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Am I racist or is this game too woke?

Is MadVader a racist twat?

  • Yes, definitely.

    Votes: 16 45.7%
  • No, just a twat.

    Votes: 12 34.3%
  • I'm also uneasy about wokeness, but can't decide if this is really racism.

    Votes: 7 20.0%

  • Total voters
    35

Users who are viewing this thread

Mad Vader

Duhpressed
Duke
M&BWB
General Hot Take: 'Incels', 'Inceldom' and 'Incel Culture' are a movement of radical equity-driven males who are societal shutouts through no explicit fault of their own, and that by all traditional definitions of the terms "left wing" and "right wing", should be classified as a "far-left wing" movement. The male equivalent of radical feminism. The funniest irony of this being of course that they can't be considered "left-wing" by the new intersectional and neomarxist ideological frameworks since the vast majority of the demographic of Incels are "straight white CISgender males", and the neomarxist dialectic highlights this group as the key oppressor of all the other groups. And so they're arbitrarily lumped in with the other "far-right" groups, all of which I have found out recently, hate Incels as much as everyone else, just for being 'degenerates who put ***** on a pedestal'.

Is there any major ideological group/wing/whatever that doesn't dislike incels? lol
This is so wrong. Saying incel ideology is about equity is like saying Nazism is about protecting national identity. It may sound right to its proponents, but it misses the actually important parts.
Incels hate and fear women through faults of their own. They desire them and can't get them, because they are fat, ugly, antisocial, or have terrible personalities, and somehow blame their lack of success on women. So many of them chose toxic, fantastic ideas of entitlement to women, as if they are servants to men, or, at best, unreal MGTOW fantasies. The fact that they think of women as second-rate humans, makes them far-right mysogynists, and this has nothing to do with the attitudes on the far left, which are all about inclusivity. There's a reason why incels overlap with alt-right groupings.
What they should be doing instead is to change their attitude and try to be attractive and positive about women, instead of being toxic entitled babies. The social corrective that worked for men through history, doesn't work now because the mating losers organize through the internet and accept completely unproductive ideas that make them the victim. They are really the victim of dead-end ideology that they themselves chose as an easy way out of their reproductive problem.
 

Life_Erikson

Master Knight
M&BWBNWVC
The fact that they think of women as second-rate humans, makes them far-right mysogynists, and this has nothing to do with the attitudes on the far left, which are all about inclusivity.
And the fact that a lot of feminist progressives think of men as second-rate humans, makes them far-left misandrists.

The left is about inclusivity? That must be a joke. The left is about shutting down discussion, forbidding words, seeing people as collective entities rather than individuals and weaving all of these collectivized people into a new victim-hirarchy.

In these specific points you mentioned: the progressive left and the identitarian right are the mirror image of each other. The major differences are the groups they support and that the left is the one wich is culturally and politically dominant.

Sundeki is right too when he sais that these incels use tools for their argumentation the left specifically uses. The victim narrative is their bread and butter, they don't want to change themselves and compete, they want to have everything distributet and handed to them. Just how feminists see no problem in female quotas in management and government positions and always argue from the position of being oppressed by some patriarchy which grants them the right to reparation.
 

Sundeki

Master Knight
M&BWB
This is so wrong. Saying incel ideology is about equity is like saying Nazism is about protecting national identity. It may sound right to its proponents, but it misses the actually important parts.
Incels hate and fear women through faults of their own. They desire them and can't get them, because they are fat, ugly, antisocial, or have terrible personalities, and somehow blame their lack of success on women. So many of them chose toxic, fantastic ideas of entitlement to women, as if they are servants to men, or, at best, unreal MGTOW fantasies. The fact that they think of women as second-rate humans, makes them far-right mysogynists, and this has nothing to do with the attitudes on the far left, which are all about inclusivity. There's a reason why incels overlap with alt-right groupings.
What they should be doing instead is to change their attitude and try to be attractive and positive about women, instead of being toxic entitled babies. The social corrective that worked for men through history, doesn't work now because the mating losers organize through the internet and accept completely unproductive ideas that make them the victim. They are really the victim of dead-end ideology that they themselves chose as an easy way out of their reproductive problem.
I don't think anyone chooses to be ugly, or have other genetics that predispose them to less/zero female attention (strange body structure, shortness, autism affecting sociability, illness affecting development, etc.). Short of radical surgery in some cases, these are immutable characteristics in the same way as being born a female or being born gay are. The basic structure of "this is what I am, and I am being discriminated and mistreated by society, in an individual and collective sense, because of it" are literally identical to the feminist and gay rights movements. The often repeated advice of "just be you" backfired as well. And I'm guessing that some incels turning to violence is probably because unlike the feminist and gay rights movements which had significant political clout that eventually resulted in financial backing in order to support social reforms, everyone, even the "far-right", thinks that incels and the incel movement are a joke.

