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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: TV Discussion: The Rings of Power:
turns out merrie auld England was more diverse than we knew . . .

Annael
Immortal


May 18 2023, 2:46pm

Post #1 of 20 (2402 views)
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turns out merrie auld England was more diverse than we knew . . . Can't Post

https://theconversation.com/...n-we-imagined-192142

I am a dreamer of words, of written words.
-- Gaston Bachelard

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NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


TFP
Lorien


May 18 2023, 4:18pm

Post #2 of 20 (2354 views)
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diversity [In reply to] Can't Post

Fair enough.

Though I do think that finding someone with 33% West African ancestry in a village that's a mile from the sea is much easier to explain than [in Lenny Henry/Sadoc/the Harfoots' case] finding someone with near 100% West African ancestry living in a very isolated, by the looks of things mostly CNE, community which, though nomadic, mostly seems to be living hundreds of miles from the sea.

The discrepancy between Sadoc's appearance and that of most of the other Harfoots suggests that he, or else an isolated line of forebears, must have emigrated from a very long way away to join the tribe, probably from another hemisphere [in e.g. the manner of a 'Windrush' voyage to Britain in the late 1940s]... and that doesn't seem obviously consistent with the lifestyle of the Harfoots.


(This post was edited by TFP on May 18 2023, 4:19pm)


DGHCaretaker
Rohan

May 18 2023, 4:30pm

Post #3 of 20 (2341 views)
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Relevance [In reply to] Can't Post

I sense an agenda, or at least a promoting interest, in posting this specific link here on a Tolkien forum in a Rings of Power discussion. Whatever merits the paper and its research might have, it is irrelevant to Tolkien's stories as he did not have this information. His stories remain in the world in which he imagined it with all that he knew when he wrote them. Today's trend of imposing contemporary standards and judgements on older times is an unfortunate manipulation of history. We learn from history - not change it to suit our whims. If new authors want to write new stories using the latest information available, they can create their worlds and call them something else, hopefully without being judged for them in centuries hence.


(This post was edited by DGHCaretaker on May 18 2023, 4:39pm)


Junesong
Rohan


May 18 2023, 5:30pm

Post #4 of 20 (2335 views)
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Irrelevant views [In reply to] Can't Post

My position has always been that the only relevant views should be those of the writer/producer team adapting the stories.

Not even Tolkien's view are that relevant. When the rights have been purchased and a creative team is assembled to adapt a property they really do (or should) have carte blanche in their approach to the adaptation. Some creators (Rowling, for example) maintain tight control on their works - even during the adaptation process - but I would consider this to be folly. I'd even call it arrogant. If you want to sell the rights to your work you should have the humility to get out of the way and let others interpret it.

Any fidelity to story, or characters, or themes, or anything else should be up for grabs. Sometimes writers/producers/directors choose to be "faithful" - maybe because its their preference to preserve details of the original work, or maybe because there's a built in fandom and therefore a financial interest in appeasing them. But it definitely shouldn't be a prerequisite. I've said this hundreds of times on these boards already, but I'll say it again: Many of my favorite adaptations have been "unfaithful" to the source. It's actually REALLY rare to see "faithful" adaptations of written works into visual mediums. They are doing such different things.

I care a lot about Tolkien and his stories. There are a lot of nuanced details I'm excited to see onscreen and a lot of story beats, character moments and especially settings that I would call CRUCIAL to any adaptation of his works. But these are PERSONAL opinions. No two of us on these boards would have the exact same preferences, or priorities or "agendas" in our adaptations. They would be personal.

For me, the visual depictions of race in Tolkien adaptations couldn't matter less to me. If every character was white, I wouldn't care. If every character was a different race - even in the same family - I wouldn't care. It just doesn't matter to me.

I would hope that I'm still a legitimate Tolkien fan.


(I don't expect this gentle yet repetitive argument to move the needle at all for those of us who feel that all of this is just the heavy sledge hammer of the DIE agenda, or that Amazon's ROP exists to fight the culture war or something... but I wish it would.)

"So which story do you prefer?"
"The one with the tiger. That's the better story."
"Thank you. And so it goes with God."


DGHCaretaker
Rohan

May 18 2023, 6:02pm

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Irreverent Views [In reply to] Can't Post

No "unfaithful" adaptation immediately comes to mind that I liked more than the original, but I'm willing to stipulate that I'm sure I have. I watched Wizard of Oz as a child every holiday season it played long before I read the book. Perhaps that is one through the bias of childhood memories. A musical example: Manfred Mann's "Blinded By the Light" is far superior to Bruce Springsteen's original, "in my opinion."

