Multicultural Laketown

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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby Samuel Vimes » Mon Mar 24, 2014 10:59 am

@ BobSacamano ,

First question, are there "black" or "non-white" humans in ME? Yes. Tolkien does make a mention of them. Also we are told that the lands south of Gondor are hot and the sun is stronger there. Which would make the skin tone of those that live there darker. So "black" people do exist in ME.

Second question, were there "black" or "non-white" people in ancient Europe? Again yes. Sure they weren't many, perhaps a handful in the bigger cities. But they did exist. So in ancient Europe it was possible for people to travel huge distances.

Third question, did people in ME travel? And another yes. The people of Rohan migrated from the north down south and settled there. Humans in the fist age moved from the east to the west. There was travel between Arnor and Gondor and that was quite far.

So what exactly is the problem? "Black" people existed in ME and given that Dale was said to have been such a great city and a center for trade far and wide. Then why is it so impossible that a few, say 5-10 people with a different skin tone came there? The presence of 2-3 "black" people is a very tiny minority, not really a big community.

The only objection you have left is that Tolkien did not specify that there were "black" people in Lake-Town. But absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. And did Tolkien specify that there were bathrooms in Rivendel? If not does that mean there weren't any? And as others have said, Tolkien is a product of his time. He probably never considered having "black" people in lake-town. Not because he felt they shouldn't be there but that the thought would not have occurred to him.

In closing, the presence of one or two "black" people isn't a slight to Tolkien nor is it unrealistic. And why is realism in this regard a big concern when you have Dragons, Wizards, Trolls, Elves and what not?

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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby BobSacamano » Tue Mar 25, 2014 5:39 am

siddharth wrote:Alright, I thought I did but now I don't understand your view at all.
First you said there were NO blacks, absolutely none in ancient Europe so it is wrong to show Black people in Laketown.
Now you agree that there were blacks in Ancient Europe, a very miniscule population. But that is what they showed in Laketwon. There was one black woman I recall, perhaps at the most two. They are not showing as if the entire Laketown denizens are blacks> Just two. And that matches with your latest reasoning!

Also, so what is wrong if (and I am saying IF as I don't believe he did that to avoid racism only) PJ included coloured people just to avoid racism sentiments? That's what is called 'modernisation' of a book. I don't know if you have seen the BBC Sherlock but why do you think they changed Holmes' addiction from cocaine to smoking? Because no matter how truly they portray the series, it will always be seen unfit and as a negative influence on the modern society.
If PJ included blacks only to avoid racism, then that's fine. Because blacks need more exposure in art and films and in the current society not giving them a chance does not only diminish their visibility in modern soceity but also inherently leads to racism-accusations. And we are speaking of just ONE black woman here. Not a hoard. It neither destroys any themes by Tolkien, nor makes it any less of an adaptation than it already is(well ,what little it is). If you are concerned about how the film was a laughable adaptation, there are better points to nit-pick than the ethnicity of Laketown-dennyzens.

I wish PJ had included a more variety of ethnic people in these ME films than just Caucasians. ;)


I never said that there were absolutely no Blacks in ancient Europe. Some Blacks were brought by the Romans, it's true. However, northern Middle Earth is supposed to represent a Europe a few thousand years before the advent of the Romans, a sort of "lost" prehistoric Europe. And your quote about "modernization", it isn't supposed to be a "modern" setting.

As for Peter Jackson trying to avoid charges of racism, I don't blame him. I blame the over-sensitive people that griped about the lack of diversity in the LOTR films, and this idea that it is considered "offensive" to portray a white society.

If Black people need more exposure in the arts because they aren't getting a fair shot, then why don't they start writing fantasy stories that depict Black protagonists instead of demanding that we attach a diversity quota to things that already exist?
Last edited by BobSacamano on Tue Mar 25, 2014 6:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby BobSacamano » Tue Mar 25, 2014 5:54 am

Samuel Vimes wrote:@ BobSacamano ,

First question, are there "black" or "non-white" humans in ME? Yes. Tolkien does make a mention of them. Also we are told that the lands south of Gondor are hot and the sun is stronger there. Which would make the skin tone of those that live there darker. So "black" people do exist in ME.

Second question, were there "black" or "non-white" people in ancient Europe? Again yes. Sure they weren't many, perhaps a handful in the bigger cities. But they did exist. So in ancient Europe it was possible for people to travel huge distances.

Third question, did people in ME travel? And another yes. The people of Rohan migrated from the north down south and settled there. Humans in the fist age moved from the east to the west. There was travel between Arnor and Gondor and that was quite far.

So what exactly is the problem? "Black" people existed in ME and given that Dale was said to have been such a great city and a center for trade far and wide. Then why is it so impossible that a few, say 5-10 people with a different skin tone came there? The presence of 2-3 "black" people is a very tiny minority, not really a big community.

The only objection you have left is that Tolkien did not specify that there were "black" people in Lake-Town. But absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. And did Tolkien specify that there were bathrooms in Rivendel? If not does that mean there weren't any? And as others have said, Tolkien is a product of his time. He probably never considered having "black" people in lake-town. Not because he felt they shouldn't be there but that the thought would not have occurred to him.

In closing, the presence of one or two "black" people isn't a slight to Tolkien nor is it unrealistic. And why is realism in this regard a big concern when you have Dragons, Wizards, Trolls, Elves and what not?