I'm lucky in that I'm reasonably attractive and have had multiple long term relationships, but I can only imagine what it's like to want a romance so desperately, and not ever having the means to get it for reasons beyond your control. And so they turn into woman-haters when so many women treat them like subhumans. I'm guessing of the same mold as many feminists become man haters when they are mistreated/abused by men.
 

Mad Vader

Duhpressed
Duke
M&BWB
And the fact that a lot of feminist progressives think of men as second-rate humans, makes them far-left misandrists.

The left is about inclusivity? That must be a joke. The left is about shutting down discussion, forbidding words, seeing people as collective entities rather than individuals and weaving all of these collectivized people into a new victim-hirarchy.
Inclusivity is not what you think it is. It's mainstreaming of acceptance all minority disadvantaged groups. The same groups that are under constant attack by the alt right. Obviously those seeking to offend don't deserve to be included anywhere.
In these specific points you mentioned: the progressive left and the identitarian right are the mirror image of each other. The major differences are the groups they support and that the left is the one wich is culturally and politically dominant.
I use this same argument in reverse, when right-wingers are complaining about leftist identity politics, and then cry for the white hetero male, the real victim in their minds (which is their unacknowledged identity politics).
Sundeki is right too when he sais that these incels use tools for their argumentation the left specifically uses. The victim narrative is their bread and butter, they don't want to change themselves and compete, they want to have everything distributet and handed to them. Just how feminists see no problem in female quotas in management and government positions and always argue from the position of being oppressed by some patriarchy which grants them the right to reparation.
I don't think victimhood was invented by the left. All kinds of old and current political narratives use it.
You need to invade Poland? Pretend they attacked you first. You need to invade the Czechs? They are abusing your minority!
I also don't think a sense of entitlement was invented by leftist and feminists. Whites felt entitled to privileged white-only spaces for a long time. Some still do.
The female quotas are not reparations, they are there to break barriers and glass ceilings until they are no longer needed, because more women get into decision-making positions and more women decide to follow there.
I don't think anyone chooses to be ugly, or have other genetics that predispose them to less/zero female attention (strange body structure, shortness, autism affecting sociability, illness affecting development, etc.). Short of radical surgery in some cases, these are immutable characteristics in the same way as being born a female or being born gay are. The basic structure of "this is what I am, and I am being discriminated and mistreated by society, in an individual and collective sense, because of it" are literally identical to the feminist and gay rights movements. The often repeated advice of "just be you" backfired as well. And I'm guessing that some incels turning to violence is probably because unlike the feminist and gay rights movements which had significant political clout that eventually resulted in financial backing in order to support social reforms, everyone, even the "far-right", thinks that incels and the incel movement are a joke.
Gay rights and incel entitlement are completely different things and I won't even explain why.
In the pre-internet days, ancient incels were forced by society to think constructively and take steps to do what they can to marry. Some that were too ugly even killed themselves, and this was accepted as something sad, but understandable.
The problem with the incel ideology is about shifting the blame for their situation, unfairly, on women and a society that treats women equally. This is absolutely the wrong way to think if you can't get laid, because all they do is getting bitter and angry at women, while avoiding all personal responsibility and getting even less likely to get laid.
In addition, the women have it worse, because they are valued by their looks more. You can be ugly, fat mofo and drown in ***** if you have the personality and confidence. Ugly women have a much harder time at this, but incels are incapable of empathy to understand their luck to be born as males.
 
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Life_Erikson

Master Knight
M&BWBNWVC
Inclusivity is not what you think it is. It's mainstreaming of acceptance all minority disadvantaged groups. The same groups that are under constant attack by the alt right. Obviously those seeking to offend don't deserve to be included anywhere.
Acceptance for minorities IS mainstream. So mainstream in fact that we can't escape its forced messaging in politics and media even though the general populance had this already figured out in the 90ies. Strangely enough racial tensions have only risen since then. Either it doesn't work as intended or it isn't intended to make the society more inclusive. I believe it is a bit of both.

I use this same argument in reverse, when right-wingers are complaining about leftist identity politics, and then cry for the white hetero male, the real victim in their minds (which is their unacknowledged identity politics).
So we agree then that there are loonies on both sides?
Also is it cultural conservatives who are dominant in media and politics or left progressives?

I don't think victimhood was invented by the left. All kinds of old and current political narratives use it.
You need to invade Poland? Pretend they attacked you first. You need to invade the Czechs? They are abusing your minority!
I also don't think a sense of entitlement was invented by leftist and feminists. Whites felt entitled to privileged white-only spaces for a long time. Some still do.
Thats correct. But nazi germany didn't sit there and whine to the league of nations to give them back Danzig and the Sudetenland. Nazi germany stood up and took it through violance. The victim narrative was there to pretend their violance and injustice was in fact just, whereas the victim narrative of incels and the progressive left is used to either cause enough pitty to get what they want or to bully those with power into submission through making them look as unmoral monsters. That was the point I was making.

