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Cerlis
2014-05-26, 02:29 AM
just thought that considering the amount of discussions that have abounded on this forum about inclusion in fantasy, that many people here might get a kick out of this.

TL:DR Comic shortly discusses the absurdity of an Indian woman not given the chance to audition as a hobbit because there are no brown hobbits in this world with evil fire-eye-balls and talking trees.

http://www.upworthy.com/a-comic-points-out-the-absurdity-of-a-famous-fantasy-film-for-not-including-a-certain-kind-of-actor?c=hpstream

Mr. Mask
2014-05-26, 03:13 AM
The real absurdity was the Caucasian being one of the 47 Ronin. But then, that film was generally ridiculous.

With Tolkien, he was writing a mythos for Britain. The hobbits, Rohan and Gondor were meant to be Britain's ancestry as far as I recall. Of course, the hobbit films made it clear they care little for the lore, so I'm surprised they didn't overlook this detail.

Themrys
2014-05-26, 04:32 AM
They eat potatoes in the book, and the garden is described to have various flowers in it that are imported from America. So ... not really historically accurate, they could have had a brown hobbit somewhere in the background ... it's not as if there are any important female hobbit characters in that movie, anyway.

Mr. Mask
2014-05-26, 05:02 AM
Didn't stop them from adding major characters that didn't exist.

Rhynn
2014-05-26, 05:36 AM
My MERP rulebook (1984) says Harfoots have "brown skin" (as opposed to Fallohides having "fair skin"). Not an expert on Tolkien's letters, etc., so I can't say whether that's drawn from his writings or not.

Anyway, racists are gonna find any excuse. Whatcha gonna do? They run the show. (The movies still aren't as racist as the books. "Swarthy = evil," yay.)

Mr. Mask
2014-05-26, 06:44 AM
Fallohides were described as taller, slimer and paler then other hobbits, the Harfoot having a darker complexion. I can't recall any illustrations or further descriptions than that. All the theories I've seen tend to feel browner means a suntanned complexion. I've seen theories that characters like Sam may have been Harfoot.

Recall that Faramir sympathized with the Haradrim dead, rather than disdain them for being evil due to swarthiness. The orcs weren't evil because some of dark complexion, they were evil by nature.

Altair_the_Vexed
2014-05-26, 08:27 AM
The brownness of Harfoot skin is stated right out by the Professor himself in Concerning Hobbits, part of the prologue of Lord of the Rings.


They eat potatoes in the book, and the garden is described to have various flowers in it that are imported from America. So ... not really historically accurate...
Remember that a few thousand years prior to LotR etc, the Numenoreans were trading all over the world from their isalnd in the Mid-Atlantic.

Mr. Mask
2014-05-26, 08:37 AM
To give an exact quote: "The Harfoots were browner of skin, smaller, and shorter, and they were beardless and bootless; their hands and feet were neat and nimble; and they preferred highlands and hillsides."

They went on to say they were the most numerous variety of hobbit. This leads me to believe that their complexion is intended as suntanned, based off depictions of hobbits by Tolkien and other artists from his day. Since the hobbits were largely farmers, it makes sense for them to be tanned.

Knaight
2014-05-26, 11:54 AM
With Tolkien, he was writing a mythos for Britain. The hobbits, Rohan and Gondor were meant to be Britain's ancestry as far as I recall. Of course, the hobbit films made it clear they care little for the lore, so I'm surprised they didn't overlook this detail.
Sure, but it's not like Britain was completely and utterly isolated from all foreign trade. Even in antiquity there were some very developed trade routes. The silk road is very old, and passes right through India. There's a network of sea trade routes that are also quite old (if younger) that did much the same thing. Northern Africa is connected to Europe by the Mediterranean sea, which is basically the easiest large body of water to cross and which has had mercantile trade for a good long time, such as the Phoenicians, before even getting into how Rome was on both sides of it. Meanwhile the Nile connects Northern Africa to Central Africa pretty well. People moved along these trade routes, and to suggest that despite their existence everyone in Europe was white - which I'm not saying you're doing - is ridiculous. Britain is further isolated, but even then it's not like it was inaccessible. After all, Rome got there.


