Critical Miss: Lord of the Wrongs

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Uhg. To all the jackasses claiming that all hobbits are white, is it really that horrible that someone of a different race than the one you've pictured in your head gets cast for the fantasy film du jour? I mean, I understand that films based on actual history should be racially accurate, BUT THIS IS FANTASY WE ARE TALKING ABOUT. As long as they get the character's personality right then it really doesn't matter who gets cast. Besides, I don't remember Tolkien ever saying middle earth was Europe, or that everyone was white. That's just something that we all assumed because Tolkien was a white European.

Maybe I would agree with the naysayers if this were an actual case of the PC police asking for diversity, but it's not. A casting director was turning down dark skinned actors because of his personal belief that hobbits must all be white. When you can't even get a part as an extra just because of your skin color, that's called discrimination.

In all honesty, I think I'm just tired of all these nonsensical fantasy racial stereotypes. I mean, who the hell decided that all dwarves have to speak with a Scottish accent? And why the hell does every film set in the past have to have people speaking with English accents? How about some diversity just for the sake of being different. Dwarves with Irish accents! The Rohirim now all sound Swedish, and the men of Gondor are American. And just to piss people off, all Elves are now Asian's with bleached blond hair. That's fair skinned and fair haired, so you can't say its inaccurate!

We need those English orcs to make lord of the rings hilarious.

Baalthazaq:
"Colored hobbits"

...

Samwise was originally black... read the book... seriously people...

WHAT? I read the books, I'm pretty sure he wasnt black. None of them were, the Shire was supposed to be set in Mediaval England.

DataSnake:
My only concern about having different races of hobbits: if they were all white in the LotR movies and more racially diverse in the prequel, that raises some very unfortunate implications about what happened to all the non-white hobbits in the intervening time.

This is genius.

To my mind, if a director wants to say "All members of fictional fantasy race XYZ in my adaptation of a book where their skin colour is entirely irrelevant are white" then that's fine. It certainly beats him saying "Right, so this master race are all white but this crappy slave race are all black".

And I think a black James Bond is entirely suitable. If we can get away with reboots and whole new stories and blindly accept the fact that James has metamorphosed even when the supporting cast hasn't (there have only been two Ms) why shouldn't we accept a black Bond?

psycoking:
Uhg. To all the jackasses claiming that all hobbits are white, is it really that horrible that someone of a different race than the one you've pictured in your head gets cast for the fantasy film du jour? I mean, I understand that films based on actual history should be racially accurate, BUT THIS IS FANTASY WE ARE TALKING ABOUT. As long as they get the character's personality right then it really doesn't matter who gets cast. Besides, I don't remember Tolkien ever saying middle earth was Europe, or that everyone was white. That's just something that we all assumed because Tolkien was a white European.

Maybe I would agree with the naysayers if this were an actual case of the PC police asking for diversity, but it's not. A casting director was turning down dark skinned actors because of his personal belief that hobbits must all be white. When you can't even get a part as an extra just because of your skin color, that's called discrimination.

In all honesty, I think I'm just tired of all these nonsensical fantasy racial stereotypes. I mean, who the hell decided that all dwarves have to speak with a Scottish accent? And why the hell does every film set in the past have to have people speaking with English accents? How about some diversity just for the sake of being different. Dwarves with Irish accents! The Rohirim now all sound Swedish, and the men of Gondor are American. And just to piss people off, all Elves are now Asian's with bleached blond hair. That's fair skinned and fair haired, so you can't say its inaccurate!

People like you are the reason PC is so out of control.

If actors in wheelchairs were turned down, would that be discrimination too? No, because they wouldn't fit the setting. When was the last time you saw a paralympic champion hobbit? Same applies for race.

Also - Tolkien fleshed out his entire world, from east to west, north to south. Nowhere has a climate that would cause such pigmentation to develop, even LESS so considering the hobbits generally live in areas with a cooler climate.

"But it's fantasy!" Yes. It is. However, it's light fantasy. It means not everybody is a mage, not everyone gets to be the chosen one, and only extremely important characters hold any semblance of any form of power or gets to be in any way different from anybody else. Light fantasy is basically structured as medieval England (with the same costumes, weapons, culture etc) but with all the embelishments of mysticism, magic and monsters kicking added over the surface.