Bye for now.
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No, the objection I have is that people get so deeply offended at the idea that a story set in an ancient north Europe has an all-white cast and extras. Why is it considered "negative and unfit" to have a movie without a Black person in it?

And as I said before, "Black" people were mentioned one single time by Tolkien (IF "Black" people are who the Troll-men of Far Harad are supposed to represent), and the way they were described, it appeared that they had never been seen by the forces of the west before the battle of Pelenor. They existed in the absolute furthest margin of the stories.
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby siddharth » Tue Mar 25, 2014 6:44 am

BobSacamano wrote:I never said that there were absolutely no Blacks in ancient Europe.


a. You agree there were one or two or just ten blacks in Europe.
b. There were one or two blacks in Laketown.

a and b go hand-in-hand so I am unclear, as of yet, about your exact argument.

However, northern Middle Earth is supposed to represent a Europe a few thousand years before the advent of the Romans, a sort of "lost" prehistoric Europe.


It isn't. ME is supposed to be Europe alright but the exact timeline of when ME should exist, varies from fans to fans (and no, not all fans read the Professor's letters or every other work to come to know about that). It was Tolkien's view alright, but Tolkien never *implements* his thoughts on the reader, he encourages the reader themselves to come up with their own viewpoint/interpretation. So the premise that Middle-earth is supposed to be a pre-Roman Europe works only for those who saw it like that. And that's not the case for all fans, I believe.


If Black people need more exposure in the arts because they aren't getting a fair shot, then why don't they start writing fantasy stories that depict Black protagonists instead of demanding that we attach a diversity quota to things that already exist?


Hmmm, black people ought to write black protagonists to make black-oriented films. Wow. :shock:
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby Samuel Vimes » Tue Mar 25, 2014 7:43 am

BobSacamano wrote:
No, the objection I have is that people get so deeply offended at the idea that a story set in an ancient north Europe has an all-white cast and extras. Why is it considered "negative and unfit" to have a movie without a Black person in it?

And as I said before, "Black" people were mentioned one single time by Tolkien (IF "Black" people are who the Troll-men of Far Harad are supposed to represent), and the way they were described, it appeared that they had never been seen by the forces of the west before the battle of Pelenor. They existed in the absolute furthest margin of the stories.


Again, I have seen far more people getting offended by the presence of a few black people in Lake-Town than I have seen people offended about PJ not having any black people in the LotR films. I did the search you suggested and most hits were about the Hobbit and the casting person that turned away some extras because they were not white. Some hits were about King Kong and some were about the Tintin film. The ones that dealt with the LotR films were about the books as much as the films.
So with the LotR films I didn't see or experience great campaign against PJ and calling those films racist. There were some comments but hardly anything major. The Hobbit film got some flak for the actions of one casting person and it seems that this person was later fired.

Tolkien also describes the land directly south of Gondor as hot and with a strong sun. So the people that lives there would have a darker skin tone.
Also, Sam had heard about Oliphants and he later got to see one. So the stories about such creatures had traveled all the way up to the Hobbits.
And the people of Gondor seemed to know about Oliphants.
Also Aragorn had travelled down south and east so I don't think the people of Gondor had never seen a "black" person before. The book is said to have a Hobbit centric viepoint. And the Hobbits have probably never seen a "black" person as they tended not to travel a lot and few humans knew about the Shire.

I never said that there were absolutely no Blacks in ancient Europe. Some Blacks were brought by the Romans, it's true. However, northern Middle Earth is supposed to represent a Europe a few thousand years before the advent of the Romans, a sort of "lost" prehistoric Europe. And your quote about "modernization", it isn't supposed to be a "modern" setting.


Having northen ME be pre-Roman Europe has several problems if we apply real history and geography. First the map is all wrong, where is the mediterranean sea? Second, they shouldn't have all the iron they have as that metal was very rare in those times. They have tobacco, which wasn't around in Europe then. And it would not be very easy to grow Tobacco in northen Europe.
"But this is supposed to be fantasy." you say. Then your objection about no blacks in the real historical Europe falls flat.
Also if ME is supposed to be based on our real world then black people DID exist. And long in the past, Gondor had control over some of the lands south of Gondor. Umbar was at one time a Numenorian city.

Bye for now.
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby Frelga » Tue Mar 25, 2014 9:01 am

Sam Vimes wrote:Having northen ME be pre-Roman Europe has several problems if we apply real history and geography. First the map is all wrong, where is the mediterranean sea? Second, they shouldn't have all the iron they have as that metal was very rare in those times. They have tobacco, which wasn't around in Europe then. And it would not be very easy to grow Tobacco in northen Europe.


Yup. Pre-Roman doesn't work for a hundred reasons, some of which you mention. The lack of the Mediterranean Sea alone throws it all way off. One can't possibly overestimate the importance of the Mediterranean to the ancient world. In Middle-earth, the Sea is a border and a limit of the lands, in Europe seas connected people and lands divided them. Not to mention that there is no equivalent in Europe to the thriving Elven culture.

