‘The Rings of Power’ Showrunners Address Backlash

Despite the hype surrounding the hit movie Lord of the Rings, showrunners of the latest Amazon series, Rings of Power, are receiving criticism from viewers after announcing the participation of actors of color among its cast back in February this year.

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The Rings of Power

The Rings of Power is a new fantasy television series from Amazon Studios, which is a prequel to the events that occurred in J.R.R. Tolkien’s well-beloved series Lord of the Rings. The show takes place in Middle-earth’s Second Age, where viewers can see the forging of the 20 rings of power. That includes three for elves, seven for dwarves, nine for mortal men, and one for Sauron. Rings of Power also features the epic tale of Númenor and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.

However, former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos didn’t get the television rights for this compelling show that easily. As a passionate fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, Bezos coordinated with various rights holders to receive their approval and spent more than $700 million on the show’s TV rights and first season. This makes the Rings of Power one of the most expensive productions from Amazon Prime Studios.

In fact, it’s one of the greatest projects that Bezos handled before his early resignation from the company. Although most executive transitions in 2021 were abrupt and disorganized, Bezos showed how preparing a comprehensive executive transition plan is essential in any part of an organization’s business plan. This is because an orderly succession will help the executive team to adjust to new leadership, provide opportunities for knowledge transfer, and boost an organization’s overall brand among its stakeholders. And because of his thoughtful planning, Amazon remains one of the successful companies operating today, allowing them to continue producing shows like Rings of Power.

The Backlash Behind Rings of Power

Rings of Power immediately gained media attention after fans voiced their criticisms towards the show’s decision to cast women and actors of color and its lack of faithfulness to Tolkien’s original work. Because of this, thousands of so-called Tolkien fans have bombarded the internet with racist and misogynistic complaints, which is evident in the number of disappointed fan reviews left on sites like Rotten Tomatoes.

Fans believe that the Rings of Power is doing a disservice to the books, which Tolkien based on ancient European civilizations. As they see it, there wouldn’t be any people of color around during the era, making the portrayal of the characters inaccurate. Since then, fans have called showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay “Hollywood woke” for their diverse casting decisions. But the showrunners didn’t stay silent over the critics of the show.

“The spirit of Tolkien is about disparate peoples who don’t trust one another and look different from one another finding common ground in friendship and accomplishing big things.” He adds, “That’s the spirit we’ve tried to inculcate into every single comma and period in the show. That this aspiration would be offensive to people and enrage them… it’s very hard for us to understand.”

Payne also quoted Galadriel in the seventh episode of Rings of Power, “There’s a line in episode seven where Galadriel says every war is fought from without and within. Even if you’re fighting for something you think is good, if you do something worse in that fight, then you become evil. I don’t see how people who are saying these things think that they’re fighting for good. It’s patently evil,” he concluded.

Currently, the Amazon series features a wide range of diverse stars in Middle-earth. There’s the silvan elf Arondir, played by Ismael Cruz Córdova, the first person of color to play an elf in a Tolkien screen project. There’s also Bronwyn, a human healer played by British-Iranian actor Nazanin Bonjadi, and Sophia Nomvete, the first Black woman playing a dwarf in a Lord of the Rings project.

Despite the controversy surrounding the series, our previous article shared that there’s a chance that Rings of Power will be renewed for a second season. In addition, there are plans for at least five seasons of the show, but we will have to wait for Amazon to confirm this information.

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