Happy Bilbo & Frodo’s Birthday – Here’s a Rant as Birthday Present

H
Happy Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday, all! In the great crossover ‘verse in my head, Frodo is 93 today. (Bilbo has left us some time ago.) Well, partly owing to limited time, I’m going to post an essay I’d already written on The Rings of Power series to mark the day. I feel a bit bad about that; B and F deserve more revelry and less ranting for their birthday, but there it is.

The Rings of Power and Lack of… Cultural Diversity, Dialogism, Imagination…?

I’m going to use The Rings of Power (currently through ep. 3) to try to unpack my responses to some larger cultural issues. The Mary Sue’s Rachel Ulatowski has a brief, pretty well-rounded overview of the reception of The Rings of Power that notes (a) most critics strongly like it, (b) vast swaths of fans hate it, (c) many seem to do so for racist/sexist reasons, (d) and Tolkien purist reasons, and (e), nonetheless, the scale of vitriol is puzzling. I want to try to unpack the puzzlement by exploring my own responses.

As a Tolkien fan, I am, indeed, experiencing a lot of anger at this show. Despite liking many parts of it, the parts I don’t like feel disrespectful to Tolkien’s worldbuilding and, frankly, dumb. This anger is exacerbated by a feeling of isolation. Yeah, almost all the pro critics seem to love the show (and not to know or care anything about Tolkien’s works). And most of the fan vitriol does seem to be about race, which is not my problem. I think it’s handling race really well; I’m pleased and impressed. I think it’s handling gender really well, except for Galadriel, who, unfortunately, is the protagonist (I’ll come back to that). I do certainly fall into “Tolkien purist” camp to a degree, in that I know his universe fairly well and care about it a great deal. So part of my sour grapes is annoyance at canon divergence. But I think there are deeper issues at work than “critics are racist/can’t handle changes to canon.” I want to explore some thoughts…spoilers follow )

comment count unavailable comments

About the author

Arwen Spicer
Arwen Spicer

Arwen Spicer is a science fiction writer and writing teacher raised in the San Fransciso Bay Area, and Northern California will hold her heart forever, even if it turns into a desert. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on ecology in utopian science fiction and is an educator on the concept of workable utopias. Her novel The Hour before Morning was hailed as “A carefully paced, rewarding sci-fi debut” by Kirkus Indie.

Add Comment

Arwen Spicer

Arwen Spicer

Arwen Spicer is a science fiction writer and writing teacher raised in the San Fransciso Bay Area, and Northern California will hold her heart forever, even if it turns into a desert. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on ecology in utopian science fiction and is an educator on the concept of workable utopias. Her novel The Hour before Morning was hailed as “A carefully paced, rewarding sci-fi debut” by Kirkus Indie.

Get in touch

Subscribe to Arwen's Newsletter