"In all honesty, I think I'm just tired of all these nonsensical fantasy racial stereotypes. I mean, who the hell decided that all dwarves have to speak with a Scottish accent? And why the hell does every film set in the past have to have people speaking with English accents? How about some diversity just for the sake of being different. Dwarves with Irish accents! The Rohirim now all sound Swedish, and the men of Gondor are American. And just to piss people off, all Elves are now Asian's with bleached blond hair. That's fair skinned and fair haired, so you can't say its inaccurate!"

Sooo... you're tired of it being nonsensical, and then you just wrote that?

...I give up.

JemJar:

DataSnake:
My only concern about having different races of hobbits: if they were all white in the LotR movies and more racially diverse in the prequel, that raises some very unfortunate implications about what happened to all the non-white hobbits in the intervening time.

This is genius.

To my mind, if a director wants to say "All members of fictional fantasy race XYZ in my adaptation of a book where their skin colour is entirely irrelevant are white" then that's fine. It certainly beats him saying "Right, so this master race are all white but this crappy slave race are all black".

And I think a black James Bond is entirely suitable. If we can get away with reboots and whole new stories and blindly accept the fact that James has metamorphosed even when the supporting cast hasn't (there have only been two Ms) why shouldn't we accept a black Bond?

Little different in that black people actually exist in the Bond universe. We're talking them appearing from thin frickin' air then dissapearing completely years later.

Grey Carter:

Honestly, if you have so little imagination that a black hobbit would "break the immersion" of a film then it's a wonder you got through the book in the first place.

..did someone actually say that..? Wow..

Great strip as usual, though. Laughed very loudly.

Chazfreakish:

Baalthazaq:

Gingerman:

Yep part of the reason why I didn't like it as it wasn't true to the history it was trying to tell which further proves my point on this whole "Staying true" to the source.

Samwise wasn't black in the book but it did state his skin was darker than the average hobbit then again he was a gardener so he probably got a tan.

Not Sam specifically, but the Harfoots as a race (of which sam is one) are described as darker skinned. Not just "darker than the average hobbit".

The Lord of the Rings, completed in 1948 (15 years pre-civil rights act, and started 10 years before that), had the darker skinned Hobbit Samwise Gamgee (Gamgee translated: Cotton-wool), who did all the hard labour, walks around calling Frodo Master Frodo, who marries Rose Cotton, in a world he sets, if I'm not mistaken 300 years earlier. There's a HELL of a lot of other stuff you can draw parallels to.

But seriously, is there any description of how MUCH darker they were exactly? No.
Therefore, could you have made Samwise black? 100% yes, and if anything many more things click into place when you do. Seriously, reread lord of the rings now. Does it make more sense or less sense?

Is it likely Tolkien had this in mind?
Does Tolkien often expand and develop stereotypes to get his characters?

This isn't a criticism of Tolkien, it's a description of a world that existed here in the same timeframe.

This annoyed me to a great extent - Sam worked outside, so he got a tan. He's a gardener. This does not mean he is a naturally dark skinned person. Also, Gamgee was a local word for cotton in Birmingham which Tolkien used coincidentally, he actually gave it an orgin of Elvish words meaning 'game' and 'wick.'

As much as America may seem like the centre of the world, there was no equivalent of the civil rights movement in the UK where Tolkien lived. Unlike the USA, in 1948, there were very few dark skinned people in the UK. Tolkien did not encounter dark skinned people in his daily life, from this perspective there's no reason for him to even think of including them in his epic.

While I'll admit that I haven't had time to 'reread lord of the rings,' I'm almost certain that I would gain nothing by turning Sam into a character of a different 'race.' Tolkien was mainly concerned with imitating great nordic myths and poems, not creating an allegory of anything. Tolkien had no black stereotypes to expand on.
Sorry for the random rant but I just had to put that right.

1) Sam was a character of a different race. He was a Harfoot.
2) The harfoots being darker (which they are), has no backward relation on Samwise being a gardener, any more than YOU being a Gardener makes Caucasians darker. Tans don't work that way.

Harfoots are dark.
Sam is a Harfoot.

Take any Philosophy, Math, Logic, Computing, Classical history, linguistics, Z schema, epistemology, TOK, or programming class, and you'll see, without any argumentation, that armed only with those two points, Sam, too, is dark.

Gardening is irrelevant.

psycoking:
As long as they get the character's personality right then it really doesn't matter who gets cast.

So...Christian Bale as Mahatma Gandhi, or Chow Yun Fat as Martin Luther King would sit okay with you?

Ignore this. Wrong topic.