The female quotas are not reparations, they are there to break barriers and glass ceilings until they are no longer needed, because more women get into decision-making positions and more women decide to follow there.
Reparation was the wrong term then. However it sure feels to me like it is that.
I study mechanical engineering. The subject is roughly 90 to 95% male dominated. On every leaflet I read from my university about my subject there are at least two women pictured. There are multiple programs to get more women to participate in engineering. For example when I went to school there was this project called "girls day". Girls would have a day off of school and would get the chance to go and visit places where you could study or make an apprenticeship in technical fields in order to show them what options they have while us boys stayed in school and didn't get that chance. These projects have been going on since 20 years now. Yet nothing has changed. Is this all due to men holding women back?

In terms of female fellow stundents I asked a few how they feel about things. One of them has faced one lecturer who truely was sexist by definition. Apart from that all had comparatively positive experiences and even said that lecturers would treat them favourably and so did other male students since everybody was happy to have at least some women around in an environment that could quickly get quite monotonous as everybody and his mother is male.
 
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Sundeki

Master Knight
M&BWB
Gay rights and incel entitlement are completely different things and I won't even explain why.
Yeah, okay dude. If you won't actually read what I was saying instead of inferring a strawman of something I didn't say, then I won't even bother trying to explain myself further.
 

Lord Grindelvald

Sergeant at Arms
WB
Also:
General Hot Take: 'Incels', 'Inceldom' and 'Incel Culture' are a movement of radical equity-driven males who are societal shutouts through no explicit fault of their own, and that by all traditional definitions of the terms "left wing" and "right wing", should be classified as a "far-left wing" movement. The male equivalent of radical feminism. The funniest irony of this being of course that they can't be considered "left-wing" by the new intersectional and neomarxist ideological frameworks since the vast majority of the demographic of Incels are "straight white CISgender males", and the neomarxist dialectic highlights this group as the key oppressor of all the other groups. And so they're arbitrarily lumped in with the other "far-right" groups, all of which I have found out recently, hate Incels as much as everyone else, just for being 'degenerates who put ***** on a pedestal'.
Thats a very long and convoluted way of saying that you're a virgin.

Incels also arent lumped in with other far-right groups. They've created their own subdivision because even the far-right doesn't want anything to do with them. The alt-right is a much darker ring in Dante's inferno.
 

Lord Grindelvald

Sergeant at Arms
WB
That's a very short and ironic way of using ad hominem as a deflection. I'll be sure to call my exes and tell them that they have to give me v card back because you said so.
Deflecting what? Your hot take is a redundant pleonasm (<- that’s a joke) as it’s a widely accepted and almost textbook definition. Which is why I called it a long and convoluted way of saying the same thing.

By the way, involuntarily celibate (incels for short) have quite a big crossover with virgins, I imagine. So if you conform with the former, don’t get upset you get grouped in with the latter.
 

Adorno

Bedroom Assassin
Archduke
WBNWM&BVC
Involuntary celibacy? That's among the dumbest things I've heard.
Surely that's not a statistically sociological group of people who share specific traits.
I've met many terrible (criminals, sociopaths etc.) and ugly/disgusting people over the years - all with partners.
Sounds like it's just people bonding over a hatred to the opposite sex (mainly women, I guess).
(Besides, prostitutes are practically ubiquitous).
Not sure how we got to that from cultural diversity in a video game.
 

Sundeki

Master Knight
M&BWB
Not sure how we got to that from cultural diversity in a video game.
Yeah, my bad. The door was sort of left open on the first page where someone said something about alt-right websites and incels on them, and it was amusing to me because of something I read recently about far-right people more or less hating incels, and I looked into the incel phenomena a bit more and found out it uses the same self-victimization dialectical praxis as Neomarxists and intersectionalists. And concluded that despite it's obvious equity-driven persecutory nature squarely associating it with what we currently call the "far-left", incels are labelled as "far-right". Which was somewhat amusing to me. Probably should've created a new thread or something.

Involuntary celibacy? That's among the dumbest things I've heard.
Surely that's not a statistically sociological group of people who share specific traits.
I've met many terrible (criminals, sociopaths etc.) and ugly/disgusting people over the years - all with partners.
Sounds like it's just people bonding over a hatred to the opposite sex (mainly women, I guess).
(Besides, prostitutes are practically ubiquitous).
Online dating has changed much of the environment to the point that apparently 1/3 of men under 30 report zero sexual activity(and that doesn't include the men that aren't getting any that won't admit it) in a 1 year period in 2018-2019. I can only reasonably assume it's far worse due to covid. Presumably due to not being able to get any sex let alone love, they become bitter and resentful of the women that reject them. But it's interesting that the core focus of their hatred seems to be "Chad" much of the time, so it's not just about the women that reject them, but also jealousy of the small minority of men that are having the vast majority of sexual activity as well. So it's a bit more nuanced than simple misogyny.
 

