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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Brown Hobbits. A colour in the next films, to kill notions that Middle Earth is segregated
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May 1 2008, 10:22pm

Post #26 of 49 (199 views)
... [In reply to] Can't Post

I've said this before: I've always thought Tolkien meant Tan.....

Sr. Staff

May 1 2008, 11:18pm

Post #27 of 49 (193 views)
well said, entmaiden! [In reply to] Can't Post

The film should not be about politics or societal issues; cast the best actor for the role, and leave it at that. Race, ethnicity, etc. should not be an issue one way or the other.

'There are older and fouler things than orcs in the deep places of my fridge...'

'You never know what will happen next, when once you get mixed up with TORnsibs and their friends.'

Tol Eressea

May 2 2008, 12:07am

Post #28 of 49 (176 views)
maybe they're ambidextrous [In reply to] Can't Post

and they just like using their right hand.
Personally, I'm irritated at the lack of clarinet-playing orcs.

Sorry, your post made me giggle, so I couldn't help but reply- I really do agree, though, with your overall point

The Shire

May 2 2008, 12:23am

Post #29 of 49 (170 views)
its a tad sunny here [In reply to] Can't Post

I've always thought darker skinned people were represented by the peoples of harad

it's good to have an end to journey towards, but it's the journey that matters in the end

Tolkien Forever

May 2 2008, 1:43am

Post #30 of 49 (186 views)
Revisionism By Bowing To PC Pressure [In reply to] Can't Post

I have to agree with Compa Mighty's two posts.....

Tolkien's basis of Middle-earth on the Eurasian/African land mass gives us a great idea of what each particulat people should look like:

The men of Near Harad, who are ambushed by Faramir's group of Rangers as Frodo & Sam look on in Northern Ithilien are referred to as having 'brown hands' & 'black plaits of hair', which sounds like it would fit in with an Arabian type people, which is where Near Harad would be - North Africa.

Others, like the Easterlings, are called 'swart', i.e., 'dark', meaning they must be more Indian, 'Mongolian' or Persian than Oriental, or from Mid-Asia than the Far East.

Now the hobbits, Tolkien tells us, came from the Vales of Anduin. No black men come from there, or 'people of color', if you will.
Now, this is important I feel: In the Battle of Pellanor Fields, written by a Hobbit (Frodo), and told to him from other Hobbit's perspective, the men of Far Harad are described as 'Black Men from Far Harad with red tongues like half trolls'. I know this sounds racist, but remember, this is from the viewpoint of one who has never seen a Black person - and note that.....
Since they've never seen a Black person, how can there be any black Hobbits?

Therefore 'brown skinned' Harfoots must mean browner, not a different race....

To simply pander to political correctness for the sake of pleasing those who might be offended is compromising the story....

As others have said, it's like taking out the smoking. So, what's PJ do? Leave in the smoking, but turn it from tobacco (which Tolkien clearly states pipe-weed is in The Hobbit) to veiled jokes towards pipeweed being marijuana to lighten things up.......

Compromising reminds me of what George Lucas did in Star Wars (Ha Ha AinurOlorin) with the 'Prequels. In the 'OT', I never realized that aside from Lando, there wasn't a Black person in the whole three films because it wasn't an issue. In the 'PT', it seemed obvious that Lucas was going out of his way to add minorities into his Galaxy Far Far Away & they stuck out because of that in contrast to the 'OT' due to the fact that there was no continuity between the two halves. Where did all these minorities suddenly come from?
I guess we must assume that the Empire erradicated all minorities in the 20 years between the 'OT' & 'PT'?
That's the only thing that makes sense, but just dawned on me after almost 10 years as I wrote this.......

The same thing would happen if Black & Asian Hobbits suddenly started popping up in the Shire in the new movies. It would just seem forced & unreal.


May 2 2008, 2:07am

Post #31 of 49 (169 views)
Well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

To get on an SW bent here for a mo, but part of Palpatine's plans for conquering the Galaxy and re-shaping it to his liking, WAS a "Humans are Superior" policy. Part of his genocidal regime was wiping out non-humans--"minorities." Those who were useful, he enslaved; or bought and bribed...the Nemoidians for example. But he always betrayed them in the end.

