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The Hobbit: Does It Both Address Diaspora 4 Religious Groups while Sterotyping Them

Discussion in 'Christianity and World Religion' started by Gxg (G²), Jul 4, 2013.

  1. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    Shalom :)

    Concerning why I was writing, it's always refreshing to have discussion on things we see in everyday life and so I thought it'd be good to have a discussion on film/media - which is a big deal for many at home.

    Earlier in the year, I saw the film "The Hobbit".....

    My gosh....like my gosh...

    I went into the film wondering if it was going to be more of the same as with Lord of the Rings - which I enjoyed and yet it never really hit home with me...and I only decided to see the film after another highly recommended it. And when I saw "The Hobbit" - my goodness, that movie was simply beautiful...and apart from it almost making me tear up a couple of times, it hit home to the point that I felt the "Lord of the Rings" series was far less impressive. And real themes when it comes to loyalty/rising to the occassion.

    The same goes for themes such as not being so focused on your own family/home that you forget others don't have one - and may need help in fighting for theirs so that they can do the things you take comfort in.

    One of the most amazing things about the film was the FilmScore. There's one Beautiful song that I can't get out of my mind after seeing the movie, entitled The Misty Mountains [Richard Armitage & The Dwarf Cast] . Very haunting.... but enchanting. The baritone lyrics captured the tragedy, loss, and rootedness of the dwarves better than any dialogue could have. Best theme song I've heard for a film in a long time...

    Lyrics:
    Far over the Misty Mountains cold
    To dungeons deep, and caverns old
    We must away ere break of day
    To find our long forgotten gold.


    The pines were roaring on the height
    The winds were moaning in the night
    The fire was red, it flaming spread
    The trees like torches, blazed with light



    The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey: Misty Mountains Song - YouTube

    Richard Armitage and the Dwarves are great, and the tune is out of this world, being deep, dark, and majestic and expressing an importance that’s moving. Tolkien would have been proud. The song sells the whole point of the film, setting up the deep meaning the quest holds for Thorin. It’s just so… Dwarvish. This will probably be remembered as the signature song for The Unexpected Journey. The song’s melody is a cornerstone to the Hobbit soundtrack, reappearing throughout.

    The scene where they're singing the song literally capitvated me - and reminded me of how Negro Spirituals were sung by Blacks in order to cope with the great loss they experienced - as well as to convey messages for others to remember and never forget what happened, be it in maintaining hope or never losing sight of the tragedy behind what they lost.

    The scene itself seemed a pitch-perfect dramatization of Tolkien’s original scene, where the dwarven company and Gandalf the Grey, having thoroughly put out unwilling host Bilbo Baggins with a raucous dinner party, quiet down and begin to sing.
    They came back with viols as big as themselves, and with Thorin’s harp wrapped in a green cloth. It was a beautiful golden harp, and when Thorin struck it the music began all at once, so sudden and sweet that Bilbo forgot everything else, and was swept away into dark lands under strange moons, far over The Water and very far from his hobbit-hole under The Hill……The dark filled all the room, and the fire died down, and the shadows were lost, and still they played on. And suddenly first one and then another began to sing as they played, deep-throated singing of the dwarves in the deep laces of their ancient homes… As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and a jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves. Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick. (Tolkien. 43-44.)
    A lot of people, amazingly, have been giving it bad reviews - and I was literally shocked by it. Others saying it wasn't as good as the other films - and yet, when I saw it, it made me realize that others looking down upon it had placed more hype on it than necessary and expected to see more of the same with LOTR - instead of enjoying it for what Tolkien intended with a story that's really deep. And as another noted best, The Hobbit is a lot better once you realize it’s a war movie - a film talking about the Rise of the Great Dark you'll see in the Future Triology (technically past with LOTR) and yet seeing real life battles for others who were essentially victims of war/greed - sent into DIaspora and trying to maintain a heritage.

    In many ways, I was going back and forth between comparing them either to American Indians, the Armenians (if remembering The Armenian Genocide/all of those kicked out of their homeland ), the Christians in Iraq and Syria forced to flee their homelands ( #10 /#14 & #63 ) in ways similar to what happened in antiquity when it occurred before...or the Hmong (of Laos, who were scattered all over the world after being abandoned by the U.S to the Communists - just like the Dwarves were abandoned by Elves).

    Other times, I didn't know if it'd be best to compare them to the Jewish believers who were forced into Diasporas and often kicked out of their homes (more shared here in the thread entitled Kosher Pirates: Hebrews on the high seas ) - and forced to survive as merchants/free lance migranting people ( a notable example being the Sephardic Jews in the Ottoman Empire...as shared in #25 )...acting in the same way that the Dwarves had to live amongst others as people without a permanent home.


    In many ways, it reminded me of what occurred with Refugees and other displaced people groups - something I'm very passionate on....and to see the Dwarves/how epic and personal they were got my attention alot. Some people were shocked to see that some of the dwarves were actually pretty good looking (as they did in making Fíli and Kíli being portayed the way they did) and had a rugged yet elegant feel to them. But again, their best trait was how relatable you felt with them.

    As another said best (for excerpt):
    What makes them so attractive is their innate tragedy, as I wrote:
    Elves are perfect. Dwarves decidedly imperfect. It seems no contest.

    And yet, it’s the imperfections that make them so compelling. Angels are boring; watching people with flaws, who make bad decisions, is where real drama comes in. Dwarves make incredible things — whole cities carved out of the insides of mountains, weapons and crafts of surpassing beauty, mines tunneling deep into the earth with medieval technology. But in true dramatic fashion, it’s their very greatest gifts that prove their downfall. The accumulated wealth from dwarf craftsmanship lures raiders, none deadlier than the great dragons who, like Smaug of “The Hobbit,” pillage dwarf strongholds and seize their treasure. And their deep mines awake fell powers like Moria’s Balrog, which rise up from the depths to wreak havoc. Even in the best case scenario, when the dwarves don’t die, they inevitably turn inward and cut their underground cities off from the rest of the world.

