HT: Karen L. Myers.
The Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien auctioned the rights to the stories originating in the Appendices to The Lord of the Rings and the winner was Jeff Bezos’s Amazon paying $250 million.
Comes the new Numenorean series that begins streaming September 2nd, long-time readers like myself, I expect, are going to feel that Christopher Tolkien did not get nearly enough, considering what Amazon and their millennial screenwriters and “showrunners” J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay will be doing to J.R.R. Tolkien mythical universe, in particular, repopulating it with characters of their own, and especially with characters whose raison d’être is not even a dramatic goal, but mere politically correct “diversity.”
Vanity Fair spilled the beans on what is coming back in February:
Amazon’s series will also broaden the notion of who shares the world of Middle-earth. One original story line centers on a silvan elf named Arondir, played by Ismael Cruz Córdova, who will be the first person of color to play an elf onscreen in a Tolkien project. He is involved in a forbidden relationship with Bronwyn, a human village healer played by Nazanin Boniadi, a British actor of Iranian heritage. Elsewhere, a Brit of Jamaican descent, Sir Lenny Henry, plays a harfoot elder, and Sophia Nomvete has a scene-stealing role as a dwarven princess named Disa—the latter being the first Black woman to play a dwarf in a Lord of the Rings movie, as well as the first female dwarf. “It felt only natural to us that an adaptation of Tolkien’s work would reflect what the world actually looks like,” says Lindsey Weber, executive producer of the series. “Tolkien is for everyone. His stories are about his fictional races doing their best work when they leave the isolation of their own cultures and come together.”
When Amazon released photos of its multicultural cast, even without character names or plot details, the studio endured a reflexive attack from trolls—the anonymous online kind. “Obviously there was going to be push and backlash,” says Tolkien scholar Mariana Rios Maldonado, who is not affiliated with The Rings of Power, “but the question is from whom? Who are these people that feel so threatened or disgusted by the idea that an elf is Black or Latino or Asian?”
Catch the final note of intimidation in the second paragraph of the Vanity Fair summary. Get in line! Dare to object to the intrusion of extraneous and inconsistent characters and complete infidelity to J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagined world and text, and YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MAKES YOU! A BIGOT! A RACIST! AN UNPERSON! THE NEXT SUBJECT OF TWO MINUTES HATE!
Well, too damn bad, Señorita Maldonado. I don’t feel “threatened,” but, yes!, I am already disgusted with the prospect of some self-important, brain-washed-at-school, 1980s-born twerps misusing their opportunity of working with the products of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination and brain to intrude their own completely incongruous and abrasively obnoxious political ideology.
It is perfectly obvious to every reader of the LOTR that Tolkien’s fantasies represent an alternative mythical pre-modern European world. Eskimos, Japanese, Cowboys and Indians, astronauts, sexual deviants, and the notion of Affirmative Action are all missing.
Tolkien was born in 1892. His sensibility is fundamentally Edwardian, and his viewpoint is completely Northern-European-centric, more than that: England-and-Scandinavian-centric. Persons of color are represented, as Haradrim pirates, as dark-skinned wild men, and, of course, possibly, one could argue, as Orcs. One will look in vain to find Dutchmen, Germans, Frenchmen, Italians, Spaniards, or Slavs.
There was no depiction whatsoever of female dwarves, and presumably Tolkien had his own reasons for omitting them. There can be no possible legitimate justification for Amazonian twerps putting in what a great author and creative genius left out.
Entertainment Weekly, today,
One new character is Isildur’s sister Eärien, played by Ema Horvath. Invented for the series, this bright and ambitious young woman has dreams of being an architect. Horvath describes her as being “on the cusp of womanhood,” adding that “she’s still quite insecure and naïve about the way the world works.” Tolkien wrote that Elendil had two sons: Isildur and Anárion. (At the start of Rings of Power, Anárion is off screen.) When it came to inventing new details like Eärien, McKay and Payne say they and the writers’ room approached the task almost like historians, poring over Tolkien’s work to “excavate” details and common threads they could weave into a larger narrative.
