A fantasy writer asserts that author J.R.R. Tolkien embedded themes of racism in his eternal classics The Lord of the Ring and The Hobbit by depicting orcs and similar creatures as races of evil, inferior brutes.
Author Andy Duncan offered this opinion during an interview on the Wired Magazine podcast ‘Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy.’
“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,” Duncan said. “And this seems to me, in the long term — if you embrace this too much, it has dire consequences for yourself and for society.”
“A lot of these creatures that were raised out of the earth had not a great deal of choice in the matter of what to do,” he added. “I have this very complicated sense of the politics of all that.”
Duncan seemed to draw oblique correlations between the plight of Tolkien’s grotesque villains and the on-going migrant crisis, specifically the situation unfolding at the southern border of the United States.
“It is easier to demonize one’s opponents than to try to understand them and to understand the complex forces that are leading to, for example, refugees trying to cross one’s southern border legally or illegally,” Duncan said. “It’s easier to just build walls and demonize them as ‘scum.'”
Duncan also discussed his previously-written story “Senator Bilbo,” a satire piece he says is set in a version of Tolkien’s painstakingly-crafted fictional worlds of Middle-earth and the Shire, and inspired by Theodore G. Bilbo, a former senator and member of the Ku Klux Klan — and a Democrat.
“‘Senator Bilbo’ is this parody in which you have this racist demagogue stomping around the world of the halflings, in a sort of desperate holding pattern to keep at bay all the change that is coming about as a result of what seems to have been the War of the Ring,” Duncan said, equating themes of the story with the Donald Trump presidency.
“In many ways President Trump is unique, but in many ways we have seen his like before,” Duncan said. “We have seen the forces that he has tapped into on the ascendancy before.”
When religious and political books are not counted, The Lord of the Rings is the second-highest selling book of all time (150 million copies), and The Hobbit is fifth (100 million copies), according to Ranker.com.
Dan Lyman: Follow @CitizenAnalyst