I wrote a little bit about this last night on my Tumblr, but I decided to write more about it here because it’s something I think about a lot.
I can’t really describe exactly how I felt when I saw POC, specifically Asians, in Lake-town for the first time. While I did feel many positive emotions, I quickly felt a little disappointed because none of them had lines. Well, none of them had their own individual lines. They were pretty much background characters and I would have LOVED to hear them speak. But let me talk about the positive emotions I experienced.
I was not prepared to see this much diversity in DOS, which is kind of sad when you think about it. I was caught off guard but it made me smile because WOW someone who looks like me actually lives in Middle-earth. It made me think, “I could live in Middle-earth!” But to be clear, I’m not saying that if there weren’t Asians in the film I wouldn’t constantly imagine what my life would be like in the Shire because if you know me you know how much I would want to be a hobbit. It’s so important to properly represent as many people as possible in film. There’s absolutely no denying that POC representation is no where near as big as White representation, it’s something that is slowly improving. Did I mention slowly? And if a subject was initially from a POC story, perspective, legend etc., the film world has a habit of casting a White person instead. It’s happened way too many times lately.
Seeing Asians on screen in a world I love so much was so incredibly meaningful to me. And in BOTFA, there were a few seconds where an Asian woman had a close up AND I FELT SO HAPPY. There’s different types of people in Lake-town so where the hell are they in the other parts of Middle-earth? Aren’t hobbits described as having light to brown skin? Where are the brown hobbits? *cough* Sam *cough* At least in LOTRO there’s options to make your characters have different skin colors.
You can give me long essays on which countries and populations influenced certain locations in Middle-earth, but you know what? There should have been MANY more types of people in both the LOTR and Hobbit trilogies in my opinion. It’s a weird subject because Eru knows I love both casts but if there’ll ever be remakes, I would want a very different approach at casting. I want people of different ethnicities to be involved, I want to see different skin tones, I want to see different facial structures, I want diversity and representation. The world Tolkien created is adored all around the world, all types of people share the same love you feel. Because Middle-earth has become so global, the Hobbit trilogy should have taken advantage of that and cast more people who are not White. To see these films where you aren’t able to find anyone who looks anything like you is disappointing.
I’ve seen fanart from people who draw Middle-earth characters as POC, and last year was the start of the Middle-earth POC challange and I can’t wait for this year’s! Like it says in this post from AskMiddlearth: “the power is in your hands now.”
Representation is so important.