Remember that a few thousand years prior to LotR etc, the Numenoreans were trading all over the world from their isalnd in the Mid-Atlantic.
Then there's this. Tolkien clearly posited a global trade route, which makes that sort of thing even more likely.

Basically, the "Hobbits are white, go away" excuse is a pretty bad excuse for what is likely a racist decision. It's not a terrible excuse by the standards of Hollywood as there have been much worse ("From the beginning, we were concerned about casting, the issue of race. What we realized is that this story is functioning at the level of myth, and as a mythical story, the race of the individuals doesn't matter. They're supposed to be stand-ins for all people. Either you end up with a Bennetton ad or the crew of the Starship Enterprise." stands out here), but it's still pretty transparent.

Mr. Mask
2014-05-26, 12:17 PM
That says a lot for trade, but not for settling. You could have a character from foreign shores who is of another ethnicity quite reasonably (presuming the continent is still in a state capable of that world trade). But, that trade doesn't mean you'll have a community of that ethnicity in your country. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. With hobbits in particular, since we can assume they're native to the region, and that there doesn't appear to be a lot of interbreeding between humans and hobbits, I don't think it would necessarily lead to the hobbits having dark ethnicities.

That being said, I figure the decision was likely more to do with racism than the lore of the book. I've seen the films, and they feel quite free in how they interpret the lore. I also recall Katniss' casting from The Hunger Games. While the actress was suitable, I'd prefer one who matched the ethnicity of Katniss from the book.

Knaight
2014-05-26, 12:58 PM
That says a lot for trade, but not for settling. You could have a character from foreign shores who is of another ethnicity quite reasonably (presuming the continent is still in a state capable of that world trade). But, that trade doesn't mean you'll have a community of that ethnicity in your country. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. With hobbits in particular, since we can assume they're native to the region, and that there doesn't appear to be a lot of interbreeding between humans and hobbits, I don't think it would necessarily lead to the hobbits having dark ethnicities.
Some level of settling often ends up attached to trade. There's the involuntary kind - if a Phonecian trader is going to a relatively remote location and ends up shipwrecked there, that's where they're going to be for a while - along with things like wanting to get far away from home places for any number of reasons. Plus, as regards Rome specifically, they were pulling soldiers from basically everywhere, and having them settle conquered areas as a matter of course.


That being said, I figure the decision was likely more to do with racism than the lore of the book. I've seen the films, and they feel quite free in how they interpret the lore. I also recall Katniss' casting from The Hunger Games. While the actress was suitable, I'd prefer one who matched the ethnicity of Katniss from the book.
Pretty much.

Mr. Mask
2014-05-26, 02:40 PM
I don't see how any of that helps the situation. You need a sizeable amount of immigration to create a subculture. Shipwrecks are a classic way for a main character from a foreign land to take part in a story, but not for effecting the ethnicity of hobbits generations after. If Rohan and Gondor followed Rome's habits of enslaving people from distant lands and bringing them back, that could work. And if you had some dramatic event in the lore to force people into distant exile into Rohan, then you could justify it.

Coidzor
2014-05-26, 02:48 PM
That says a lot for trade, but not for settling. You could have a character from foreign shores who is of another ethnicity quite reasonably (presuming the continent is still in a state capable of that world trade). But, that trade doesn't mean you'll have a community of that ethnicity in your country. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. With hobbits in particular, since we can assume they're native to the region, and that there doesn't appear to be a lot of interbreeding between humans and hobbits, I don't think it would necessarily lead to the hobbits having dark ethnicities.

Hobbits aren't native to the Shire. They arose, as far as can be told, from the other side of the Misty Mountains (I can't recall if they were west of Greenwood>Mirkwood or east of it, but if they were east of it they went to the north around it) and then proceeded to migrate west, much like the white humans did in the Silmarillion.