For fans worried about conflicting canon, McKay and Payne point to one of Tolkien’s published letters, where he wrote about wanting “other minds and hands” to create art in his legendarium. “We feel like we’re taking up the gauntlet that he himself put down,” Payne adds. “He gave us what we like to say are the stars in the sky that we have to connect and draw the constellation in.”
The diversity of the cast has also been scrutinized. For the first time, Middle-earth will be populated by multiple actors of color, including those playing dwarves, elves, and more. It’s a decision that’s been key to the show’s DNA from the start, and [Cynthia] Addai-Robinson [who plays Tar-Miriel, the last legitimate ruler of Numenor] says to complain about that diversity would be to go against the very spirit of the source material. “[Tolkien] explores many themes, but one of them is the idea of people of different ethnicities, backgrounds, and walks of life all coming together for a common cause,” she says. “For me personally, as a viewer, I would have the expectation that [the show] would reflect the real world, as well as the world as I aspire it to be.”
So much for Legitimacy! If we’re unbound by any obligations of fidelity to the author’s vision and we’re going to go right ahead and “reflect the real world” and have a go at making “the world as [we] aspire it to be,” well, we certainly don’t want to grow old and die. We clearly need to climb aboard the ship with Ar-Pharazon the Golden, break the Ban of the Valor, invade the Undying Lands, and go for Equity and Diversity of Immortality!
Tolkien might have liked the idea of other people writing fan fiction spin-offs set in Middle Earth, but he certainly would have expected his epigones to respect the Middle Earth he created as he defined it, and to confine their creative innovations to new storylines and personages consistent with the world as he invented it. He would have been absolutely infuriated by the intrusion of sanctimonious left-wing egalitarian ideology and identity group politics.
It’s clear that the new Amazon series will be certainly as bad as Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, which at least was watchable and had some good things in it. But it looks perfectly possible that it’s going to be every bit as bad as Jackson’s The Hobbit movies (which were terrible), or worse.
Amazon may butcher Tolkien’s Numenor as completely as they made a hash of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time.
Amazon leadership held a session for employees dealing with the “trauma” of Matt Walsh’s book becoming a best seller and dealing with his trolling. They strategize on how to demote it on their site and claim he will get people killed. @MattWalshBlog broke them. pic.twitter.com/AKH8ihO0iV
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) April 26, 2022
If only Musk could buy Amazon, too.
"Irreversible Damage", Abigail Schrier, Amazon, Book Banning, Left-wing Intimidation, Left-wing Intolerance, Political Censorship, Princeton, Transgenderism
Abigail Schrier, famed for having her book on the impact of the fashion for Transgenderism on children, Irreversible Damage, banned by Amazon, recently delivered a brave and inspiring talk to the undergraduates at Priceton.
Every dating app pushes us toward the same few attractive mate choices; Spotify presses us to like the same music; Amazon pushes us to purchase specific books and away from others. If you’re under the impression that the books Amazon recommends to you are based solely on a content-neutral algorithm, I can disabuse you of that fiction right now. I once asked one of my sources at Amazon, who was concerned about the ways the search results were being manipulated, whether he’d ever seen a book deliberately boosted. Yes, he said. Becoming by Michelle Obama. When that book came out – he told me – virtually every search you did led to the recommendation to buy the former First Lady’s book. And the opposite is also true. There are books that are never recommended by the Amazon algorithm, irrespective of how well they’ve sold or how likely a specific shopper is to buy them. Or, at least, there’s one such book. I’ll let you try and guess what it is.
But the larger point is, your will is being toyed with, subverted, manipulated. And in a fairly insidious manner. None of you will be shocked to hear that Google promotes certain search results in order to lead us to a certain perspective. But did you know that, for contested entries, Wikipedia assigns editors, some of whom are ideologically committed activists, many of whom have very particular views they want you to walk away with.