Lest you think that this is a literary conceit invented by later authors working within the "continuity lines" of the established Extended Universe novels "canon", this was Lucas's mindset from the beginning. In the Death Star, when Han and Luke are escorting the manacled Chewbacca, I can never forget the Imperial working stiff in the Cell Block who greets them with, "where are you taking this....THING?" And the reason why Chewie didn't want to wear the manacles wasn't just Wookiee pride, it was b/c the Wookiees had been enslaved by the Emperor. When you see this as kid, it's a funny scene, "but as you grow older there are other things you see. And it was an attitude that posioned all races. Who can forget the droid who sniffed, "No serving droids!" on the ship that Anakin and Padme left for Tatooine on, in Attack of the Clones? Irony, no?

Later fanfic writers embellished on these conceits, but they were there from the beginning.

No continuity between the two halves? Are you suggesting that the Old Republic and the Galaxy under the Empire are supposed to look and feel alike? Is the Old Republic, from an artistic POV, supposed to look and feel as gritty and run down as the "Dark Times"?

Sorry...MUST get off Star Wars bentCrazyLaugh

(This post was edited by Sunflower on May 2 2008, 2:16am)


May 2 2008, 2:27am

Post #32 of 49 (143 views)
So did I [In reply to] Can't Post

always thought it meant they were more tanned because they worked the land more. Crazy

Really don't like PC it stuffs things up too much. I agree with the posts that have said "use the best actors for the parts" and don't just put in the "token" coloured.

Sorry come from a very mixed family and it's one of our pet hates. Mad

There he stood
Proud and solemn
Yet happy and gay

Tolkien Forever

May 2 2008, 2:46am

Post #33 of 49 (145 views)
Yes, but [In reply to] Can't Post

I realized that about 'minorities' as far as species, but I am referring to humanoid colored 'minorities'......

As I said, Lando is the only non-Caucasion if I remember in the 'OT', correct?

It seems Lucas goes out of his way to put in many non-Caucasion actors in the 'PT' & it just seems out ofr wack & stinks of pandering to the politically correct pressure that pervades today's world.

Even writing this, I feel like I have to say, "I'm not a racist", you know?
But, it's really such a complex issue in our world (country -USA especially) where it pervades everything, even where a Black man appears to be about to be nominated by his party for president just 45 years after many Blacks couldn't even vote (in reality) in the South.....
And, apologizes to my freind AinurOlorin for hijacking another thread into the Galaxy Far, Far, Away. Crazy


May 2 2008, 3:56am

Post #34 of 49 (135 views)
And I'm no help, aiding the hijacking.....:) [In reply to] Can't Post


Eowyn of Penns Woods

May 2 2008, 4:09am

Post #35 of 49 (148 views)
Who do you people think you are?! [In reply to] Can't Post

Hijacking threads is MY job. =)


May 2 2008, 8:10am

Post #36 of 49 (138 views)
Not picky [In reply to] Can't Post

I was just about to make that correction and then saw your post.


May 2 2008, 12:31pm

Post #37 of 49 (131 views)
I said before I was only speaking of extras, in the main, not central characters. Yet [In reply to] Can't Post

I think some of you have missed my point. And also misconstrued Tolkien. He said the Harfoots were brown of skin. Which means exactly that. It would be a geneological trait, since some of the Fallohides also worked fields in the shire, and remained lighter. No, he wasn't saying the Harfoots were black or half Harad. . . but surprise, there are plenty of lighter and medium toned black and brown extras who could be seen in the Hobbit backdrob without Africanizing, Haradizing or Asianizing it.

ITs not a thing that will cause an uproar obviously. . . but the uproar isn't what I am talking about. I know well that there was no intentional effort to exclude Hobbits of any other type of colour. But intent and perception can lives many miles apart. Unintended omission can look like insensitivity to certain groups.

And I am not talking about being pc for media concerns. I am thinking on a more personal level, of the miillions of fans of colour, and I know at least a dozen fans of colour myself, who love the films, but do say things like "didn't Tolkein say some of the hobbits were brown? Couldn't they have had a couple of brown hobbits." People who are die hard fans, but fell a little left out or at least overlooked. Loyalists (and yes, in some cases purists) who have been in the uncomfortable position ( I have seen it happen to some of them) of forcing half a score of relatives to see these films with them, and afterwards being put on the spot with discomforting comments like "I really enjoyed the film. . . but, err. . . they didn't have any good black folks back then?" And its sad to watch their eager fan faces drop a bit.

