Rings Of Power Team Attacks Tolkien Fans And Calls Them “Evil”
Rings of Power showrunners respond to the racist fan backlash by calling it "patently evil."
There’s a whole new battle brewing over Middle Earth – between J. R. R. Tolkien fans and the creative team behind Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series. In case you’ve been under a rock recently, the premiere of The Rings of Power on September 2 was met with widespread criticism online from fans who hated the direction of the show. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, creators and showrunners Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne address the criticism, and rather than offer an olive branch to dissatisfied fans, the pair attacked critics of the Amazon Prime Video show, calling their efforts “patently evil.”
Statements like that likely won’t win any new fans for McKay and Payne, who gave James Hibberd of The Hollywood Reporter unprecedented access to the show’s production and sets, and used the opportunity to justify their take on the literary classic. Among their main points is that, despite a reported half-a-billion dollar budget, those involved with The Rings of Power are “earnest” in giving Tolkien’s story a faithful interpretation. “This is not a paycheck job for anybody…This is a labor of love,” McKay said.
In a statement that is likely to enrage disappointed fans, Payne generalized critics of The Rings of Power as being upset with its diversity, particularly with the casting of BIPOC actors. “The spirit of Tolkien is about disparate peoples who don’t trust one another and look different from one another finding common ground in friendship…That this aspiration would be offensive to people and enrage them…it’s very hard for us to understand.” He then said that critics are not defending Tolkien’s legacy, as they claim, stating “I don’t see how people who are saying these things think that they’re fighting for good…It’s patently evil.”
Some online critics have rallied against the show regardless, even pointing to Elon Musk’s disdain for the series as justification.
It’s true that some of the complaints are coming from racist online trolls upset with minority casting. It’s a talking point evident since the show’s premiere, when a statement posted on The Rings of Power’s official Twitter account blasted criticism as racist.
The race-based criticism is best seen with the complaints about the casting of Ismael Cruz Cordova to play Arondir the Elf. Cordova himself spoke out against “toxic” fans who attacked him online, but as the series has progressed, he has won over many fans with his performance (and his character’s storyline), one of the show’s few bright spots. The overwhelming criticism now is one that is harder to dismiss: the show is incredibly boring, with the Arondir storyline and the Orc attack on the Southlands one of the few bright spots for The Rings of Power.
We already know that showrunners essentially ignored suggestions from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, an admitted Lord of the Rings fan, which may have been the right choice. However, the PR offensive against unhappy fans indicates a certain hubris that seems unwilling to acknowledge and address some obvious problems with the show so far. Amazon went so far as to stop taking reviews for The Rings of Power, claiming complaints were “review bombing” and not valid criticisms.
Despite the claims that criticism of The Rings of Power is merely the work of racist online trolls, the fan response to the Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon undermines those claims. Prior to its premiere, online criticism of the series’ direction and casting (particularly of minorities in specifically white roles) was heavy, and yet, while some criticism continues, fans have been overwhelmingly supportive, rating it at 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. Dragon, to its credit, presents a compelling, entertaining show so far in its first season, something The Rings of Power cannot claim yet.