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  1. #201
    Off-topic (but relevant to discussions starting from post #191):

    Some interesting exchanges on whether Elves had pointed ears (nothing definitive, mind you):
    https://scifi.stackexchange.com/ques...ve-pointy-ears

  2. #202
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    Quote Originally Posted by jakeatkisson View Post
    Elves aren't real. Humans are real; in specific, those playing games such as this one.

    We should always prefer to do the things that make the real people happier.
    Trying to be all things to all people in a vain attempt to make everyone happy would be a sure and certain recipe for an incoherent mess with no character of its own.

  3. #203
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lunhut View Post
    I also contacted another Tolkien scholar to weigh in.
    This was truly fascinating. Thanks for probing for answers and sharing your results. I learned a lot. Tolkien scholarship goes infinitely deep. I consider myself reasonably studly because I can rattle off Silmarillion timelines and the names of Valar, but of course that's really just scratching the surface.

    One thought about race that I think about a lot that didn't appear here: All of Tolkien's Middle Earth is basically about bloodlines except Hobbits. When Men are valorous, it's usually because one has a valorous family tree. To more extreme, you don't see any virtuous communities of Orcs; their race determines their virtue. In that sense, there are virtuous races and unvirtuous races. Those bloodlines just don't have to cleave to skin tone.

    FWIW, I absolutely adored the studies of PoC Elves. It makes me long to see them appear in some media so that I can watch them .
    On Crickhollow: Wenslydale (Hobbit Burglar), Leolwyn (Woman Hunter)
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  4. #204
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    For a story to have the air of being old it has to bear a resemblance to how people told stories back then (the popular imagination of the day) rather than that of now. They would never have focused so specifically on making characters in a story diverse just for the sake of it (as opposed to it having some part to play in the story), and while a degree of that would not be unreasonable given that this is a game (and that's something which LOTRO does already) you simply don't know where to stop. You'd overdo it, it would look forced and fake, and then by the sound of it if anyone was unhappy with that you'd treat them as if they were at fault. Spare us such cant.
    And you are being unnecessarily restrictive on what the popular imagination of the day was. What the popular imagination of the day was is far more complicated than you're making it out to be. The thing is there are lots of ways to make the story feel old and authentic. Things like language, armor, feudal structure,building style, etc. Exclusion based on skin color, a modern preoccupation, should be unnecessary for the willing suspension of disbelief. The BBCs Merlin is a good example of this, did Guinevere being mixed race make Camelot any less believable or the magic less fun? No because she still fulfilled her role in the story and the themes of chivalry, justice, etc weren't diminished. The big themes of the Lord of the Rings, altruism, justice, and courage, are similarly not diminished with the inclusion of a more representative character creator.

  5. #205
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    Do you see that? He's equivocating. Just as before that means you're not in the right either, if you value this guy's opinion. If we'd taken his advice we'd all have ignored your original post and let it sink out of sight. I notice you didn't tell him you started the debate
    Yes he's equivocating, but to my understanding it's more about what we are using to justify our arguments. This part is I think the crux of what he's getting at: "This isn’t worth arguing over. There is no “right” or “wrong” side in these debates because, frankly, no one actually pays attention to what J.R.R. Tolkien wrote on many of these topics.

    Imagine a rainbow. Each color in the rainbow represents a different description of a [TOLKIEN CONCEPT]. What you get with all the books and random notes and essays that have come to light over the past 70 years are RAINBOWS OF DESCRIPTIONS. In nearly every one of these debates you can find at least 1 passage of obscure text SOMEWHERE that agrees with your chosen point of view. That’s all it takes for people to smugly insist they MUST be correct.

    There is no canon for Middle-earth because no one has defined a canon that a majority (let alone all) of Tolkien readers, commenters, and adapters agree to."

