romantic relationship between frodo and sam.
Re: The Racist Tapestry of Lord of the Rings!
28 Dec 2003
no, in the books, it's quite clear that the human armies helping Sauron are supposed to be essentially Arabs and other peoples from south and east of Gondor/Europe
Mr. Hart, you have officially been labeled a disturber of the peace!
29 Dec 2003
As a self-proclaimed intellectual, I rarely resort to bad language to get my point across, preferring to use my methods of mind persuasion to demonstrate my argumentative ways. But are you fucking kidding me? What rock did you crawl out from under you self-righteous, maniacal nut bag! Is this what our world has come to? Do you have nothing better to do with your time but drum up insane controversies? Although I love this country, and respect our amendments and rights more than anything, this is the one problem with the 1st amendmant. It allows absolute whack jobs the right to say whatever they want and in their wake, create more eveil then the evil they are supposedly trying to alleviate. Keep your damn opinions to yourself you evil, evil man. How dare you use this fabulous piece of entertainment as a scapegoat for your insecurity and diabolical ways. Shame on you for being this way. It says a lot about who you really are. It is people like you who keep the aspects of racism going! There are many on this planet who are trying very hard to quell racism and all of the evil that surrounds it. And many who wish to keep it alive because it has become a self-engrained aspect of their very own lives. You fall into the latter. You don't want racism to go away because that would give you nothing to write about, so you come up with this half-ass story about how a 60 year old mythological story has racial implications. What the fuck is wrong with you? Hey, while you're at it, why not go after Star Wars? You remeber Star Wars don't you? That movie where a bunch of corn bread whities go after an evil man dressed up in a "black" suit of armor? You know, I could just as easily call that movie a case of reverse discrimination for white people. Shame on George Lucas for letting a guy in a black suit boss around a bunch of pathetic morons in white suits. I call that "A Quilt of Discriminatory Irony" Mr. Hart, on behalf of the producers of Star Wars. And why stop there? Let's see how many other pieces of entertainment you can find your "loophole" in. Get off your soap box Mr. Hart and get on the good side. You're constant borderline psychopathic rants of racism are doing more bad then good. Stirring hatred among those who are trying to work through this and make some good out of an ideal whose time of resurrection is long overdue. Work the problem Mr. Hart, stop trying to benefit from it. Oh, and by the way, I am an African American and I LOVED LOTR! GD
Mr. Hart, you have officially been labeled a disturber of the peace!
29 Dec 2003
As a self-proclaimed intellectual, I rarely resort to bad language to get my point across, preferring to use my methods of mind persuasion to demonstrate my argumentative ways. But are you fucking kidding me? What rock did you crawl out from under you self-righteous, maniacal nut bag! Is this what our world has come to? Do you have nothing better to do with your time but drum up insane controversies? Although I love this country, and respect our amendments and rights more than anything, this is the one problem with the 1st amendmant. It allows absolute whack jobs the right to say whatever they want and in their wake, create more eveil then the evil they are supposedly trying to alleviate. Keep your damn opinions to yourself you evil, evil man. How dare you use this fabulous piece of entertainment as a scapegoat for your insecurity and diabolical ways. Shame on you for being this way. It says a lot about who you really are. It is people like you who keep the aspects of racism going! There are many on this planet who are trying very hard to quell racism and all of the evil that surrounds it. And many who wish to keep it alive because it has become a self-engrained aspect of their very own lives. You fall into the latter. You don't want racism to go away because that would give you nothing to write about, so you come up with this half-ass story about how a 60 year old mythological story has racial implications. What the fuck is wrong with you? Hey, while you're at it, why not go after Star Wars? You remeber Star Wars don't you? That movie where a bunch of corn bread whities go after an evil man dressed up in a "black" suit of armor? You know, I could just as easily call that movie a case of reverse discrimination for white people. Shame on George Lucas for letting a guy in a black suit boss around a bunch of pathetic morons in white suits. I call that "A Quilt of Discriminatory Irony" Mr. Hart, on behalf of the producers of Star Wars. And why stop there? Let's see how many other pieces of entertainment you can find your "loophole" in. Get off your soap box Mr. Hart and get on the good side. You're constant borderline psychopathic rants of racism are doing more bad then good. Stirring hatred among those who are trying to work through this and make some good out of an ideal whose time of resurrection is long overdue. Work the problem Mr. Hart, stop trying to benefit from it. Oh, and by the way, I am an African American and I LOVED LOTR! GD
Re: The Racist Tapestry of Lord of the Rings!
29 Dec 2003
Gary,
You doth protest too much. While you said much in your response you never really said what you thought was wrong with the orignal post. It is possible to have racial under currents in anything. Our Western society breeds racism. JRRT was no exception. I love the story too, but face it the Southrons and Westerlings in LOTR did have racial under tones.
Re: The Racist Tapestry of Lord of the Rings!
30 Dec 2003
Gary,
I did love the LOTR, but I have to agree that the movie had quite strong racial undertone. But then we also know the novel was written in 30s-50s.
Young people nowadays are quite easily impressed with the popular culture (entertainments). I do think the world will be slightly a better place if people begin to understand others a bit. (for a start, between different races and cultures)
Re: The Racist Tapestry of Lord of the Rings!
02 Jan 2004
This is ridiculous on a level with the people who, when The Two Towers was about to be released, demanded that the movie's title be changed so that it wasn't offensive to survivors of the World Trade Center attack. I highly doubt that when Tolkien wrote the books some 50-60 years ago, he could have conceived that a bunch of privileged white middle class armchair intellectuals would be arguing the supposed racial subtexts of his stories.

And stories is all they are.

Quit taking everything so seriously.