Adorno

Bedroom Assassin
Archduke
WBNWM&BVC
Sex is reciprocal and you are not entitled to anything from another person.
Calling it "incel" and making it a phenomenon is a very convenient way to place the blame on women.*
(Envy of men having all the sex is part of the misogyny, not really that nuanced.)
But I certainly see some sociological factors, like women gaining in on men in terms of education, income, social/financial independence, and more people living alone (in the developed world). With women preferring dominant men, including socially and financially the balance has shifted. That's a long discussion.
It's funny you mention online dating and how men get less sex (do you see causality?). I instinctively think the opposite: it's much easier to find a potential partner.

* "Incels" are only men, as I understand it.
 

Mad Vader

Duhpressed
Duke
M&BWB
Involuntary celibacy? That's among the dumbest things I've heard.
Surely that's not a statistically sociological group of people who share specific traits.
This is because you haven't met them en masse in the less moderated corners of the internet where they post "women bad" stuff and cry about "injustice". Think otakus and then go from there, or read some articles. They are unbelievable, but very real.
 

Sundeki

Master Knight
M&BWB
Calling it "incel" and making it a phenomenon is a very convenient way to place the blame on women.*
I didn't make up the word, lol. I have to use the language other people set as the norm. But the word is used quite a lot, even with "incels" being labelled (and I might be misquoting from memory here) "a real and present terror threat" from some government representative in the US.

(Envy of men having all the sex is part of the misogyny, not really that nuanced.)
I don't see how lower status men hating other men is explicitly an issue with misogyny, but maybe I am missing something.

It's funny you mention online dating and how men get less sex (do you see causality?).
An incel "gripe" is that technology has allowed women to be "sexually hypergamous"(which as I understand it means that average women are able to get hookups with higher relative status men), as hookup culture has been taken to the next level with the instant and direct streamlining of the entire hookup process via dating apps. I think everyone sees the causality. Assuming I'm interpreting you right.

I instinctively think the opposite: it's much easier to find a potential partner.
Fair enough. What is your explanation/reasoning for the fact that almost 1/3 of men are completely sexless over a 12 month period (just prior to covid)? And my personal anecdote is that men are no less desirous of sex now than ever before, so I don't think that's it.

* "Incels" are only men, as I understand it.
There are the female equivalent, but I don't think they're grouped in with the males generally?
 

Adorno

Bedroom Assassin
Archduke
WBNWM&BVC
Fair enough. What is your explanation/reasoning for the fact that almost 1/3 of men are completely sexless over a 12 month period (just prior to covid)?
The numbers mean nothing to me unless I see numbers from 10, 50 or 100 years ago.
Is it abnormal? Has it changed?
I know the rate of marriage has gone down a lot, but if it also affects quantity of sex, I don't know.
 

Adorno

Bedroom Assassin
Archduke
WBNWM&BVC
Ah, great. I see some of the sociological factors playing a part.
Online dating doesn't seem to have increased sex among young people - or prevented the decrease.
 

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Dancing to electro-pop like a robot since 1984
Subforum Moderator
M&BWBNWWF&SVC
"Its not even entertaining to correct you." is also a very interesting way of saying "I don't have any arguments."
look, mostly i didn't want to derail the thread too much. but that ship has clearly sailed, and it was a **** thread to begin with, so **** it.

this is one of the few areas where i very much do know what i am talking about. if you weren't so far beyond wrong that it would make it boring, i could write an essay on this. in fact, many have. in fact, why don't i save myself the effort and just post one of those?

Fornad said:
Now, I have many reservations about this show from what I’ve seen so far – chief among them being time compression. I’m not particularly optimistic that we’ll be getting an adaptation that focuses on the inevitability and fear of death, as is the central theme of the Second Age. But I’d like to focus on a particularly divisive form of criticism here. I'm sure we've all seen many critiques of Amazon's choice to cast a more diverse group of people in 'The Rings of Power'. Many of the people who critique this choice genuinely believe that they are simply trying to remain true to Tolkien's world in doing so. However, I think what they are in fact doing is unwittingly “defending Peter Jackson’s monopoly on any aesthetic interpretation of these books”, to quote a pithy tweet I read yesterday.

Now, some disclaimers. I’m not trying to shut down all discussion of skin colour in this post. I think it is possible to mention skin colour alongside other traits (height, beards or the lack thereof, hair colour) in a reasonable manner when discussing the casting choices here. Neither am I trying to “prove” that a certain character or group of characters looked exactly a certain way. I am simply trying to show what is possible within the bounds of the text. My issue comes when people discuss skin colour exclusively, dictate that it must be a certain way, and do so in such a manner which demonstrates they’re not particularly familiar with the topic in the context of the legendarium.

Critiques of this sort are nothing new. 20 years ago, almost nobody was complaining that Viggo was too short and too bearded, or that Elijah was too young, or that Sean Astin wasn't noticeably "browner" than the other hobbits, or that Sean Bean’s hair was the wrong colour, etc. But there were plenty of comments about casting a gay actor to play Gandalf. This is what is known as a “dog whistle”, if not outright bigotry.

