In an age of social media and mass content consumption, you do not have to look hard to find any form of criticism towards the latest blockbuster hit or popular series.
It seems that more often than not, one judgment, in particular, gets mentioned for the majority of media releases. This is the view of unnecessary 'wokeness' included within modern franchises. And just like the majority, the new 'The Lord of the Rings' inspired series by Amazon, receives the same critique with people asking, 'Why have they made it woke?'.
Users of Reddit have flocked to the r/LOTR_on_Prime channel to express their disappointment with the show's decision to appeal to 'woke values'. Arguing that instead of improving the show's principles, it is corrupting the original story and the fictional universe of Middle-Earth that Tolkien so carefully crafted. Many die-hard fans of the LoTR and other works of Tolkien have switched off 'The Rings of Power' for good. Claiming it does not hold up to the ideals and standards they believe the franchise deserves. But why are they so against the 'woke-ifying' of the series?
The argument for anti-wokeness covers several various perspectives. Some contend it corrupts the story, that the focus on introducing political ideologies or cultural sensitivity into art and media eclipses the purpose of creating a good storyline. Others feel the producers' need to include such values as part of their productions highlights the lack of respect for these ideologies that they are promoting. For example, the over-inclusion of multi-ethnically cultured actors, representation of disabled individuals, and portrayal of same-sex relationships between characters are believed by some to appear forced and continue to promote these ethnic and minority groups as separate instead of as inclusive.
It is because of these perceptions that 'The Rings of Power' has received particularly harsh criticism on the matter. Not only because many disagree with the 'woke agenda' of modern studios, but because it specifically defies the original source material that the show is based on. Numerous alterations to the world of hobbits, elves, and wizards that Tolkien created, specified details of Middle-Earth and its characters in great length. Therefore, the inclusion of black elves and dwarves was not met by fans positively. They cited the book's descriptions of these races as contrasting to what the author originally intended. Others, however, begged to differ.
"Tolkien spoke of darker Hobbits and I believe dark men of South Gondor and I think even the men of bree were darker. The New Line version was a little more pasty than the author intended. The Amazon version is a little random but it's non issue for me. As a white person. Don't care." – /metallicadefender
Another point that Tolkien fans are up in arms over is the prominence of female characters throughout the show. Reddit commenters discussed their contention with an over-emphasis on women compared to men. Stating woke double standards being the cause for such a decision.
Of course, not all fans of either 'The Lord of the Rings' or the show feel the same about the series' message or 'wokeness'. Many have equally countered opinions of a lack of consistency with the source material, by pointing out that Middle-Earth is in fact a fictional universe, and there are no strict rules for representation.
The portrayal of elves or dwarves by someone of any race is not fixed, but up for change and its own interpretation of the source material. Others disagree entirely that involving decisions of cultural sensitivity or political correctness interferes with the telling of the story, but instead makes it more accessible and relatable to a wider range of audiences. The novels were originally published in the 1950s, and for many updating the content to reflect the views and opinions of today's generations is not just a desire, but a necessity. Clearly, Amazon has not lost the entirety of the show's audience just yet.