The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

About the ‘Rings of Power’

Posted on | September 10, 2022 | Comments Off on About the ‘Rings of Power’

There is nothing I despise more than journalistic bandwagons, where everybody is writing about the same thing. Nearly all the greatest pleasures of my career came from going out alone in pursuit of stories that nobody else was covering. Like, in early 2011, I was the only national reporter covering Herman Cain’s campaign, and I could walk right up to him (or “Smoking Man” Mark Block) and just start talking. By October, after a few debates, Herman zoomed to the top of the GOP field, and I was merely another drone in the journalistic swarm, which took all the fun out of it. My instinct is always to find the unreported angle or the offbeat story (e.g., “Employees Shocked as Lesbian Vegan Doughnut Shop Goes Out of Business“) that nobody else has noticed. Therefore, the very last thing I want to do is to become the ten-thousandth conservative pundit to trash the new Amazon prequel series, The Rings of Power.

Alas, my mind was troubled Friday evening, and in seeking something to distract me from my troubles, I clicked over to Vox Day where he quoted “The Woke Pundit” in satirical praise of this travesty:

White males, your time is up. This not a world of men. It is a world of women.
The Rings of Power is not just a television production, but a message to the world that racism is over. Future generations will look back and say this was the defining moment where everything changed.

You get the satire, eh? Blackwashed and gender-swapped and, almost certainly, gay romances planned for the future episodes. A masterpiece of diversity and inclusion, which is probably destined to disappear into obscurity as an overpriced failure, watched only by purple-haired neurotic non-binary weirdos living in their mothers’ basements.

“Amazon bought the television rights for The Lord of the Rings for US$250 million in November 2017, making a five-season production commitment worth at least US$1 billion. This would make it the most expensive television series ever made.”

It is to TV what the Hindenburg was to air travel, and words simply cannot express how much I don’t care about it. “Racist backlash”? Something would have to be important enough for me to care about it before I could ever bother to “backlash” against it. Because here’s the thing: I never watched the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, either.

In 1974, when I was a sophomore at Douglas County (Ga.) High School, our English teacher assigned The Hobbit as class reading. And I liked it OK. A few years later, I had a redheaded girlfriend in Kennesaw who convinced me to read the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy, and I liked that OK, too. But I never became what you’d call a Tolkien “fan,” because those people were geeks and nerds, the kind of pathetic dweebs who spent their weekends doing Society for Creative Anachronism stuff at the Renaissance Faire, or playing games that involved 10-sided dice.

Let me spell it out for you: L-O-S-E-R-S.

The whole world of science fiction and medieval fantasy falls into that category, as far as I’m concerned. Juvenile games and make-believe stories — what kind of creep cares about that stuff as a grown-up?

What’s with this Peter Pan Syndrome in our culture? Why are so many allegedly intelligent adults (most of whom don’t have children) obsessing over movies made for audiences of 13-year-olds? Or have these puerile entertainments become like Halloween, formerly a one-night holiday where kids dressed up and got sweet treats, but now transformed into a month-long Season of Ghoulish Horror with adults spending big money to decorate their homes like Haunted Mansions?

People need to grow up, for crying out loud. I’m reminded of the Nostalgia Collectible Bubble of the 1990s. A bunch of Baby Boomers reached their 40s, found themselves with upper-middle-class incomes, and decided to spend it all on baseball cards, comic books and toys from their Eisenhower-era childhoods, telling themselves that their silly collections were actually “investments.” Yeah, your Lone Ranger lunchbox is just like buying artworks at a Sothesby’s auction.

Is the analogy to this Tolkien obsession clear enough? Amazon paid way too much for this new “prequel” travesty, apparently believing there was a ready-made audience of 30-somethings who, having flocked to the local multiplex to watch the original Lord of the Rings movie trilogy as middle-schoolers, are now going to stream the New Tolkien Thing at home, no matter how different the New Thing is from the original. And if the target audience doesn’t buy it? Amazon will end up like that idiot who paid $75 for an old Lone Ranger lunchbox in 1994, thinking it was a valuable “investment” but now discovers it’s worth maybe $50 on Ebay.

My hunch is that Amazon has miscalculated. See, nostalgia only works as a selling point if what you’re selling matches the childhood memory, and the selling-point of the original Lord of the Rings trilogy was its evocation of ancient English folklore — wizards and elves and so forth. That the cultural context of Tolkien’s books was specifically English, and therefore white, was not “racist” except in the kind of weird retroactive worldview of activist types who think every statue should be toppled and every college campus building renamed for the sake of “social justice.”

Amazon probably saw how the Star Wars prequel/sequel spinoffs had been updated with “diversity” and thought, Hey, we can do the same thing with Tolkien, but isn’t it obvious why this won’t work? Even if you thought it worthwhile, as a matter of artistic expression (or political activism), to add “diversity” to Tolkien, in doing so you instantly lose that Ye Olden Days vibe, which was a big part of its original appeal. Furthermore, consider these two points:

  1. The 12-year-olds who were most fascinated with Lord of the Rings circa 2003 were mainly . . . white, weren’t they? Why would anyone imagine that a Tolkien “prequel” series might have broader appeal to People of Color, simply by changing the complexions of the actors? Or why think this product will have a greater appeal to women, simply by substituting women for men in leading roles?
  2. If people want “diversity” in entertainment, they can find that everywhere nowadays. It’s become ubiquitous, and therefore, ordinary. Where’s the actual evidence that making an extra effort toward “diversity” in movies or TV shows actually produces more profit, let alone that it adds any real artistic value?

Well, here I’ve spent more than a thousand words on a subject that I don’t actually care about, and which I think nobody else really cares about, except L-O-S-E-R-S. You’ve wasted your life playing childish games and collecting comic books, and now you want me to get excited about some stupid TV show about Wizards and Elves? Buddy, I’m not a 15-year-old anymore and this ain’t sophomore English class.

Stop expecting the rest of us to care about your adolescent obsessions. Besides, aren’t you falling behind on your Halloween decorating project? Run along, and don’t bother us adults with your silliness anymore.



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