Eclectic Dreck:

Zhalath:
Ah, female Nazgul. Almost as controversial as the Female Space Marine.

The logical compromise then is to make a cosmetically similar but obviously inferior Nazgul for the females. It worked for Warhammer after all.

OHOHOHOHO, is funny because it is not true!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBztjzDr0fM

OT: Im kinda...well, im kinda on the fence on this one. on the one hand, I feel that an author as respected and well known (Or any person's creative work) should be respected. if Tolkien didn't want their to be black hobbits in the shire because it wouldn't make sense, then It wouldn't make sense to have black hobbits.

On the other hand, should it really matter? I mean, if the black hobbit is a good actor and does a good job, then his color shouldn't matter. Right? Right?!?

I just don't really know how to feel about this one?

previous poster:
If I was born black my personality would be different, just in the same way if I was born a woman. Our skin colour partly defines who we are, its not a big factor but still a factor none the less

This is actually the definition of racism... the belief that behavior is defined by race.

Just adapting the books to a film means creating an inauthentic version of the story. And this is completely ignoring the specific decisions that deviate from the book...like giving a somewhat minor character (Arwen) a larger role and in doing so creating a situation that downplays a very important part of the original story, which is in this case the will of hobbits demonstrated by Frodo's resistance of the rings power.

Baalthazaq:

Chazfreakish:

Baalthazaq:

Not Sam specifically, but the Harfoots as a race (of which sam is one) are described as darker skinned. Not just "darker than the average hobbit".

The Lord of the Rings, completed in 1948 (15 years pre-civil rights act, and started 10 years before that), had the darker skinned Hobbit Samwise Gamgee (Gamgee translated: Cotton-wool), who did all the hard labour, walks around calling Frodo Master Frodo, who marries Rose Cotton, in a world he sets, if I'm not mistaken 300 years earlier. There's a HELL of a lot of other stuff you can draw parallels to.

But seriously, is there any description of how MUCH darker they were exactly? No.
Therefore, could you have made Samwise black? 100% yes, and if anything many more things click into place when you do. Seriously, reread lord of the rings now. Does it make more sense or less sense?

Is it likely Tolkien had this in mind?
Does Tolkien often expand and develop stereotypes to get his characters?

This isn't a criticism of Tolkien, it's a description of a world that existed here in the same timeframe.

This annoyed me to a great extent - Sam worked outside, so he got a tan. He's a gardener. This does not mean he is a naturally dark skinned person. Also, Gamgee was a local word for cotton in Birmingham which Tolkien used coincidentally, he actually gave it an orgin of Elvish words meaning 'game' and 'wick.'

As much as America may seem like the centre of the world, there was no equivalent of the civil rights movement in the UK where Tolkien lived. Unlike the USA, in 1948, there were very few dark skinned people in the UK. Tolkien did not encounter dark skinned people in his daily life, from this perspective there's no reason for him to even think of including them in his epic.

While I'll admit that I haven't had time to 'reread lord of the rings,' I'm almost certain that I would gain nothing by turning Sam into a character of a different 'race.' Tolkien was mainly concerned with imitating great nordic myths and poems, not creating an allegory of anything. Tolkien had no black stereotypes to expand on.
Sorry for the random rant but I just had to put that right.

1) Sam was a character of a different race. He was a Harfoot.
2) The harfoots being darker (which they are), has no backward relation on Samwise being a gardener, any more than YOU being a Gardener makes Caucasians darker. Tans don't work that way.

Harfoots are dark.
Sam is a Harfoot.

Take any Philosophy, Math, Logic, Computing, Classical history, linguistics, Z schema, epistemology, TOK, or programming class, and you'll see, without any argumentation, that armed only with those two points, Sam, too, is dark.

Gardening is irrelevant.

Different race? Tolkien himself describes them as breeds. In fact as I read my copy of The Lord of the Rings right now the description of Harfoots describes them as being 'browner of skin' (not very specific) and also describes them as the 'most normal and representative variety of Hobbit, and far the most numerous.' This is a direct quote from the text. I was merely pointing out that there is no racial subtext in Sam's character to be found and whatever colour his skin was, Tolkien was neither intentionally or unintentionally creating a subservient character defined by his skin colour. Also, Tolkien refers to middle earth as being 6000 years before our time, at a point when cotton and race could not possibly be used as parallels.