I think it is easy for a majority to be unwittingly insensitive to minorities who have been, at times, left out quite wittingly. I certainly do not suggest havinglittle Black panther and Turban wrapped Hobbits. . . but if Tolkien says some were brown, then let some be brown, thats all. As simple act of inclusion, that requires only the most subtle change. Those who were not looking or hoping for it would never even notice. I take the point on Greeks and Italians (Meditterain peoples), but their are people of both groups who look like some North Africans. There is a great deal of blood mixing in those regions. And sometimes mere appearances can go a long ways. And such things would mean alot more to some minority fans than I believe many may imagine.

"Hear me, hounds of Sauron, Gandalf is here! Fly if you value your foul skins, I will shrivel you from tail to snout if you step within this circle!"

"Do not be to eager to deal out death in judgement. Even the very wise cannot see all ends."

Peredhil lover

May 2 2008, 1:46pm

Post #38 of 49 (119 views)
Well [In reply to] Can't Post

To me, this 'genealogical trait' is simply a different type of skin that is pretty usual even here in Northern Europe. Some people go out into the sun, stay a few hours and get tanned. Others, like me, only get sunburn and the skin gets off and that's it. We have to protect from the sun, particularly when we are out there the whole day, otherwise the consequences are dire. So no tanning. To me that is the only reason why the Harfoots may be a bit browner - they tolerate the sun better. You see, there is no need for mixing with darker types as you implied.

Though I can see where your worries come from, and they are understandable, to me it still smells of attempts at PC when you expect to have brown or black people in a race where it is very unlikely that there are any. As others have said, it would be much more honest to make movies about other races and their mythologies than having a token brown here and there.

I do not suffer from LotR obsession - I enjoy every minute of it.

(This post was edited by Peredhil lover on May 2 2008, 1:50pm)


May 2 2008, 2:11pm

Post #39 of 49 (117 views)
I agree with Tolkien Forever [In reply to] Can't Post

And also Kelvarhin. I think the "brown-skinned" thing is just an old fashioned way of saying weather worn farmer types. Using the term rednecks here for hobbits would not seem appropriate, but we're talking sun tanned here. The terminology for "people of colour" back in the day the books were written was "black". So I don't think the Harfoots were "black", just had a reputation for having darker tans. Tans in the Victorian era were looked down upon, and pale, even vein revealing palid skin, was actually prefered by those weirdos. Tans were a sign of being common, laborer types.


May 2 2008, 2:22pm

Post #40 of 49 (113 views)
Beorn [In reply to] Can't Post

I think I understood where you're coming from - and don't think it's a bad suggestion. Maybe something shown in the background that merely blends into the fabric of a scene so that it offers that variation without sticking it right in your face.

Interesting thought about Lawrence Fishbourne as Beorn. I wouldn't have ever thought of it, but wouldn't be against that. I think he would do a great job with that part along with a number of actors that were suggested on this board. Again, I'll just be happy with the excitement and anticipation of seeing what GDT, PJ and Fran do with it.....


May 2 2008, 3:26pm

Post #41 of 49 (99 views)
Oh and I suppose Keanu Reeves as Bard? J/K - NT [In reply to] Can't Post



May 2 2008, 4:18pm

Post #42 of 49 (94 views)
Nope.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Actually, for Bard I was thinking that wonderful puppet Alf, since GDT is suggesting animatronics. Or perhaps if we want to go with a serious actor that would excel at true drama, we should enlist Pauly Shore or Ashton Kutcher.


As for the Lawrence Fishbourne at Beorn idea, keep in mind that I just think it's an interesting idea that seem more plausable as I thought about it.

But I'm certainly not campaigning for that at all - for Fishbourne or anyone in particular to play Beorn. And he doesn't at all fit the image I had for Beorn as I read the books. I like a lot of the suggestions that we've seen on this board - all good ones. I just like it when folks come up with different ideas on characters - it's fun to contemplate as long as it doesn't stray too far from what Mr. Tolkien intended (or at least the spirit of what he intended).

(This post was edited by DiveTwin on May 2 2008, 4:25pm)

Tol Eressea

May 2 2008, 5:48pm

Post #43 of 49 (116 views)
Beorn cannot be black [In reply to] Can't Post

It is said the Beornings were related to the people of Dale, and the people of Rohan, which, as we know were blonde. Much whiter than Gondorians, for instance!

As someone said, the term "black" was used, and we have to say Tolkien lived in an England with few black people, as opposed to what happens in present times.

Personally, I don't believe the term "black" is offensive, as white isn't either, as long as you do not expressly say it offensively. It's like saying someone is blonde or brunette. Then again, that's true of any word.