So they're from the same general stretch of territory as was nominally settled/inhabited by the descendants of the Edain and the relatives of the Edain who didn't make it all the way into Beleriand & instead of becoming High Men became Middle Men. We don't really know for sure where the Edain & their kin arose, but presumably it was around where all of the other humans arose and they're just the ones that went west to run away from Morgoth's control of mankind.

Hobbits only, as far as we know, interbred with humans around the end of the hobbits being a distinct race, IIRC.

*shrug*

Ravens_cry
2014-05-26, 02:54 PM
I did have a brown halfling character in a Pathfinder game once, saying her family was from the Golarion equivalent of Africa and China, but a brown Lord of the Rings Hobbit, given Tolkien's descriptions of them, would be rather out of place.

Raimun
2014-05-26, 03:53 PM
I did have a brown halfling character in a Pathfinder game once, saying her family was from the Golarion equivalent of Africa and China, but a brown Lord of the Rings Hobbit, given Tolkien's descriptions of them, would be rather out of place.

Yeah, if they made a movie of Pathfinder it would be racist to not have hobbits of all skin colors but not really in the case of Tolkien's stories.

Hobbit population was isolated for hundreds of years in the north-west corner of Middle-Earth. As a result, they were a homogeneous people who were at the most suntanned from all the farming the "working class" hobbits did. Also, The shire was the only place in the world where hobbits were decribed as living during the events of The Hobbit and LotR. That means the only stray immigrants would not have even been hobbits.

Personally, I wouldn't like to be "represented" by a token minority in any movie or other work.

BWR
2014-05-26, 03:56 PM
Regarding brown hobbits, 'browner' doesn't mean 'Indian subcontinent'. I just assumed it meant 'looks basically Northern European/British, but with slightly darker skin tone'. Ghan-buri-dhan was also described as having dark skin, which I assume meant the 'dark Picts' rather than 'Indian'.
Midde-earth is pretty definitely white, with the exception of the evil middle Easterlings.

Altair_the_Vexed
2014-05-26, 03:58 PM
Regarding brown hobbits, 'browner' doesn't mean 'Indian subcontinent'. I just assumed it meant 'looks basically Northern European/British, but with slightly darker skin tone'. Ghan-buri-dhan was also described as having dark skin, which I assume meant the 'dark Picts' rather than 'Indian'.
Midde-earth is pretty definitely white, with the exception of the evil middle Easterlings.
citation needed

Ravens_cry
2014-05-26, 04:09 PM
Yeah, if they made a movie of Pathfinder it would be racist to not have hobbits of all skin colors but not really in the case of Tolkien's stories.

Hobbit population was isolated for hundreds of years in the north-west corner of Middle-Earth. As a result, they were a homogeneous people who were at the most suntanned from all the farming the "working class" hobbits did. Also, The shire was the only place in the world where hobbits were decribed as living during the events of The Hobbit and LotR. That means the only stray immigrants would not have even been hobbits.

Personally, I wouldn't like to be "represented" by a token minority in any movie or other work.
There was Hobbits just outside the Shire proper in Bree and environs, but, otherwise, yes, they'd be in a sharp, sharp minority anywhere else, basically a creature of stories and practically mythical.

Raimun
2014-05-26, 04:25 PM
There was Hobbits just outside the Shire proper in Bree and environs, but, otherwise, yes, they'd be in a sharp, sharp minority anywhere else, basically a creature of stories and practically mythical.

Oh, that's correct. Bree had hobbits too. But Bree was also on the north-west corner, with pretty much identical climate. Can you think of other places in middle-earth which had hobbit populations during the end of third age? There might be some tidbits written by Tolkien somewhere but I can't remember reading about something like that.

Rhynn
2014-05-26, 06:04 PM
Hobbits aren't native to the Shire. They arose, as far as can be told, from the other side of the Misty Mountains (I can't recall if they were west of Greenwood>Mirkwood or east of it, but if they were east of it they went to the north around it) and then proceeded to migrate west, much like the white humans did in the Silmarillion.

The vales of the Anduin; between Greenwood the Great and the Misty Mountains. Although that's just where they enter the lore of other people, the Northmen of the Anduin vales (and where their own lore begins), whose descendant the Rohirrim were.