    Best movie of 2013 I've seen thus far...and truly, Dwarves rock and I'm glad they gave them great presentation - even better than that of the elves, as they felt the most relatable of the Middle Earth People..


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    If anyone has seen it - or read the book - I'd be curious to see if you enjoyed the story line ...or felt the film was horrible.​

    Also, I would be curious as to what you felt in regards to why it seemed that all of the SPECIES in Middle Earth seemed to have the experiences of others in Diaspora today that are ethnic minorities/religious groups - and yet they are all portrayed in European terms. Do you feel that was accidental? Or do you feel it was intentional and an issue of not truly showing what others go through?​

    To be continued in the next post...​
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2016
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  2. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    To give more clarity on my question that I was asking here..
    The books do make a world of difference.

    As another noted, it is often the case that books are always going to be better than movies. Movies aren't truly comparable in all cases - and it makes sense to not even go there in trying to compare movies to books all the time, as it keeps the disappointment factor way down when you do that. Watching movies will never ruin a book for me or vice versa- although some will always favor reading a book before watching a movie as they like the way they picture characters in their mind better.

    It can sometimes annoy others when reading the books and feeling that certain actors are miscast. And truthfully (and I pray I'm not taken the wrong way in saying this ) - after seeing the Hobbit and LOFR saga, I was reminded of some discussions I had long ago with others on how it can be frustrating that people making the films were able to be creative in how they made others appear - and yet no one seemed creative enough (or desiring to make things relatable enough) to show any of the characters looking non-European.

    To me, it always seemed bizzare that none of the character descriptions of the people of Middle Earth seemed to preclude having others be people with differing types of skin tones such as Brown, Red or Yellow - or appearing to look like they had Hispanic attributes, Asian or Polynesian/Indonesian Descent, African/Caribbean features or Aboriginal/ Indian (and Native American as well) composure. Although I enjoyed the series with my close friends (both whites and non-whites), I did find it odd how there didn't really seem to be anything at all that crossed the minds of the directors to actually give some type of multi-cultural representation.

    One person actually said to me once "Well, of course they had those - that's what the Orcs were there for!!" - and to me, I was thinking "Seriously...For REAL??!!"...and another noted that some of the bad guys like the ones riding the Elephant - like Mumakil ( used by the Haradrim ) against the Kingdom of Gondor represented those who could be Non-European...and that kind of put me off a bit.

    Apparently, the primitive and savage people of Harad lived in one of the harshest environments in Middle-earth. The tribes of Haradrim lived in a nomadic existence. Due to the lack of natural resources, they relied on organic material such as bone, tusk and obsidian for their armor in place of steel. Their greatest weapon is of course the Mumakil which they rode to battle. The Haradrim would fire spears and arrows from the covered frame placed on top of the Mumakil. The only time they appeared was in the Return of the King where they took part in the Battle of Pelennor Fields. Most of the Harad's population was wiped out there when Aragon unleashed the Dead Men of Dunharrow upon them.

    In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy the Haradrim are inspired by Aztecs and Kiribati tribes, according to the ROTK DVD's Weta Workshop documentary.

    Again, something just didn't sit right with me on that one...


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    For why did those who looked Arabic/Eastern (like something from "Prince of Persia" ) have to be the ones who were the bad guys presented? Surely - in all of Middle Earth - there could've been some good people of color and surely the magical races of Middle Earth (Dwarves, Elves, Hobbits, etc ) had some folks who were a little bit darker than others. I know others have said that a good story should not make one think it matters - for people are people - and yet I have a feeling that the film would not have been recieved well if all presentations of characthers had looked like they were from the Middle East. Someone would've complained that they didn't look European or white like they envisioned when they read the book ..

    Again, I pray that what I say isn't taken the wrong way - as I was personally able to enjoy the story and have done the same for many others. Growing up as a comic/cartoon lover, you fall in love with characters on the basis of their actions/character and it didn't really matter to me fully the ethnic group of the characer. And yet in light of how many others I've grown up hearing liked the LOTR saga within Non-European communities, I do wonder why it doesn't seem that there's enough concern to make some characters look according to others from those groups. For all of the struggle that has been discussed to make characters relatable on the Big Screen to others who are fans, why does it seem that some representation of the fans of the series who aren't looking complexion-wise like Middle-Earth Europeans strong enough to make a point.

    And in light of how many I've even witnessed from within the Black community note where they don't like LOFR for the specific reason that it seemed to universally portray a standard Hollywood theme/forumula in media of non-whites not being significant enough to make a visible prescence in the world of fantasy/adventure quest films, I do hope that it is taken seriously in the future.

    It was already the case that The Hobbit fired a casting director for thinking only white people live in Middle Earth. Specifically, the casting director was fired after placing ads in New Zealand newspapers specifically calling for actors with “light skin tones” and dismissing another actor by telling her she was “too dark” to appear in the film...and interestingly enough, the one turned away was a woman of Pakistani descent...all in the name of being too dark to play a hobbit.

    For more specific reference on the issue where discussion has occurred:

    As one writer wrote:
    "Dr Stephen Shapiro, an expert in cultural studies, race and slavery, said the author used his novels to present bigotry through a fantasy world... He said: "Put simply, Tolkien's good guys are white and the bad guys are black, slant-eyed, unattractive, inarticulate and a psychologically undeveloped horde."In the trilogy, a small group, the fellowship, is pitted against a foreign horde and this reflects long-standing Anglo-European anxieties about being overwhelmed by non-Europeans, he said."
    Interestingly enought, it was already the case that The Hobbit fired a casting director for thinking only white people live in Middle Earth. Specifically, the casting director was fired after placing ads in New Zealand newspapers specifically calling for actors with “light skin tones” and dismissing another actor by telling her she was “too dark” to appear in the film...and interestingly enough, the one turned away was a woman of Pakistani descent...all in the name of being too dark to play a hobbit.