If you form views based on those Wikipedia articles or reports by corrupt fact-checkers, if you act based on them, are you exercising freedom of will? Given that you’ve been spun and prodded along to a pre-determined conclusion by hidden persuaders, perhaps you aren’t. Perhaps you’re left in the same sorry state as the Moor of Venice: toyed with, subverted, manipulated. Acting out someone else’s plan, pointed in the direction that he wants you to walk.
We’ve spent a lot of time in the past few years debating whether this kind of manipulation is at the root of our political divisions, but I don’t think we’ve paid enough attention to an even more basic question: how it has interfered with freedom of conscience and ultimately free will.
When polled, nearly two out of three Americans (62%) say they are afraid to express an unpopular opinion. That doesn’t sound like a free people in a free country. We are, each day, force-fed falsehoods we are all expected to take seriously, on pain of forfeiting esteem and professional opportunity:
“Some men have periods and get pregnant.” “Hard work and objectivity are hallmarks of whiteness.” “Only a child knows her own true gender.” “Transwomen don’t have an unfair advantage when playing girls’ sports.”
I know why students keep their heads down. They are hoping for that Goldman or New York Times internship, which they don’t want to put in jeopardy. Well, any institution that takes our brightest, most capable young people—Princeton graduates!—and tells you can only work here if you think like we tell you to and keep your mouth shut, that isn’t really Goldman Sachs and it isn’t the paper of record. It’s the husk of a once-great institution, and it’s not worth grasping for. Talk to alums at these institutions: they sound like those living under communist regimes. That’s the America that awaits you if you will not speak up.
You who are studying at one of the greatest academic institutions in the country only to be told that after graduation, you must think as we tell you and recite from this script—why were you born? What’s the point of being alive? Computers are vastly better at number crunching. They’ll soon be better at all kinds of more complex tasks. What they cannot do is stand on principle. What a computer cannot do is refuse to lend credibility to a rigged competition—to refuse to strengthen its coercion—making it that much harder for the next female athlete to speak up. What the computer cannot know is the glorious exertion of the human will when it refuses to truckle in the face of lies and instead publicly speaks the truth.
Amazon.com Inc. said it recently removed a three-year-old book about transgender issues from its platforms because it decided not to sell books that frame transgender and other sexual identities as mental illnesses.
The company explained its decision in a letter Thursday to Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, Mike Braun of Indiana and Josh Hawley of Missouri, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The senators had written last month to Chief Executive Jeff Bezos requesting an explanation of why “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” was no longer available on Amazon nor on its Kindle and Audible platforms.
“As to your specific question about When Harry Became Sally, we have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness,” Amazon said in the letter, which was signed by Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, referring to sexual identities that include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, among others.
“When Harry Became Sally,” written by the conservative scholar Ryan T. Anderson, was published in February 2018. The book focuses on a variety of issues including gender identity.
“Everyone agrees that gender dysphoria is a serious condition that causes great suffering,” said Mr. Anderson and Roger Kimball, the publisher of Encounter Books, the New York-based nonprofit that published the book, in a statement Thursday in response to Amazon’s letter.
“There is a debate, however, which Amazon is seeking to shut down, about how best to treat patients who experience gender dysphoria,” they added, calling their book “an important contribution” to that conversation. “Amazon is using its massive power to distort the marketplace of ideas and is deceiving its own customers in the process,” they said.
Amazon’s decision comes as the nation’s largest tech platforms are under increased scrutiny regarding the decisions they make over which content is acceptable.
There are many intensely-charged cultural and political issues on which rational, well-educated men will inevitably disagree.
The etiology and moral status of homosexuality and gender dysphoria is a striking example of just such a controversy.