Culture, history, technology, architecture - none of it is consistent with pre-Roman Europe. It is, however, as consistent internally as an invented world can be expected to be. Middle-earth at the end of the Third Age could perhaps be seen as Dark Ages of Europe, which the collapse of Roman empire left in shards, and Gondor survives as a sort of Byzantium. Even that is problematic as Europe at least had the Church as unifying administrative and ideological force. (Writers who blithely set their fantasy stories in "medieval Europe" tend to forget that Europe was the way it was because of very specific reasons.)

In Middle-earth, if you recall, Gondor arose when Numenoreans colonized lands originally populated by other people, many of them dark-skinned. Unless they engaged in total genocide, the descendants of those people must still be citizens of Gondorian lands, even if the ruling elite was limited to pure-blood Numenoreans. (Tolkien and his pale, grey-eyed heroes, sheesh! :D)

In Middle-earth, the Wainriders roamed the entire Eriador. They are also described as swarthy, and surely their descendants, too, mixed with the population.

There are, in short, many dark-skinned peoples in Middle-earth, no more segregated in the far corner of the map than dark-skinned people were in Europe.

Bob wrote:No, the objection I have is that people get so deeply offended at the idea that a story set in an ancient north Europe has an all-white cast and extras. Why is it considered "negative and unfit" to have a movie without a Black person in it?


The only person who seems "deeply offended" is you, Bob. Nor did anyone else said that a movie is "negative and unfit" again, except you. What the other posters did say was that having a few dark-skinned extras in a trade center like Laketown was entirely consistent with Tolkien's Middle-earth, for reasons that you yourself agreed were logical.

And if we are going to take Tolkien at his word, then why are only white actors playing Hobbits when Harfoots were brown-skinned, and Sam is specifically described as such?
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby solicitr » Tue Mar 25, 2014 9:14 am

I think it's really a tempest in a teapot. My biggest complaint with PJ's Hobbit crowd-scenes is the presence of bearded female Dwarves.... who were obviously female. Tolkien never said anything explicit about M-E's racial makeup, but he did tell us explicitly that female Dwarves were indistinguishable from the menfolk.
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby ngaur » Tue Mar 25, 2014 11:17 am

I think he also wrote that they rarely left their homes so most likely you wouldn't have found many in Laketown.


IMHO, Laketown from the books was meant to mirrior a Scandinavian or Anglo-saxon type of a village in the very far north that probably would not have had communities of Black people and Asians living there


Given the geografical and sociological aspects of ME you would indeed be extremely unlikely to find blacks in Laketown. That's not to say Tolkien couldn't have conceived it as a multicultural dwelling though. Wood-elves we knew were there. Dwarves certainly would have been a possibility. Men from Dorwinion and the east might also be frequent visitors. Boat might even have come up from the south for all we know. When it comes to the locals themselves we don't have much to go by. Bard had dark hair I believe. I would assume from Dales northerly position that the people form dale did not have dark skin, though I don't recall any mention of it.

Tolkien probably never game much thought to ethnic diversity, so there isn't much in his novels. And we shouldn't judge him or get upset by that.


Not so sure about that. Isn't there infact enormous ethnic diversity in his world, considering it's a made up one. There just isn't that much amongst his protagonists, not counting 'fantasy' races such as elves and dwarves and Hobbits.
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby BobSacamano » Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:00 am

siddharth wrote:
BobSacamano wrote:I never said that there were absolutely no Blacks in ancient Europe.


a. You agree there were one or two or just ten blacks in Europe.
b. There were one or two blacks in Laketown.

a and b go hand-in-hand so I am unclear, as of yet, about your exact argument.


My argument, again, is that having Laketown being a mutlicultural city with residents from Harad and Rhun has zero basis in anything written by Tolkien. Couple that with the fact that when asked about lack of diversity in his LOTR films, Peter Jackson said that since it was based upon ancient Europe, the denizens would have looked like Europeans. Then, add to tht the fact that yes, some mainstream publications called Jackson and his films racist (which is a big no-no in the world of showbiz), and I am left to deduce that Jackson took it upon himself to make Laketown into a multicultural city just to appease the people who have been crusading for a more diverse Middle Earth these past 10 years.

I've agreed that the Romans brought some Blacks to England in ancient days (although the assertion that ancient northern European trading centers were chock full of racial diversity is a ridiculous slice of revisionism).

I have not agreed that having Blacks and Asians residing in Laketown is consistent with Tolkien's world, because it isn't. You are right to argue that Tolkien never said that they weren't present, but judging by the time and place he lived in, the portrayal of the men of the south and east as servants of Sauron, and the fact that it was created as a mythology for England, I'd say that he probably did not intend for it to have residents from Rhun and Far Harad (maybe Rhun, but Far Harad is preposterous).

It isn't. ME is supposed to be Europe alright but the exact timeline of when ME should exist, varies from fans to fans (and no, not all fans read the Professor's letters or every other work to come to know about that). It was Tolkien's view alright, but Tolkien never *implements* his thoughts on the reader, he encourages the reader themselves to come up with their own viewpoint/interpretation. it is.So the premise that Middle-earth is supposed to be a pre-Roman Europe works only for those who saw it like that. And that's not the case for all fans, I believe.


So your argument here is "Well the author DID say that it was a pre-Roman Europe, but it doesn't matter because we can all just make up our own rules as to what it is supposed to be." Doesn't work like that.