    I would also advise visiting the site and read the comment section of it. (it's very short only six or so comments.) https://middle-earth.xenite.org/are-...-fair-skinned/ I'll post some of his responses to a longer post but I would suggest going and reading the comment he is responding to.
    "Yes, but there are contrary examples. The pointless argument about the color of Legolas’ hair is another example of how people get caught up in unnecessary minutiae.
    My point is that people are taking this whole “faithful to Tolkien” thing too far. What is “faithful to Tolkien”? Everyone has their own idea of how Middle-earth should look.
    I spent years ruining my own and other people’s enjoyment of Middle-earth by arguing about every little detail. I wish I had appreciated what people tried to warn me about when they were warning me."
    AND
    "The debate extends well beyond one gaming forum. I was easily able to find other groups arguing about this exact issue. I don’t know why it’s important to anyone to insist that a derivative work exclude elves that don’t have fair skin. I’m not a member of those communities and have no history with them.
    Maybe there is a deeper issue here than “fans arguing about minutiae”. If so, I’m not sure what else I can add to the discussion. I’ve already addressed the idea of racism in Tolkien’s fiction more than once. Others, including Dr. Dimitra Fimi, have also stepped up and tried to explain Tolkien’s tropes and ideas.
    At this point I felt compelled to say something to the people engaging in these arguments, having been down that path more than once. Maybe I’m just wasting my time."

    That's why if as he says "There is no canon for Middle-earth because no one has defined a canon that a majority (let alone all) of Tolkien readers, commenters, and adapters agree to."
    I would I would whole heatedly endorse Lady_Lethargy's suggestion:
    Quote Originally Posted by Lady_Lethargy View Post
    Slightly simpler opinion here — if one of the world's leading Tolkien scholars says there's "no clear solution," then it's up for grabs as far as creativity is concerned; anyone could take it either way. And with it being up in the air like that, we should always choose the option that's more inclusive.
    I would certainly hope SSG agrees.

  6. #206
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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by Echoweaver View Post
    FWIW, I absolutely adored the studies of PoC Elves. It makes me long to see them appear in some media so that I can watch them .
    Ideally in this media or the upcoming Amazon one

  7. #207
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lunhut View Post
    Ideally in this media or the upcoming Amazon one
    Referring to Amazon's show or their MMO (given the two are supposedly unconnected)? Fingers crossed for both, but I've been seriously hoping for some POC elves in the show basically since it was announced.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

  8. #208
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lady_Lethargy View Post
    Referring to Amazon's show or their MMO (given the two are supposedly unconnected)? Fingers crossed for both, but I've been seriously hoping for some POC elves in the show basically since it was announced.
    Both!

  9. #209
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lunhut View Post
    Both!
    they would do what brings them income, not what you like!
    lotr enthousiast since 1996, 12 years lotro player, lifetimer, Loyal member of the Spartans Kinship, now in Evernight imigrants from Eldar

  10. #210
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lunhut View Post
    And you are being unnecessarily restrictive on what the popular imagination of the day was. What the popular imagination of the day was is far more complicated than you're making it out to be. The thing is there are lots of ways to make the story feel old and authentic. Things like language, armor, feudal structure,building style, etc. Exclusion based on skin color, a modern preoccupation, should be unnecessary for the willing suspension of disbelief. The BBCs Merlin is a good example of this, did Guinevere being mixed race make Camelot any less believable or the magic less fun? No because she still fulfilled her role in the story and the themes of chivalry, justice, etc weren't diminished. The big themes of the Lord of the Rings, altruism, justice, and courage, are similarly not diminished with the inclusion of a more representative character creator.
    Oh really? Where's all this diversity in the stories of the day, then? Where's it evident, if there's so much of it? You keep saying it's more complicated, but all you do is waffle.

    As for Merlin, since you ask, in the Mabinogion Guinevere (Gwenhwyfar) was Welsh, in later versions she's reckoned to be either Cornish or Breton so that bit of random diversity you mention was facepalm-worthy for me - I guess I could be kind and say they were just keeping up the sort of 'updating' that had happened to Arthurian legend so many times before, but it was hardly necessary since in medieval versions of the story one of Arthur's knights was from North Africa, of Moorish descent. That, incidentally, was noted as being exceptional. I wonder why...