Other races of men do exist in middle earth. In the east there are Asian style people and not too far to the south there are Arab style people. The Lord of the Rings is set in less than a quarter of middle earth and middle earth is not even the entire world. It is not a racial trait of a hobbit to be black so they should not be black, I would be very pissed off if this happened. Black people probably do exist in middle earth just not in the North West where the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings is set. Considering the fastest transportation baring perhaps a giant eagle (or other non attainable transport) is horse then they probable can not get near the North West where the predominant race is the Dunlending (described as dark haired Caucasian).

It's like having a black guy playing King Arthur... it would suck.

To comment on the argument above I agree with Chazfreakish. JRR Tolkien hated that people even tried to look for algorithms in his writing and consider that he states the hobbits are based on rural English life (in which at the time there are NO black people involved at his time of living there). Also English people on the whole have browner skin compared to Scandinavians, does this make them black?

Grey Carter:
I think you (and everybody else who's going really into depth about the conditions and environment of middle earth) are kind of missing the point. Pretty much every central character in the Hobbit (and LOTR) is white. No one is disputing that (though some will argue Tolkien was very vague when it came to describing race) we're disputing that it's even remotely relevent when it comes to casting. Race is simply not central to these characters, it's unimportant, a vague background detail at best. Why not have a black hobbit? Would it effect any real changes on the character? If it breaks people's immersion then those people need to go watch more theatre.
The main gist of the strip is pointing out the hypcrisy in criticising black hobbits while the film openly casts dark haired actors as blonde characters. It's hypocritical and irritating.

For a good laugh. Find anyone arguing about multi-ethnic hobbits, go into their post history and do a search for the prince of Persia movie. See how many of them thought race was entirely unimportant when it came to casting the movie. Funny how that changes.

I don't really care about race just consistency. My main point was that all but, humans seemed to travel very little outside their native lands. So the various fantasy races wouldn't have much diversity in features. These are fantasy races, although based on European folklore, and could be whatever color you want.

I also kind of get irritated if it feels like they are putting token ethnicities into something. The Forbidden Kingdom really annoyed me because instead of just having a cool "Kung Fu" movie with Jet Lee and Jackie Chan. They make some kind of stupid plot hook that lets a modern day white teenage male go back to ancient China and be the chosen one. I have a feeling this was done mostly to have a relatable character than the token issue. Either way, consistency damn it!

Now that I write this wasn't there a story about some casting director getting fired for immediately dismissing any black actor trying out for a hobbit in The Hobbit?

Shouldn't that female Nazgul's cloak have been pink?

I'm just saying.

OK HANG ON!

All I'm getting from this story is that we're allowed to be *flexible* with fiction as long as we never ever get racist.
Here are some non-fiction facts.

'Lord Of The Rings' was written in the earlier part of the 20th century by an upper-middle class English professor who most probably had never known a black person in his entire life to that point. Ignorance is NOT stupidity and the absence of proof is not proof of absence.

Tolkein wrote a new Saxon mythos for a nation that had lived with a Norman one for a thousand years and yet in very many ways, still felt uncomfortable with that cultural mindset. The pagan revival, the revolts against the landowners, the Luddites*, the reverence for things like Stonehenge, genealogy, nature. Not very Norman. More like pre-Christian or Saxon/Celt.

So for someone to revise this mythos with multi-racial characters that had NO origin in the stories, is bad. It's wrong, it's a mistake.

For American readers, imagine this:
Little Women: A story of lesbian friendship in a family of Khazak-American immigrants.
Huckleberry Finn and his Iroquois friends.
The Crucible: A dramatic retelling of the infamous Salem Witchcraft/Buddhism/Sikhism trials.

None of these stories seem like they couldn't have been written that way, right?
But they fucking weren't!
Politically correct revisionism is never a valid reason to have black hobbits in 'The Hobbit'.
Stop applying your beliefs and preferences to something from a time before you. THAT is a critical miss.

*Luddites were an organisation that resisted technological changes in their economy. They were NOT against technological progress, they were against capitalist exploitation of that technology to disempower and empoverish the working classes. For example: mechanical harvesters making seasonal harvest workers redundant. Go read a real history book, America.

@CitySquirrel: I'm an Irish/German/Scandinavian man by genome and history.
My closest three friends are an American/Russian/Irish woman, a Kenyan Masai woman and an Irishman. They're my friends because we all think alike, like the same things, act alike.

You're correct. The body is not the mind within.