Here in Mexico, we don't have real racism problems, other kinds of unfortunate discrimination do exist, but we talk of races and skin colour freely, and many times even jokingly, with no bad intentions whatsoever. So, for us it is really how you say the word, rather than the word you use.

Here's to Del Toro becoming the Irvin Kershner of Middle Earth!

Essay winner of the Show us your Hobbit Pride Giveway!


May 2 2008, 8:15pm

Post #44 of 49 (90 views)
I would hate it.. [In reply to] Can't Post

if they tinkered with the film in order to make it 'politically correct.' That sort of thing always stands out and in my opinion would detract from the film.

Tolkien Forever

May 2 2008, 8:42pm

Post #45 of 49 (82 views)
Keaneu Reeves? [In reply to] Can't Post

Good greif! You've touched upon the (IMO) worst actor in history......

A wooden Indian has more emotion. Perhaps Reeves could play someone IN the Dead Marshes if they go back there? Wink

I am thinking on a more personal level, of the miillions of fans of colour, and I know at least a dozen fans of colour myself, who love the films, but do say things like "didn't Tolkein say some of the hobbits were brown? Couldn't they have had a couple of brown hobbits."

Do you really have that many friends, regardless of color, that you talked to about TLOR when it came out? What, are you in college? A Tolkien Society?
I had exactly one friend who saw TLOR that I talked to & he went because I bugged him into going....

(Of course, I've talked to other people before & since)

His comment? "It went on forever.The Ring took half an hour to roll down the mountain at the beginning" (when Galdriel spoke).

Grey Havens

May 3 2008, 1:19am

Post #46 of 49 (63 views)
it often depends on [In reply to] Can't Post

which side of the fence you're standing on. For instance, a male posted a topic on The Pollantir recently about which LotR character you would like to be,
apparently without realizing his long list included no women. Mad

Where I live in RL blue-eyed blondes are a minority, and I may be the only one present in a large group.

I think that a city like Minas Tirith would have attracted traders and settlers of various appearances. The coronation scene could have convincingly been more diverse.
I do agree with most of the posters that the Shire was much more homogenous; dark curly hair and deep suntans fit in, but imho classic African or Asian would not.

Ursula LeGuin fans may notice that in many of her writings the preferred colors are black, brown, and bronze; the characters who look like me are considered unattractive.

Just my 2 cents,

"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."


May 3 2008, 1:57am

Post #47 of 49 (70 views)
I like Fishburne but... [In reply to] Can't Post

As is stated elsewhere the liniage doesn't really allow for a person of color in that role. Outside of the technicalities, I'm not sure that he'd be right for that role. He's not nearly burly enough. He earned my respect with the film Othello, but he presents a far less primative character than whaqt is described in the book. I've always pictured Beorn as looking sort of like Ernest Borgnine in "The Vikings". Being dead I think he's out of the running though. I wonder if Mr. Davis has been considered for that role?
As for the hobbits, I think that a bit of color would be nice.

Eglario Valar!


May 4 2008, 2:31pm

Post #48 of 49 (56 views)
John Howe [In reply to] Can't Post

has an illustration of Beorn which, for what its worth, depicts Beorn as dark in skin and dark in manner.
Its one of the few illustrations where I feel Beorn is proportional in size and height, and not Ogre like.
The picture is in his gallery and cant be cut and pasted, but here's a look ...


Were off to Hobbiton finally!

Tolkien was a Capricorn!!
Russell Crowe for Beorn!!


May 6 2008, 2:58pm

Post #49 of 49 (71 views)
Thanks Elven. . . as to the rest. . . Alas [In reply to] Can't Post

I always pictured Beorn as rather Hirsuite. He certainly is not bloinde. He has a big blacvk beard, and turns into a black furred bear ,so you can nix the blonde viking business, I think.

As to the brown Harfoots. . . it is put across in a way that suggests it is indeed geneological. They were close in relations with the dwarves, and held longest to the tradiiton of living in holes, for they had originally lived in hill holes in the foot hills of the mountains. You will forgive me if I have trouble seeing how dweeling in mountain tunnels could possibly lead to "sun browning>" But have it as you will. SOme here seem rather more adamant than I imagined that the films remain religiously all whiete all the time, save where orcs and enemies are concerned. I'll not argue on it too fervently, as I'd hate to find myself in the (pardon the pun) minority position.

"Hear me, hounds of Sauron, Gandalf is here! Fly if you value your foul skins, I will shrivel you from tail to snout if you step within this circle!"

"Do not be to eager to deal out death in judgement. Even the very wise cannot see all ends."

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