    Anyway, I didn't watch much of Merlin because it just wasn't my thing. What was way more my thing instead was reading Bernard Cornwell's 'Warlord Chronicles' trilogy because it had a persuasive Dark Ages (6th century) ambience and was full of gritty period detail. None of that anachronistic castles, chivalry and courtly love malarkey.

  11. #211
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lunhut View Post
    Yes he's equivocating, but to my understanding it's more about what we are using to justify our arguments. This part is I think the crux of what he's getting at: "This isn’t worth arguing over. There is no “right” or “wrong” side in these debates because, frankly, no one actually pays attention to what J.R.R. Tolkien wrote on many of these topics.
    I don't think you know the material well enough to judge whether he's right or wrong in what he says. As you can see, I didn't agree with everything he said so I'm not interested if all you're going to do is parrot it uncritically, still less if once again you take equivocation as tacit endorsement.
    Last edited by Radhruin_EU; Aug 22 2019 at 06:20 PM.

  12. #212
    Quote Originally Posted by Lunhut View Post
    But what you seem to be missing is that Western art history is also full of POC represented in similar manners. The idea that they could only imagine these things in the familiar is false. For example you named four examples of white representations, I can name an equal number of the opposite: Saint George and the Dragon, Bruges, Belgium, 1480 - 1485; Book of Hours, Dutch Netherlands (c. 1410-1420); Der Wälsche Gast, Germany (c. 1368); Image of Jesus on St Veronica’s veil Brussels, c. 1425-50, Cotton MS Caligula A VII (Heliand and a charm); Omni Bonum (Absoluto Circumcisio), England (c. 1360); Aurora Consurgens,Germany (c. 1420s); Huntingfield Psalter, England (1212-1220); and others. The idea that white was the default simply doesn't hold to fact. The idea that white=authentic is a false paradigm that stymies positive representation. Also, even if white was the default for those people that does not mean it has to be for us. Medieval fantasy is constantly riddled with anachronisms that an audiences will suspend their disbelief for. That many won't over skin color is indicative of a deeper problem.
    I think you are exaggerating the persons of color representation in western art by several orders of magnitude personally. I grew up in rural Australia in the sixties, and was one of only a handful of aboriginal kids attending the local catholic primary school. Through all of my childhood years I simply assumed that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were white. Well they must have been white, right, because every crucifix and painting of Jesus depicted him as a white Caucasian male with either blonde or brown hair, and blue or green eyes. On one or two of the crucifixes he actually appeared to have dark skin, but that was only when they were bronze castings, as bronze turns a very dark color with age. There were literally hundreds of depictions of Jesus throughout that school, and in every one of them he looked far more like a medieval English prince than a mid-eastern Jewish carpenter.

    Imagine my surprise and delight when, as I grew older, I learned that he probably had skin color quite similar to my own, and that most of the Old Testament prophets were also of a similar heritage. What Radhruin has been saying about artists depicting 'sacred' people as having similar physical characteristics to their own culture is true, the evidence is all around us.

  13. #213
    Quote Originally Posted by Lunhut View Post
    I'm not saying that the setting or cultural inspiration are irrelevant.

    (Clip)

    Yes it does, but culture does not equal race.

    (Clip)

    Yes you seem to be getting a part of what I have been saying. The ancient Germans were not race conscious like we are. So if you were to represent an elf as non-white or include non-white characters they wouldn't really care. It wouldn't be weird to them. The problematic part comes with the way German and other medieval myths have been re-purposed to consciously and unconsciously exclude and erase non-white people from the period and genres inspired by it.
    I agree until you say that the Germans of old wouldn't care if you represented an elf with skin that doesn't match theirs. I am not entirely convinced first that Tolkien is only using German mythology as inspiration. But that's beside the point of whether or not the older Germans viewed elves as "white" like them. And before anyone says it, I think it has less to do with white supremacy and more to do with how people view semi-religious beings that are mostly forgotten today, but probably represented a form of ancestor worship. The elements of ancestor worship in "high elves" is, to me, unmistakable. So I think if you're assuming it's German people dreaming, then they're imagining elves as white like them. Ditto English people living in the middle ages.

