For most of this week, we've been covering what's been going on with Amazon and J.D. Payne & Patrick McKay's The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power; specifically, the trolls who've been attacking the streaming series for having a diverse cast they claim goes against what J.R.R. Tolkien originally intended. Then, Neil Gaiman (The Sandman) entered the social media fray to set the narrative straight on Tolkien and push back on those trying to mask their hate with their own "facts." From there, celebrated man-child Elon Musk entered the mix and was given the appropriate amount of social media disrespect that he deserves (more on that below). But the biggest thing to come out of all of this? We learned just how many of Musk's lackeys not only don't know Tolkien… don't know "The Lord of the Rings"… don't know how to do a 60-second Google search. Because they continue to believe that Gaiman was involved in Amazon's Prime Video series.
Here's one of the more recent examples of the nonsense that's been flowing around social media:
In fact, if you check out what's gone on over the past few days then you saw a lot of folks twisting it around and having some fun along with Gaiman, playing into the misinformation that Gaiman is anything more than a fan of Tolkien and the series. In fact, even some very familiar faces felt the need to step up to defend Gaiman's take on LOTR, which was so daring it was almost impossible to see… Good Omens star Michael Sheen:
But when the social media stuff starts making its way into "normal" (whatever that is) media reporting, that's when Gaiman knows it's time to drop a disclaimer: "It's sweet to see it described as "Neil Gaiman's Lord of the Rings" but I really & truly cross my heart word of honour don't have anything to do with it. Sandman, yes. Good Omens yes. Anansi Boys yes. Lucifer and Dead Boy Detectives, kind of. LoTR nope."
And here's a look at a screencap from the part of the online article Gaiman highlighted:
Over this past weekend, the famed author, The Sandman creator & individual who knows more than a bit about Tolkien's intentions with his writings, was pulled into a Twitter debate on the topic. Not a good thing for the trolls. Of course, the "conversation" began with someone who apparently wasn't too thrilled with seeing people of color in fantasy series hiding behind the old "But the author didn't want it that way!" argument. Why? Because egos like these assume their narrow visions of art are always what the artists intended, and no one is going to tell them otherwise. Except for someone like Gaiman, who was tagged in the thread for his perspective since he was "Tolkien's best mate." And with Gaiman being Gaiman, he made sure that there wasn't any wiggle room as to the two schools folks fall in who believe Tolkien only wanted white characters. "Tolkien described the Harfoots as "browner of skin" than the other hobbits. So I think anyone grumbling is either racist or hasn't read their Tolkien. Your mileage may vary," Gaiman tweeted in response (as you'll see in the screencap below):
Of course, this is social media, and these folks are trolls of the worst kind… the racist, gatekeeping variety. The kind that views others different from them as second-class citizens while strangling any attempts at artistic growth & evolution. The kind that thinks they know better than the artist and those who knew the artist well. This is why you get toxic nonsense like this: "Browner of skin means tanned white similar to people who work in the sun as they are in a temperate environment like England, you are both lying and trying to deceive people, Gaimen, shame on you" (apparently, someone was so up in their hurt feels so much that they couldn't spell Gaiman's name correctly). Thankfully, Gaiman was still around to put this "tinfoil scholar" properly in their place. "Tolkien didn't say, 'The Harfoots spent longer in the sun than any of the other hobbits and were a lot more tanned.' He said they were 'browner of skin,'" Gaiman responded (with names redacted to protect one innocent person and two people not worth giving promotion to):
From there, Musk attempted to be the champion of those self-hating trolls, with Gaiman asked for his thoughts on the matter. To which Gaiman responded by suggesting that Musk sticks to the things he already knows nothing about (like how to acquire Twitter). "Elon Musk doesn't come to me for advice on how to fail to buy Twitter, and I don't go to him for film, TV, or literature criticism," Gaiman wrote in his tweet. Here's a screencap of Gaiman's tweet putting the entire situation into its proper context, followed by the actual tweet: