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Thread: J.R.R. Tolkien Racist?

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    J.R.R. Tolkien Racist?

    An American academic, who teaches at the Warwick University in the United Kingdom, has described J R R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy as an 'epic rooted in racism'.

    Dr Stephen Shapiro, an expert in cultural studies, race and slavery, said the author used his novels to present bigotry through a fantasy world.

    Following the release in UK of the film The Two Towers, the second in the series, Dr Shapiro told rediff.com that the books represent anxieties about immigration in mid-1950s Britain.

    He said: "Put simply, Tolkien's good guys are white and the bad guys are black, slant-eyed, unattractive, inarticulate and a psychologically undeveloped horde."

    In the trilogy, a small group, the fellowship, is pitted against a foreign horde and this reflects long-standing Anglo-European anxieties about being overwhelmed by non-Europeans, he said.

    This is consistent with Tolkien's Nordicist convictions. He thinks the Northern races had a culture and it was carried in the blood, Dr Shapiro said.

    While Tolkien describes the Hobbit's and Elves as amazingly white, ethnically pure clans, their antagonists, the Orcs, are a motley dark-skinned mass, akin to tribal Africans or aborigines. The recent films amplify a 'fear of a black planet' and exaggerate this difference by insisting on stark white-black colour codes, Dr Shapiro said.

    He added: "Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings because he wanted to recreate a mythology for the English, which had been destroyed by foreign invasion. He felt the Normans had destroyed organic English culture. There is the notion that foreigners destroy culture and there was also a fantasy that there was a solid homogeneous English culture there to begin with, which was not the case because there were Celts and Vikings and a host of other groups.

    "We have a pure village ideal, which is being threatened by new technologies and groups coming in. I think the film has picked up on this by colour coding the characters in very stark ways.

    "For instance, the fellowship is portrayed as uber-Aryan, very white and there is the notion that they are a vanishing group under the advent of the other, evil ethnic groups.

    "The Orcs are a black mass that doesn't speak the languages and are desecrating the cathedrals.

    "For today's film fans, this older racial anxiety fuses with a current fear and hatred of Islam that supports a crusading war in the Middle East. The mass appeal of The Lord of the Rings, and the recent movies may well rest on racist codes."

    Dr Shapiro said that the trilogy, which began in the 1930s and published in the 1950s, was written at the onset of de-colonisation, when the first immigrants from the Caribbean and Indian subcontinent came to Britain. The Midlands, Tolkien's model for the Shire, was becoming a multicultural region.

    A spokesman for Harper Collins, publisher of the trilogy, accused Dr Shapiro of mixing up his dates: "The copyright for The Fellowship of the Ring, the first in the series, was 1954. Tolkien would have finished writing the book quite a bit before the mid-50s and certainly the idea would have come a number of years before, given the sheer size of the book. So I think the timing is out.

    "A number of academics have commented on Tolkien's work and this is the first time anybody has ever seen these issues in it. Of course, if you look hard enough at many great epics, you can extrapolate what you like, particularly if you have academic kudos behind you.

    "A number of people have said that they think The Lord of the Rings could be an allegory for the Second World War, or indeed the first, as Tolkien fought in it, but it was never a view that he agreed with. His great abiding passion and interest came from the Icelandic sagas and mythology, and this was his version of one of those sagas."

    Richard Crawshaw, a trustee for the Tolkien Society, said: "There was definitely no racial intent in his work. He detested racism."
    Source

    This next article really does go beyond comprehension.

    'Lord of the Rings' vs. 'Matrix': Patriarchy vs. the Rainbow Coalition

    Commentary, Andrea Lewis,
    Pacific News Service, Jan 05, 2004
    Editor's Note: The last instalment of "The Lord of the Rings" presently rules the box office, but to the writer, it's an old vision of white patriarchy. She prefers the "Matrix" series' multi-racial world-view.