However, a link showing a published research paper that presumably "substantiates" for the real world that a fictional world, created by an author who died 50 years prior to the research, and thereby justifies anything Amazon does to it in the name of DEI/DIE, is well outside my sense of logical (or critical) thinking.

Organically and well written without being hit on the nose with an agenda, I don't notice or care about all the same things you don't notice. I just enjoy the ride. "The Expanse" is a great example here. And I don't need scientific proof from the real world that the story is authentic. Something that needs a link like this as specious proof is immediately suspect.


Junesong
Rohan


May 18 2023, 7:12pm

Post #6 of 20 (2319 views)
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Just as I said [In reply to] Can't Post

Needle unmoved.

"So which story do you prefer?"
"The one with the tiger. That's the better story."
"Thank you. And so it goes with God."


DwellerInDale
Rohan


May 18 2023, 11:42pm

Post #7 of 20 (2297 views)
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Polymorphism does not necessarily imply migration [In reply to] Can't Post

There are many reasons for polymorphism (i.e., the existence of multiple types within a population); migration from outside the population is only one. Sadoc could simply be a normal member of a polymorphic population.


Quote
The discrepancy between Sadoc's appearance and that of most of the other Harfoots suggests that he, or else an isolated line of forebears, must have emigrated from a very long way away to join the tribe, probably from another hemisphere



Don't mess with my favorite female elf.






Ataahua
Forum Admin


May 19 2023, 1:48am

Post #8 of 20 (2290 views)
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Or [In reply to] Can't Post

we could just be having fun discussing a Tolkien adaptation from a different angle. No-one needs to have an agenda while shooting the breeze.

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Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


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TFP
Lorien


May 19 2023, 10:30am

Post #9 of 20 (2246 views)
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... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
There are many reasons for polymorphism (i.e., the existence of multiple types within a population); migration from outside the population is only one. Sadoc could simply be a normal member of a polymorphic population.


Quote
The discrepancy between Sadoc's appearance and that of most of the other Harfoots suggests that he, or else an isolated line of forebears, must have emigrated from a very long way away to join the tribe, probably from another hemisphere



that seems a bit far-fetched to me, although within the legendarium there's textual support for genetics to work in a slightly kooky fashion, e.g. Aragorn is said by those few individuals who knew both to bear an uncanny resemblance to Elendil, despite the 39, count them, generations separating the two of them, hardly the peak of realism.


Annael
Immortal


May 20 2023, 2:09am

Post #10 of 20 (2211 views)
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exactly [In reply to] Can't Post

I found it interesting and thus worth sharing, for those who might also find it interesting. No more agenda than that.

I am a dreamer of words, of written words.
-- Gaston Bachelard

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NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


Owlyross
Rohan


May 23 2023, 11:29am

Post #11 of 20 (2086 views)
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Or Sadoc has more in common with the traditional Harfoots [In reply to] Can't Post

Who were described as brown of skin. And there has been some dilution of the traditional lines, but Sadoc, as head man, has more direct lineage from the original Harfoot ancestors.

'West African' ancestry has absolutely no bearing in the fictional world of Middle Earth.

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."
Benjamin Franklin
The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.
Horace Walpole (1717 - 1797)


Owlyross
Rohan


May 23 2023, 11:31am

Post #12 of 20 (2095 views)
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Quite on the nose here [In reply to] Can't Post

Especially about race not mattering. I'd prefer it (and it seems borne out by Tolkien's representation of the races) that we had more of the Terry Pratchett approach "Black and white lived in perfect harmony and ganged up on green"

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."
Benjamin Franklin
The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.
Horace Walpole (1717 - 1797)


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


May 24 2023, 4:33am

Post #13 of 20 (2050 views)
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They couldn't afford to buy her pearls? [In reply to] Can't Post

I guess she's too ancient to actually be Pearl. "We meten so selden by stok other ston!"


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TFP
Lorien


May 24 2023, 8:46am

Post #14 of 20 (2027 views)
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... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I guess she's too ancient to actually be Pearl. "We meten so selden by stok other ston!"


true, dat. and the manner of her burial certainly hinted at acceptance within what was then a largely, y'know, white-bred, er...

the old '...sto[c]k/ston[e]...' line is, to me, such a thing of beauty and intrigue. the little homage to it in treebeard's dialogue with G&C floors me every time.


(This post was edited by TFP on May 24 2023, 8:50am)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 11 2023, 12:07pm

Post #15 of 20 (1712 views)
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The distances covered by trade networks back then blow my mind [In reply to] Can't Post

“The garnets in many brooches found in this this region came from Afghanistan for example. ”

Even today, how many people in Kent say, “Nice necklace you’re wearing today.”

