If you're a fan of J.D. Payne & Patrick McKay's The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, you should be feeling good about how things stand with Amazon's Prime Video series. This week brings the first season's Charlotte Brändström-directed penultimate episode, hot on the heels of some impressive viewing numbers. And as we learned in a recent profile piece from The Hollywood Reporter, the streamer is looking to forge ahead on the second season sooner rather than later. But there's still an ugliness plaguing the series. Well before a single frame was shot, toxic trolls took to social media to attack the adaptation because of its diverse casting, claiming (without a clue) that it went against J.R.R. Tolkien's wishes. Cast members went public with their experiences of being abused online by supposed "fans" who can apparently accept anything and everything that goes on in a fantasy series except the idea of a woman or an actor of color actually starring in one. In the THR profile, Payne addresses the reaction that's come from the shallow end of the geek pool, a reaction he can't understand from people claiming to be Tolkien fans.
"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 and accomplishing big things. That's the spirit we've tried to inculcate into every single comma and period in the show," Payne explained. "That this aspiration would be offensive to people and enrage them … it's very hard for us to understand. What are they protecting? I don't see how people who are saying these things think that they're fighting for good. There's a line in episode seven where Galadriel says every war is fought from without and within. Even if you're fighting for something you think is good, if you do something worse in that fight, then you become evil. I don't see how people who are saying these things think that they're fighting for good. It's patently evil."
The Lord of the Rings: TROP Cast Unify Against Social Media Trolling
Last month, the cast of the streaming series let everyone know that they're done putting up with the online abuse, that they won't stand for it, and that they are in "absolute solidarity" when it comes to pushing back on racist, narrow-minded trolling wherever it rears its ugly head. Following that, the statement set the record straight when it comes to the world Tolkien created and how it was intended to reflect the world around us. And then it wraps with a pledge of love and support to the fans, who've made the series successful, despite the abuse they've also had to endure on social media simply for appreciating being represented. Here's a look at the full statement:
Here's a look at the original tweet from the streaming series' social media account. Following that, a look at the statement from Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios: "We're really proud of the cast that we have in the show. We welcome discussion and even criticism around the series; however, we will not condone racism of any kind."