    The "Lord of the Rings" and "Matrix" trilogies have defined early 21st century cinema more than any other big-screen flicks. But as critical acclaim has increased with each new hobbit-filled "Rings" instalment, the "Matrix" films have fallen from favor. "Return of the King" is hailed as "glorious," "a triumph," and "masterful," while "Matrix Revolutions" is ridiculed as "dismal," "pompous," and "underwhelming."

    Like most, I was entertained and awed by the artistry and technical achievements of "The Return of the King," but by the end of the film's 3.5 hours I thought the final chapter should have been dubbed "The Return of the Patriarchy."

    The "Rings" films are like promotional ads for those tired old race and gender paradigms that were all the rage back in author J.R.R. Tolkien's day. Almost all of the heroes of the series are manly men who are whiter than white. They are frequently framed in halos of blinding bright light and exude a heavenly aura of all that is Eurocentric and good. Who but these courageous Anglo-Saxon souls can save Middle Earth from the dark and evil forces of the world?

    On the good side, even the mighty wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) is sanitized and transformed from the weed-smoking, rather dingy figure we first meet in the "The Fellowship of the Ring," into Gandalf the White, who, by the time of "Return of the King," has become a powerful military leader complete with pure white hair and an Eisenhower attitude.

    Say what you will about the convoluted storyline of the "Matrix" trilogy. At least those films give women and people of color some characters they can relate to.

    From its earliest scenes, "The Matrix" flips mainstream Hollywood's minority representation manual on its head. A multi-culti group of hackers dressed in black leather and sporting funky hairdos are our heroes--( For the f***king love of all that is holy)--; Secret Service-type "agents" in suits and ties are the bad guys. Neo, the trilogies' central figure, is played by mixed-race actor Keanu Reeves. His savior and mentor is Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), a powerful leader who also happens to be a black man. The wisest figure in "The Matrix" is The Oracle, a warm and witty African American woman. The films are also infused with a strong sense of Asian style and culture, exemplified by the character Seraph (Collin Chou), the Oracle's protector, who is both a martial arts expert and Buddhist meditation practitioner.

    Physically powerful female characters also rock and rule in "The Matrix," led by the high-kicking Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), the Emma Peel of the 21st century, daring pilot Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) and military wife turned fighter Zee, (played by Marvin's daughter Nona Gaye).

    Most of the really bad guys in "The Matrix" are Eurotrash, including the very snobby Merovingian (Lambert Wilson) with his French accent, the dread-locked, very British albino twins (Neil and Adrian Rayment) and the Oracle's evil counterpart, The Architect, (Helmut Bakaitis), a rather stuffy and pompous white guy with white beard and white suit who reeks of imperialism.

    By comparison, three women play minor roles in "The Lord of the Rings": the powerful elf Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), the selfless Arwen (Liv Tyler), who is willing to give up immortality for the man she loves, and Eowyn (Miranda Otto), the niece of the king who must disguise herself as a man to go into battle. Beyond this threesome, the rest of the women of Middle Earth are largely an unwashed, helpless mass who, in the face of a virtually hopeless battle against overwhelming enemy forces in "The Two Towers," can do little more than look anxious and cower with their children in fear.

    Plenty of critics got lost in the complex post-modern philosophy of "The Matrix," but a few noted its more important message. As the New York Times said of the second Matrix installment: "'Reloaded'" has one of the most excitingly subversive and radical points of view ever seen in a major motion picture -- a postmodern purview that accords philosophical ideals from people of color equal weight."

    "The Return of the King" is a fantastic finish to a memorable film trilogy, but on a personal level, I was much more satisfied with the conclusion of "The Matrix" series. For once, the major female characters in an action film aren't whimpering and waiting to be rescued by some steroid-laden Schwarzenegger-type in the end. For once, all of the major characters of color aren't lying in a heap of corpses as the credits start to roll. To my African American female eyes--(there we have it)--, the biggest difference between "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Matrix" isn't swords versus automatic weapons, or low-tech versus high-tech. It's the patriarchy of the past versus the Rainbow Coalition --()--of the future.
    Source
    "The only way to get smarter is to play a smarter opponent."