So they're from the same general stretch of territory as was nominally settled/inhabited by the descendants of the Edain and the relatives of the Edain who didn't make it all the way into Beleriand & instead of becoming High Men became Middle Men. We don't really know for sure where the Edain & their kin arose, but presumably it was around where all of the other humans arose and they're just the ones that went west to run away from Morgoth's control of mankind.

Yeah, basically everyone started out far to the East - the Elves first, then the ancestors of the Dwarves (the Seven Fathers and their six wives, Durin being alone and his folk being formed of the descendants of the others), then Men. The further West you migrated, the more noble and awesome you became. Also, whiter.

Easterlings were swarthy or sallow, Southrons ranged from swarthy to black "half-trolls" with red tongues... Orcs weren't green- or grey-skinned, but squat, broad, flat-nosed, wide-mouted... and sallow and slant-eyed. In Tolkien's words, "degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types."


but a brown Lord of the Rings Hobbit, given Tolkien's descriptions of them, would be rather out of place.

... he explicitly describes the most common type of Hobbit as being brown-skinned! :smallconfused:


Oh, that's correct. Bree had hobbits too. But Bree was also on the north-west corner, with pretty much identical climate. Can you think of other places in middle-earth which had hobbit populations during the end of third age? There might be some tidbits written by Tolkien somewhere but I can't remember reading about something like that.

Hobbits migrated pretty much entirely over the Misty Mountains around 1300-1500 III, and within a few centuries settled in what became the Shire, which the King of Arthedain granted to them, as well as in Bree. For some time, Stoors in particular continued to live in Rhudaur and along the rivers, but by 3000 III, there's no indication that was the case. (Indeed, no one at all seemed to live anywhere in Eriador except in the Shire, Bree, and Rivendell -pretty hard to believe, but there's literally no inhabitation between Bree and Rivendell in LotR...)

Ravens_cry
2014-05-26, 06:07 PM
Oh, that's correct. Bree had hobbits too. But Bree was also on the north-west corner, with pretty much identical climate. Can you think of other places in middle-earth which had hobbit populations during the end of third age? There might be some tidbits written by Tolkien somewhere but I can't remember reading about something like that.
The closest would be the Dr˙edain, AKA Woses, AKA Drughu, though I don't know how related to Hobbits they were.

Coidzor
2014-05-26, 06:19 PM
The closest would be the Dr˙edain, AKA Woses, AKA Drughu, though I don't know how related to Hobbits they were.

They're described as a strange breed of men, IIRC. So one could say that both Hobbits and Woses are two different offshoots of humanity, I think, given the ultimate fate of the Hobbitses.

Mr. Mask
2014-05-26, 09:34 PM
... he explicitly describes the most common type of Hobbit as being brown-skinned! :smallconfused: I just quoted him on it. "The Harfoots were browner of skin, smaller, and shorter, and they were beardless and bootless; their hands and feet were neat and nimble; and they preferred highlands and hillsides."

Browner skin gives the impression of being suntanned in appearance. If he meant they had brown skin, he'd have said brown. I've looked about, but I can't find any illustrations of hobbits with dark skin of or non Caucasian ethnicity. Since the harfoots were the most common type of hobbit in his story, and since some of the main characters were harfoots, and since his sketches of those characters have been Caucasian, there isn't a precedent for non Caucasian hobbits.


Easterlings were swarthy or sallow, Southrons ranged from swarthy to black "half-trolls" with red tongues... Trolls and the like were night creatures, many living around the black lands of Mordor, so it makes sense for them to have a dark complexion that blends in. It's also to make them ominous, like how SWAT teams dress in black to make themselves scarier, or how they use black knights in cartoons and stories.


Orcs weren't green- or grey-skinned, but squat, broad, flat-nosed, wide-mouted... and sallow and slant-eyed. In Tolkien's words, "degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types." He based the orcs off the Mongol empire, so his image was based off Mongol warriors. By the time you add in all the details of his image, hairy tusked monsters, they aren't really comparable in appearance to Mongols or other humans. One of the strongest points of what made an orc was its behaviour. Tolkien commented a few times frustratedly about people acting orcish, and they weren't Mongolian.

