Amazon: Black hobbits, female heroes and other races in new ‘Lord of the Rings’ series draw mixed reactions

Amazon: Black hobbits, female heroes and other races in new ‘Lord of the Rings’ series draw mixed reactions



Amazon upcoming ‘Lord of the Rings’ series has drawn criticism for “preachy multiculturalism”; after it emerged that the show will feature a diverse cast with a “tribe” of multi-racial hobbits and also a “very strong female presence”.

Earlier in the week, British actor Lenny Henry revealed that he would be playing a “black hobbit” from an “indigenous” tribe called the Harfoots; – a variety of hobbit described by Lord of the Rings (LOTR) author J.R.R. Tolkien as having darker skin.


Describing the series as a “prequel to the age” seen in the LOTR books and films; Henry told the BBC that the show was about the “early days of the Shire and of Tolkien’s environment”.


In Tolkien’s fantasy world of Middle-Earth; the Shire is the green grassland home country of the hobbit people.


“So we’re an indigenous population of Harfoots. We’re hobbits, but we’re called Harfoots. And we’re multicultural. We’re a tribe. We’re not a race,” said Henry; who added that the Harfoots were made up of a number of different ethnicities.

So there are black and Asian and brown and even Maori-types within it. It’s a whole brand-new set of adventures that seeds some of the origins of different characters.


Noting that it would take “at least 10 years to tell the story”, the 63-year-old actor said the series would be based on The Silmarillion; – a collection of Tolkien’s works on Middle-Earth history as well as mythology that;  Henry described as “almost like a cheat sheet for what happens next in this world.

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Adding that the show’s writers had a “lot of fun in extrapolating it all out”; Henry also revealed that the series will feature a “very strong female presence”; with “female heroes in this evocation of the story”.


Amazon had paid $250 million to secure the television rights to the franchise four years ago; after founder Jeff Bezos demanded a ‘Game of Thrones’-style program to boost his company’s streaming service.


The retail giant is reportedly spending $465 million for the first season of the show; which is scheduled to premiere next September.


In a May interview with The Hollywood Reporter; Amazon Studios boss Jennifer Salke said the huge budget reflected the need to “really [build] the infrastructure of what will sustain” a “huge world-building show”.


She also expressed confidence that a “giant, global audience” will “show up to [watch] it as appointment television.”


However, the majority of social media users reacted to news about the diverse cast by denouncing Amazon for “preachy multiculturalism” and making a “mockery of Tolkien’s work and vision”. Several commenters stated that they would not be watching the show; which one person predicted would be “woke garbage, created with a strict ideological agenda and zero respect to actual story.”



“Did these idiots even read the books? Heck, watch the movies?” asked one person; while others drew unfavorable comparisons between the series and the Peter Jackson-directed LOTR trilogy; by noting that “nothing will ever replace come close [to] the size and scope” of the early-2000s movies.



However, other users countered that the series was a “fantasy TV show” that was based on a “mythical storyline”; reasoning that it was “not out of place” to have “different races” in it. A number of people said the show creators had “modern audiences” and “contemporary values” in mind; with one person saying it “would be awkward” if a TV show made in 2021 featured an “all white” cast.


About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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