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    Schimmelreiter
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    An American academic
    To my African American female eyes
    Eurotrash
    'White' Americans and their Negro friends unite in bashing 'Eurotrash'. I get the impression that this has become a new fun sport for American chauvinists who don't mind having their biological mass exchanged as long as some notion of 'America' populated by Mexafrasians continues to dominate Europe.

    Tolkien's real motivation was already stated by the spokesman.
    Quote Originally Posted by some dude
    His great abiding passion and interest came from the Icelandic sagas and mythology, and this was his version of one of those sagas.
    I agree that it is an ethnocentric and enthusiastically Germanic work and Tolkien deserves praise for that.

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    http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/e...apirodrstephen

    Just another OD of Judeo-Marxism.

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    First, the idea that the Lord of the Rings is racist is laughable. Tolkien rejected the idea of LOTR as being an allegory for any one of the numerous theories behind the meaning of the novel: Christianity, Nuclear Armament, Communism, WWI, WWII, etc. I'm sure he would say the same for this racist theory.

    Tolkien rejected the allegorical view of the Lord of the Rings and the Sylmarillion as too narrow. "I think that many confuse 'applicability' with 'allegory', but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author." (J.R.R. Tolkien) Thus the Orcs are not Nazis or Communists, nor is the One Ring the nuclear bomb as many have supposed, instead they represent broader concepts of greed and power which are applicable in any age or time.
    Tolkien did however accept the concept of "applicability". That is to say that it could be applied to numerous real-life situations and furthermore Tolkien regarded such practice as beneficial and worthwhile as any good author would. So in essence yes, yes I suppose it could be applied to the idea of masses of non-European immigrants flooding our lands and destroying our cultures but that was not Tolkien's intention. We can, and should if we so choose, draw lessons and inspiration from the LOTR based around this applicability to the current rise of multiculturalism/mass immigration/etc.

    But essentially Tolkien wrote his trilogy to dedicate a version of Anglo-Saxon mythology, the original of which he did in fact feel had been lost somewhere along England's history, to his country which he loved dearly.

    "[Tolkien wrote] 'I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large and cosmogonic, to the level of romantic fairy-story... which I could dedicate simply: to England; to my country.'

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hauke Haien View Post
    'White' Americans and their Negro friends unite in bashing 'Eurotrash'. I get the impression that this has become a new fun sport for American chauvinists who don't mind having their biological mass exchanged as long as some notion of 'America' populated by Mexafrasians continues to dominate Europe.
    Negro 'academics' are hardly representative of most Americans.
    "Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time."
    -H.P. Lovecraft

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    At the end of the third Matrix movie the humans are still trapped inside the Matrix, what a good end movie

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    Dr Stephen Shapiro, an expert in cultural studies, race and slavery, said the author used his novels to present bigotry through a fantasy world.
    Shapiro? Is that Italian?
    Quote Originally Posted by Dietsehamer View Post
    At the end of the third Matrix movie the humans are still trapped inside the Matrix, what a good end movie
    I love the theme of Determinism in the final two movies.
    Last edited by SouthernBoy; Saturday, October 4th, 2008 at 11:59 PM. Reason: I was adding content.






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    Schimmelreiter
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    Quote Originally Posted by Psychonaut View Post
    Negro 'academics' are hardly representative of most Americans.
    I'll concede that this is not a likely explanation for those two characters and their diatribes, but I see this type of agitation succeed everywhere. Within the confines of political correctness, the only outside groups left to bash are the nearest relatives and this is also an opportunity for outsiders to feel part of the in-group.

    Or maybe I have spent too much time with neo-con types.

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    Wiki

    Shapiro is a Yiddish surname which occasionally is said to be derived from the medieval name of Speyer, Germany.[1] However, the word Shapiro is Aramaic (probably derived from the Hebrew word sapir (ספיר), usually translated as "sapphire" but which refers not to the sapphire gemstone but to the lapis lazuli and reputed to be the stone which represented the tribe of Issachar on the breastplate of the high priest of Israel and thus identifying the Shapiro family with that tribe)

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    Yiddish? I thought it was Sephardic, not from the Ashkenazi?

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