The lazy, white supremacist trope in fantasy writing where nonhuman races represent nonwhite humans has a name now: Tolkien Minorities.
That is all.
@lafnlab I mean, I think the trope is applied most vigorously in "monstrous" and especially dark-skinned fantasy races, while Gandalf was put forward as kind of an idealized white man, in sort of an equal and opposite way to how orcs were supposed to epitomize "savage" dark-skinned people threatening white Europe.
Elves were idealized whites, too, so clearly there's some complexity to deal with here.
@lafnlab I'm going to propose a test: If casting a person of color to play a character would make white fandom throw a temper tantrum, that character is not a Tolkien Minority.
@lafnlab (not as originally written, though filmmakers/scriptwriters might choose to make them one in the movie adaptation, à la black Hermione in the Harry Potter play)
@leila @lafnlab I read Tolkien's orcs and goblins as the urban working class, hobbits as Middle England, and his elves as a "natural aristocracy" myself... but the dwarves owe something to the antsemitic stereotypes of the nibelungen and there's the "blood of Numenor" growing thin, so I'm not disagreeing with your basic point.
@ghost_bird Totally, racism wasn't Tolkien's only representational fault, and he also loved creating backstory for his the races so much that even the ones clearly informed by prejudices about human racial and social groups also have a lot of other things going on.
@leila Yeah, rewatched the LoTR movies about 6 months ago, and while I still love them, they sure are about whiteness defending itself from a dusky Other aren't they?
@bulkington Oooooooh yeah. And coming out post-9/11 really charged their representation.
My pessimist side thinks that probably boosted their success by making them more subconsciously (?) satisfying to Western audiences bathed in "war on terror/civilization vs. barbarism" rhetoric.
@leila There was quite a bit of post-production so I'm sure the political climate had an influence, but the principal filming of the whole trilogy (which filmed simultaneously) wrapped up by 2000.
America was plenty racist & jingoistic and militaristic before 9/11. Outkast's "Bombs over Baghdad" came out at the beginning of 2000, if that's any indication of things.
@bulkington Oh yeah, I'm a pile of old dry bones who remembers all that stuff. I was thinking about the movies' reception with audiences, but absolutely true that the West and America in particular have been trafficking in orientalist and imperialist bullshit forever.
@leila Age of Napoleon is a good podcast and its presentation of Napoleon's "adventure" in Egypt as the ur-modern invasion that parallels the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions, down to the pretensions of political liberation.
@leila Yeah, it's done by a twitter lefty, (trillburn) though is not written with an explicitly ideological framing (I wouldn't call it a Marxist analysis, more a narrative with a historical-materialist awareness). My only complaint is it has not done nearly enough to bring France's colonial empire into the discussion.
@yuduki Yup, and Gandalf is an idealized white guy, too. Right now my test is: would white fandom freak out if a person of colour were cast to play this character? If the answer is yes, then the character's in-story race isn't supposed to be a stand-in for non-whiteness.
@leila also: how many fantasy & sci fi stories have extraordinarily offensive races that are obviously Jewish people?
@NightRose @bulkington I definitely read a heavy-handed critique of yuppie capitalists, but I also found them full of antisemitic stereotypes. I read that Armin Shimmerman gave an interview where he insisted that Ferengi read as Jewish in America, Irish in the UK, and so on, but I'm not sure I buy it.
gamers being racist
@leila one time a gaming community I was a part of was setting up a alternative fantasy earth for a Minecraft game and of course the guy with the anime avatar from Arkansas said the orcs will be from the middle east and I said "dude that's just racist, you're literally being racist" and it became a week long shitshow before they scraped the project entirely.
I don't have any other points to make here other than that white guys are entirely blind to blatant context
@leila There's a tabletop RPG setting I threw a lot of effort into when I was a kid that I can't really ever return to because I just don't have the skill to properly untangle the tropes.
And that was hiiiigh up in that list.