Saturday, September 03, 2022
The One Ring to bind them all
I am very much for diversity. I am very much against the concept of diversity being weaponized to silence critics. So Amazon spent $1 billion to make LOTR: The Rings of Power. And the result isn't great. The Metacritic critics score is 71, which is quite low on a scale that doesn't really dip below 60. The user score is a lot lower. So Amazon simply suspended the ability of users to give ratings on Rings of Power on Amazon Prime, and pulled out their wallet to start a media campaign vilifying any critics as being racist and sexist. The argument goes that because Amazon used a diverse cast with a female lead, any criticism of the result must automatically come from "trolls" and be unjustified. The product is diverse, and so it can't possibly be bad? I think we need to admit that there isn't really a link here, a bad film with bad actors isn't getting any better just because it is politically correct.
I don't think that will ultimately work, because even Amazon doesn't have enough power to silence all of their customers on all possible internet platforms. But I find the development somewhat worrying. Cancel culture is bad enough if it is done by activists believing in a cause. But it would be naive to think that big companies and governments aren't watching and learning. A lot of powerful people would very much like tools that can effectively be used to silence critics. Weaponizing political correctness might be just the ticket for them. And they are going to use that weapon to grab more money and power, not to create a better and more inclusive world.
I read through a number of 0 point reviews on Metacritic. And yes, if you look for them, you will find a few with a sexist remark strewn in. But the large majority of user reviews doesn't read like "review bombing" from "sexist and racist trolls". It reads like regular people having been promised a mix of Game of Thrones and Peter Jackson's LOTR trilogy, and being very disappointed with the actual product that was delivered instead. There is little complaints about there being a female lead, but a lot more complaints that the female lead just isn't very good, and her role very different from the source material. I am not a film critic, and I don't know yet whether I will like Rings of Power or not. But I certainly dislike the idea of Bezos using his money and power to hide behind diversity when he failed yet again as a content creator.