Movies offer theatergoers a reprieve from the real world and a glimpse into fantastical lands, the opportunity to escape the doldrums of life and enter the realm where anything is possible.
Black people love movies for this reason and, though they have great difficulty sitting through them and maintaining the required silence, depart from reality as easily as any other race.
In film, people can watch their heroes come to life in full grandeur and they can remove the worry, doubt and disappointment they feel with the triumphant achievements of the actors they view. Black people love film, although some films and directors they find less appealing than others.
One film(s) is firmly at the top of the list of movies that Black people do not like, and to ask any Black person of their least favorite film would invariably give you one answer: The Lord of the Rings and the the two sequels that followed.
J.R.R Tolkien’s masterpiece will never be replicated in its scope, beauty and majestic presentation – in either film or in its book form – and Black people perceived this when watching Peter Jackson’s epic 10+ hour films.
The tale of elves, dwarfs, hobbits and men pitted against the forces of evil in defense of Middle-Earth is the ultimate myth of European Man fighting for the only thing that matters on this planet: your own people. Black people understand the idea of universal solidarity almost better than any other race, and what their eyes saw in The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers and The Return of the King left them universally trembling.
You see, in the movies nary a Black face is to be seen, save for the potential metaphor of the Orcs and the armies of the evil Sauron as non-Europeans attempting to subjugate the combined white people of Middle-Earth.
Each movie stands alone as a glorification of whiteness, an idea that Black people see as but a social concept when used to define white people, but when the idea of racial brotherhood is ever discussed, it can only be synonymous with Black people.
In one of the more moving scenes in cinema history (see The Two Towers), the fortress of Helms Deep is about to be overrun by tens of thousands of Orcs, bent on the utter annihilation of the the Middle-Earth’s main defense, the Rohirrim:
“Despite Aragorn and Gimli’s best efforts, the Uruk-hai manage to penetrate the main door and soon the stronghold is overrun. In the midst of battle, Haldir is slain and the few remaining Elves fall back into the Keep. In the Hornburg, however, the Uruks have also scaled the walls, and have breached the gate, forcing the defenders to retreat into the Keep.”
Aragorn, the epyonmous King in The Return of the King, rallies those still alive to do what few men in history have ever dared; he tells the King of the Rohirrim to ride out and meet the enemy head on:
Theoden: So much death. What can men do against such reckless hate? Aragorn: Ride out with me. Ride out and meet them. Theoden: For death and glory. Aragorn: For Rohan. For your people. Theoden: The Horn of Helm Hammerhand will sound in the deep, one last time!
Black people weren’t buying into the elves, dwarfs and wizards routine, no. What they see is only white people depicted as good and the darkened faces of the Orcs as bad. And then they heard Sam, the loyal bestfriend of Frodo, the hobbit in charge of destroying the one ring, utter these words, in a moment of extreme despair:
Sam: It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it’s only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand, I know now folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.
Black people viewed this movie as the attempted re-birth of some long dead spirit that white people once had, and were shocked such a movie that glorifies whiteness could be made. Black people view the movie as racist.
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.”
Aragorn: Hold your ground, hold your ground. Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers. I see in your eyes the same fear t hat would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day. This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you *stand, Men of the West!*
Black people saw this scene in the theaters, they walked out in droves unconsciously. They had just seen a movie that depicted white people as the good guys – a major faux pas in Hollywood – whiteness as the supreme definition of beauty, and non-whites as the enemy.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy will never be replicated again. It is a movie without diversity, or at least to Black people, the wrong kind. And that is why Stuff Black People Don’t Like will include anything that comes from Tolkien’s pen, or Jackson’s video camera.