    For more specific reference on the issue where discussion has occurred ON some possible racial themes in LOFR:

    __________________


    With the original LOFR saga - with the Haradrim who were the bad guys and noted earlier to be non-white - one brother in the Lord noted "They reminded me more of Persians around the time of the Greco-Persian warss, which was fine with me. I'm more on the Spartan 300 side of that war! I think from a Western point of view, the Arabs, Persians, etc. conjur thoughts of the Crusades and Persian Wars and in each case it's obvious who the West view as the good guys and bad guys there. ."

    As I told the individual, I could definately see Persian in the film portrayal of the guys fighting in the last film - although, even from a Western view, there've been many descriptions of the EAstern culture of the Persians as very majestic/beautiful and the eny of the West - with the Persians often being beloved by their subjects for the ways they treated others/allowed a significant deal of multiculturalism and supported a policy of multi-religious views to flourish. What happened in the Book of Daniel with the Persians/their treatment of the Jews comes immediately to mind (King Darius)...and the same with Esther. The fact that the film directors had to make those looking Persian be an enemy doesn't seem right..

    And with the later triology films for the Hobbit, I do hope they'd considered having some multi-cultural portrayals of characters in the film. Some may find it hard to envsion non-white looking portrayals of character. And I'm always curious as to why that is so hard - as good acting is good acting....and for people from each of those cultures who read the books by Tolkien, it's not hard to envision it/actors they feel would be good for certain parts just as Europeans/Anglo-SAxons did the same when hearing of the movie being made....and discussing characters they felt were type-cast.

    With the original Lord of the Rings saga, had folks done it all over again, I could see a few characters such as King Theodin of Rohan being Asian - and I could see those who were Hobbits being from West Indian culture (seeing how festive they are and how much celebration is a big deal). Just got back from Panama and I can tell you firsthand that folks down in that land can do parties that outdo anything you'd see in the Hobbit culture anyday^_^ For some reason, people think that having a Hispanic main character in Tolkien's work would entail a stereotypical view of having poor English/only speaking in Spanish - but that'd not be necessary.

    They did a good job, IMHO, with having Spainard like people in "Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" when it came to the Telmarine people/Telmarines oppressing Narnia...and it would've been VERY easy for others to say "Well, C.S Lewis probably envisioned them as being white so let's not try it."



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    I liked that the filmmakers made the Telmarines seem like a distinct ethnic group, mostly cast with Spanish and Italian actors (Ben Barnes is British, but adopts a Spanish accent to fit in). The filmmakers interpreted the Telmarines, including Caspian, as being Spanish because of their pirate origins, which producer Mark Johnson noted made Caspian "a contrast to the lily-white [Pevensies]" - so why not do it with Tolkien's work?


    Bottom line: The way that "The Hobbit" film seems to have gone, it gives the impression that it wants to talk about the struggles of others in the world of the Diaspora who've suffered/lost their homelands - and yet they don't want to have others represent in the roles who actually are the FACES of those who struggled....and it seems akin to making a film about slavery - but only having white people cast in the roles of those being oppressed - yet not having blacks.

    I hope what I'm saying makes sense - do you feel that there were no issues with the ways certain religious groups/ethnicities were not represented in the world of Middle Earth? And for others who enjoy the books - whether religious or not - what is your take?
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2013
  3. Eudaimonist

    Eudaimonist I believe in life before death!

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    I've been a fan of the novels (both The Hobbit and LOTR) since I was eleven years old.

    I personally thought that the LOTR movies were much better than The Hobbit movie, but The Hobbit was (as a movie and a novel) always aimed primarily at little children. LOTR has a more adult feel.

    As for the race issue, Middle-earth was always intended as a replacement for the missing mythology of the English people. (The Arthurian tales, while associated with England, are actually French in origin.)

    As such, Middle-earth is undeniably European. Orcs are inspired to some extent by the Mongol Hordes. Minas Tirith is based to some extent on Constantinople.

    Also, the Hobbit was influenced to an extent by Beowulf. (I don't mean the movie.)

    Anyway, in spite of racial themes, the basic spirit is one of hope. The Elves and Dwarves had mistrust for many centuries due to a dispute in the First Age of Middle-earth. And yet Legolas and Gimli had found fast friendship.


    eudaimonia,

    Mark
     
  4. smaneck

    smaneck Baha'i

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    C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia suffers from the same sort of racism, most especially A Boy and His Horse. Both Tolkien and Lewis were men of their time, and let's face it, the British Empire was built on racism. However, whether modern movies need to reflect that racism is another question. I do find it a little silly when I watch episodes of Merlin to see Guinevere played by a black woman, however. Authurian England may be a fantasy, but it was most definitely not multi-cultural! But the most racist movie made in recent years in my opinion is *The 300.* And the worst part of it is they had to distort history in order to make it that racist.
     
  5. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    Interesting to hear - as I always got the feel that both the Hobbit and the LOTR had both adult/children elements involved in both of them - part of why they have had such universal appeal to so many people.:)


    I find it fascinating that Tolkien would base his representation of the Orcs on the Mongol Hordes - seeing that the Mongols were often known for allowing much in terms of diversity and religious freedom (counter to what many cultures did ) - and the Mongols were highly intelligent/organized.

    And I still don't see how Tolkien setting out to write for the English people was right in portraying those with Non-European features as the enemy like he did - as that'd reinforce the concept of stereotyping people who had Middle Eastern or Eastern features in general. If he's gonna claim he was writing for English people, cool - but to demonize those who didn't seem to be English doesn't seem necessary....as it was with the Haredim characters.

    I have heard of the theory that Tolkien set out to write a mythology specifically for England, which would explain to some extent why his Middle Earth was peopled with white-skinned folks.

    However, I've also seen it debated/questioned by others who don't feel that Tolkien ever said the way he envisioned his characters were solely within white-skinned presentations...

    And there are doubts as to the legitimacy of what Tolkien's impact was if writing for England, specifically in regards to the people present in England and how there were already Non-white skinend folks present (especially considering how England had Caribbean people there due to having control over certain West Indian islands who had yet to gain independence..one of the fathers of my Jamaican Sister being one of them with family in England and named Locksley). And others for mythology who supported England would've not overlooked that since they were a part of the culture.