Hmmm, black people ought to write black protagonists to make black-oriented films. Wow. :shock:


Well, it doesn't have to just be about "Black" people, I just said them because that seems to have been what people here were arguing for most. But yes, if Blacks, Asians, Arabs, Indians, Inuits, whoever, are concerned about being under-represented in the media, well then why don't they or the people who agree with them start writing some stories with protagonists of that background to try and fix the problem? Or why not make films about their own ethnic mythologies? I'd love to see a new live-action film about Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, and of course I would not expect there to be whites present, not even in the background. The fact that Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was not racially-diverse did not make it "bad", it made it believable as a fictional period piece.

Believe me, I realize there is a problem with whitewashing in Hollywood (recent examples like Noah, 47 Ronin, The Last Airbender), but I just don't think that taking European folk and mythological tales like King Arthur and LOTR and making them PC and racially-diverse is the answer. In the case of LOTR, yes there were "Black people" in that world, but as I've said time and time again, they existed only in the furthest margins of the stories, and were mentioned one single time (appearing as combatants in the "world" war of the story). People with east Asian appearance, to my knowledge, were never mentioned (easterlings were described as broad and swarthy, which doesn't sound like an east Asian to me).
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby BobSacamano » Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:33 am

Frelga wrote:Culture, history, technology, architecture - none of it is consistent with pre-Roman Europe.


Mostly true (aside from the fact that the cultures of northern Middle Earth were very much based on real northern European cultures, right down to the languages), but that also means that it was not consistent with post-Roman Europe either. So this argument does nothing to really prove any points.

The only person who seems "deeply offended" is you, Bob. Nor did anyone else said that a movie is "negative and unfit" again, except you. What the other posters did say was that having a few dark-skinned extras in a trade center like Laketown was entirely consistent with Tolkien's Middle-earth, for reasons that you yourself agreed were logical.

And if we are going to take Tolkien at his word, then why are only white actors playing Hobbits when Harfoots were brown-skinned, and Sam is specifically described as such?


It's true, I get offended by political correctness and the idea that everything, even tales based on periods where there was little to no diversity, have to be made diverse in order to avoid offending people. It's just nonsense.

I did admit that having a miniscle number of Blacks in post-Roman Europe was consistent with real-life history. I did not admit that Black and Asian residents of Laketown was consistent with Tolkien's Middle Earth, because it isn't. Elves or Dwarves would have been consistent with Tolkien's Laketown, and maybe some swarthy and broad easterlings due to the invasions or coming from Dorwinon.

I said "negative and unfit" because another poster was making a comment on how modernization is necessary, otherwise it will be seen as "negative and unfit" by today's standards. I asked why this comparison was relevant to what I was talking about, that's all. So tell me, why IS it seen as offensive if a film based upon northern European mythology dosn't have Blacks or Asians in it? And don't try and compare some angry message board chatter with well-known websites/newspapers that have called Jackson and his films racist (Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Salon), plus a whole lot of blogs. People who claim to have googled "Peter Jackson LOTR racist" and only come up with only a few isolated things clearly didn't look very long.

And I would have been fine with Sam and the Gaffer being portrayed by a darker-skinned actors, as it would have been consistent with Tolkien.
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby siddharth » Wed Mar 26, 2014 6:58 am

BobSacamano wrote:Couple that with the fact that when asked about lack of diversity in his LOTR films, Peter Jackson said that since it was based upon ancient Europe, the denizens would have looked like Europeans. Then, add to that the fact that yes, some mainstream publications called Jackson and his films racist (which is a big no-no in the world of showbiz), and I am left to deduce that Jackson took it upon himself to make Laketown into a multicultural city just to appease the people who have been crusading for a more diverse Middle Earth these past 10 years.


None of that explains my question. We agree that there was a small minority of black-people in Europe. Like wise, the film-Laketown had a very small minority of blacks among it's populace. So the two fit.
Now you say there weren't any blacks in Tolkien's middle-earth in that region and whether they were there in Europe or not does not matter as it's a fictious world. Then again that makes your parallelism with pre-Roman Europe senseless.
If you have to argue, argue with any one point. Not a mish-mash of those two.

I've agreed that the Romans brought some Blacks to England in ancient days (although the assertion that ancient northern European trading centers were chock full of racial diversity is a ridiculous slice of revisionism).


"chock full of racial diversity"? :lol: How many times do I have to remind you, there were one or two blacks at the most in the said scene?

So your argument here is "Well the author DID say that it was a pre-Roman Europe, but it doesn't matter because we can all just make up our own rules as to what it is supposed to be." Doesn't work like that.


The actual point was that probably Tolkien wrote the story with the 1300s or something as an *imaginative* parallel history of our earth. But how many fans would know about that who don't go beyond The Hobbit, LotR or The Sil? There is a strong reason to believe, that a large fraction of those who read LotR for the first time, would not have known that the story has been written as a parallel history set in an ancient past. Only when they read Tolkien's letters, do they come to know about that. Not every Tolkien fan has read his letters (and that does not make them a *lesser* fan). I don't assume and I can't say, but it's one of the possibilities that PJ and co. simply didn't know the time-period of when ME is supposed to be set in. How would they if, for instance, they have not read T's letters?
Keep in mind, a director doesn't have to be a Tolkien-expert to make a film. That was the real meaning. But your twisting of my words was refreshing, for a change. ;)

But yes, if Blacks, Asians, Arabs, Indians, Inuits, whoever, are concerned about being under-represented in the media, well then why don't they or the people who agree with them start writing some stories with protagonists of that background to try and fix the problem? Or why not make films about their own ethnic mythologies?


