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Old 8th June 2006, 06:07 PM   #61 (permalink)
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Re: LOTR: Racist?

I've noticed that many reviewers find things in books that the author didn't put there. LOTR is classic goodies and baddies stuff, any other anaysis is a complete wate of time. Mind you , in an age where PC is so rife that a Black woman can be appointed Professor of History, simply by saying that Cleopatra was black (actually Greek as the most cursory glance at the relevant histories will show,) and bah bah black sheep has been banned, is it any wonder that those cack-brained scum decided to pick on Tolkein again.
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Old 8th June 2006, 07:36 PM   #62 (permalink)
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Re: LOTR: Racist?

I've looked back through all the threads and it feels like everyone is furiously agreeing with everyone else on this.

To summarise, the consensus seems to be no.
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Old 8th June 2006, 09:03 PM   #63 (permalink)
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Re: LOTR: Racist?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Ace
I've noticed that many reviewers find things in books that the author didn't put there. LOTR is classic goodies and baddies stuff, any other anaysis is a complete wate of time. Mind you , in an age where PC is so rife that a Black woman can be appointed Professor of History, simply by saying that Cleopatra was black (actually Greek as the most cursory glance at the relevant histories will show,) and bah bah black sheep has been banned, is it any wonder that those cack-brained scum decided to pick on Tolkein again.
I have to disagree. Tolkien states in many places the "baddies" are not inherently evil; neither Sauron nor his master Melkor (Morgoth) began so; and he even has Gandalf say that he "pities" those under Sauron, even the orcs. This may not be terribly deep, but there's more than a flat good-vs.-evil; Tolkien was also addressing what he saw as very deep religious issues through his writing; even though I frequently take issue with him on his conclusions or his views in general, it does give the books more depth.
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Old 9th June 2006, 07:03 AM   #64 (permalink)
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Re: LOTR: Racist?

I seen some here refer to the appearance of the Haradrim(sp?) in the PJ film, and something about how they are somewhat arabic looking due to the "post 9-11" whatever. Remember, that disaster occured in 2001, the Fellowship was released only about 3 or so months after the event. And since all three films were filmed simultaneously in the past (8 or something years it took, right?) their portrayal would have nothing to do with 9-11.

No, I do not believe that ole' Tolky was "racist", nor do I believe that his work is a work of "hate" or whatever those fools like to call it. I mean, even if he was, so what? Don't read it if you don't like it, ignore it. There are plenty of other authors out there! Sheesh!


(Incidentally, I somewhat imagined them as indian when I first read LOTR (think of the foes in that new Alexander movie))
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Old 9th June 2006, 07:57 AM   #65 (permalink)
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Re: LOTR: Racist?

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Originally Posted by Silent Speaker
(Incidentally, I somewhat imagined them as indian when I first read LOTR (think of the foes in that new Alexander movie))
Indian, hmm? I've not pictured them that way before; interesting take. I think (though this is easily open to debate) that, being the linguist Tolkien was, it's more likely connected with Arabic or proto-Arabic peoples, but the description is such that one can read it different ways. As for the "racism" -- well, yes, but only insofar as nearly everything dealing with different cultures, and that was written before (and, actually, for a good while after) the camps were liberated, was. It was simply a part of most cultures, and no one saw it that way; if you look at much popular or classical literature up to that point, to our eyes it stands out. To them, it simply didn't. But I don't think, in Tolkien's case, there was likely any conscious racial agenda, nor any sort of maliciousness. And, as stated above, his "villains" weren't pure evil, anyway, but had come under the ban of the Valar and, in Christian terms, were "fallen".
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Old 9th June 2006, 09:08 AM   #66 (permalink)
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Re: LOTR: Racist?