    And with having a theology specifically for England - if all Non-White skinned people were due to that, then it'd reinforce the concept that Tolkien had a very sterotypical/uninformed view of what Non-White/Non-European really looked like and what their culture was like. Truthfully, I probably shouldn't even use the term "Non-European" since there are many Europeans who are of darker complexion (especially those with descent from the Moors or others who have Olive-tone complexion....and for that matter, Central Asians in Russia - more shared here/here - amongst others). Currently, there are more than 100,000 nomadic Travellers and Gypsies in the UK, and 200,000 who live in permanent housing..and yet in England, the Gypsies have been consistently excluced from many things/not considered...but they've been present in England for a long time ( more shared here, here and here for further study). There are also others who've had roots in the land for a long time - and yet they're "Anglo-Indian", due to their complexion and looks that come from having Indian/Anglo-Saxon culture mix (and England once ruled India/much of the world due to colonialism - more here, here, here, here and here)....

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    To me, even from an English perspective, it seems odd to suppose that certain groups were left out of Tolkien's view in the event he was writing for an English audience - as if they weren't deemed "English" enough despite what was present...and somehow, if he didn't think it important enough to have other non-whites represent the heros/good guys, how odd it is to see that perhaps he felt it important enough to have the enemies of the People of Middle Earth be Non-white looking...

    I am aware of where Tolkien's imaginary mythology was based on creating a sort of alternate European - not white - mythology. He used the landscapes of Europe, the stories, the ethnic and cultural groups, even its languages, to build the elements of middle-earth. It is for that reason that the Shire, for example, seems so much like parts of rural England.

    One would have to ignore the obvious to miss how Tolkien used European landscapes and other languages/groups to shape the world of Middle EArth - as noted earlier. Nonetheless, even with the desire of creating an alternative European mythology - there's no real way of escaping the fact that anyone who has lived in Europe is aware of the fact that being dark and having differing shades of color has been a big factor for centuries....from the Gypsies (who were present in Europe for centuries since the 1300s) to the Moors who conquered most of Europe (ironically before Columbus sailed off to the New World - and that's significant since the rise of Eurocentric thought in the form of white complexion exalted dominated much of history only after the age of Moorish domination in Spain for 400yrs prior.....alongside influence that happened in many differing European countries - more shared here on the issue ).

    More was discussed elsewhere here, here and here (as well as here ) on the ways others often seem to have a fear of portrayals of dark people and how many stereotypes of Europeans that others have - some of it perpetuated by the media for decades since the 40s-50s/previously (due to others not really having a high opinion of anything dark in many cases). In example, many have been shocked to know that during the Holocaust there were those known as Afro-Germans who died in enormous numbers - them being discriminated against in Germany during the era, called horrible names and hated for their complexion......and they were present in Germany for a very long time (centuries).

    Others are not aware on how there's a lot to be said on how African Genes in Germania began and the dynamics behind the Black Germans and the Black Dutch. Nonetheless, there've been others that've noted that Germans were not always so fair-skinned as many are today...and that goes in line with the reality that it wasn't just light-skinned people that helped in the founding of Germany since its beginnings. For more on that:

    At times, there has been a lot of racial profiling in Germany toward those who are dark-skinned...even though there were other Germans without African descent who were darker and others have complained on it. It's no different than the ways others stereotype Russians. Here's a A Russian in the Baltic​










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    The stereotype of the Blond Russian is a total farce, as most of them are dark haired and dark-skinned, even moreso than Southern Germans and Frenchmen. ​

    People often stereotype based on color alone..and there are similar dynamics that've occurred in the history of the U.S. During the turn of the 20th century, those English and Germans living in NYC and Chicago hated everybody that came off the boat, and Asians too. Everybody that wasn't them. Initially, the first European immigrants that came over had to push the Native Americans out of their own land into tiny little reservations. Then, these English and German folks were hateful toward the Italians and other Southern Europeans, as well as the Irish, Scottish, Chinese, Poles, Greek, etc. What I found interesting while watching a small documentary on Greeks coming to America way back in the early 1900s was that the Greeks were bunched in with the Chinese ethnic group in Florida. And up North, they were all bunched together as dark-skinned groups - Italians and Greeks. The KKK actually was after the Greeks, too. The blacks, of course.

    It took quite some time for all of these groups to acclimate to this country and the ones that had been there longest to get used to them and finally they assimilated. ..but to see the ways that people stereotyped others based on how they looked was a trip. For more, one can look up the book/work entitled Austin Lunch. :) It's a nice story about a Greek immigrant family during the 1920s or so. Additionally, one can investigate a documentary entitled The Journey. :)

    Moreover, here's one link on the KKK and the Greeks:

    And another...an excerpt:
    All of that is noted in light of how many seem to almost justify what Tolkien when thinking that a European based mythology is going to tend to have fair-skinned people at its center...and that doing so is not trying to create a white mythology.

    That said, I found this and thought it was interesting in discussion - as it concerns the concept of anything Middle-Eastern being inferior compared to European/Western thought (similar to what was said in imperialism/colonialism....and part of the reasons many Near/Middle-Eastern cultures get harmed - from the Sryain Orthodox to the Copts and others ) and seeing the ways that Tolkien may've written certain things that were taken to mean more than he intended - be it in claiming he was against Arab/Middle Eastern culture or that he wrote based on his idea of European backgrounds being of a certain look:

    Again, I hope I don't come off the wrong way in what I'm saying. I am aware of how Tolkien's characters are mostly inspired by Norse/Celtic type mythos. ..and that they're white. Within the film, for other minorities upset at the film for lack of strong heroic non-European characters while all negative characters were akin to Non-European, it is noteworthy that there are plenty of scoundrel like white characters---Grima Wormtongue, Sauromon the white wizard, and Denethor amongst others to consider...
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2013
  6. Isambard

    Isambard Nihilist Extrodinaire

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    I personally preferred The Hobbit to the LoR films. The main characters were more fun, competent, and the story took its time rather than rush the audience from location to location.
     