It is this view, "ethnic people should write their own ethnic stories to make ethnic films" is what I find shocking and scandalous. If you are not careful with those words, one might misinterpret it as "only blacks should write stories with black protagnists.", which I hope is not what you meant.

Besides, if you are so concerned with ME being represented as a pre-Roman Europe, why are you not bothered by a list of all the other jarring changes? Gimli's "nervous system" comment?

Others have said this as well, PJ and Tolkien both are men of their times. I strongly believe if PJ had made the films in Tolkien's time it would have included no other ethnic groups. And had Tolkien written the story in this age, there would be a large ethnic diversity in Middle-earth.
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby BobSacamano » Wed Mar 26, 2014 7:19 am

siddharth wrote:
BobSacamano wrote:My argument, again, is that having Laketown being a mutlicultural city with residents from Harad and Rhun has zero basis in anything written by Tolkien.

Who said anything about residents at Laketown from Harad and Rhun?

Couple that with the fact that when asked about lack of diversity in his LOTR films, Peter Jackson said that since it was based upon ancient Europe, the denizens would have looked like Europeans. Then, add to that the fact that yes, some mainstream publications called Jackson and his films racist (which is a big no-no in the world of showbiz), and I am left to deduce that Jackson took it upon himself to make Laketown into a multicultural city just to appease the people who have been crusading for a more diverse Middle Earth these past 10 years.


None of that explains my question. We agree that there was a small minority of black-people in Europe. Like wise, the film-Laketown had a very small minority of blacks among it's populace. So the two fit.
Now you say there weren't any blacks in Tolkien's middle-earth in that region and whether they were there in Europe or not does not matter as it's a fictious world. Then again that makes your parallelism with pre-Roman Europe senseless.
If you have to argue, argue with any one point. Not a mish-mash of those two.

I've agreed that the Romans brought some Blacks to England in ancient days (although the assertion that ancient northern European trading centers were chock full of racial diversity is a ridiculous slice of revisionism).


"chock full of racial diversity"? :lol: How many times do I have to remind you, there were one or two blacks at the most in the said scene?

So your argument here is "Well the author DID say that it was a pre-Roman Europe, but it doesn't matter because we can all just make up our own rules as to what it is supposed to be." Doesn't work like that.


The actual point was that probably Tolkien wrote the story with the 1300s or something as an *imaginative* parallel history of our earth. But how many fans would know about that who don't go beyond The Hobbit, LotR or The Sil? There is a strong reason to believe, that anybody who read LotR for the first time, would not have known that the story has been written as a parallel history set in an ancient past. Only when they read Tolkien's letters, do they come to know about that. Not every Tolkien fan has read his letters (and that does not make them a *lesser* fan). I don't assume and I can't say, but it's one of the possibilities that PJ and co. simply didn't know the time-period of when ME is supposed to be set in. How would they if, for instance, they have not read T's letters?
Keep in mind, a director doesn't have to be a Tolkien-expert to make a film. That was the real meaning. But your twisting of my words was refreshing, for a change. ;)

But yes, if Blacks, Asians, Arabs, Indians, Inuits, whoever, are concerned about being under-represented in the media, well then why don't they or the people who agree with them start writing some stories with protagonists of that background to try and fix the problem? Or why not make films about their own ethnic mythologies?


It is this view, "ethnic people should write their own ethnic stories to make ethnic films" is what I find shocking and scandalous. If you are not careful with those words, one might misinterpret it as "only blacks should write stories with black protagnists.", which I hope is not what you meant.


The only reason I even began arguing that point about pre-Roman Europe was because others were arguing that since the Romans brought Black people into north Europe, that it fit in with Tolkien's world. It is not my main argument, but it is a response to another argument that I've heard raised repeatedly.

As for the "chock full of diversity" quote, I was talking about another poster's claim that medieval north European trading centers had a "great mixture of races", and the use of that to try and prove that Black and Asian likely would have be3en present Tolkien's Laketown.

If anything, you're the one twisting my words around. I did not say that "only Blacks should make Black films with Black protagonists", I have already explained what I meant, and the fact that you still are trying to use it to paint me as "scandalous" is telling me that you're just not reading or comprehending my comments, you've already made up your mind that whatever I say is wrong. Neither did I ever once claim that just because post-Roman medieval Europe had a small number Black denizens, that a pre-Roman fictional ancient Europe also would have had them. I never admitted the latter once, so please cease and desist from saying that I did in an effort to try and play "gotcha!!". I've been arguing over and over that northern Middle Earth is a pre-Roman ancient northern Europe (because the author did say it was so, as you admitted but tried to find a loophole out of by saying that it is up to each individual to interpret as they see fit), the fact that post-Roman medieval Europe had some Black residents doesn't prove my argument about ancient pre-Roman Europe wrong. Note the difference between the words "ancient" and "medieval", because there is a difference.
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby Samuel Vimes » Wed Mar 26, 2014 7:33 am

[="BobSacamano"]
Frelga wrote:Culture, history, technology, architecture - none of it is consistent with pre-Roman Europe.