So, how has it come to pass that large consumer corporations, like Amazon, have recently appointed themselves as dictators and Platonic Guardians in charge of deciding in favor of the preferred position of the Radical Left, and using their business platforms and strategic position in Society to shut down debate and outlaw the very existence of an alternative viewpoint in polite society?
We shop at Amazon, but nobody elected Mark Zuckerberg or Brian Huseman to any position in charge of “public policy” of any kind.
If the owner of my local grocery or hardware store got too big for his britches and started telling customers how to vote and what to think, he obviously wouldn’t stay in business very long.
The Big Tech billionaires, sitting on top of companies currently enjoying accidental and ephemeral de facto monopolies are flushed with wine and insolence. They must have read too many left-wing sophisters and economists who tell you that such marketplace predominance is totally defensible, permanent, and secure. They are dead wrong. Alta Vista, not so very long ago, was the cat’s pajamas of search engines. Yahoo and AOL used to be hot stuff. The examples of absolutely sector dominant companies that are now one with Nineveh and Tyre is limitless.
Amazon can be replaced, and I have news for Mr. Zuckerberg: he has pissed away serious quantities of customer loyalty and good will. I used to like and admire Amazon. I preferred shopping with Amazon. Not anymore. Venture Capitol, just offer me any reasonable alternative and I will be delighted to drop Amazon and all the rest of today’s Big Tech Dictatorships permanently. That happy day is coming. Count on it, Amazon!
Woke hypersensitivity and downright insanity keeps on coming every day, as this NY Post story proves.
Amazon has changed its new smartphone app logo after critics said the earlier incarnation was a dead ringer for Adolf Hitler.
The e-commerce giant introduced the new icon in January to replace the symbol of a shopping cart with one featuring a brown box with a jagged piece of blue tape above the company’s iconic smile-shaped arrow.
But sharp-eyed users noticed the tape disturbingly recalled the Führer’s toothbrush mustache. [!???- JDZ]
“It’s not just a ripped scotch tape, it’s a ripped scotch tape that has a similar shape and is right on top of a smiling mouth. Looks like a happy little cardboard Adolf to me,” one person said on Twitter.
“Amazon’s new app logo be lookin like they’re the THIRD most downloaded in the ‘Reich’ section,” another said, referring to the Nazi regime.
Users also took note of Amazon’s tweak, in which the blue tape was made to look folded over.
“lmao I completely missed that amazon quietly tweaked its new icon to make it look… less like hitler,” one wrote.
“Unsurprisingly they did not send out a press release to announce the second redesign.”
One thing that has obviously changed in America in recent years is that the adults have all died off or retired and our institutions and consumer corporations are now all run by sniveling sheep who can be stampeded in any direction, who can be intimidated into making preposterous concessions, by noisy crazies.
If somebody had come along a few decades ago and proposed tearing down statues of Columbus, George Washington, or Robert E. Lee, if some looney took offense at Uncle Ben or Aunt Jemima, the people in charge would have made circular motions with an index figure beside their temple or responded with cuckoo noises. Today, the nonentities and poltroons running the world instantly grovel and hasten to comply with the demands of the sort of people who used to be locked up safely in rooms with mattresses on the walls in lunatic asylums. If I said this on Facebook today, I’d probably get 30 days in Facebook jail for using the phrase “lunatic asylum.”
Colossal has photos of the recently discovered Amazonian petroglyphs: Tens of thousands of paintings of animals and humans, made up to 12,600 years ago, found on an eight-mile rock surface along the Guayabero River in the Colombian Amazon.
The paintings include drawings of large mammals, birds, fish, lizards, handprints, and masked figures of dancing humans. The ancient paintings also record interactions between humans and extinct species of giant Ice Age mammals like mastodons.
is J.R.R. Tolkien spinning in his grave. Amazon has plans for its new version of his earlier Age of Middle Earth that the author would not like one bit.