  7. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    Concerning what you said, it can be noted that each race has a certain lack of representation somewhere. Like in India, the stories of their lore/mythologies/religion don't have African-Americans, Filipinos, Brits, Canadians, Mexicans, and people from Chile. Why? Because they're Indians. The same goes for things like Arabian Nights. ..as I'd not get upset that there aren't enough Anglo-Saxons on there if a film was made with others in it.....unless, of course, it's flat out obviously racist propaganda.

    Obviously there'd be no need to be shocked at the lack of no Anglo-Saxons being present in folklore based on how the cultures mentioned saw things. - as they were not a present force in those lands. It'd be like me getting shocked that they don't have a Hispanic face in a story based on Aboriginal folklore and presented before an Aboriginal audience. Of course, if ABoriginal culture was the basis of a movie and Aboriginal culture happened to have plenty of folks who did indeed look Hispanic or Philipino, then of course one would raise eyebrows since the culture that a film was supposedly made of didn't really represent things as they were.

    In India, they make films with others who are of all shades/variations - yet they have the common theme of being Indian. A big part of the culture there are Indians of Dark coloration, which is common throughout India...and in line with those who are Dark South Asians (with dark skin often looked down upon in Asia and is a big deal over there). Darker Indians may not be as favored within the culture for various reasons - but they're nonetheless apart of Indian culture - and to be accurate about Indian culture would mean one do real examination on presenting all of those present.

    The same goes for those apart of Arabian culture - considering the ways that they also have people of a variety of shades/colors ...and even some of the Berbers were very dark -skinned, with some of the Arabs being known as "Ravens" due to their tone (more shared in #45 ). I could note the same with people in my own West Indian heritage - as others would be shocked if they went to Panama and saw people who had Chinese features and yet were considered Chinese Hispanic...or those who were Indian Hispanic since many came to Panama from all over the world over the centuries/intermixed with the culture. The same thing goes for places like Jamaica - be it with Chinese Jamaicans, White Jamaicans or the ones who have the traditional "black appearance" ( more shared in #305 ).

    And thus, when people talk on the issue of Tolkien having a heart to show the missing mythology of the English people, part of me immediately thinks why not show ALL of those who are truly English? For it'd not be right to say you want to represent European culture - and yet leave out Europeans who were present because they didn't have a certain shade.

    On a humorous note:), I'd crack up seeing some of the responses if someone said that the saga by Tolkien was made predominately for Black people - as you'd probably have A LOT of folks saying "There were no black people in the movie and Tolkien wrote from the perspective of speaking to those of fair-skin/EUropean features" - and then be shocked at how many Africans there are who look very much like the traditional look in Europe (due to mixed heritage and also due to just looking very light-skinned due to where they grew up in spite of their ancestry) ^_^

    Had that myself a number of times when talking to people who you think were full -blooded white people - and it happened to be the case that they had black parents/ancestry and turned out white looking. But they themselves didn't see themselves as "white" nor did they think all others who looked white were simply that. Thus, for them to look at a bunch of people who had EUropean features in a movie or film would not mean they were seeing white people only - but they would've considered many of those same people to be black as well (more shared here in #341 /#361 ).

    So in that sense, you could say that perhaps there was a good presentation of black culture in the TOLKIen saga even though they may've not looked black.

    If aware of those who are mulattos, then things make more sense. The film "Imitation of Life" does an excellent job showing the struggle that many blacks had when it came to being able to adapt to white culture because of their skin tone and hating black culture for how it seemed limited to them...and yet they could never escape the fact that they had black in their background. Add to that the factors of others who may've been white and yet didn't consider themselves as a part of some "dominant culture" that all other non-whites would assume of - like the whites who are from the Hills and Rural America (often deemed as "trailer trash" and Hillbillies/Mountain folk) and many other variations. ..and the same as it concerns other blacks discriminating against one another, as often happened in the nation when light-skinned blacks would deem those who were darker as inferior---or consider those blacks that were mixed/light skinned as not really being "black enough" to be accepted into the community. .
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2013
  8. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    Some have raised issues in the past saying "Why would you make a film about Native American culture and have the person playing the part be someone from Vietnam? Or someone who's Irish/lilly looking and with red hair play the role of an abused slave when discussing the South?".....and this was noted due to how it seemed that some things would not make sense to say "Well, this is artistic liscense.".....and in the LOTR and the Hobbit saga, others have noted that it'd not seem right to portray characters in the story who had a European face originally when audiences first heard the stories.

    And yet Hollywood directors have done this same thing often when it comes to minority groups in their stories...

    In example, "The Last Samurai" was an amazing film and I loved it - and yet I couldn't help but agree with others who noted how crazy it was that the Last Samurai had to be a white man. It seemed like more of the mythological "White Savior"/"white guilt" dynamic where they had to show someone who was white choosing to save those who were helpless. It’s not a new story – white person penetrates the culture of those deemed to be like noble savages, realizes that culture is so much simpler yet more awesome than their own, then ends up saving the population and gains redemption for themselves by way of benevolent paternalism. This is a narrative that has been played out countless times in films like “Dances with Wolves,” “Pocahontas,” “Fern Gully,” “Dangerous Minds,” and “The Last Samurai.” It’s a plot line that draws easy distinctions between good and bad, framing the white savior as the only character able to cross such lines. ..and yet it is untrue when seeing what has happened multiple times throughout history.

    Rarely will you see things in reverse - although the film "To Sir, With Love" (a 1967 film about a brilliant black teacher who chooses to go into a bad British community which was highly racist/backward - and helps the kids get changed for the better). It starts one of the most amazing actors of all time, Sir Sidney Poitier ..

    But in general, again, there's a formula in place that Hollywood goes with when showing things.

