Known as the actor who brought the heroic Frodo Baggins to life in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Elijah Wood can’t help but carry an air of boyish innocence. But today a lot of people aren’t looking at him through the same rose-colored glasses. While it looks to hopefully have been an unintentional move on Wood’s part, the actor has found himself in the midst of a controversy; forced to stave off accusations of racism among other things.
In a since-deleted tweet from last week (via Input), Elijah Wood — a collector of NFTs, or Non-Fungible Tokens — showed off his latest acquisition. The NFT was a golden bust of a zombie by cartoonist George Trosley, complete with blood gushing from its mouth. Wood wrote “Loving my Golden Zombie! Thank you, @JungleFreaksNFT @TrosleyNFT !!” Nothing about it seemed particularly harmful on the surface, but apparently Wood could have — and perhaps should have — done a bit more research on George Trosley’s reputation. Known for his cartoons in, among other places, the adult magazine Hustler, Trosley has been known to draw cartoons with what many consider to be racist depictions of people of color. You can see a screenshot of Elijah Wood’s original tweet below, followed by a tweet from one of the many users who spoke up about the artist Wood was supporting.
On Sunday, responding to the backlash, Elijah Wood tweeted a statement saying that he hadn’t known about Trosley’s earlier art but that he’d since “been made aware of some of the artist’s prior disturbing artwork.” He said because he denounces “any form of racism,” he sold all of his Trosley NFTs and donated the funds to NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund (LDF) and Black Lives Matter (BLM). You can see Wood’s tweet below.
Input points out it isn’t clear exactly how much money Wood donated to the LDF and BLM. While Input says he sold the Golden Zombie NFT for $1,081, before the controversy erupted he’d already sold five of Trosley’s NFTs for a total of $19,332. So did he donate only the $1,081 to the LDF and BLM, or the entire $20,413? Input says neither Wood nor either of the organizations he reportedly donated to have responded to inquiries.
As far as so-called “cancel” campaigns on Twitter go, what’s followed with Elijah Wood’s situation is different than most in a few interesting ways. Some things, you expect. For example, there are fans of the actor expressing disappointment, shock, absolute disbelief, and in a lot of cases just plain sarcasm.
But what’s particularly interesting here is that when it comes to those loudly taking Elijah Wood to task, for the most part their problem has nothing to do with the reportedly racist cartoons. Instead, their problem is with the actor buying and selling NFTs. The digital artwork is largely thought to be detrimental to the environment because of the energy associated with maintaining it. Director David Lynch came under attack recently for similar reasons, and now the same folks are taking aim at Wood.
Rather than go after Wood, some fans are using this as an opportunity to be positive. In particular, a few artists responded to Elijah Wood’s apology by offering what they saw as positive alternatives. You can see their tweets below.
So far it seems like Elijah Wood is weathering this controversy as well as he can. Time will tell whether or not the actor continues to buy and sell NFTs considering what his fans are telling him about them. In the meantime, at the very least it’s a safe bet he’ll be doing some more research on future artists whose work he invests in.