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Amazon Prime Video has premiered The Rings of Power, the series set in the early universe of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings. Advertised as the most expensive TV series in history, The Rings of Power may turn out to be a losing hand in Jeff Bezos’ ambitious bid for his streaming platform.
Although paid critics have praised the series —84% on Rotten Tomatoes—, negative viewer reactions —37%— suggest it will be a resounding financial and reputational failure for Amazon.
This disparity between the criteria of specialized critics and the public has already become an object of ridicule, and usually occurs in sagas with a large fan base that reacts angrily when they see their beloved classics being impregnated with woke ideology, while the media defend them tooth and nail out of ideological affinity.
Many of us feared that The Lord of the Rings would be the next franchise to be trashed by progressivism, and that the series would ooze wokeism. After watching the first two episodes, it seems we were not wrong.
The explicit statements of its creators talking about inclusion and diversity as central axes of the series did not leave much room for doubt, and the fact that Amazon imposed an embargo on reviews on social networks until the date of its premiere, also hinted that it was aware that it was going to anger a large part of its audience.
Even minor details foreshadowed the high ideological charge that The Rings of Power would have. Despite having the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings for some time, it seems that Amazon was waiting for the death of Christopher Tolkien —son of the British writer and custodian of his father’s legacy— to step into the production of the series.
The firing of Tom Shippey —an academic and scholar of Tolkien’s work— for warning that they were “contaminating the lore,” as well as Amazon’s bypassing Peter Jackson after his brilliant adaptation years earlier, were other warning signs.
The fact that Amazon chose as its release date September 2, Tolkien’s death day, could be interpreted as a clue that The Rings of Power would officiate the “second death of Tolkien,” who must be turning in his grave.
The Rings of Power: Run, you fools!
The first two episodes of The Rings of Power are simply not enough. Not only because they are an affront to Tolkien’s legacy (which they twist, subvert and pervert to the point that it doesn’t feel like we’re in the universe he created) but even if it weren’t about Tolkien, the series wouldn’t stand on its own as a high fantasy/adventure story.
It’s true that it has a pretty good technical workmanship most of the time —of course, given its budget— but on too many occasions the visual effects are contrived and more typical of a video game from a decade ago. The soundtrack is irrelevant and fails to give grandeur to the landscapes and locations that, although they abuse CGI, look like papier-mâché.
Even more stiff are the dialogues, far from the finesse of a writer like Tolkien. If these are the best writers money can buy, it is a sign of the intellectual and artistic decadence of the West that Tolkien loved so much.
The cast of The Rings of Power is also no match for the financial effort undertaken by Amazon. Although perhaps the problem is not so much with the performers, but with the characters they have been cast to play.
It is in this section where the influence of the woke ideology in The Rings of Power is most damaging. Straitjacketed by the feminist narrative and “intersectionality,” the series fails to make the viewer sympathize with any character.
Whereas Tolkien’s work dealt with universal and timeless concerns and longings, in The Rings of Power it is inevitable to perceive a constant, pounding contemporary social commentary.
Galadriel, like all recent female characters, is an empowered woman who is obnoxious and insufferable. Of course, as a child she was bullied by boys for being a woman —how original— and as an adult, she behaves arrogantly. The screenwriters want us to know that she is perfect, but she is held back by the heteropatriarchal elven society, of course.
Of course, Galadriel is the only capable one among all her male elven companions, who are cowards. She is not only the bravest and the best fighter (in one of the few action scenes, she single-handedly defeats an ice troll in the purest Mary Sue style before the passivity of the rest), but she also has a feminine intuition that allows her to see what no one else sees. Oh, and without making too much of a spoiler, she is also as good a swimmer as Lia Thomas.
The Rings of Power is an ensemble story, but with the common denominator that all the main characters are female and/or “racialized” and flat. None have anything to learn and nothing to change, it’s the world that has to adjust to them.
Nori is an empowered furry girl, who reminds us that all of Frodo’s accomplishments were already achieved by some sort of female hobbit long before him. She is white, but the daughter of an interracial couple, another constant in the series.
The dwarf marriage also consists of a white dwarf and a black dwarf. And the other romantic story in these early chapters also stars an elf suspiciously resembling Don Lemon and a half-Eastern human. Half-Eastern because the actress is Middle Eastern, since Amazon’s racial inclusion in The Rings of Power, for now, does not include Asians. We suppose solving the racial issue can only be done one race at a time.
In the series, “inclusion and diversity” is like product placement. Every time a woman or a “racialized” person appears —and this happens in practically every scene— the camera shamelessly focuses on them for a long time, as if to remind you that they are doing their bit to fight racism and misogyny.
The wokeism in The Rings of Power is ridiculous, to the point of seeming like fan fiction. However, it is actually unfair to call this fan fiction, since a true Tolkien fan would have been more respectful of his work and would have produced a much better product.
Here we face the umpteenth chapter of cultural revisionism from the left, bent on the systematic demolition of all cultural assets with traditional and conservative values. Fortunately, Tolkien sculpted one of the most consistent and solid monoliths of culture, and it will be difficult to topple. At least not without resistance from his legion of followers.
Of course, Amazon put the bandage before the wound and has been trying for months to cover its back by accusing of all sorts of things to fans of the saga who showed their concern first, their pessimism as more details were known, and their anger now that fears have been confirmed.
Amazon adds to the peculiar strategy that Disney has been employing to insult its public by calling them toxic, sexist, homophobic, racist, and ultra-right-wing. It must be that Jeff Bezos is nervous about how the nearly $60 million per episode budget that makes The Rings of Power the most expensive series in history, almost double the record held by Stranger Things at $30 million per episode, could go up in smoke.
If the series ultimately flops, it would be almost as bad for Amazon as if the phallic spaceship that took Bezos into space had crashed, which, incidentally, would have been a show with more drama, excitement, and interest than The Rings of Power, which only has the power to bore.
Ignacio Manuel García Medina, Business Management teacher. Artist and lecturer specialized in Popular Culture for various platforms. Presenter of the program "Pop Libertario" for the Juan de Mariana Institute. Lives in the Canary Islands, Spain // Ignacio M. García Medina es profesor de Gestión de Empresas. Es miembro del Instituto Juan de Mariana y conferenciante especializado en Cultura Popular e ideas de la Libertad.
Social Networks: @ignaciomgm