    However, sometimes, exceptions can be made. One of the people who I've considered a role-model in many things (Patrick Stewart) once shared one of his experiences in Shakespearean Theatre - and he noted his desire to play the role of Othello. Othello, as I'm assuming you know, is a story about a Moor (dark skin) dude falling in love with a European woman and it being forbidden in many ways - but because Stewart was white and was such an amazing actor who loved to push the button/play great roles, the Casting director had ALL the other cast members be made as black people and had Othello be played as the only white person in the play. Truly brilliant :). FOr reference,


    In the same way, since many fans of the LOTR and Hobbit saga have been others of differing ethnic/religious groups, it'd be TRULY POWERFUL to have people of those groups be able to represent in the film since it already speaks to them - and it'd make a huge impact.

    Some representation of minorities in an all white cast/European doesn't mean folks want ALL whites to be excluded or all whites to be portrayed as bad guys while the minorities are seen as "good guys" - or the heros who may be minorities portayed with BAD actors.


    To have Eowyn played by Salma Hayak - or Galadriel played by Lucy Liu would be amazing. They're excellent actors/wonderful folks who could pull off the roles :) I'd add that Zoe Saldana would be an excellent choice - as her acting/beauty are priceless and Zoe is a gem, IMHO. Jet Li as an Elf could work rather well - if putting him in the role of Legolas...and (in the event his English didn't come off right) simply have him speak in Elvish the entire time with sub-titles ^_^

    I'd even go so far as to have the actor who played Seraph from "The Matrix" series play the role of Legolas - and of course, if doing that, get some more portrayals of Elvish warriors/culture as having an Asian look. Not that difficult seeing how elegant Asians look - and thankfully, there are many wonderful Asian Actors in Hollywood. Kenneth Choi is one that comes to mind.
     
  9. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    I agree with you - as the Hobbit seemed way more enjoyable/relatable for myself than LOTR...and the story took more time to go through steadily than rush from place to place. It felt like more thought was placed into it than LOTR at many parts....

    And the main characters had more drama to them - with the dwarves, especially my dude Thorn, being so epic and multi-faceted.
     
  10. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    I'm not certain as to what exactly you meant when it came to saying the Hobbit was related to Beowulf (as it concerns the OP issue) - as the genres seemed completely different in scope (even though both were intense) and Beowulf was far more terrifying. If you could explain, that'd be appreciated :)
    There were a lot of themes of ethnic reconciliation - and the Hobbit seemed to bring that out when discussing how the Dwarves did not trust Elves when they were abandoned at Smaug's attack, even though the books noted that the beef was older than that. The relationship between Legolas and Gimli was noteworthy in how they evolved to see past their initial mistrust/differences to become brothers when they were forced to do battle together - and realize how much they had in common. It was truly one of the most beautiful aspects of the LOTR saga.

    I related to it a lot when seeing the same on my side of the street - although I still wish there had been more intentionality with things in showing differing ethnic groups properly...
     
  11. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    What in specific did you find in "A Boy and His Horse" that seemed racist?

    I agree that it's possibly the case that Lewis may've struggled with racism - even if on a sub-conscious level or one where he wasn't aware (like others thinking "I'm not racist!!" when they sincerely think people from a certain culture are simply inferior to them ).

    No doubt...

    It's amazing how much literature from those times are praised in ours - and people try to enforce the literature as being what all ethnic groups should value...and yet they don't speak to the fact that other ethnic groups were never considered as highly by the same authors whose works are being recommended.
    I actually enjoyed the fact that they were willing to be that direct in challenging the system with having Guinevere black. There was actually a wonderful academic article on the issue I thought was HIGHLY enjoyable - entitled "Black in Camelot (Africans in Arthurian Legend)" [Revised 2013-05 ... (more here ) seeing that having blacks in England was not something unheard of. It's just something many are not really aware of...even though not all black people like the Medieval ages anyhow.

    No one even considers how the greatest of King Arthur's knights was a Black man. As another said best in http://udumakalu.wordpress.com/2014...presence-in-medieval-and-renaissance-europe/:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    .

    A BLACK KNIGHT IN MEDIEVAL EUROPE

    Sir Morien: Black Knight of King Arthur’s Round Table

    Few documents portray the ethnicity of the Moors in medieval Europe with more passion, boldness and clarity than Morien. Morien is a metrical romance rendered into English prose from the medieval Dutch version of the Lancelot.

    Morien is the adventure of a splendidly heroic Moorish knight (possibly a Christian convert), supposed to have lived during the days of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Morien is described as follows:

    “He was all black, even as I tell ye: his head, his body, and his hands were all black, saving only his teeth. His shield and his armour were even those of a Moor, and black as a raven.”

    Initially in the adventure, Morien is simply called “the Moor.” He first challenges, then battles, and finally wins the unqualified respect admiration of Sir Lancelot. In addition, Morien is extremely forthright and articulate. Sir Gawain, whose life was saved on the battlefield by Sir Morien, is stated to have “harkened, and smiled at the black knight’s speech.” It is noted that Morien was as “black as pitch; that was the fashion of his land — Moors are black as burnt brands. But in all that men would praise in a knight was he fair, after his kind. Though he were black, what was he the worse?” And again: “his teeth were white as chalk, otherwise was he altogether black.”

    Dr. Runoko Rashidi: The African Presence in Early Europe and Asia - YouTube

    Historically, the Moors invaded southern Europe including Italy, Portugal and Spain in the 8th and 9th centuries. Specifically, the "Moors" were not a distinct or self-defined people or ethnicity - and medieval and early modern Europeans applied the name to the Berbers, but also at various times to Arabs and Muslim Iberians and West Africans from Mali and Niger who had been absorbed into the Almoravid dynasty of Morocco.


    [​IMG]

    A good example of this awareness of black people in Medieval times would be Shakespeare's Othello (1603) - a Moorish general in the Venetian army (Northern Italy).

    Moreover, there are accounts of Moorish travellers, ambassadors, courtesans (with their own servants), minstrels, chamberlains, and mercenaries from various sources throughout Europe, and especially England and Scotland.