“Thanks. It’s just another one I got from the local Uzbekistan merchant.”


fantasywind
Rivendell

Jun 18 2023, 8:42am

Post #16 of 20 (1557 views)
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Roman Empire [In reply to] Can't Post

The time of imperialism which involved influx of various peoples from various provinces of empire and so on, is suddenly proof of super diversity, well then the next period after the fall of empire which sees the invasion of British Isles by Germanic peoples of Angles, Jutes, Saxons :) so....they in turn displaced the Celtic romanized earlier inhabitants and so on. Also with the slave trade and exchange of goods. Clearly those were not natives but immigrants which the article itself notes migrations along the patterns that followed the geographic limitations and so on.

In context of the show's worldbuilding it would fit more the Numenorean colonialism....you see a member of the white race in a land inahbited by dark skinned people in colony like Umbar on shores of Harad....still makes more sense thant whatever the heck did the show actually did with it's insane mixing, where you have black, asian, white all in gigantic melting pot....even in a small village in the ass end of nowhere :) or a small insular clan that suddenly is multiracial and is even supposed to be ONE tribe/people....clearly incomparable :).


Cirashala
Valinor


Jul 15 2023, 12:41am

Post #17 of 20 (1391 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

Trade centers/hubs would be multi-cultural and multi-racial, organically.

Isolated villages would not be as diverse as mega metropoli of today's era, simply due to geographic limitations regarding available modes of transportation of the time period/world.

A society where a car can drive across an entire continent in a couple of days, and an airplane can fly across the WORLD in 16 hours, leads to FAR more diversity, especially in metropoli like New York City (America), London (UK), etc.

A society where the main means of transportation involves walking, riding a horse, or being pulled in a cart by horses or oxen, over thousands of miles of rough terrain, with little settlement and a lot of wild wilderness, and the high chance of being waylaid by hostile forces (whether it be marauding orcs, human or otherwise robbers, or wild predators, etc), without proper equipment (swords were luxury items, NOT everyday. Average peasant farmer would not have one, though might have bow and arrows for hunting), and unable to afford "swords for hire" protection while they traveled so far, a journey that takes several months (or even years) from one destination to another, subject to cold, heat, wind, storms, slippery and steep slopes, crossing river fords without bridges (or paying hefty tolls), AND having to haul enough food and potable water for both self and (if riding) animals for the entire journey...

Not as much diversity, because most people in such societies, without fast, safe, and comfortable transportation, wouldn't even, as Samwise remarked, leave a radius of about 10 miles/16 km from the place where they were born. He's actually an EXCELLENT example- "If I take one more step, it'll be the furthest away from home I've ever been."

So, seeing such "modern melting pot diversity", anywhere in Middle-earth EXCEPT major ports and (like Dale and Bree) trading hubs is not organic. It is forced inclusion on the part of the studio.

It is even more egregious when one's child is a completely different race (but ONLY if BOTH BIOLOGICAL parents' races are known, otherwise the child could be biracial), because that's just not genetically possible. Tolkien's race of Men were based biologically on REAL humans from our world, and elves were genetically alike ENOUGH to produce FERTILE, if mortal, offspring with these Men. Therefore, modern genetics, at least with Men and Elves, are most definitely into play here. Meaning, unless one BIOLOGICAL parent and another BIOLOGICAL parent are of different races, their child should have the same, or darn close, features as their parents AND siblings.

In this case, since we never see Miriel's mother, we could assume that she was a different race than Miriel's father, and (though in defiance of Tolkien's specific description of Miriel's fair features), it could be possible, especially since one could argue that her mother might've originated from Middle-earth (or her mother's ancestors) as part of a diplomatic envoy, or an inter-kingdom/realm marriage treaty. Same with Disa- she was married to the king's son, so she could've come from a race of eastern dwarves, and been the result (happy though it was) of a marriage treaty, OR an envoy's daughter who took a huge shine to Moria, and subsequently, it's shy prince Wink Marigold is clearly Nori's STEPmother, so there's no issue there, save that, as an isolated society, diversity would be more unlikely, given both their intentional isolation, AND their geographic isolation.

I think Cordova did a fantastic job as a Tolkien elf, acting-wise! But, do I think he fits Tolkien's descriptions of an elf? Possibly not, unless the Avari were darker in complexion than their Noldorin/Vanyarin/Sindarin counterparts. I LOVE Disa, and I think there's nothing that directly contradicts her, either, simply because we don't have Tolkien-based descriptors of every house of dwarves to compare it to, and she could be from a different line than Durin's line. I have an issue with Miriel simply because Tolkien DID describe her as being very fair/pale, and she's clearly not. I do not have issue with Theo, because we don't know who his father was.