Desert Tiger:

psycoking:
Uhg. To all the jackasses claiming that all hobbits are white, is it really that horrible that someone of a different race than the one you've pictured in your head gets cast for the fantasy film du jour? I mean, I understand that films based on actual history should be racially accurate, BUT THIS IS FANTASY WE ARE TALKING ABOUT. As long as they get the character's personality right then it really doesn't matter who gets cast. Besides, I don't remember Tolkien ever saying middle earth was Europe, or that everyone was white. That's just something that we all assumed because Tolkien was a white European.

Maybe I would agree with the naysayers if this were an actual case of the PC police asking for diversity, but it's not. A casting director was turning down dark skinned actors because of his personal belief that hobbits must all be white. When you can't even get a part as an extra just because of your skin color, that's called discrimination.

In all honesty, I think I'm just tired of all these nonsensical fantasy racial stereotypes. I mean, who the hell decided that all dwarves have to speak with a Scottish accent? And why the hell does every film set in the past have to have people speaking with English accents? How about some diversity just for the sake of being different. Dwarves with Irish accents! The Rohirim now all sound Swedish, and the men of Gondor are American. And just to piss people off, all Elves are now Asian's with bleached blond hair. That's fair skinned and fair haired, so you can't say its inaccurate!

People like you are the reason PC is so out of control.

If actors in wheelchairs were turned down, would that be discrimination too? No, because they wouldn't fit the setting. When was the last time you saw a paralympic champion hobbit? Same applies for race.

Also - Tolkien fleshed out his entire world, from east to west, north to south. Nowhere has a climate that would cause such pigmentation to develop, even LESS so considering the hobbits generally live in areas with a cooler climate.

"But it's fantasy!" Yes. It is. However, it's light fantasy. It means not everybody is a mage, not everyone gets to be the chosen one, and only extremely important characters hold any semblance of any form of power or gets to be in any way different from anybody else. Light fantasy is basically structured as medieval England (with the same costumes, weapons, culture etc) but with all the embelishments of mysticism, magic and monsters kicking added over the surface.

"In all honesty, I think I'm just tired of all these nonsensical fantasy racial stereotypes. I mean, who the hell decided that all dwarves have to speak with a Scottish accent? And why the hell does every film set in the past have to have people speaking with English accents? How about some diversity just for the sake of being different. Dwarves with Irish accents! The Rohirim now all sound Swedish, and the men of Gondor are American. And just to piss people off, all Elves are now Asian's with bleached blond hair. That's fair skinned and fair haired, so you can't say its inaccurate!"

Sooo... you're tired of it being nonsensical, and then you just wrote that?

...I give up.

People like you are the reason racist think their jabbering makes sense.

If Bilbo himself was in a wheelchair, yeah that would be strange, since mountains aren't exactly wheelchair accessible, so they would have to rewrite a lot of the story to fit that in. But if at one point the movie pans through Hobbiton and one of the extras in the background happens to be sitting down in a chair with wheels on it the movie would not be ruined for me. Same if one of those extras happened to be black, etc. Am I saying there should be black hobbits, or that the movie needs a few token characters in the name of diversity or fairness or whatever? No. I had no problems with the Aryan friendly Lord of the Rings movies. I'm just saying that I wouldn't have a problem seeing a black hobbit running around, and in all honesty no one else should either unless they are a bit racist.

Also, for that whole climate and pigmentation argument, try to remember that other races didn't start out white and then developed pigmentation, instead humans who migrated to Europe lost their pigmentation and became white over generations. I'd also like to point out that parts North America have a climate just as shitty as Europe's, and guess what color the natives of that land are? Hint: not white. So keep your faux fantasy world evolution to yourself.

PS. That last paragraph in my original comment, the one about Asian elves, etc, that was supposed to be a joke. See I think its stupid that we attach all these traits to fictional creatures that never existed. So rather than use the normal fantasy stereotypes (like Scottish Dwarves) I figured I'd make up my own. The great thing about that is that even though these changes would be inconsequential and wouldn't change the story one bit, making any changes, such as having Saruman speak with an Australian accent instead of a British one, would probably upset some people. ^_^

Mr.Squishy:

psycoking:
As long as they get the character's personality right then it really doesn't matter who gets cast.

So...Christian Bale as Mahatma Gandhi, or Chow Yun Fat as Martin Luther King would sit okay with you?

Try to read the whole post next time.

psycoking:
...I understand that films based on actual history should be racially accurate...