Amazon Studiosâ€™ LOTR Series Heads Into Uncharted Carnal Waters with Casting Call for Nudity and an â€œIntimacy Coordinatorâ€
This might be a singularly surprising or even upsetting concept to present to Tolkien fans. If I were to address this reality to Star Wars, or Harry Potter, or even Miyazaki fandom it would raise eyebrows or outright alarm. But gather â€™round the campfire and hear my tremulous words:
â€œPrepare for a newly-sexualized version of your favorite fantasy world.â€
Itâ€™s the equivalent of saying: â€œGet ready to watch Anakin and Padme do something onscreen that will forever alter the way you see Star Wars. Sorry about the sand. It gets everywhere.â€
Is this a real lightning rod issue? Depends on your temperament. I have to be really careful about presumed gatekeeping (which is not my intention) or any semblance of that; I just want this discussion WAY out in the open. Letâ€™s get to the heart of this, because it is a thing now.
We must clearly ask ourselves what we want and donâ€™t want from a billion-dollar Tolkien TV adaptation, because the tracks are laid and that train is headed straight for us, via your streaming device and paid subscription.
A long-time Google manager, at Marginal Revolution, describes life at Google, and critiques other major tech companies.
I joined Google [earlier]â€¦as an Engineering Director. This was, as I understand it, soon after an event where Larry either suggested or tried to fire all of the managers, believing they didnâ€™t do much that was productive. (Iâ€™d say it was apocryphal but it did get written up in a Doc that had a bunch of Google lore, so it got enough oversight that it was probably at least somewhat accurate.)
At that time people were hammering on the doors trying to get in and some reasonably large subset, carefully vetted with stringent â€œsmart testsâ€ were being let in. The official mantra was, â€œhire the smartest people and theyâ€™ll figure out the right thing to do.â€ People were generally allowed to sign up for any project that interested them (there was a database where engineers could literally add your name to a project that interested you) and there was quite a bit of encouragement for people to relocate to remote offices. Someone (not Eric, I think it probably was Sergey) proposed opening offices anyplace there were smart people so that we could vacuum them up. Almost anything would be considered as a new project unless it was considered to be â€œnot ambitious enough.â€ The food was fabulous. Recruiters, reportedly, told people they could work on â€œanything they wanted to.â€ There were microkitchens stocked with fabulous treats every 500â€² and the toilets were fancy Japaneseâ€¦uhâ€¦auto cleaning and drying types.
Andâ€¦ infrastructure projects and unglamorous projects went wanting for people to work on them. They had a half day meeting to review file system projects becauseâ€¦it turns out that many, many top computer scientists evidently dream of writing their own file systems. The level of entitlement displayed around things like which treats were provided at the microkitchens wasâ€¦intense. (Later, there was a tragicomic story of when they changed bus schedules so that people couldnâ€™t exploit the kitchens by getting meals for themselves [and familyâ€¦seen that with my own eyes!] â€œto goâ€ and take them home with them on the Google Bus â€” someone actually complained in a company meeting that the new schedulesâ€¦meant they couldnâ€™t get their meals to go. And they changed the bus schedule back, even though their intent was to reduce the abuse of the free food.)
Now, most of all that came from two sources not exclusively related to the question at hand:
Google (largely Larry I think) was fearless about trying new things. There was a general notion that we were so smart we could figure out a new, better way to do anything. That was really awesome. Iâ€™d say, overall, that it mostly didnâ€™t pan outâ€¦but it did once in a while and it may well be that just thinking that way made working there so much fun, that it did make an atmosphere where, overall, great things happened.
Google was awash in money and happy to spray it all over its employees. Also awesome, but not something you can generalize for all businesses. Amazon, of course, took a very different tack. (Itâ€™s pretty painful to hear the stories in The Everything Store or similar books about the relatively Spartan conditions Amazon maintained. I was the site lead for the Google [xxxx] office for a while and we hired a fair number of Amazon refugees. They were really happy to be in Google, generallyâ€¦not necessarily to either of our benefit.)