lord of the rings

Original ‘LOTR’ Cast Stands in Solidarity With ‘Rings of Power’ Cast Amid Racist Backlash

The original cast of “The Lord of the Rings” movies are standing in solidarity with the diverse cast of Amazon’s new series “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.” The cast of “The Rings of Power” have been on the receiving end of a slurry of hateful messages from racist “fans” of the LOTR franchise. These fans are unhappy with the casting decision and feel that it does not represent what they perceive to be LOTR author J.R.R. Tolkien’s vision of its fantasy world, “Middle-earth.”

Elijah Wood, Billy Boyd, Sean Astin, and Dominic Monaghan publicly supported the new cast members on social media. They posted photos wearing hats and t-shirts featuring a row of human, goblin, and elf ears in various shades of skin tone. The four actors played the four hobbits in Peter Jackson’s movie adaptation of the LOTR trilogy.

The actors captioned their posts with “you are all welcome here,” which quickly became a hashtag and reaffirmed their support. The merchandise designed by Don Marshall also features the phrase printed in “elvish.” 50% of the merchandise sales profits go to a nonprofit supporting POC.

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On a statement on Instagram, The Lord of the Rings on Prime account wrote a response to the controversy.

“We refuse to ignore it or tolerate it. JRR Tolkien created a world which, by definition, is multi-cultural. A world in which free peoples from different races and cultures join together, in fellowship, to defeat the forces of evil. “Rings of Power” reflects that. Our world has never been all white, fantasy has never been all white. Middle-earth is not all white. BIPOC belong in middle-earth and they are here to stay.”

This is not the first time a cast’s diversity or lack of diversity stirred controversy. A few weeks before “The Rings of Power” started streaming, a prequel to the TV fantasy series “Game of Thrones” called “House of Dragons” was released. Fans noticed that the prequel attempts to create a more diverse world than in “Game of Thrones.” A few years ago, Idris Alba received backlash when rumors of him playing James Bond circulated in the media.

Neil Gaiman, a fantasy and science-fiction author and screenwriter, has also come out in support, dismantling some of the arguments circulated by racist fans. On Twitter, one user posted, “browner of skin means tanned white similar to people who work in the sun,” to which Gaiman responded, “Tolkien didn’t say ‘The Harfoots spent longer in the sun than any of the other hobbits and were a lot more tanned.” He said that Tolkien described them as “browner of skin.”

The TV adaptation of “The Sandman,” released on Netflix recently, features a similarly diverse cast. In the show, one of the characters, “Death,” is white in the comics and is played by a Black actor named Kirby Howell-Baptiste. Female actors played other characters who were originally male in the comics. Gaiman wrote the original comic and was one of the developers of the show.

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Actor Whoopi Goldberg also came out in support and talked about the absurdity of a diversity rule placed on a fantasy world. Goldberg said, “they don’t exist in the real world.”

“There are no dragons. There are no hobbits. Are you telling me Black people can’t be fake people too? Is that what you’re telling me? I don’t know if there’s like a hobbit club, I don’t know if there are gonna be protests, but people! What is wrong with y’all?”

“The Rings of Power” takes place in Tolkien’s Middle-earth second age, before the timeline of the first book. It is streaming on Amazon Prime.

Bermuda Dock

Virtual Cultural Attractions To Occupy Your Time In Quarantine

As social distancing measures and quarantine policies continue to restrict any sort of travel from occurring around the world, many are growing restless with how to spend this indefinite amount of time at home. Lucky for us, we live in a virtual age where practically everything can be seen/done online.

Many tourist destinations throughout the world have opened their digital doors to the public, offering a multitude of virtual tour/interactive online experiences so that many of us can still embark on fun travel journeys around the world, all from the comfort of our living room. Here are a few examples of some of the hundreds of virtual experience options you and your loved ones can go on while in quarantine:

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Natural Habitat Adventures and the World Wildlife Fund have collaborated on a project they’re calling “Your Daily Dose of Nature.” The companies enlisted the help of over 150 guides from all over the world to share reports from their fieldwork, give updates on conservation efforts, show off fascinating wildlife and natural landscapes, while also offering courses in things like nature photography. The “daily doses” are updated everyday at 1 p.m. mountain time, meaning you’ll have something new and educational to look forward to everyday.

Rowe Bird Sanctuary in Nebraska has provided a virtual crane cam on their website to give the public access to the second largest animal migration in the world. The crane cam will follow the Sandhill Cranes on their journey upriver. According to the website, most of the cranes leave the river during the day to go feed, so the best time to see them will likely be sunrise and sunset; but the stream is 24/7.

The National Aquarium in Baltimore is live-streaming some of their most popular attractions as well. These streams include shots from their Blacktip Reef, named for the blacktip shark population, Jellies Invasion exhibit, and Pacific Coral Reef exhibit, all which also have an overall goal of spreading the word about aquatic conservation. 

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Beyond just animal exhibits, there are a ton of virtual sightseeing options available for free to the public. For example, Albuquerque is offering a 360-degree tour of the entire city. Starting from the top of the Sandia Peak Tramway, online visitors can travel through some of Albuquerque’s most picturesque views, while also stopping at the local restaurants to peek in the windows and get a glimpse at local life. 

Bermuda’s historic dockyard is also live-streaming a 24/7 HD quality video of what waterfront life is like. While a dockyard may not sound like the most exciting experience, it’s in Bermuda, so it’s basically like taking a virtual vacation.

The Alley Theater in Houston is also offering digital performances and streams for their past performances. Right now George Orwell’s 1984 is the only option to watch, however, the Alley isn’t the only cultural institution offering a virtual experience for past patrons. 

In fact, Google’s Arts and Culture department has recently teamed up with hundreds of museums and historical venues to create an endless amount of virtual tours, activities, and educational experiences for those to endure while stuck at home during quarantine.  

Regardless of where you go, what you do, and what you see, it’s clear that while we may not be able to physically be in these places, we have access to the next best thing. It’s important to remember that one day, we will be able to actually hop on a plane and go to these places, but for now, we’ll have to get used to going to Europe from our computers.