Isildur I have issue with, because (though mom isn't shown) his sister AND father are both fair. Then again, one of my close friends is half-Mexican, and quite dark with jet black hair, and her half-brother (same mother, who is full Mexican) has blonde hair, lighter skin, light green eyes, so sometimes genetics are weird (both had white fathers, but different fathers, because her brother was a product of high school non-consent, and her mother married her father when her half-brother was a toddler).

There's nothing racist about this idea of geographic isolation leading to more homogenous populations, outside of trade hubs and ports, at ALL. It is simply a matter of the logistics and means of lengthy, hazardous, and uncomfortable transportation methods that would result in such modern conceptions of diversity being unavailable in Middle-earth. If people didn't HAVE to travel, for the most part, they didn't. It was too expensive, too long, too hazardous, and a rotten pain in the rear end.

Unfortunately, since much of the general public failed to pay attention during history class (I am a historical fiction author, and amateur historian with 26 years of independent research), they are seemingly unaware of historical geographical dispensation regarding racial homogeneity vs heterogeneity, and the reasons for it matching the same sort of societal, mobility, and geographical limitations within Middle-earth.

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Happy reading everyone!


(This post was edited by Cirashala on Jul 15 2023, 12:49am)


DGHCaretaker
Rohan

Jul 15 2023, 3:45am

Post #18 of 20 (1380 views)
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Melkor's Advocate [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It is even more egregious when one's child is a completely different race [from their parents of the same race]...


Who's to say genetics, DNA, and the double-helix, if they are the operant chemistry, work the same on Eru's Arda?

Isn't it rather provincial to think so?

Not that I want at all to provide excuses to the Rings of Power production...


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jul 15 2023, 6:01pm

Post #19 of 20 (1361 views)
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Is it though? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Who's to say genetics, DNA, and the double-helix, if they are the operant chemistry, work the same on Eru's Arda?

Isn't it rather provincial to think so?

Not that I want at all to provide excuses to the Rings of Power production...


I don't find it either provincial or presumptuous when we recall that Middle-earth is meant to be our own world in a fictitious, mythological past. Tolkien, himself, commented on the genetic relationship between Elves and Men (Letter #153):


Quote
I suppose that actually the chief difficulties I have involved myself in are scientific and biological – which worry me just as much as the theological and metaphysical (though you do not seem to mind them so much). Elves and Men are evidently in biological terms one race, or they could not breed and produce fertile offspring – even as a rare event: there are 2 cases only in my legends of such unions, and they are merged in the descendants of Eärendil. But since some have held that the rate of longevity is a biological characteristic, within limits of variation, you could not have Elves in a sense ‘immortal’ – not eternal, but not dying by ‘old age’ – and Men mortal, more or less as they now seem to be in the Primary World – and yet sufficiently akin. I might answer that this ‘biology’ is only a theory, that modern ‘gerontology’, or whatever they call it, finds ‘ageing’ rather more mysterious, and less clearly inevitable in bodies of human structure. But I should actually answer: I do not care. This is a biological dictum in my imaginary world. It is only (as yet) an incompletely imagined world, a rudimentary ‘secondary’; but if it pleased the Creator to give it (in a corrected form) Reality on any plane, then you would just have to enter it and begin studying its different biology, that is all.


Admittedly, I'm not sure that this excerpt entirely addresses the question at hand. Tolkien was neither a geneticist nor an anthropologist; he approaches the subject as a layman and a storyteller. He would also have been unaware of the genetic markers of the earliest known inhabitants of Britain such as Cheddar Man with his dark or dark-to-black skin, dark brown or black hair, and possibly blue-green eyes.

“Hell hath no fury like that of the uninvolved.” - Tony Isabella

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jul 15 2023, 6:12pm)


DwellerInDale
Rohan


Jul 15 2023, 7:15pm

Post #20 of 20 (1353 views)
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Variation does not imply migration [In reply to] Can't Post

As an evolutionary biologist, I find these arguments concerning 'race' and variation within populations to be without merit. There seems to be an assumption that phenotypic variation (e.g., light vs dark skin) implies long-distance migration from a distant population. This is incorrect; there are many reasons for phenotypic variation within a population, and 'race' is not defined by phenotype. I need to explain some things regarding the modern view of 'race' and genetic variation in a longer post, so watch this space.

Quote
It is even more egregious when one's child is a completely different race (but ONLY if BOTH BIOLOGICAL parents' races are known, otherwise the child could be biracial), because that's just not genetically possible. Tolkien's race of Men were based biologically on REAL humans from our world, and elves were genetically alike ENOUGH to produce FERTILE, if mortal, offspring with these Men. Therefore, modern genetics, at least with Men and Elves, are most definitely into play here. Meaning, unless one BIOLOGICAL parent and another BIOLOGICAL parent are of different races, their child should have the same, or darn close, features as their parents AND siblings.


Don't mess with my favorite female elf.





 
 

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