The fantasy series “The Rings of Power” and “House of the Dragon” have been criticized by some viewers for the diversity of their cast. Ironically, there is a lack of imagination and empathy on this important point.
Imagination knows no bounds. But in the genre of film and series literally named after her, this does not seem to apply from the point of view of many viewers. With “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” and “Game of Thrones” spin-off from “House of the Dragon”, two fantasy series have emerged within a very short time.
Both productions feature massive battles, scheming power games, and powerful (visually) powerful mythical creatures such as dragons and trolls. What they also have in common: A portion of the audience expresses toxic criticism of gender roles and the diversity of the cast. Statements are being made that – let alone in the twenty-first century – have lost nothing in our society. But why isn’t fiction supposed to be diverse for many fans of the genre?
Hate and its consequences
The black “House of the Dragon” actor Steve Toussaint, 57, could not have articulated the contradictory features of this criticism more appropriately. Corlys “The Sea Serpent” plays the influential Velaryon in the series. According to Toussaint, there are people who are “happy with the flying kite.” “You’re happy with white hair and purple eyes, but you’re a rich black man? That’s not acceptable,” the actor told Men’s Health. In other words: in a medieval fantasy world, where there are dragons, undead, and magic – and white straight teeth – there are rich black people who are simply too unrealistic.
The cast of Amazon Prime’s “The Rings of Power” had to leave due to several “racist hostilities.” Clarify something via a Twitter post: Together we stand “in full solidarity against the racism, threats, harassment and merciless insults” directed at BIPoC (Black, Indigenous and Colored People).
Due to the non-white actors’ commitment to the roles of elves and dwarves, the series has been targeted by opponents of the alleged “Wokeness dictatorship”. The fact that with Morfydd Clarks (33) Galadriel, the woman embodies the energetic main character, some also displeased. Including the world’s richest man, Elon Musk (51), who has been poisoned on Twitter against the Amazon series – and perhaps primarily against main competitor Jeff Bezos (58).
You have to let this melt on your tongue at Orc: There is a story about camaraderie, synergy and love. A story that unites the races of Middle-earth to stand against the forces of evil. And then is it the skin tone and gender of the characters that some Tolkien fans are supposed to go for?
“This has never happened before!”
The main argument for this noisy group is clear: Even in the original “Lord of the Rings” series of books by J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), companions are human, dwarf, dwarf and hobbit – but also white and male.
Yes, Briton Tolkien was an outspoken opponent of the “racial theory” of National Socialism. But he was also a kid in his day and might do some graphics differently today. Anyone who understands the Tolkien fandom, that everything should be as it was when the book was written, also voluntarily returns to the intellectual, moral, and social state of the 1950s. This is for a man born in 1892.
With the House of the Dragon, the situation is different. The series is based on the 2018 book “Fire and Blood” by George R.R. Martin (73). Like the novel it’s based on, the Sky/Wow series shows incredible atrocities on and off the battlefield as well as sexual violence against women in the eternal plots of individual parties. But does the “fun” stop with blacks in positions of power, who have emerged as minor characters only so far?
Anyone who complains about disloyalty to the book template in “House of the Dragon” should also do so in “Game of Thrones” and its counterpart “A Song of Ice and Fire.” In the series, many of the characters are several years older than the original – otherwise it would be difficult to absorb some of the already unbearable scenes. So sometimes it’s not bad at all if one artistic freedom or the other crept into the adaptive process.
A woman is responsible. A woman in charge!?
It is sadly ironic that “Rings of Power” actress Morvid Clarke deals with similar difficulties in reality as the character of Rhinera Targaryen (Millie Alcock, 22) in House of the Dragon. One is told by the assembled masculine world of Westeros and the surrounding area that she can never ascend the Iron Throne as a woman. The other is briefly denied the ability to act as the main character of the most expensive series ever – sometimes even before the first episode of The Lord of the Rings airs.
Of course, all this does not mean that justified criticism of character drawings or acting performance is forbidden. However, to some viewers at least, it sometimes seems that underlying convictions that have nowhere to be found sometimes flow, sometimes less, into this criticism. Not in Middle-earth. Still in Westeros. And certainly not in our world.