Quote:
Originally Posted by j. d. worthington
I have to disagree. Tolkien states in many places the "baddies" are not inherently evil; neither Sauron nor his master Melkor (Morgoth) began so; and he even has Gandalf say that he "pities" those under Sauron, even the orcs. This may not be terribly deep, but there's more than a flat good-vs.-evil; Tolkien was also addressing what he saw as very deep religious issues through his writing; even though I frequently take issue with him on his conclusions or his views in general, it does give the books more depth.
I think that point comes across in the Silmarillion a lot more than in LotR, but while perhaps Sauron and Melkor aren't portrayed as pure evil, they're close enough to (and their actions motiveless enough) to make it seem as if they were, and their underlings were as well. I think Tolkien, as many fantasy writers still do, used racial determinism - the race someone belonged to determined most of their characteristics. There was little or no variation between members of a race, particularly on the evil side. Every orc, without exception, is bad by definition. Every hobbit was good. Most elves were as well, and men, the most developed race of them all, were generally good or were misguided or corrupted when they were evil - this of course stemming from Tolkien's Christianity or from his ideology.

LotR or any of Tolkien's novels were never overtly racist in say the way Robert E Howard's were, but there was an undercurrent of unintentional racial determinism running through his work. It may seem that's just the way he was writing and had nothing to do with racing, and yes, racism and racial determinism, as well as other forms of discrimination, do tend to stem from lazy writing, or at least, not thinking of the consequences. For me the problem isn't that it's just racially determinist - it's that it harms the novels in terms of characterisation as well.

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It was simply a part of most cultures, and no one saw it that way; if you look at much popular or classical literature up to that point, to our eyes it stands out.
I don't think that excuses racism, but in this case it's acceptable. The problem is this view still exists in a lot of modern fantasy, unthinkingly copying authors like Tolkien who had a conservative viewpoint and took the contemporary view of other cultures. In 2006, that theme should not be common, but in epic fantasy the evidence of racial determinism is everywhere, but fortunately it seems that fantasy is starting to mature and to look at the consequences of its own writing.
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Old 30th June 2006, 04:29 PM   #67 (permalink)
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Re: LOTR: Racist?

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Originally Posted by Shoegaze99

The person is simply repeating something that has been said time and time again for years and years, much like “Frodo and Sam are gay.”
to be honest, what does it matter if frodo and sam are gay? they support each other well, and get the job done!!! why should anybody give a F**K about their sexual orientation? and to be honest, why are people questioning peter jackson? he is no racist. he is simply trying 2 be as true as possible to the books. and we need 2 remember that the books were written in a time when racism was a big thing. and... lets not forget that there were many maoris in the film. for anybody who doesnt know who maoris are, they are the indiginous peoples of new zealand, and are dark skinned. and sinces the film was shot, entirely in new zealand, it seems to me, that theres is no reason to include afracan americans, or african englishmen as the books do not state anything about dark skinned peoples. so peter jackson is doing a new thing by casting black people as characters in the movies when they werent even refered to in the books.
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Old 6th July 2006, 04:25 PM   #68 (permalink)
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Re: LOTR: Racist?

"Tolkein detested Americans," sorry? isn't that what they're for? (Especially the ones who pretend to be from some other country rather than admitting it.)
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Old 6th July 2006, 04:28 PM   #69 (permalink)
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Re: LOTR: Racist?

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Originally Posted by The Ace
"Tolkein detested Americans," sorry? isn't that what they're for?
*slap with glove* Suh, I demand satisfaction. Your choice of weapons, suh?
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Old 22nd July 2006, 12:23 AM   #70 (permalink)
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Re: LOTR: Racist?

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Originally Posted by Brys
Every orc, without exception, is bad by definition. Every hobbit was good. Most elves were as well, and men, the most developed race of them all, were generally good or were misguided or corrupted when they were evil - this of course stemming from Tolkien's Christianity or from his ideology.
If his books were influenced by Christianity, then all the characters would have been inherently evil and then have to be led to the light by some savior/god figure.
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Old 22nd July 2006, 01:32 AM   #71 (permalink)
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Re: LOTR: Racist?

Tolkien himself said that his books were influenced by his Catholicism, so there is no point disputing that.

What people mistake for racial determination is based on a misinterpretation of his use of the word "race" which is used in the older and more general sense of "species." I think he made that choice to show that the different kinds of beings he was talking about were all "people" in the sense of them being rational beings -- but there can be no doubt that a hobbit is a very different species than an orc. (And for those who say, "if they are different species, how can elves and humans have children together," I will point out that tigers and lions have been crossed, and no one disputes that they are separate species.) That being the case, it makes perfect sense that the two should be inherently different -- lions are different from tigers and zebras from horses. It's not a value judgement.