Mostly true (aside from the fact that the cultures of northern Middle Earth were very much based on real northern European cultures, right down to the languages), but that also means that it was not consistent with post-Roman Europe either. So this argument does nothing to really prove any points.


No, Tolkien drew upon the Anglo-Saxon culture which was post-Roman. Same thing with the Vikings and Scandinavia, what we know of those cultures is from after the Roman empire.
The Shire, given how that is described and the clothing style is way after Roman times. More like 18th or 19th century. People in pre-Roman England did not smoke, have waist-coats or much in the way of indoor plumbing.

The only person who seems "deeply offended" is you, Bob. Nor did anyone else said that a movie is "negative and unfit" again, except you. What the other posters did say was that having a few dark-skinned extras in a trade center like Laketown was entirely consistent with Tolkien's Middle-earth, for reasons that you yourself agreed were logical.

And if we are going to take Tolkien at his word, then why are only white actors playing Hobbits when Harfoots were brown-skinned, and Sam is specifically described as such?


It's true, I get offended by political correctness and the idea that everything, even tales based on periods where there was little to no diversity, have to be made diverse in order to avoid offending people. It's just nonsense.


But you are assuming your conclusions. You assume that the presence of one or two "black" people is due to PJ being PC and thus you get offended. But you refuse to consider any other possibility, many of which have been given in this thread. And as I've said, the first time I didn't even notice and the only reason I did at a second viewing is the stink that some raise over this.

I did admit that having a miniscle number of Blacks in post-Roman Europe was consistent with real-life history. I did not admit that Black and Asian residents of Laketown was consistent with Tolkien's Middle Earth, because it isn't. Elves or Dwarves would have been consistent with Tolkien's Laketown, and maybe some swarthy and broad easterlings due to the invasions or coming from Dorwinon.


And this is just your opinion. We have already established that "black" people did exist in ME. We have also established that even in ancient Europe there were a few "black" people living in the northern areas. And we have also estabished that people in ME travel. Since Tolkien does not come out and say "There are NO black people in Lake-Town." The possibility is there.

And don't try and compare some angry message board chatter with well-known websites/newspapers that have called Jackson and his films racist (Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Salon), plus a whole lot of blogs. People who claim to have googled "Peter Jackson LOTR racist" and only come up with only a few isolated things clearly didn't look very long.


I did the search you suggested and of the first 20 hits, half of them were about the Hobbit. And those that were about the LotR films a) often talked about the book as well and b) had complaints that the orcs looked "black" or that the evil humans were played by non-white actors. So really the complaint against PJ with the LotR films was that the "blacks" were the bad guys, not that there weren't "black" extras.

Films that I remember as having a lot more accusations of racism was The Phantom Menace and in more recent times, Django Unchained and the last Airbender.

I've agreed that the Romans brought some Blacks to England in ancient days (although the assertion that ancient northern European trading centers were chock full of racial diversity is a ridiculous slice of revisionism).
.
[/quote]

And no one here has made that argument so nice strawman. What we have said that a few, maybe a handful "black" or "non-White" people did live in Roman England or among the Norse. That is NOT the same as saying that the cities were "chock full". And neither is Lake-Town, the presence of 2-3 "black" people of a population of several hundred isn't making Lake-Town chock full of "black" people nor does it really make it multi-cultural.
Much of the revisionism I have come across when this have been debated comes from those that obejct to this. They are often saying that black or non-white people did not exist at all in ancient Europe, which isn't true.

So your argument here is "Well the author DID say that it was a pre-Roman Europe, but it doesn't matter because we can all just make up our own rules as to what it is supposed to be." Doesn't work like that.


You have tried to argue against "black" people in lake-Town by making paralles to real world history. If you do that then you need to be consistent. And since ME doesn't fit as pre-Roman Europe for a whole lot of reasons you can't use historical facts as argument in a fictional world. Tolkien had this idea to be sure but he clearly wasn't bound by real world history or geography when creating his world. The level of technology is all wrong, the maps doesn't fit, clothing doesn't fit and add to that all the fantasy creatures. Thus where "black" people were in real world history isn't relevant here.

Tolkien say they exist in ME, tales of oliphants have reached all the way to the Shire which means the people of Gondor had seen them. The humans in ME do travel, some travel very long ways, there have even been mass-migration of people. Thus is is possible that 1-2 could be in Lake-Town.

Lastly, if we keep with what Tolkien had in mind. He was quite against the industrialization of England and the effects it had. And some of that is in the book, most in the final Shire chapters. So if we use that then we are not dealing with pre-Roman Europe but 18th/19th century Europe.

Bye for now.
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby siddharth » Wed Mar 26, 2014 7:52 am

BobSacamano wrote:If anything, you're the one twisting my words around. I did not say that "only Blacks should make Black films with Black protagonists", I have already explained what I meant, and the fact that you still are trying to use it to paint me as "scandalous" is telling me that you're just not reading or comprehending my comments, ...


Re-read my post. None of these things said by myself.

I wrote:If you are not careful with those words, one might misinterpret it as "only blacks should write stories with black protagnists.", which I hope is not what you meant.

The line preceding it follows the same mode of probables.

you've already made up your mind that whatever I say is wrong.


Are you sure it is me who has made up his mind?