    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2014
  12. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    That's a pretty strong statement - saying that the film "The 300" is the most racist movie made in recent years (as there are others which far outdo it, IMHO). Although I do think the film did A LOT to stereotype those who were from Persian culture - and exalt all things done in the name of Greece.

    Curious as to why you felt it was racist ....

    If saying "racist" in the sense that it seemed to dehumanize the Persian people (and ignore the facts of history) in favor of exalting the Greeks, I can definitely agree.
    Most folks, when going past the "300" presentation of history, often note the ways that Greek life and Persian often mirrored one another in multiple ways....and while the Greeks were better in certain areas, Persians also did better in others...both having good/bad aspects to them.





    Many have felt that the "300" film was accurate because they believe that the Persian side believed in tyranny and were against democracy and property rights, freedom and philosophy. But I wouldn't say one can really praise anything of Greeks if/when not seeing where there had PLENTY of times they fought against democracy/property rights - for much of Greek Democracy came at the expense of other cultures. On democracy, I don't see that present in what the Seleucid Greek Empire did with other groups - namely those from the Maccabees Account and their revolt against one of the corurpt Greek Kings who forced them to reject God's laws/culture and murdering all who got in the way - more found in the books of 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees. Highly impressive it was to see where the Jews non-violently (and violently as last resort) resisted the Syrian-Greeks'/Seleucid Greeks' attempts at forced assimilation.

    I can't recall which ancient Greek remarked on the irony that Ancient Greek democracy had come to depend for its survival in part on the subjugation of others. Greeks were indeed a brilliant people. ...but to be historically fair, it was actually well - known where the Persians had many aspects in the positive which the Greeks lacked valued. For the Persian Empire was very diverse place. With the Persian Empire, The Achaemenid period (559 - 330 BC) was characterized by a society structured into four classes (priests, warriors, peasants and merchants). The empire was based on Cyrus' conquests of Lybia, the Greek city states around the eastern Mediterranean Sea and Babylon. It absorbed many of the cultural and scientific achievements of the conquered empires but maintained its own religion of Zoroastrianism. The education system was based on strict adherence to religious doctrine and emphasized responsibility to the family and community, acceptance of imperial authority and military discipline. Persia was a cradle of science in ancient times. Persian scientists contributed to the current understanding of nature, medicine, mathematics, and philosophy. Persians made important contributions to algebra and chemistry, invented the wind-power machine, and the first distillation of alcohol. Persians made important contributions to algebra and chemistry, invented the wind-power machine, and the first distillation of alcohol.

    For example, the first teaching hospital where medical students methodically practiced on patients under the supervision of physicians was the Academy of Gundishapur in the Persian Empire. Some experts go so far as to claim that: “to a very large extent, the credit for the whole hospital system must be given to Persia”. The idea of xenotransplantation dates to the days of Achaemenidae (the Achaemenian dynasty), as evidenced by engravings of many mythologic chimeras still present in Persepolis.

    Several documents still exist from which the definitions and treatments of the headache in medieval Persia can be ascertained. These documents give detailed and precise clinical information on the different types of headaches. The medieval physicians listed various signs and symptoms, apparent causes, and hygienic and dietary rules for prevention of headaches. The medieval writings are both accurate and vivid, and they provide long lists of substances used in the treatment of headaches. Many of the approaches of physicians in medieval Persia are accepted today; however, still more of them could be of use to modern medicine. The Persian empire was a federalist multi-cultural entity (the first of such a culturally diverse empire). The rules and customs of the locals was preserved and executed by the local governments (Satraps) - and it actually allowed for levels of effectiveness that were not as present in GREEK culture as they were in Persian life.

    There were so many things amazing about the Persians - especially in regards to its kings, Cyrus being amongst the best (Isaiah 44:27-28 /Isaiah 45:1-3 and 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 ) :) And with him in mind, as well as other Persians (including the Persian Jews and other memorable individuals from that group like Esther/Mordecai - as shared before here, here, here and here )...as the OP notes, I do wonder still why it has to be the case that you couldn't have had those who looked Persian in Lord of the Rings happen to be people of Good character - as opposed to the bad guys based on a stereotype of how Eastern culture was. Persian culture isn't necessarily as messed up as others may often assume it to be - but of course, I admit I'm biased toward Persians (and the Prince of Persia Feel to things) in the same way you are biased toward the Greeks and perhaps Tolkien was biased as well :p:D


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    The West always tends to view anything Persian (or Arab ) as a negative even when the West has been exactly like the image they say they hate (especially in the Crusades when it came to pillaging/sacking the Eastern Empire alongside others - whether Jew, Muslim or Christian) - one of the reasons I can't stand it whenever all things Arabic are deemed as barbaric or without civilized practice....just as they do whenever it comes to the Middle East (especially regarding Israel/the stereotype of Radical Islam representing all Arabic people). There are so many who are highly brilliant, articulate, complex and have rich history - and were often on the side of the oppressed rather than oppressor.

    I think Tolkien - in making his enemies in LOTR come from an Eastern perspective - was definitely operating on a faulty view of what the East was about...and that's sad, IMHO.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2013
  13. awitch

    awitch @PluckyDuck3 on Twitter

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    I did read the books and I saw the first three LotR movies and thought they were well done. I haven't see Jackson's Hobbit movie yet, but I understand it strays from the book significantly.

    There was an animated TV musical version of "The Hobbit" back in 1977 that was actually quite good, despite the cover art. (This segment sets up the story, and includes the song quoted earlier)

    The Hobbit 1977 Intro Rankin/Bass.mov - YouTube

    Rankin Bass returned in 1980 to release an animated version of "The Return of the King".

    Where there's a whip, there's a way! - YouTube

    Both are worth checking out, but I'd skip the animated 1978 Fantasy Films version of the The Lord of the Rings.
    There was an animated version in 1978 called "The Lord of the Rings" but I thought that one was pretty bad.
     
  14. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    Truthfully, I'd say that the Hobbit strays no further from the book than the LOTR films did - there was stretching in both series...but it was very close to the books in many respects.