It's hard to make a case for there being lovely, caring, nice orcs somewhere in Tolkien's world -- but in their defense (and his) he does make it clear in some of his writings that they haven't been permitted much in the way of free will. They seem to be under some sort of mind control. They do show occasional glimmerings of loyalty and morality within their own ranks, but one of the things that defines the orcs as evil is the way that the different types hate each other (and all other species); in other words, the orcs are supremely racist. So much so that they often spoil Sauron's and Saruman's plans by their incessant bickering and backstabbing. The good "people" in LOTR, on the other hand -- elves, men, hobbits, ents, dwarves -- can get beyond their inherent differences and work together for the common good.

To say that all hobbits are good is to ignore characters like Lotho Sackville-Baggins, or Ted Sandyman. They are selfish and stupid and willing to sell out their neighbors for their own advantage. They may not be evil in the same sense as some of the other characters, but then their background hardly allows them room to develop and display that level of wickedness. Ten years down the line, if he had lived and had time to grow truly corrupt Lotho might have been a good deal worse. Lobelia turns out to be a little more sympathetic in adversity, but nowhere does Tolkien actually redeem her. She's still the unpleasant old bat who stole the spoons.

Sauron's evil is far from motiveless. He wants to rule the world; he thinks he knows how the world should be run. Enough real human beings have gone that route, I think it's fair to say that it's a perfectly realistic motive. Tolkien says in his letters that Sauron probably started out thinking he was some kind of reformer. Well, we've seen that, too, in human history, where the reformer becomes the tyrant. What is hard to comprehend is not the motive for Sauron's evil, but the scope. But then why should we be able to comprehend it? He is an ageless ancient supernatural being, almost a demi-god if you will, a fallen angel. The same applies to Saruman. They start out meaning well (according to their own lights), they believe that the end justifies the means, but it turns out that those very means corrupt. Again, history reveals similar cases. The only difference is, human villains don't have thousands of years to stew in their own corruption, or the power to inflict such wide-reaching harm -- although some of them do a pretty good job of it!

But observe that Gandalf, the wise, the good, the compassionate, is of the same kind and order as the two great villains -- and he recognizes the very real possibility that his own motives could be twisted if he does not walk a very narrow path.
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Old 22nd July 2006, 03:03 PM   #72 (permalink)
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Re: LOTR: Racist?

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Originally Posted by Teresa Edgerton
To say that all hobbits are good is to ignore characters like Lotho Sackville-Baggins, or Ted Sandyman.
And weren't there several hobbits in the Shirriffs who took off their hats and slunk away when the Travellers started the Scouring of the Shire? Robin Smallburrow also mentions hobbits that informed on their fellows to Sharkey and his Men.
By the way, it was never proved that Lobelia stole Bilbo's spoons; only suspicion.
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Old 22nd July 2006, 03:43 PM   #73 (permalink)
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Re: LOTR: Racist?

Obviously a Sackville-Baggins partisan in our midst.

The spoons disappeared while they were in Lobelia's custody. Can you imagine that guests to Bag End during her tenure were ever allowed out the front door without a thorough frisking? That's all I'm saying.
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Old 24th July 2006, 02:40 PM   #74 (permalink)
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Re: LOTR: Racist?

It won't have hurt if there were some dark skinned elves/ people in those books. The closest they came to the african looks were dwarves and orcs (and the dark elf in the silmarillion). It's the sort of book that would add to the feeling of self hatred in a young african kid growing up in middle class UK....

But I still think it was more of a function of the society he lived in, and the awareness thereof, than a delibrate attempt to supress any race.
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Old 7th August 2006, 04:39 AM   #75 (permalink)
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Re: LOTR: Racist?

As others have said, you must take into account the time period this was written in.

It would have taken away from the movie had the characters been black and white. Because the book was "racist," straying from that in the movie would look like to much of an effort.

In a modern book I wouldn't accept this but in LOTR I can make an exception.
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