THE LORD OF THE RINGS and VEGGIE TALES Are Now Considered “Racist” by Some Bloggers
By Tess Farrand, Staff Writer and Ben Kayser, Managing Editor
If you’ve been reading some of the articles that have circulated the internet, you may have noticed that every positive movie, TV series or special you held dear to as a child is under attack. The CBS special RUDOLPH THE RED NOSE REINDEER was recently called problematic by the Huffington Post. Now J.R. R. Tolkein’s series THE LORD OF THE RINGS and the popular Christian animated cartoon VEGGIE TALES are being labeled as “racist”.
Andrew Duncan, a science fiction author, spoke on a podcast for “Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy” about his thoughts on the acclaimed Lord of The Rings series. Duncan specifically explained his stance that the Orc characters in Tolkien’s books, saying they promote sentiments of racism. “It’s hard to miss the repeated notion in Tolkien that some races are just worse than others, or that some peoples are just worse than others.” He continued, “And this seems to me — in the long term, if you embrace this too much — it has dire consequences for yourself and for society.”
With his faith at the heart of his work, it’s safe to say that Tolkien’s characters, namely the Orcs, are a means to refer back to the broken state of our world and our need for redemption. In fact, Tolkien was also a devout believer in Christ and a close friend to C.S. Lewis, who encouraged him to write the series in the first place. Michael Wood beautifully defends Tolkien in saying, “In his personal life, Tolkien was a noted anti-racist and vocal opponent of the Nazis, even going as far as rejecting notions of ‘Nordicism’, which was often read in the mythology of the Lord of The Rings.”
The idea that the Orc, a creature whose only purpose is hate, violence, and destruction, shouldn’t be generalized as evil in a fictional fantasy because that’s racist shows how sensitive many in our culture have become. Do demons themselves need to be represented positively? That may sound like a joke, but a lawsuit against the studio that made THE CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA form the Satanic Temple argued that the series used symbolic Satanist imagery and portrayed it in a negative evil light. Evil exists, and evil beings exist, and it’s perfectly acceptable and necessary to include this in stories. Without some sort of struggle against evil, readers and audiences are left bored to tears and cannot champion a resolution of the story.
In the coming years, Amazon plans to spend $1 billion to fashion a new LORD OF THE RINGS series.
For specific insight into Tolkien’s Lord of The Ring series, read Dr. Baehr’s book Frodo and Harry.
Though in a different genre, another series that many Christian families grew up on was VEGGIE TALES, but apparently, this too is racist. Cal State San Marcos held what they call a “Whiteness Forum: A Critical Look At Whiteness,” to discuss things like “white privilege,” racism, and subliminal messages. At the forum, students set up booths based on projects that corresponded to the forum’s theme. In one project, a female student investigated the Christian cartoon VEGGIE TALES.
The project stated, “when kids see the good white character triumph over the bad person of color character they are taught that white is right and minorities are the source of evil.” It went on to point out the different accents that the characters in the show have. The project stood firm in the belief that the heroic characters sound white and the villains have ethnic accents. What the project, of course, fails to point out is the actual themes that VEGGIE TALES teaches, like loving your neighbor, kindness, faith, and love.
This may be an unpopular opinion to some, but, there’s not evil intentions and bigotry behind every beloved story. Any piece of entertainment can be looked at with a microscope, and something can be misconstrued as offensive, while the larger picture of what’s being said is being ignored. While we need to by all means point out the bad that may be in the world, or even in the Christian church, there’s no need to fabricate bigotry that isn’t actually there.
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