So a Black MLK or and Indian Gandhi would be preferable. Though I suppose someone of a different race that looked close enough to the real life individual would be okay too (ie. tanned white guy or latino playing Gandhi). FUN FACT: Ben Kingsley, the guy who played the Rabbi in Lucky Number Sleven, played Gandhi in the 1982 film.

As for fictional characters, I would have no problems with, say, a Black Englishman playing James Bond, or if Jackson cast a black guy as Gandalf. There would be a moment where I would go "Ok. I guess Gandalf is black now." But after that, unless they went so far as to rewrite Gandalf's character so that he'd speak jive, I wouldn't have a problem with it.

"Antonio Banderas as the Mariachi in Desperado." -Hey! I liked that Movie. And ...is that Suchong doing a back-flip O.o!?

Neferius:
"Antonio Banderas as the Mariachi in Desperado." -Hey! I liked that Movie. And ...is that Suchong doing a back-flip O.o!?

Oh it's a fucking great film. But you know... Banderas is Spanish. Wrong continent.

XShrike:

Now that I write this wasn't there a story about some casting director getting fired for immediately dismissing any black actor trying out for a hobbit in The Hobbit?

That news story is what the strip is based on. I didn't even know about the whole black Thor character thing until Cory linked me to the Penny Arcade strip (I didn't even realize there was a Thor movie until now) while I think the film should cast the best actors possible regardless of race I do think firing the casting guy, who was just following a brief issued to him by the production company, was ridiculous.

Grey Carter:
Oh it's a fucking great film. But you know... Banderas is Spanish. Wrong continent.

Right! I mean there's NO WAY he could pull-off being Mexican.
I mean, they're like TOTALLY DIFFERENT cultures, they don't even speak the same lang... oh wait :P

Nah, I'm just Kidding ...but Seriously, is that really Suchong O.o?

They should do a multi-billion dollar remake of LotR, but with the English orcs fo' sho.

OT:
Are we seriously fighting over which shades of brown are acceptable as hobbit skin tones?

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
Snip

And yet again, this. Very much true on all accounts, sir, and I salute you.

>dual post, delete please< :(

SirCannonFodder:

...If Hobbits aren't exclusive to the Shire, then you likely would see the occasional non-white, just as you saw the occasional Moorish merchant/travelling scholar/physician in Medieval England...

Boom. /thread. It's like people seriously think every racial group was locked down to their origin country pre-Model T (Ever heard of these newfangled boaty whatchamacallits?). All races have people who travel far away. Get over it.

Irridium:
Is anyone else reminded of that one Dave Chappelle episode where Paul Mooney commented on movies?

HEY! Tom Hanks was perfect for that movie!

Why is it people are up in arms about shoehorning ethnic actors in a "white" movie, but very few of them bat an eye when the inverse shoehorning happens in a "non-white" movie? It goes both ways, people.

Deimateos:

SirCannonFodder:

...If Hobbits aren't exclusive to the Shire, then you likely would see the occasional non-white, just as you saw the occasional Moorish merchant/travelling scholar/physician in Medieval England...

Boom. /thread. It's like people seriously think every racial group was locked down to their origin country pre-Model T (Ever heard of these newfangled boaty whatchamacallits?). All races have people who travel far away. Get over it.

Except the Hobbits. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't a major part of the culture Tolkien created for the Hobbits their desire to stay secluded? Other people in this thread have written longer posts than I have enough knowledge to write, but Hobbits were created to be a race of people not only uninterested in exploration or expansion, but actively against it. In universe, most Hobbits might very well shun someone who looked different enough.

But you're right, they had at least 5 hobbits who traveled a significant distance. Who were ALL seen as odd at the least.

And in reference to the boats you mentioned, I may be wrong, but I believe that Tolkien stated very clearly that most Hobbits were afraid of the water.

Compatriot Block:

Deimateos:

SirCannonFodder:

...If Hobbits aren't exclusive to the Shire, then you likely would see the occasional non-white, just as you saw the occasional Moorish merchant/travelling scholar/physician in Medieval England...

Boom. /thread. It's like people seriously think every racial group was locked down to their origin country pre-Model T (Ever heard of these newfangled boaty whatchamacallits?). All races have people who travel far away. Get over it.

Except the Hobbits. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't a major part of the culture Tolkien created for the Hobbits their desire to stay secluded? Other people in this thread have written longer posts than I have enough knowledge to write, but Hobbits were created to be a race of people not only uninterested in exploration or expansion, but actively against it. In universe, most Hobbits might very well shun someone who looked different enough.

