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Black hobbits, female heroes and other races in Amazon’s new ‘Lord of the Rings’ series draw mixed reactions

Earlier in the week, British actor Lenny Henry revealed that he would be playing a “black hobbit” from an “indigenous” tribe called the Harfoots – a variety of hobbit described by Lord of the Rings (LOTR) author J.R.R. Tolkien as having darker skin.

Describing the series as a “prequel to the age” seen in the LOTR books and films, Henry told the BBC that the show was about the “early days of the Shire and of Tolkien’s environment”. In Tolkien’s fantasy world of Middle-Earth, the Shire is the green grassland home country of the hobbit people.

“So we’re an indigenous population of Harfoots. We’re hobbits, but we’re called Harfoots. And we’re multicultural. We’re a tribe. We’re not a race,” said Henry, who added that the Harfoots were made up of a number of different ethnicities.

“Did these idiots even read the books? Heck, watch the movies?” asked one person, while others drew unfavorable comparisons between the series and the Peter Jackson-directed LOTR trilogy by noting that “nothing will ever replace come close [to] the size and scope” of the early-2000s movies.

However, other users countered that the series was a “fantasy TV show” that was based on a “mythical storyline” – reasoning that it was “not out of place” to have “different races” in it. A number of people said the show creators had “modern audiences” and “contemporary values” in mind – with one person saying it “would be awkward” if a TV show made in 2021 featured an “all white” cast.

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