As a new teaser was released for the new Amazon Prime Video series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power during the Super Bowl on Sunday, thousands of comments poured in on YouTube, every one the same quote from author JRR Tolkien: "Evil is not able to create anything new, it can only distort and destroy what has been invented or made by the forces of good.”
It was a form of "comment bombing", similar to "review bombing" — where people come together to post criticism a product or film, for example, to affect its rating on an aggregator or ranking site — but with less purpose.
The Urban Dictionary describes it as so: "Whenever someone comments something stupid on your potentially fantastic Facebook status, which prevents it from getting any likes whatsoever."
But in this case, it's a form of protest against the new series.
See scenes from The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power here:
Why? Tolkien's Middle-earth is set to be revived in what is considered to be the most expensive TV show ever made (Vanity Fair magazine recently reported five seasons will allegedly cost the studio well more than $1 billion), but not everyone is happy about it.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which debuts on September 2, takes place thousands of years before the events of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings films, but there has been backlash from Tolkien fans who might consider themselves "traditionalists", but most would refer to as "online trolls". This is over the cast's diversity (as opposed to a lack thereof), as far more people of colour star.
Detractors have also been critical of the use of CGI in the trailer on Reddit forum r/LOTR, where a policy of no posts about race has had to be implemented on the subreddit after being flooded with debates on "woke" casting.
The series, filmed in New Zealand and the UK, is not based on a Tolkien novel, but inspired by the backstory in the appendices to the trilogy. It brings to the screen, for the first time, the "heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth's history", according to Amazon Studios.
The studio promises it will "take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness".
The universe spans the Misty Mountains, elf capital Lindon and the island kingdom of Numenor, and the characters are both new and familiar. This includes an elf called Arondir, played by Ismael Cruz Cordova, the first person of colour to play a Tolkien elf onscreen, plus a dwarven princess named Disa, a role taken on by Sophia Nomvete, who will be the franchise's first female dwarf and first black woman to play a dwarf in The Lord of the Rings.
For anyone but the online trolls, this would be a move to celebrate.
“It felt only natural to us that an adaptation of [author JRR] Tolkien’s work would reflect what the world actually looks like,” executive producer Lindsey Weber told Vanity Fair, which recently published several new photos from the series. “Tolkien is for everyone. His stories are about his fictional races doing their best work when they leave the isolation of their own cultures and come together."