    Although today's English person may be of any skin color or any cultural background, even in my grandmother's day people would've considered such people not quite "English." Though I don't think it went beyond discrimination in my grandmother's time, it certainly did go beyond that in the Renaissance and before. We've only just woken from a nightmare, if we have woken at all.

    The history of The world, not just Europe, is rife with slavery, not just of black people, and not just during the Renaissance, but the slave market of Venice featured people considered undesirable with white skin as well. So even in Europe, both race and culture played a part in who was deemed a servant and who a master. Even today the Roma are treated badly in Europe and called by the same racist epithets: dirty, thieving, liars. But are they really? And the story of human trafficking is not yet over.

    The joy of playing in a fantasy world is you can think about race and culture in a sort of laboratory setting abstract from the real world, though with just enough flavor of reality to make it familiar.

    I think white elves in Tolkien is an instructive fable and if you change it, future generations can't grapple with it.

    As an example, I feel a bit strange about black Jesus images. It makes me feel a bit alienated. Examining that feeling is important. Jesus is for everyone. So why would I expect that a black person would feel any less alienated by a white Jesus supposedly there to help them? I'm guessing but I think I'd feel like it was annoyingly paternal. I wouldn't see it as a savior at all, when placed in context of other historical events, and probably events that happened in my own life. But in the end, it's instructive that I have to ask myself why I would ask a black person to feel saved by a white Jesus when I feel uncomfortable with a black one?

    Racial confrontation is a very personal process. We all feel better talking about culture. It's easier to say someone's culture is bad or they cause their own problems. Except it's not that simple. Vagrancy laws make some people criminals just for standing around. The effect of something that sounds so good... like states rights, or the war on drugs... can be to disenfranchise generations of brown skinned people. And since in the US, it's Native American, Hispanic and Black people who are all singled out like that, it's not about culture anymore. It's clearly about skin color, even though for the majority of white people, it's only an unconscious discomfort. Look what that subtle discomfort has wrought.

    I don't think the fable should change the color of the skin of the players because if you make them all in the mold of what's ideal, then there are no more OMG moments that make people realize what they were just thinking. The crumbs of history are there, a person just has to follow the trail. Or not, depending on character.

    But I leave the door open to other ideas in this matter. Because I've been wrong before. Both the war on drugs and states rights are things I personally supported until I realized what a shambles they've become and how they were made into a bludgeon. If others think it would support the growth of other people more to have dark skinned elves in Tolkien, well, I'm not a psychology or social justice expert. I just hope that whatever story we tell, it leads to the growth and compassion of more people toward each other. I hope it provides opportunity to examine biases, instead of hiding them from view.

  14. #214
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lady_Lethargy View Post
    Referring to Amazon's show or their MMO (given the two are supposedly unconnected)? Fingers crossed for both, but I've been seriously hoping for some POC elves in the show basically since it was announced.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lunhut View Post
    Both!
    <3

    I'm trying not to get psyched up about the Amazon series, but the media coverage sure looks like they're trying to do it right. Fingers crossed.
    On Crickhollow: Wenslydale (Hobbit Burglar), Leolwyn (Woman Hunter)
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  15. #215
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    Quote Originally Posted by Echoweaver View Post
    <3

    I'm trying not to get psyched up about the Amazon series, but the media coverage sure looks like they're trying to do it right. Fingers crossed.
    Same here. I could go on and on about my hopes and expectations for it but that would veer off topic from this thread.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

  16. #216
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    Quote Originally Posted by Echoweaver View Post
    <3

    I'm trying not to get psyched up about the Amazon series, but the media coverage sure looks like they're trying to do it right. Fingers crossed.
    lol will be so funny to see poc elves or dwarves in that new series
    will be great if it will survive for two seasons,
    but what i m saying not many people care about the lore these days.......
    its good tho they are still the majority in here, who knows what will happen in the next 2 years......
    the good friends of proffesor's lore are getting old........
    lotr enthousiast since 1996, 12 years lotro player, lifetimer, Loyal member of the Spartans Kinship, now in Evernight imigrants from Eldar

  17. #217
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    Quote Originally Posted by gripply View Post
    I am not entirely convinced first that Tolkien is only using German mythology as inspiration.
    He didn't, he also borrows from Celtic myth - e.g. when the Noldor return to Middle-earth they burn their ships just like the Tuatha Dé Danann did. There's some Finnish influence as well. It makes no practical difference to the debate, though since (for example) medieval Celtic art is just as inclined towards depicting supernatural and religious figures in familiar terms.

