Whose story is it, anyway?
More than twenty years ago, I went into the movie theater holding my breath and hoping for the best. The film I was about to see? The Fellowship of the Ring, the first of a trilogy based on JRR Tolkien's masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings.
Now, those were the early days of rabid fandom online, mostly bantering back and forth on message boards. (Social media and YouTube had not yet been given birth.) Among the incredulous fans who were huffing and puffing, many complained that they heard Tom Bombadil would not appear in Fellowship, and even more seemed to twist their knickers over the inclusion of a - wait for it - WOMAN as a major character.
Arwen (played by Liv Tyler) was the daughter of Elrond, of course, and she made a mighty appearance when she arrived in the nick of time to save Frodo's life after he was stabbed by a Morgul blade. Her love story with Aragorn would play out through the three movies.
The kicker is that Arwen NEVER appears in Tolkien's story. Her romance with Aragorn is pushed off into the Appendices at the end of Return of the King.
Fortunately, I had a fantastic time and have rewatched all three films often. Arwen was a wonderful addition to the film ADAPTATION, and her story arc with Aragorn paid off beautifully by the end. However, I can't help but wonder what kind of firestorm we'd see today if that movie was made the same way.
A toxic group of fans - overwhelmingly white males who appear professionally outraged by anything not involving white maledom - constantly shit on anything they see in the major fantasy and science fiction franchises (LOTR, Star Wars, Marvel, etc.) that appears to elevate women and people of color to more than background roles. They go positively ballistic when they see blacks take on roles previously played by whites. When I say "played," I mean in comic strips, video games, fan fiction novels, and other media that the vast majority of the movie-going audience couldn't care a hoot about.
They've built quite a little cottage industry for themselves, especially on YouTube, where the White Male Outrage Machine (WMOM) runs 24/7, drawing in often-sizable views from their cadre of other outraged white guys. They scream, they accuse, they speak of "leftists" and "the message" being jammed down their throats.
Which brings me to the upcoming Amazon series Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. This series cost half a billion dollars per season (reportedly), with five 10-episode seasons planned. It was filmed in New Zealand, and it utilizes the Appendices from LOTR and some other Tolkien sources to build its story of the Second Age, thousands of years before LOTR. The trailers look beautiful.
Will it hold up as a great story? Who knows? I'm going in with hope and fingers crossed, but I have confidence. I want a great story. It can adjust some of Tolkien's history, and I'll be fine with that because IT'S AN ADAPTATION.
Unfortunately, the WMOM has been trashing it for months. It's doomed, they say. The producers hate Tolkien, they say. What's their evidence? A black woman will be playing a female dwarf. A black man with short hair will be playing an elf in a forbidden romance. The WMOM and their fellow toxicants troll the trailers and down-vote them to create the illusion that the world is anti-Rings of Power, and nobody wants to see this.
As if these stories belonged to them, and the producers stole their original work.
It's pathetic but also a sign of the times. I'm sure they'll all be watching the premiere on Sept. 2 so they can trash it - even if they realize, "Oh, this is pretty damn good." They'll never admit it. Why? Positive reports will hurt their views. Their reputations will take a hit. Sad little people.
I hope the series is a triumph.