Amazon’s ‘Rings of Power’ has become a joke, and it is, but not for the reasons you might think.
Initially, die-hard fans of Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ zeroed in on the insufferable racism of Sophia Nomvete, who plays Disa, the inexplicably black dwarf queen. During the press launch Ms Nomvete trumpeted the importance to the world of finally having “The first black dwarf”. HERE
But, after three episodes of this, the most expensive TV show in history, it is clear that Amazon have much bigger problems with this show than token casting.
In fact, Rings of Power is so bad that it provides a fantastic opportunity for writers to examine exactly how not to write and, as usual, I am happy to start the conversation.
A World of Narcissists:
Let’s deal with the easiest problem first: non-white actors in a Tolkien world. Here’s the thing, Elves and Hobbits are fictional. Most people don’t care if the Elves are black, white, red or yellow as long as there is internal consistency. What you can’t do is throw people into the story like seasoning in a stew.
If you have an Iranian mother with an Indonesian child or an African hobbit with a ginger daughter you have a world without families, without history or future. The audience spends too much time trying to answer the questions your commitment to woke politics has engendered. In this way, the character is abandoned by the audience as well as the writer.
When we tell a story, each scene is a snapshot in time but our characters must have an internally coherent past and future. For them to live in our hearts and minds they must first live on the page. They must seem real and that means that their lives must seem real to us. A group of people, without the glue of shared family history is just that – a group of people – not a family.
You can make a family of separate individuals but you must show the reader why they are together. You cannot just ignore the implications of genetics with a smug grin that dares the audience to ask the question that is forbidden.
By casting actors in order to signal Amazon’s woke virtue, they created characters we can’t believe in.
No Coherent Moral Datum:
Which brings me to my second point, morality is inherent to life. Even chimpanzees know when one of their tribe is being a dick! Morality has a logic of its own and it is a common datum we share with most animals.
The brilliance of Gary Oldman’s Dracula was the fact that he (Dracula) did not see himself as evil. Only the insane enjoy evil for its own sake and insanity is not an attractive characteristic.
In the ‘Rings of Power’, nearly all the characters are deeply unpleasant. Lenny Henry leads the knock-off hobbits in a rather disturbing chant, “Nobody goes off trail. Nobody walks alone” right before they read a list, without hint of irony or warning, of all the people they have left behind to die, simply for not being able to keep up.
When Nori’s (ginger girl) father (not ginger) breaks his leg, not one of the Hobbits comes to help them. After that nobody in the audience gives a fig for what happens to the Hobbits.
And then we come to poor Morfydd Clark’s Galadriel. The character has no redeeming qualities. She has no empathy or humanity. The audience has no reason to care for her. She has obviously been written as a ‘Strong Woman’ icon for the woke mob but do we really want to live in a world where our daughters grow up to be needlessly aggressive, ungrateful and rude.
I can only assume that Patrick McKay and John D. Payne, (the writers responsible for this abomination) have grown up without any experience of how strong men behave and for this I pity them.
On a subconscious level, Galadriel, despite all of her bravado, does not come across as strong. We all know that this kind of neurotic behaviour indicates a deeply weak and unreliable character, which is likely to break as soon as life gets tough.
Now it would be easy for people to assume that the problems with the Rings of Power are the fault of the actors but I will show you that this is not the case.
The Problem is not the actors:
Morfydd Clark (Galadriel) did a great job in the film ‘Saint Maud’ as a lonely religious nurse. HERE
Contrary to expectation, Sophia Nomvete, the black dwarf was one of the few characters that worked. She did a great job and is a great actress.
Ismael Cruz Cordova (Arondir, the Token Elf) was also brilliant as David Rizzio in ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ – he stole each scene he was in. HERE
At one point, while watching episode 3 of the Rings of Power, I thought I was watching Gay Porn. Robert Aramayo and Charles Edwards as the Elves Elrond and Celebrimbor have launched a thousand camp memes but again, this is not the fault of the actors.
Robert Aramayo was suitably butch and totally believable as the young Ned Stark (a young Sean Bean) in ‘A Game of Thrones‘. Not many young men could play a believable young Sean Bean. HERE
Obviously then, the real problem with the ‘Rings of Power’ is the childish and emotionally illiterate writing. It is sad but true that Patrick McKay and his close friend, John D. Payne, must take responsibility for teaching us all exactly how not to write believable characters.