The central issue here is that derivative works based on Tolkien’s work have been reinterpreting his works with piss-poor care for skin colour since day one. I say skin colour, not race, because they aren't the same thing, even if you don't want to accept that the latter is a purely social concept. As much as people like to say “well, you’ll always have the books!” adaptations matter. They matter because they shape the way people view a certain universe on both a conscious and subconscious level. The results are what we’re seeing recently.

Textual references

Tolkien talks about skin colour and he talks about nationality or heritage. When he talks about darker skin colour, he mostly talks about 'brown' or 'swarthy'. There's actually only one line about black-skinned humans in the legendarium – they hail from Far Harad and come to fight at the Battle of Pelennor Fields.

Now, swarthy doesn't necessarily mean black. It comes from the Old English meaning 'black', but words don't always mean their literal parts (or whole), and the word means 'dark-skinned'. But remember that it's an English word, used by the English, and they've been known to apply it to Italians, Indians, and sub-Saharan Africans at the drop of a hat. But Tolkien uses it to describe both a good number of Gondorians and Haradrim. Tell me the last time you saw art or a movie or a game that showed the men attacking Gondor as having the same shade of skin as its defenders. If you have, it's few and far between, and not from the most popular sources.

The usage of “swarthy” occurs elsewhere. In ‘Of Dwarves and Men’ sometime close to September 1969, or possibly later, Tolkien says of the Folk of Bëor, who lived on a similar latitude to that of the British Isles and Denmark:

There were fair-haired men and women among the Folk of Bëor, but most of them had brown hair (going usually with brown eyes), and many were less fair in skin, some indeed being swarthy.

We are also told in the Silmarillion of the Easterlings:

Easterlings: Also called Swarthy Men; entered Beleriand from the East in the time after the Dagor Bragollach, and fought on both sides in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad.

Owing to the evidence in this thread we may also assume that the Folk of Haleth were mostly (if not entirely) swarthy.

So, we have three groups of Men, whose skin colour was “swart or sallow”, arriving from the East, not the South, very early on in history, and then continuing to live in these regions thereafter. The Bree-landers, who lived on the same latitude as southern England, were descendants of such groups of Men who came out of the East. The Dunlendings, who were related to the Bree-landers and also lived in Eriador, were "swarthy" (Appendix F). This doesn’t seem to correspond to our own world, does it?

'Brown', on the other hand, is most frequently used by Tolkien to describe Sam, or Banazîr Galbasi, to give him his real name. And despite people who claim that's only because he's tanned, he keeps using it for the whole journey, alongside Frodo's continual 'pale'. Sam packed rope, if I recall, but I don't think Frodo packed a parasol. Sam also still has brown hands after years of being the Mayor and working at a desk. The prologue also says that the Harfoots were "browner of skin" than the other Hobbit groups, despite living at the same latitude as the other branches. There is clearly an ethnic component to Sam’s appearance. Frodo was mostly a Fallohide, who were said to be “fairer of skin” by contrast.

Now, how brown is brown? How swarthy is swarthy? This is entirely up to the interpretation of the reader. What is clear is that in all of the above cases, the exact place that a people hail from on the globe does not have a strong correlation with their skin colour. Tolkien’s origin for Men has them awakening at Hildórien, and then spreading over Middle-earth in various groups or tribes. This brings up the question of why there are even different skin tones among humans in LotR (and where hobbits came from in such a short time!). There's not enough time for (and we can't expect Tolkien to have been familiar with) the way it worked in the real world, with selective pressure between nutritional requirements and protection over the course of tens of thousands of years. So how did it work? Did Men awake in their ultimate range of colours and then segregate and spread out into a nice gradient? Did melanin optimisation work overdrive for the first few hundred years after the Awakening and then go back to what we would consider bog-standard natural selection? We have no idea how any of this works.

As such, trying to find an in-universe justification for why only “white” people should be living in the north-west of Middle-earth is simply fruitless.

Tolkien’s inspirations

When direct textual references frustrate them, the people making these critiques usually turn to Tolkien’s inspirations to prove their point. The argument goes that because Tolkien drew heavily upon “Nordic” mythology, or because he was “creating a mythology for England” all of his characters and races must therefore be “white”. I’ll let the man himself speak first, in Letter 294 (1967):

Not Nordic, please! A word I personally dislike; it is associated, though of French origin, with racialist theories. Geographically Northern is usually better. But examination will show that even this is inapplicable (geographically or spiritually) to 'Middle-earth'. The action of the story takes place in the North-west of 'Middle-earth', equivalent in latitude to the coastlands of Europe and the north shores of the Mediterranean. But this is not a purely 'Nordic' area in any sense. If Hobbiton and Rivendell are taken (as intended) to be at about the latitude of Oxford, then Minas Tirith, 600 miles south, is at about the latitude of Florence. The Mouths of Anduin and the ancient city of Pelargir are at about the latitude of ancient Troy.
Auden has asserted that for me 'the North is a sacred direction'. That is not true. The North-west of Europe, where I (and most of my ancestors) have lived, has my affection, as a man's home should. I love its atmosphere, and know more of its histories and languages than I do of other lands; but it is not 'sacred', nor does it exhaust my affections. I have, for instance, a particular love for the Latin language, and among its descendants for Spanish. That it is untrue for my story, a mere reading of the synopses should show. The North was the seat of the fortresses of the Devil. The progress of the tale ends in what is far more like the re- establishment of an effective Holy Roman Empire with its seat in Rome than anything that would be devised by a 'Nordic'.