    Hobbit truly does top Jackson's work for me..


    I was never really a fan of the animated versions - as I remember seeing them in high school ..and it never really captured my attention as with the live action films. '

    And even then, part of me was just turned off by how it didn't have people with complexion I could relate to..
     
  15. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    Amazed that - despite them being men of their times - they were still able to do amazing things.

    I got turned onto the Tolkien series and one by Lewis in Highschool - and I didn't originally get why so many seemed to be in love with it, including one girl I knew around my Junior year who actually studied Elvish - based on the worK Tolkien did with inventing languages. To be clear, if searching out the matter, you may stumble upon a poem called "Namárië," or "Galadriel's Lament in Lórien," which was written in Tolkien's invented language, Quenya, a dialect of Elvish. Two years before the novel was published, Tolkien recorded himself reading the poem in Elvish. The poem has also been recorded as a song by many artists, including one Celtic-sounding tenor which the author authorized. Before he was lauded by geeks and book lovers alike for his writing, Tolkien was a philologist, or a person who studies the origins of words. According to "The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the OED," his first job after World War I was studying the histories of words with Germanic origin beginning with the letter W for the Oxford English Dictionary. For more on Quenya, click here.

    But again, as said before, I really didn't get why others were so into Tolkien's work - and yet, after hearing others explain how Tolkien was a believer in God/Jesus and having others explain certain Biblical themes for me, I began to actually like the series. And from there, I ended up watching both "The Twin Towers" and "Return of the King" in theaters throughout high school and loving the conversations I could have with others - be it on themes or even which race would you want to be. Even without the explanations, the books/films were good entertainment and plain good stories that captured your imagination - and gave universal themes others could relate to, be it believers or Non-believers.
     
  16. Eudaimonist

    Eudaimonist I believe in life before death!

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    Tolkien and Beowulf


    eudaimonia,

    Mark
     
  17. Eudaimonist

    Eudaimonist I believe in life before death!

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    I don't think it is correct to say that Narnia, Middle-earth, or the graphic novel version of Sparta are "racist". Different races are involved, no doubt, but they are instead stories written with an historical perspective, by which I mean, written as an historian might write them.

    An historian, studying the Spartan wars, might feel inclined to side in some way with the Spartans, perhaps admiring their bravery. Of course, an historian might side with the Athenians against the Spartans in some cases, admiring some aspects of Athenian culture.

    In any case, I think that one should be very careful to toss the word "racist" around as a description of such worlds. In 300, races were hardly at issue. The Spartans did not hate the Persians because they were of a different race, and vice versa.

    In Middle-earth, you could hardly blame any race for hating Orcs for their inherent evil -- they are stock bad guys. However, racial tensions between Elves and Dwarves show a promising hint of resolution in a positive direction. This is a profoundly anti-racist message!


    eudaimonia,

    Mark
     
  18. smaneck

    smaneck Baha'i

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    The Narnians are depicted as virtuous light-skinned Europeans whereas the Calormen, separated from Narnia by a desert are caricatures of Middle-easterners are depicted as dark-skinned, long-bearded and turbaned, and speaking a flowery language in imitation of Persian. CS Lewis derived their name from the Latin word for 'heat.' The Calormens worship Tash, a demonic god.

    I'm not sure if he even saw racism as a problem.
     
  19. smaneck

    smaneck Baha'i

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    I didn't stereotype Persian culture, it twisted it totally beyond recognition. I called it racist because the Persians are depicted as having dark skin, even with African features as opposed to the light-skin Greeks. In fact, both the Persian and Greeks were Indo-Europeans and there probably wasn't much difference in their skin color. Also, no Persian Emperor would have ever appeared half-naked, with head and beards shaved as they do in the movie. They wore long gowns and beards as any relief will tell you.

    Not to mention that Sparta is treated as a bastion of freedom and Persia as a slave society. Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Empire, was the first ruler in history to abolish slavery. That was not entirely maintained by Darius but do I really need to say anything about slavery in Sparta? Did you notice that when Leonidas is said to have graduated from the boys training barracks, his last act was supposedly to kill a wolf with his bare hands? Actually boys 'graduated' by getting away with killing one of the helot slaves.

    Primarily because of what they do with their relative skin color. However, what the movie is most guilty of is Orientalism, depicting Middle East culture as effeminate, static, emotional, and inferior to the masculine, rational, and superior West.

    Since Herodotus, who told this story in the first place, exalted the Greeks over the Persians, I can hardly blame the movie for that. Unfortunately, the movie did so in ways that reinforce our current prejudices, not those of Herodotus.


    Persians were absolutists, there is no question of that. But absolutism and tyranny are two very different things. Tyranny in ancient Greece meant to seize power illegally. The Persians believed absolutism was the most just form of government because only by the ruler not being beholden to anyone could the common people hope to receive justice in relationship to the aristocracy. The people in most of the territories they conquered seem to have agreed. The Jews certainly appreciated them. Isaiah 45 refers to Cyrus as the messiah because he redeems Israel from captivity in Babylon. They not only allowed them to return to Palestine and rebuild their temple, they even provide them with the resources to do so! Aside from the Greek colonies of Anatolia, most people seemed to like Persian rule and found it a great relief after the Babylonians and the Assyrians. Democracy, they would not have understood. Since democracy at the time was limited to a few Greek city-states, I doubt if it would have been taken seriously as an alternative. You certainly couldn't operate an empire that way!

    But let's not overlook the fact that The 300 is the conflict between Sparta and the Persians, not Athens and Persia. Sparta was no democracy, nor did they value philosophy or private property.
    Democracy was only possible in relatively small political units where people knew one another face to face. It would have been impossible to run an empire on that basis.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2013
  20. smaneck

    smaneck Baha'i

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    But here is the problem. The Persians and the Greeks were not different races, they are both Indo-Europeans. Yet the Persians are depicted as black in the movie. How can that not be racist?

    In history no, if the movie yes. The Persians are depicted as dark-skinned. They weren't.
     
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