Not all that long ago, the producers behind Amazon Studios' massive Middle-Earth prequel -- The Rings Of Power -- let it slip that their visit to the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien would "massively" involve POC (Persons Of Color). The way this news broke at the time ... well, it almost seemed to me like it was more of a strategic marketing blitz, you know what I mean? It was almost as if some suit said, "Hey, you know how we could ratchet up the interest in our Rings project? Well, let's let it be known that we're going 'all in' with having persons of color finally turn up in Middle-Earth!" Lo and behold, there was a controversy as some folks sounded off on it -- some of it curious, some of it actually well thought out and articulate, and -- sigh -- some other stuff, too.
Like so many, I don't see color. I see characters. If a character is created with intelligence and grace, then I really don't a damn what his or her skin color happens to be. Honestly, it's incidental; and -- in most cases -- skin color isn't even relevant to the story. Now, that isn't always the case with comedies and dramas -- there are times when a cultural class practically relies on audiences noticing these differences -- but when it comes to Science Fiction and Fantasy? Sorry, folks, but I just don't see why it matters ... except for those trying to virtue signal.
This is different from the current controversy involving, say, James Bond. Virtue signallers are all over that franchise demanding that the next Bond be a black man, maybe even a trans, maybe even differently-abled. (You can't believe the garbage some folks post.) Again, James Bond isn't a real person, so on one level I've no vested interest in his skin color. But on another point ... why not create your own British secret service franchise and cast a black actor? Why must it be Bond? Bond has a screen legacy as well as a print one that might seriously question the legitimacy of making him black or any other Person Of Color, but I guess it's the franchise those spinning the arguments really want control over (think "the money") and not the character. Always follow the money. Always.
But with Tolkien's world?
I just don't see any logical reason to expend any emotional energy over this debate. Cast TALENTED PEOPLE and give them GOOD STORIES to tell, and I guarantee you an audience will show up whether it's the lands of the Shire, Narnia, or Bajor. Otherwise, all these producers are trying to do is take your money, and that's something I'm less inclined to fork over.
That's my point, too: what message are you sending Persons Of Color when you have to give them something already established in order to be cinematically legitimate? Are you suggesting that Persons Of Color can't build their own legacy and must co-opt something that's already existing in order to find box office glory? It's a slippery slope, one that rarely takes audiences somewhere that they deserve to go, and I'd rather we as a culture spend more time on crafted interesting characters than jumping aboard the bandwagon while there's money to be made.
In any event, the trailer dropped last night; and I wanted to share it for those of you who may not have seen it. Apologies if anything I've written above offends anyone as that's never my intent. I try to always be true to thine own self ... and this is an argument I just don't see merits much attention.
As always, thanks for reading ... and live long and prosper!