Rhynn
2014-05-27, 04:11 AM
The closest would be the Dr˙edain, AKA Woses, AKA Drughu, though I don't know how related to Hobbits they were.

The Dr˙edain have a pretty specific lineage IIRC, being descended from a strain of Edain (once accounted Edain by the Elves, anyway) that never had anything to do with the houses that became the D˙nedain. Hobbits are probably not related.


Browner skin gives the impression of being suntanned in appearance.

No, it's brown, not tanned. You're choosing to interpret it in milder terms so that you can keep imagining Hobbits as white. Maybe it's because I'm ESL, but I've never heard or read a tan white person described as brown.


and since his sketches of those characters have been Caucasian

I'd love to see these. Also, the Bagginses are Fallohide-Stoors AFAIK (desire for adventure, Elf-friends, lack of fear for water, etc.).


Trolls and the like were night creatures, many living around the black lands of Mordor, so it makes sense for them to have a dark complexion that blends in. It's also to make them ominous, like how SWAT teams dress in black to make themselves scarier, or how they use black knights in cartoons and stories.

First, it's never stated that trolls have dark skin. Orcs explicitly don't - they have sallow (yellow) skin.

Second, the "half-trolls" are very ambiguous, and quite possibly are not trolls at all, but just black people.


He based the orcs off the Mongol empire, so his image was based off Mongol warriors. By the time you add in all the details of his image, hairy tusked monsters, they aren't really comparable in appearance to Mongols or other humans.

Where are you getting "hairy tusked monsters" ? That description was explicit and complete, direct from Tolkien.

Also, the main point of comparison is probably Huns, who were described in very similar and inhuman terms by some priest in some surviving document.


One of the strongest points of what made an orc was its behaviour.

Hah, yeah. Talking like lower-class English people?

PS. LotR is also hugely classist (http://www.revolutionsf.com/article.php?id=953).

Basically, as soon as you look past the awesome English and fantasy, LotR is enormously offensive, on several levels.

Mr. Mask
2014-05-27, 06:30 AM
Browner and tanned are synonyms. They're acceptably interchangeable. Even brown can work for a tan. So, it seems to be on how you decide to interpret his words. Why you'd interpret someone you abuse as a classist and racist as making the most numerous breed of hobbits non-Caucasian, I'm unsure.

The orcs were noted as having notable fangs, somewhere. If figure that's where the tusks idea came from.

As for trolls not being black, I do recall Tolkien depicting them as black in The Hobbit with a drawing. Why you suppose that half-trolls aren't trolls at all but a racial slur, I cannot understand.

I read the article, and fail to see the point.

I can see how Lord of the Rings being offensive if interpreted in such a way, yes. If you think the orcs are meant to be Mongolians and the trolls are meant to be Negroes, it would be understandable to be offended.

Wardog
2014-05-31, 11:21 AM
Some level of settling often ends up attached to trade. There's the involuntary kind - if a Phonecian trader is going to a relatively remote location and ends up shipwrecked there, that's where they're going to be for a while - along with things like wanting to get far away from home places for any number of reasons. Plus, as regards Rome specifically, they were pulling soldiers from basically everywhere, and having them settle conquered areas as a matter of course.

That's why Harradrim living in Laketown (see: Desolation of Smaug) is plausible, but unless there is an Indian Hobbiton somewhere to the far southeast, then you're not going to have any Indian Hobbits emigrating to The Shire.


And if you want to criticise the LotR films for racist casting, you would probably be better off focusing on Gondor which did (in the books) have inhabitants of a variety of skin tones. (As would be expected from a major coastal civilization and former empire situated in what is analagous to Southern Europe).

The Oni
2014-06-01, 01:42 AM
I dunno about hobbits, but I had a brown-skinned elf once from an island nation. He did drugs to commune with spirits, but he was actually 3000 years old and a bodyhopper and therefore not exactly representative of his people.