Brandon Morse has read J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” the “Lord of the Rings” series and watched extended editions of Peter Jackson’s ring trilogy so often that “I can almost quote them all line for line.”
But Morse is dreading a new addition to the Middle-earth canon that he says “perverts and corrupts” Tolkien’s mythical medieval universe because TV showrunners have committed this storytelling crime:
They are trying to “woke-ify” Amazon’s new series, “The Lord of the Rings: “The Rings of Power.”
Morse is deputy managing editor of RedState, a conservative news site. He says “The Rings of Power” producers have cast non-White actors in a story based on European culture and who look wildly different from how Tolkien originally described them. He says it’s an attempt to embed “social justice politics” into Tolkien’s world.
“If you focus on introducing modern political sentiments, such as the leftist obsession with identity issues that only go skin deep, then you’re no longer focusing on building a good story,” says Morse, who wrote an impassioned essay about his misgivings. “You’re effectively making propaganda, or art meant to fit a message, not a message to fit the art.”
The makers of “The Rings of Power,” which premiered Friday, promise viewers plenty of epic battles. Yet some of the biggest battles surrounding the Amazon Studios series have erupted offscreen. Middle-earth fans and scholars like Morse have clashed in online forums and dueling op-eds over this question: Does casting non-White actors enhance the new series, or is it a betrayal of Tolkien’s original vision?
Question: Does casting non-White actors enhance the new series, or is it a betrayal of Tolkien’s original vision?