    But that's beside the point of whether or not the older Germans viewed elves as "white" like them. And before anyone says it, I think it has less to do with white supremacy and more to do with how people view semi-religious beings that are mostly forgotten today, but probably represented a form of ancestor worship. The elements of ancestor worship in "high elves" is, to me, unmistakable. So I think if you're assuming it's German people dreaming, then they're imagining elves as white like them. Ditto English people living in the middle ages.
    Apparently the Light-Elves of Norse myth (who are plainly a key inspiration for Tolkien's High Elves) are reckoned to have originally been fertility spirits; it's the old symbolism where light and life go together and their lord is Freyr, who among other things was the god of fertility. This appears to be echoed in the book - Galadriel not only has light as an attribute (like other High Elves, she has a faint glow about her) but she gives Sam the gift of a holy light (the captured light of a Silmaril, itself the light of the Two Trees) as a talisman to safeguard him and Frodo on their travels. She also possesses the art of nurturing the special wheat used to produce the flour from which lembas was made, and she gives the gift of bread (and not just any bread but it's something blessed, like a sacrament, which is why Gollum can't eat it). So she's shown to be at least semi-divine, to be associated with light and fertility, plus she's inhumanly beautiful and her hair is a blend of gold and silver (like the light of the Sun and Moon combined, perhaps, interesting in that the story was that the Sun and Moon were made from the fruits of the Two Trees). Lots of mythological stuff going on there.

    The other side of that coin in Norse myth were the Dark-Elves, who were associated with darkness and were themselves 'blacker than pitch', lived beneath the earth, were malevolent and anything but beautiful. I've seen it said that as one account had it they resembled corpses, and that would go with them looking black since corpses turn that colour as they decay. They had something in common with the Dwarves, who shared some of the same attributes (unlike Tolkien's Dwarves, the ones from Norse myth were treacherous to have dealings with) and as Norse myth had it, the Dwarves were spawned like maggots within the corpse of the giant Ymir after Odin and his brothers had slain him (and the gods then used his remains to make the world). Seems like there's symbolism going on there linking darkness with decay and death and hidden things beneath the ground. There's a classic duality there, between light and dark and the things associated with each.

    So I reckon you're right in that the 'lightness' of Tolkien's Elves is derived from their mythological inspirations and is symbolic, not about them being 'white' as such (except in that the Norsemen and other Germanic peoples likely imagined such beings in terms that were familiar to them).. The OP's probably more used to your typical fantasy where Elves are just people with pointy ears and don't come with all this mythological baggage.

  18. #218
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    Quote Originally Posted by Valakircka View Post
    lol will be so funny to see poc elves or dwarves in that new series
    will be great if it will survive for two seasons,
    but what i m saying not many people care about the lore these days.......
    its good tho they are still the majority in here, who knows what will happen in the next 2 years......
    the good friends of proffesor's lore are getting old........
    They are, but the word has been that the Tolkien Estate have insisted that the show can't mess with canon. Most particularly to do with the established continuity, but they certainly don't have a free hand.

    Echoweaver's notion of 'trying to do it right' makes me laugh because POC Elves would make about as much sense as it did to cast a bunch of white actors in Gods of Egypt (e.g a Dane playing Horus, Australians playing Isis, Osiris, Ra and Anubis, and a Scotsman playing Set). And we all know how that turned out.

    As I said earlier, though, darker-skinned Dwarves wouldn't bother me. If anything that might be more authentic as far as mythology goes.

 

 
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