Sunday, April 14, 2024

Is The Rings of Power Really THAT Bad?

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Short answer: no. The Rings of Power is actually pretty awesome.

For a longer answer, I need to provide some context. On the Fandomentals, I am perhaps the number one Tolkien hater out of all of our writers. Since 2016, I have made no bones about decrying the dense amount of literature that makes up Tolkien canon, even as we had on-going Lord of the Rings re-read analysis articles going up.

It is very safe to say I am not a Tolkien fangirl, and I bear an unholy hatred for anything associated with Tom Bombadil. Just typing that name raises my blood pressure.

I tolerated Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the length I’ve watched of his The Hobbit trilogy amounts to YouTube clips of the final battle of the Five Armies.

A few years ago I saw the announcement that Amazon was planning a series set in Tolkien canon and I, like many, rolled my eyes, and assumed this was going to be a blatant franchise cash grab.

Then casting news came out. What? Lots of women? Daring to say people of color also existed in Middle Earth?

I was intrigued. Then they dropped a photo of Galadriel in armor with a sword and friends. Friends. I was lost. (I am also an absolute SIMP for warrior women, which means Brienne was about the only reason I was hanging on through that god-awful final stretch of Game of Thrones.)

When the first three episodes aired, I watched in rapt attention at the visual feast on-screen. Not only am I getting realistic and diverse populations, but I’m getting to see live-action fantasy with all the wonder and lusciousness I’ve always pictured in my head when reading my favorite stories?

What did I do to deserve this gift?

And here’s the thing. I still hate trying to slog through Tolkien’s books. But I have realized that the show has made his canon far more palatable and easier to access the wonder of his imagination. Not every medium works for every person. The Rings of Power is what worked for me to click with Tolkien canon. Is it a “traditional” Tolkien story in the sense that he wrote millions of words about it? Not really. Do I think it’s in the spirit of his creation? Yes.

I’ve learned more about Tolkien mythology in the last two months than I managed to retain in that torturous read-through of Lord of the Rings I inflicted on myself in college.

Any person not living under an internet rock probably saw the hate campaign coming a mile away the moment the cast list was announced. It’s fairly predictable, and a cheap extension of the broader culture wars we’re currently living through. A potent mix of “Not MY Tolkien” fandom, grifting culture wars content creators who saw a new avenue of money by releasing stream after stream of YouTube videos, live streams, and tweets about how going WOKE is ruining your childhood fantasy, and a group of brainwashed racists and/or misogynists who will suddenly care about anything not as pure as their imagined masculine and whitely falling snow.

The same people who suddenly decided they very much have fucks to give about The Little Mermaid the moment they realized Disney had the audacity to cast a Black actress for Ariel.

And, as is their usual MO, they unleashed a wave of review bombing and vile abuse at the series and its cast.

I’m telling you to ignore the angry background noise. The Rings of Power is a stunning visual treat, with an engaging story, and terrific acting… and best of all, it’s ENTERTAINING. You don’t need to be a 20-year student of the Tolkien mythos to truly enjoy it (regardless of what certain toxic parts of its fandom might tell you).

As for some so-called fans, I ask this: why are you so upset that there’s another installment that could bring even more people to share in something you love?

Isn’t that what fandom should be about? Sharing our beloved shows, hobbies, sports, and so on?

If that isn’t true anymore, then what exactly is the point of fandom anymore?

But seriously, The Rings of Power, I’m begging you. PLEASE don’t add Tom Bombadil.

Image courtesy of Amazon

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