Tobold's Blog
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.

I personally am withholding judgement until I actually see it. I couldn't give the first crap what race any of the actors they picked are, and I have read the books multiple times including the Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales and a lot of other supporting stuff. I really doubt Tolkien would have cared either from his writings.

As for Metacritic, it does totally go below 60 (and 50 for that matter). It's 84% on rotten tomatoes, but the audience score is abysmal. That kind of a split usually means either something that is artsy and boring to most normal viewers, or something being brigaded.

ON RT the negative reviews are coming in mostly from angry Tolkien nerds mad that it doesn't follow the Silmarillion beat for beat. The positive reviews seem to be average people that have maybe seen the Peter Jackson movies. And nearly every review is a 1 or a 5. So far I am going with angry nerd brigade on this one, but I am still working on Sandman so it will be a few months before I have a real opinion.
I would argue that “angry nerd brigade” isn’t the same as “racist troll brigade”.

If you make a work based on Tolkien’s writing, it would seem very strange to me if you would argue that fans of Tolkien aren’t allowed to review your work.
Sure, they are different. But sometimes deeply invested fans can be damaging to the ability of creators to reach out to an audience that is broader than just them. Purposefully banding together to try and damage the prospects of something aimed at a broad audience, and honestly only inspired by the original works, doesn't do the fantasy genre or the property you are so invested in any favors.

Further, the Silmarillion is a summary of historical events that never happened. It's a very dry read, and so the people that know it well enough to even notice that the show diverges from it are not an audience any sane filmmaker is going to aim a billion dollar TV show at. It's a tiny audience of incredibly devoted fans.
I'll be blunt - if you rate this show a 0 out of 10, you're a troll.

I don't know if you're a racist troll, a sexist troll, a Tolkien nerd troll, or just a troll who wants to see the world burn, but you're some species of troll.

There's plenty of room to like or dislike the show, based on the two episodes we've seen so far. But 0 out of 10 is literally saying "nothing has been made in the 70 year history of television which is clearly worse than this", and that's just a fucking lie.
"But I find the development somewhat worrying."

I don't really see what the new development is here that has you all worried. The rich have used their influence and power to dictate public opinion and shape nations since ancient times. If anything the average Joe is in a better position now more then ever before because as you said Amazon can't possibly stifle all opinion on the internet.

Anyways I have seen the show and thought it was alright. My wife who has never seen the movies or even knew the books existed liked it a lot and is excited to see more. So obviously Amazon did something right even if the hard core fans are upset.

The people complaining it isn't accurate to the Silmarillion are just strange to me though. None of the LOTR movies nor the Hobbit was accurate to the books so why would this Amazon show be?

For what it's worth I found the show to be a bit slow (not unlike the books there) with stunning scenery and set pieces. With the overwhelming deluge of Marvel movies over the past decade it was very nostalgic to see LOTR style scenery so that was nice.

This reminds me of the Disney Star Wars drama. Even down to critics being labeled as anti women or racist. Hopefully this show doesn't turn out as bad as those movies.
Amazon, who owns IMDB deleted all reviews giving Rings of Power less than 6 out of 10 on IMDB. So apparently even somebody rating the show 5 out of 10 is now a troll.
Imagine if the books had come out and been rated a chapter at a time. I think anyone who is rating the show at this point is a troll or fanboy/girl.
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