People who claim to have googled "Peter Jackson LOTR racist" and only come up with only a few isolated things clearly didn't look very long.


Try This:

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Peter+Jackson+LOTR+Racist

Now, of the bigger names from those lists only Chicago Tribune directly accuses LOTR of any racism, but not in it's entirety. All the rest of them, Daily Kos, The Guardian (in the later pages) etc. accuse the book as well as the movies for being racist.

(because the author did say it was so, as you admitted but tried to find a loophole out of by saying that it is up to each individual to interpret as they see fit)


Not tried to. It is a fact that a director does not have to be a Tolkien-scholar to make a good Tolkien-film, even though it helps. Which by extension does imply that the director may not have read Tolkien's leters which also may mean that he may not necessarily know that ME was pre-Roman Europe - and the debate is still open on how much exactly is Middle-earth meant to represent Pre-Roman Eu.
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby solicitr » Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:36 am

Now, of the bigger names from those lists only Chicago Tribune directly accuses LOTR of any racism, but not in it's entirety. All the rest of them, Daily Kos, The Guardian (in the later pages) etc. accuse the book as well as the movies for being racist.


Kos and the Guardian accuse everything of being racist.
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby RoseMorninStar » Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:51 am

Considering we're talking about a fictional place and a fictional time where Tolkien drew parallels but did not intend to be taken as literal history of a specific time & place and was meant as a mythology.. the topic of this thread seems a bit 'politically correct' in it's outrage. Tolkien displays a HUGE range of 'race' in his books (as does PJ in the movies), not necessarily parallel to our own understanding of 'race' but far surpassing our own. He had a race Elves, and a race of Dwarves and a race of Hobbits, there were Maiar and Wizards and whatever Tom Bombadil and Goldberry were. There were Orcs and Goblins and Harands, etc.. etc.. There were also the race of men. And from the sounds of it a variety of men.

Any decent-sized port/trading city is going to have it's share of people from all over the globe. Some traders would just be passing through, yes, but it would also have a population of people from their home country taking care of local business who settled in the area. That's not unusual at all, even in ancient times. There were a wide variety of people in Bree, which was a cross-roads town. My biggest surprise about Laketown was that it was much larger than I had imagined it in the books.
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby Gungnir » Wed Mar 26, 2014 9:03 am

siddharth wrote: Which by extension does imply that the director may not have read Tolkien's leters which also may mean that he may not necessarily know that ME was pre-Roman Europe - and the debate is still open on how much exactly is Middle-earth meant to represent Pre-Roman Eu.


Jackson certainly does know that Middle-Earth was set in a mythical North Western European prehistory, he's mentioned it in a number of interviews,
Also in his very first question and answer session on Ain't It Cool News in 1998, he mentioned the figure of 7000 years since the battle of Helm's Deep. Tolkien mentioned in one of his letters (#211 in the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien) that he imagined that the events of LOTR happened about 6000 years ago. The fact that PJ, off the cuff, mentioned a timescale which is similar to JRRT's imagined timescale, is suggestive to me that he had a least a passing familiarity with Tolkien's ideas about the setting of Middle Earth.

[edited because I originally wrote 'Tolkien' when I meant 'Jackson'. Doh!]
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby IrisBrandybuck » Wed Mar 26, 2014 9:06 am

Well said, Rose. :)

My own two cents: I didn't really notice. Maybe the faces in the crowd just aren't that important to me (unless I'm looking for PJ or his kids, but that usually comes with later viewings). I didn't think it was a big deal with the first three movies either, actually, mainly for the reasons Rose stated.
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby siddharth » Wed Mar 26, 2014 9:22 am

Gungnir wrote:
siddharth wrote:
Which by extension does imply that the director may not have read
Tolkien's leters which also may mean that he may not necessarily know
that ME was pre-Roman Europe - and the debate is still open on how much
exactly is Middle-earth meant to represent Pre-Roman Eu.


Tolkien certainly does know that Middle-Earth was set in a mythical
North Western European prehistory, he's mentioned it in a number of
interviews,
Also in his
very
first question and answer session on Ain't It Cool News in 1998
,
he mentioned the figure of 7000 years since the battle of Helm's Deep.
Tolkien mentioned in one of his letters (#211 in the Letters of J.R.R.
Tolkien) that he imagined that the events of LOTR happened about 6000
years ago. The fact that PJ, off the cuff, mentioned a timescale which
is similar to JRRT's imagined timescale, is suggestive to me that he had
a least a passing familiarity with Tolkien's ideas about the setting of
Middle Earth.


:thumbsup:

Didn't know of either of that.

What was PJ's exact quote?

Edited: :bang: missed the link. Alright!
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby Voronwe_the_Faithful » Wed Mar 26, 2014 9:39 am

Um, Master Gungnir provided you with a link so you could see the exact quote for yourself. But since you ask:

20. What gets you shaking like a kid on Christmas Morning on this project? In otherwords, when you look at the films, what are you dying to capture on film, and how will you do it?

These types of intangible questions are the toughest. I guess I'm lucky to have only one!

I want to take movie-goers into Middle-earth, in a way that is believable and powerful.