The quote about creating a “mythology for England” is always misquoted and poorly understood. The full quote is from 1951, and runs as such:

"Do not laugh! But once upon a time (my crest has long since fallen) 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 - the larger founded on the lesser in contact with the earth, the lesser drawing splendour from the vast backcloths - which I could dedicate simply to: to England; to my country. It should possess the tone and quality that I desired, somewhat cool and clear, be redolent of our 'air' (the clime and soil of the North West, meaning Britain and the hither parts of Europe: not Italy or the Aegean, still less the East)…

There are two important things to note about this quote. Firstly, Tolkien states that “my crest has long since fallen” – in other words, this was an old idea, from which he had moved on a long time ago. He also states that the “air” or “clime” of “Italy or the Aegean” should not form a part of his “connected legend”. But in the later letter which I have already quoted (written in 1967) Tolkien explicitly links his legendarium to Italy and the Mediterranean more generally. The plants that Sam and Frodo see in Ithilien are a dead ringer for coastal Turkey. He also compared the Númenóreans to the Egyptians in their love of monumental architecture and veneration of the dead, and based the crown of Gondor on the white Hedjet crown of Upper Egypt. So he clearly changed his mind – as he so often did!

If we are to take the “inspiration” argument seriously, then, we should assume that the Númenóreans must have looked exactly like ancient Egyptians, and the men of Gondor should look exactly like Romans or Byzantines. But of course, based on what the text actually tells us, we know this is silly. Denethor had “skin like ivory” and Aragorn was “pale”, and yet they rule over this apparently Egyptian/Roman/Byzantine kingdom. There aren’t many blondes in Egypt, and yet we know that many of the Númenóreans were blond. The Egpytian royal house and nobles were certainly capable of growing beards, but the Númenórean royal house was not, because of their elven blood. The Noldor have dark hair, pale skin, come from the East, usually struggle to grow beards and are renowned for their sword making and engineering feats - does this mean that Tolkien definitely envisioned all Elves to look Japanese as a result? Of course not. Believe it or not, these are fantasy races of people who cannot be transcribed 1:1 with any historical ethnic group. This applies to every other group Tolkien created.

Double standards also come into play here. Peter Jackson's films were filmed in New Zealand (a place whose flora and fauna are almost entirely alien to European species) and cast American and Australian actors alongside British ones, but the protests against a loss of "European identity" in these films are basically non-existent. There were, in fact, protests from the fandom when Amazon moved production of their series to England, despite this being Tolkien's homeland. This is because the "inspiration" argument comes from people who are concerned with race and little else.

Tolkien even explicitly warns us against looking at his inspirations too closely in On Fairy-Stories:

In Dasent’s words I would say: "We must be satisfied with the soup that is set before us, and not desire to see the bones of the ox out of which it has been boiled"... By “the soup” I mean the story as it is served up by its author or teller, and by “the bones” its sources or material—even when (by rare luck) those can be with certainty discovered...

Dwarves and Elves


When this “inspiration” argument is applied to other groups, then, scepticism is required. Nowhere in the legendarium is the skin colour of a dwarf ever mentioned, but the assumption is made that because the primary inspiration for dwarves was from Norse mythology, they must all therefore be “white”. My reasoning above should already show why this is bogus, but let’s take it a little further. The Valar certainly owe some of their inspiration to the Norse and Greek pantheons of gods, but this certainly does not mean Manwë had one eye like Odin, or that Ulmo must have had a trident like Poseidon. Quenya derived a great deal from Finnish, but this does not mean that we should expect any adaptation to have the High Elves speaking Westron with Finnish accents. There is nothing in Tolkien about Dwarves who could turn themselves into fish (Andvari) or Elves causing illnesses in humans. There is nothing in Norse mythology about Elves fighting a war with the Devil over jewels, or dwarves (some with blue beards!) being cast out of their homeland. Inspiration does not mean rote copying on Tolkien’s part.

In fact, we see other inspirations in the text, and possible “looks” for the dwarves as result. Tolkien famously compared the struggles of the Longbeards to the Jews, and the Khuzdul language to Hebrew. The petty-dwarves have names like Ibun and Khîm, which seem far more Semitic than they do Norse. We only really encounter three of the seven houses of the Dwarves in the various texts – the others are said to be in the East, off the boundaries of the map we’re familiar with, and we have already established that groups of men from the East can be swarthy.

