Culture

Lord of the Rings stars speak out against racist ‘threats, harassment and abuse’

The cast of Amazon’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power have issued a statement condemning the racist abuse they have experienced since they began working on the mega-budget fantasy series.

“We, the cast of Rings of Power, stand together in absolute solidarity and against the relentless racism, threats, harassment and abuse some of our castmates of color are being subjected to on a daily basis. We refuse to ignore it or tolerate it,” read a message released via the show’s official Twitter account last night.

“JRR Tolkien created a world which, by definition, is multicultural. 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 [Black, Indigenous, and people of color] belong in Middle-earth and they are here to stay.”

It’s the latest development in a race row that has engulfed the adaptation since February, when a trailer for the show, featuring actors of colour, attracted angry comments on YouTube. More recently, Amazon has suspended the posting of user reviews to its video-streaming service by up to three days in an attempt to combat negative comments that are believed to be part of a campaign of “review bombings” stemming from an anti-woke backlash.

Last night, stars of the previous Lord of the Rings franchise – Peter Jackson’s trilogy of films – also felt moved to speak out. Elijah Wood tweeted a photograph of himself, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd – who all played hobbits in the movies – wearing T-shirts bearing a message written in the Elvish language Neo-Sindarin, which translates to “You Are All Welcome Here” plus ears of various shapes in different skin tones. Fellow Hobbit Sean Astin posted a photograph of himself wearing a baseball cap with the same wording and graphic.

“All our love and fellowship go out to the fans supporting us,” continued the statement from The Rings of Power’s cast, “especially fans of colour who are themselves being attacked simply for existing in this fandom. We see you, your bravery, and endless creativity. Your cosplays, fancams, fan art and insights make this community a richer place and remind us of our purpose. You are valid, you are loved, and you belong. You are an integral part of the LOTR family – thanks for having our backs.”

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