That may be true, and I don't claim to be a "Tolkien Scholar" like so many false prophets who have been getting owned here, I'm just going off of truths of the time. The Moors (ie. Africans and Middle Easterners) would be able to travel through the Anglo-Saxon countries from time to time, seeing as they were just a country and a boat ride from the British isles (While they occupied Spain before the Reconquista between 700-1500AD). This was more than enough time for a merchant/doctor/scholar to travel in the area that would become England.

vvv "When the Moors Ruled in Europe" (Documentary) vvv
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-768956312207897325

Sure the Moorish Empire was disbanded for centuries prior to the United Kingdom, but that doesn't mean trade routes or knowledge of the Moors disbanded with it. Those with educational clout would have access to it, someone like Tolkien, who was a Professor at Oxford. Add to this the fact that Tolkien was born in South Africa (and spent three of his five formative years there), and the claims of Tolkien "not knowing any Blacks" suddenly start to sound outright ignorant.

According to the Lore, "The Harfoots are the most prodigious hole-dwellers and were the first to cross west into Eriador." So at some point Hobbits did travel (however infrequent), which mean the idea that some still would isn't that outlandish.

Again, not being a die hard of the stories, I don't know about the boats, but if we're going by Jackson's version, Sam & Frodo didn't seem to be that bothered both instances they came across boats and water, so in the Jackson storyline, it seems like a non-issue.

Has anyone here actually read the "Racism" news article? Okay, here is a link http://movies.msn.com/paralleluniverse/hobbit-racism-allegations/story/feature/

For those that don't want to read the article.
The complaint was NOT from a black man or woman. The complaint came from a Pakistani woman, aka a brown (not black) skinned person. Which as many have said would have fit the Harfoots race/clan very easily. So yeah the choice to keep the hobbits "white" is a racist choice not keep a true to it's source problem.

If you can find a great actor for a hobbit who isn't white than use that actor. If you go the whole "stay to it's source" route you could ruin a good movie from a weaker but more appropriate character.

Keshie:
OK HANG ON!

'Lord Of The Rings' was written in the earlier part of the 20th century by an upper-middle class English professor who most probably had never known a black person in his entire life to that point. Ignorance is NOT stupidity and the absence of proof is not proof of absence.

Dude... Tolkien was born in South Africa some of the first people he knew was black...

1) People on both sides are too easily offended.
2) Politically correct teenagers usually mean well but are often misguided and confuse real racism with perceived racism. Its not their fault, they grew up during a time when the PC machine was actually worse than it is now.
3) Racism sucks, but over compensating to avoid the slightest hint of it sucks even more. Lets all grow a pair and move on to more important things. Like boobs. Yeah! Boobs! Ey? Ey?

Why are there no multi-colored elves?

Seriously, there's at least 5 different elf types, Tolkien obviously made allowances for more than 1 race.

Also isn't there one race of brunette elves or something? I'm calling asian.

anyone who thinks a violent English guy is like that has clearly never seen the sort of news that is covered here.

*Bursts in way too late*

Soylent Dave:

JRR Tolkien:
[They had] thick curling hair [on] their heads, which was commonly brown.
[...] Their faces were [...] broad, bright-eyed, red-cheeked...

The only bit of that which you can infer as "so they're white" is 'red-cheeked' - but white people don't have a monopoly on red cheeks; it's just more obvious the paler you are.

Not too mention that white humans don't generally have 'thick, curly, brown hair' - not unless there's some non-white ancestry involved in the not-all-that-distant past. But that's conjecture as well, because we're talking about hobbits, and they can have curly hair just because.
-

In summary then, Tolkien describes Hobbits of the Shire as having :

1. Thick, brown, curly hair

What are you talking about? Never in my life have a seen a coloured person with brown hair. Every single one I've seen has had BLACK hair. I just find it odd that you would elaborate so much on this point when it is by far the weakest and most nonsensical. I am pasty white and have curly brown hair. So all in all both the "red cheeks" and "brown hair" imply a fairer-than-black complexion, otherwise they would have black hair and the redness in the cheeks wouldn't be apparent.

Now, I coulnd't care less if they cast a black person as a hobbit, but really, try to have some basis in your arguments.

Disabled Belrog... XD the "You shall not pass" sign did it for me lol.

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