In the late Third Age, in order to gather up volunteers for re-taking Moria (since he could not find enough in Erebor and the Iron Hills), Balin “went away for two or three years. Then he returned to the Mountain with a great number of dwarves that he discovered wandering masterless in the South and East” (FotR draft, from HOME, ‘Return of the Shadow’). This is somewhat reminiscent of the petty-dwarves, who (according to ‘Nature of Middle-earth) were exiled by other dwarves from their mansions in the First Age. It's up to one's interpretation how far south Balin went, but he was away for two or three years, so we can assume he went reasonably far – quite possibly beyond the borders of the map we’re familiar with. Might it be reasonable to assume that the Longbeards, as the most senior clan, maintained diplomatic ties with the other clans in the Second Age, based on intermarriage between royalty? Might Amazon’s dwarf princess have such an origin? It is too early to say.

Finally, we turn to Elves. The only passage in the Lord of the Rings that describes the skin colour of Elves in a more general sense (beyond individual characters) is found in the Appendices of the Lord of the Rings. It reads as follows:

‘Elves’ has been used to translate both ‘Quendi’, 'the speakers', the High-elven name of all their kind, and ‘Eldar’, the name of the Three Kindreds that sought for the Undying Realm and came there at the beginning of Days (save the Sindar only)… they were a race high and beautiful, the older Children of the world, and among them the Eldar were as kings, who now are gone: the People of the Great Journey, the People of the Stars. They were tall, fair of skin and grey-eyed, though their locks were dark, save in the golden house of Finrod; and their voices had more melodies than any mortal voice that now is heard. They were valiant, but the history of those that returned to Middle-earth in exile was grievous…

This passage presents some issues. It states that “their locks were dark, save in the golden house of Finrod”. If we were to take this sentence as referring to all Elves, then this would directly contradict the fact that the Vanyar (who were not Noldor and therefore not of the house of Finrod) were known to have golden hair. The house of Finrod inherited their golden hair from Finwë’s marriage to Indis (one of the Vanyar), but they were certainly not the only Elves with golden hair. It can only be reconciled if we take the section stating “They were tall, fair of skin and grey-eyed, though their locks were dark, save in the golden house of Finrod” as referring only to the Noldor. Christopher Tolkien confirmed that this was the intention of the passage in The Book of Lost Tales, Part One, and was "unable to determine how this extraordinary perversion of meaning arose".

As such, taking it to be an authoritative statement about the skin colour of all Elves in the legendarium is flat out wrong. As Christopher says: "these words describing characters of face and hair were actually written of the Noldor only". But then, a few Noldorin elves were described as having red hair, not dark hair (Mahtan, Maedhros, Amrod, and Amras).

This leads on to a broader point – which if you’ve been paying attention, you should have already realised. There is no ‘canon’ for Middle-earth because no one has defined a canon that a majority (let alone all) of Tolkien readers, commenters, and adapters agree to. The above passage is just one of many examples of this.

In the Children of Húrin, it is stated that some of the Easterlings named the Eldar “white-fiends: for so they named the Elves, hating them, but fearing them more. For this reason they also feared and avoided the mountains, in which many of the Eldar had taken refuge…”. This passage is also often cited in these discussions, but ignores the context that it was used to refer to the Eldar in Beleriand in particular (and could not possibly refer to the Avari, who were "sundered" from the Eldar "until many ages were past" and remained very secretive, especially in Beleriand). The descendants of Fingolfin in particular seem to have had extremely pale skin: Aredhel his daughter and Idril his granddaughter were noted for this trait (the latter was called "Silver-foot" for this reason), and Aredhel's son Maeglin is said to have had skin that was literally white. The fact that paleness is specifically noted in these cases seems to indicate that it wasn't universal, and that there was some diversity of skin tone amongst the Elves.

There is an instance in the Silmarillion that tells us that "Of all Men they [the people of Bëor] were most like to the Noldor". However, this quote does not tell us anything about the appearance of Elves, only that they were like the people of Bëor, who are said to be "eager of mind, cunning-handed, swift in understanding, long in memory, and they were moved sooner to pity than to laughter". Yet, elsewhere we are told that "the Eldar said, and recalled in the songs they still sang in later days, that they [the Atani] could not easily be distinguished from the Eldar - not while their youth lasted, the swift fading of which was to the Eldar a grief and a mystery”. Thus, the Eldar themselves said that they resembled the Atani, who themselves were a mix of fair-skinned and darker, some being even "swarthy". Dark-skinned Elves are therefore certainly not inconceivable.

To reinforce this point, in an earlier point in Tolkien's conception, he described Maeglin, a Noldorin Elf, as being "swart". He later changed this to being deathly pale, possibly to bring Maeglin into line with the other Noldor. However, Maeglin's early descriptions are evidence against the lie that Tolkien would never have described an Elf as having dark skin. Later descriptions of Maeglin are irrelevant, because the point is about Tolkien's idea of what is possible for Elves.