Imagine this: 7000 years has gone by. We take a filmcrew to Helm's Deep ... it's now looking a little older, but still impresses as a mighty fortress. The Art Dept set to work, patching up holes and removing tourist signs. The current owner strikes a hard bargain, but New Line money finally gets us permission to film there for 6 weeks. Rohan heraldry is studied and faithfully reproduced. Theoden's original saddle is in a museum - far too valuable to use in the movie, but an exact copy is made. Archeological expeditions have unearthed an incredibly preserved mummified Uruk-hai carcass. We make exact prothestic copies of these viscous killers ... use CG to give us a 10,000 strong army. We have cast actors who look like Aragorn and Theoden. In an amazing casting coup, Legolas has agreed to return from Valinor with Gimli to recreate their part in this cinematic retelling of the events at the end of the Third Age. They stand on the battlements of the Deeping Wall, wind blowing in their hair, leading a group of extras proudly portraying the brave garrison of Rohan soldiers ... Uruk drums roll up the valley ... huge lighting rigs flash simulated lightening ... rain towers send gallons of water into the air ... on an assistant director's signal, twenty 35mm cameras start rolling simultaneously ... the battle of Helm's Deep is about to be captured on film.

Sure, it's not really THE LORD OF THE RINGS ... but it could still be a pretty damn cool movie.
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby solicitr » Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:18 am

Legolas has agreed to return from Valinor with Gimli


:nono:
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby ngaur » Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:31 pm

solicitr wrote:
Legolas has agreed to return from Valinor with Gimli


:nono:


Mummified Gimli!
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby ngaur » Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:33 pm

Ah damnit! Wrong button
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby Gungnir » Wed Mar 26, 2014 1:29 pm

solicitr wrote: :nono:


:sleep:
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby Frelga » Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:42 pm

Gungnir wrote:Jackson certainly does know that Middle-Earth was set in a mythical North Western European prehistory, he's mentioned it in a number of interviews, Also in his very first question and answer session on Ain't It Cool News in 1998, he mentioned the figure of 7000 years since the battle of Helm's Deep. Tolkien mentioned in one of his letters (#211 in the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien) that he imagined that the events of LOTR happened about 6000 years ago.


I think "mythical" is a key word here. In real history, 6,000 years ago in Europe was Bronze Age. Even the Rohirrim, the less Elf-influenced Western people, have steel in Middle-earth.
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby ToshoftheWuffingas » Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:03 pm

One of the races not mentioned by the Prof yet appearing with the films appear to be concern trolls.
I honestly didn't notice ethnicity in the Laketown scenes but I guess it matters to some people. This has been pretty well answered already but a few points:
The Romans didn't so much bring blacks to Britain, a revealing turn of phrase, the Romans frequently were black including at least one Emperor. They were in Britain for 400 years, about twice as long as the immigrants to the US for instance.
I keep hearing that Middle earth 'mirrored' Northern Europe. Not quite. Tolkien's narrative conceit was that Northern Europe culture evoked his world closely enough that he used it to make it accesible to the reader. Thus in the book, the hobbits and everyone speak English but he later makes plain that the language was perfectly different as were some of the characters real names. Likewise the dwarves were given Scandinavian colouration despite not being strictly Scandinavian. So making Middle Earth in book or film a (false) representation of some racially pure Dark Age paradise is barking up the wrong tree.
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby solicitr » Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:29 pm

the Romans frequently were black including at least one Emperor.

One Emperor was African (or at least born in Africa Province, i.e. Tunisia); but African <> black.
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby Canamarth » Thu Mar 27, 2014 4:22 am

Interesting discussions ... and a valid question at the start, BobSacamano. But with your ever repeating arguments, you are missing the point here.

Peter Jackson and his team adapted Tolkien's book, first transferring them into a screenplay, then a movie. Any stage or film director is creating his own version of the story. It's a creative process and a lot of directors take a lot more leeway with the source material than Jackson did. I have seen a play on stage called Hamlet which hardly had anything in common with the play Shakespeare wrote, apart from the names of the characters. There were helicopter-men in the production .... Yes, it was weird but strangely fascinating. It's called art.

As siddharth pointed out, Jackson has certainly updated and modernised - which is totally legitimate as this is his work of art. You can say that you like it or you can say that you don't. Feel free. But what indeed bothers me about the whole discussion is your fixation on the racial issue when there is so much other stuff in the films that has been changed. Things that are far more essential to Tolkien's 'message', his conception of the world. How do you feel about the focus on action scenes in "The Hobbit"? That the law of physics are not upheld in the barrel chase? That Beorn's animals don't talk? Or about Faramir's character and casting - the man doesn't have black hair! - in "The Lord of the Rings"? High time you obsessed over something more essential!
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Re: Multicultural Laketown

Postby RoseMorninStar » Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:24 am

You can say that you like it or you can say that you don't. Feel free. But what indeed bothers me about the whole discussion is your fixation on the racial issue when there is so much other stuff in the films that has been changed. Things that are far more essential to Tolkien's 'message', his conception of the world.


Well said Canamarth! Of all of the things in PJ's middle earth that bothered me, race was not even on my radar. What 'took me out of the story' was the high speed video game feel, particularly with the Orcs. They were supposed to be kinda slow & stupid and just coming back into the world, yet their mining operation (or whatever that was supposed to be) was rather advanced and elaborate for Middle-earth. And there were SO MANY of them. These were not the dark creepy halls of Tolkien's books.
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