I do not believe LotR to be racist. Tolkien’s inspiration came mostly from Northern mythology: elves and stuff. If someone from Africa wrote a bestseller with a majority of black characters should a white reader be offended? It is a work of fiction therefore the author owes nothing to no one.
I’m not going to tackle the different mythological traditions in Tolkien’s work now (another post to write at some point), but it’s a lot more than just Norse and/or Celtic, and there’s some appropriation going on there that’s problematic in itself.
The other problem is not (to go with your analogy, which doesn’t even work because the power imbalance in racism is not the same thing as sticking with geographical location) the fact that Tolkien chose to write about a quasi-European sphere and have all his characters originate there. That “merely” lacks diversity and fails to take into account things like long-distance trade-relations which were abundant in Europe starting as far back as the Neolithic, if not earlier, all the way to more present but still pre-globalized times. Two examples: the Nebra Sky Disk uses knowledge so far only found in Babylonian and Egyptian astronomical traditions, there recently has been a find of a Buddha figurine in a Viking grave, and so on, so Tolkien’s mythology with its white insularity is not just historically wrong, but also vastly overrated.
(There also is no reason he couldn’t have made his Elves anything other than white. This actually reminds me of the current problem with Star Trek: Into Darkness, actually - Elves as the less-fallen representation of humanity are written as what is commonly understood as white, and apparently it’s inconceivable to retain the idea of a Nietzschean-flavour super-human as POC.)
The main and center problem: Tolkien did write People of Colour. But they are the ones who threw their lots in with Sauron or Morgoth. They are the uncivilized, brutal, evil, savage, sub-human enemy hordes threatening the goodness and liberty and culture of the white margin of Middle-earth. And if that isn’t racist, I don’t know what is.
I shudder to think of anyone missing the racism in this book if they’ve read it.
Stand back. I’m going to share appalling quotes.
Turn to The Return of the King, Book V, chapter VI: The Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Here you’ll find an ugly little description of the Haradrim: “black men like half-trolls with white eyes and red tongues.”
Back in The Two Towers, Book IV, chapter III, Gollum voiced his dislike for them: “Not nice; very cruel wicked Men they looked. Almost as bad as Orcs, and much bigger.”
And let’s not forget the “squint-eyed ill-favoured fellow” all the way back in Bree. He appears in chapters IX and XI of The Fellowship of the Ring, Book I. He slips out of the Prancing Pony after Frodo’s vanishing accident, presumably to alert the Nazgûl and their lackeys. Later we find him hiding out at the house of one of these lackeys, watching as the hobbits leave Bree. He has “a sallow face with sly, slanting eyes.” I have no idea what race he represents, because slanting eyes are not specific to any one ethnicity and sallow skin is a sign of ill health in anyone. But clearly he’s not your usual (white) Breelander. Frodo thinks that “he looks more than half like a goblin.”
Do you see a pattern here? All the non-whites we encounter are evil. All of them are compared to monsters. All of them remind our heroes — and our narrator! — of horrors bred in the pits of Utumno by Morgoth, who stripped his creations of any capacity for kindness. This provides the justification for hating them collectively. They’re brutal. They’re sub-human. Killing them isn’t just acceptable, it’s an act of valour.
We’ve seen this shit before. It is the rhetoric of genocide. It’s dangerous even in fiction, because it desensitizes its target audience even if they don’t believe its message. If you want a case of desensitizing, just look at this LotR confession.
But maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe this confession is ironic. Time for a grammar lesson, kids: If an author owes nothing to no one, they owe everything to everyone.
*slow clap for Mairë*
they’re archetypes you moron
This is Ricardo Montalban. He is a white man. He played Khan. Therefore the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan is NOT whitewashing because Kahn was always played by a white guy. A white guy in brownface mind you, but a white guy all the same.
If you have problems with Benedict’s casting as a white man named Khan Noonian Singh then you should also have problems with Ricardo Montalban’s casting as a white man named Khan Noonian Singh.
I get the feeling that some people feel as if all “brown” people are interchangeable… (While ignoring the fact that not all Latinos are brown.) They’re cool with South Korean people playing Japanese characters (*cough* Sulu) or Latino people playing Indian characters because they’re all not-white and that somehow makes them into one homogeneous mass.
anyway, he’s a GENETICALLY ENGINEERED SUPERHUMAN he’s not really a race.
Anonymous asked: You can picture the gods however you want. If Thor looks like Hemsworth and you feel comfortable with that image then go for it! No one can tell you how to personally worship the gods, nor should they. I am a devotee of Thor myself, and I have a picture of Hemsworth Thor on my altar along with a Marvel statue of Thor.
they’re definitely different in my mind both on a very corporeal level [mythological Thor is ginger and has a beard] but also i think mythology taps into a deeper, archetypal magick, which the marvel version is separated from by style and the secular nature of modern storytelling. the marvel universe is a lot of fun but there’s something primal, ancient and very very real about Thor which feels trivialized in his more modern iteration.
So ive been storing artwork behind this old bookshelf in my room for over a decade, moved it and found some buried treasures!
[as you can see i was quite the political satirist]
I think it might be the Astral plane, and the whole tree thing is a metaphor.
i like to think of it a a metaphor for the mind, or rather for understanding truth, like The Ash the mind is a vessel for the whole of the universe in microcosm, also makes the myth of Odin hanging from it so much deeper.
With words that win no faith;
The babbling tongue, | if a bridle it find not,
Oft for itself sings ill.
yes, i believe that the divine [meaning anything that people call a god] is very real, as real as humans really. but that doesn’t mean that they are natural. we exist as spiritual beings only so far as we create a narrative of spirituality. on a more natural level we exist as psychologically realized individuals so far as we have language and therefore memory. a language can be called real, as far as signs are concerned, but as far as a referential level it’s very ephemeral. i can type or say the word CAT and that will make you think of a cat, for which you will have a multitude of visual and linguistic symbols for a cat, but the essence of the cat itself remains a mystery because of individual subjectivity.
now, instead of a Cat, let’s make it a god. i can recite all the names of Odin, memorize the Havamal, and get a Valknut tattooed to my forehead and i’m still just repeating symbols. what makes them divine is the state that they inspire with in me. I call this magic.
i guess what i’m saying is that at the end of the day it’s less about proving the concrete existence of one deity or another and more about the [yes, i could use the term Jungian archetype here] psychological state that they bring about.
the thing that i love about Odin, is the combination of language and violence, it seems to sum up the human experience very well, we are all just stories and corpses in the end.
the lore are narratives, textual signs and spiritual referents, and so are people, narratives on top of narratives with layers and symbolism and secrets and wisdom, packed into a bloody, disgusting sack of flesh and shit.
so are the gods real? yes, they’re just as real as we are!