Based on the Vanity Fair article, the Elf played by Ismael Cruz Córdova is a Silvan elf – and as such is a descendant of the Nandor who did not enter Beleriand. The Silmarillion states that “little is known of the wanderings of the Nandor, whom he [Lenwë] led away down Anduin… some came at last to its mouths and there dwelt by the Sea.” The human woman with whom he has a relationship lives in the “Southlands of Middle-earth” in a village called ‘Tirharad’. Is it possible that the Tolkien scholars employed by the show theorised that a group of Nandor made their way further south, to South Gondor and even to Harad? Might the Nandor have had darker skin from the start, or developed darker skin whilst living in the South? It’s plausible. Elves in every "biological" sense were the same as Men (the case for pointy ears is weak, and they could certainly interbreed), and we have already established that Men had a variety of skin tones. It would be odd, therefore, if every Elf who awoke in Cuiviénen did so with lily-white skin. Córdova is tall, with dark hair, angular features and naturally grey eyes. This therefore would seem to be someone cast to look as close as possible to a darker-skinned Elf.

Conclusion

We generally don't see the kind of variety that the text permits in the derivative media, because whitewashing is a hell of a drug. And it can be the other way round, too. People often show the Woses as dark-skinned, which has always seemed a bit racist to me, because they're named after the woodwoses of medieval Europe, and making them darker of skin because they are primitive is, well, what it is. People don't do their due diligence, and suddenly all the good people are white and all the common bad people are shades of brown. The facts escape people who make a mix of dumb and biased assumptions.

Part of the problem here is that society (especially American society) is so overly concerned with race. Black, White, Asian, etc., are not old and stable concepts. Irish-Americans and Italian-Americans, whilst now viewed as unquestionably white, were not seen as such a hundred years ago, and in fact were the subject of propaganda seeking to show they had 'negroid' features. 'Race' doesn't have a good track record of meaning anything real. If the whole of human civilisation could get its collective head out of its collective ass, the idea of race would disappear overnight, it being a drastically simplified and muddled bastardisation of multi-axial ethnographic blob that is the human race. You won’t find any scientific paper published today which accepts race as anything other than ‘social race’ defined by social norms. But people do believe in it, and so it means something, if only that you have to pay homage to it when you talk with them.

Even if you do not accept this fact, Tolkien did. Tolkien's error, if anything, is in not playing that game, of not calling his characters capital-w White, capital-b Black, capital-other-letters etc. His recorded thoughts on the subject make it clear he did not subscribe to such notions. From an address to the University of Oxford in 1959:

I have the hatred of apartheid in my bones; and most of all I detest the segregation or separation of Language and Literature. I do not care which of them you think White.

Letter 29:

and should regret giving any colour to the notion that I subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine.

Letter 81:

At most, it would seem to imply that those who domineer over you should speak (natively) the same language – which in the last resort is all that the confused ideas of race or nation boil down to…

But the problem with going hands-off, as Tolkien did within his works, is people will tell others what you “really meant”, and the people who speak the loudest on those lines tend to be the people who are most concerned with race. They'll assume your stances are theirs if they like what you have, and they'll assume your stances are their enemies’ if they don't. This is why Tolkien can explicitly badmouth Nazi race-doctrine, call Hitler a “ruddy little ignoramus” and still be loved by white supremacists.

Now, I should (even though it pains me to feel I need it) should give the disclaimer that I'm not saying Tolkien was creating a speckled crowd of characters that you would see in a modern city. I'm also not saying he was creating an Aryan wonderland. I'm saying he did not have the preoccupation with the simple and stupid idea of Race that is the common denominator to both those lines of thought. If you let either of these lines of thought dominate your view, you're always going to get something mangled when you look at how he describes populations.

I hope this essay has shown that the textual descriptions leave a great deal of interpretation open, both to the reader and to any visual adaptation.

the simple fact of the matter is that you are wrong. you are wrong about tolkien's inspirations, you are wrong about the meaning behind them, you are wrong about the "pagan european tradition of folk tales" and its relation to tolkien's writing, you are wrong about the depiction of diversity in tolkien's own writing, you are wrong about the depictioin of diversity in adaptations of tolkien.

and i say this as someone who, much like the author of that essay, thinks the show will probably be **** anyway.

speaking of which, you are also wrong about why the show will be ****.
 

Mad Vader

Duhpressed
Duke
M&BWB
look, mostly i didn't want to derail the thread too much. but that ship has clearly sailed, and it was a **** thread to begin with, so **** it.
This kind of dismissive, arrogant attitude is the most ****ty part of the thread. Shutting down genuine debates is why people have real problems with diversity and it's not your first nor the last time either. If anyone was a bit racist, you just made him more racist and hostile to anti-racist messages.
 
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