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Old 3rd March 2017, 14:55   #65
War is in your blood.
Brom's Avatar
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Hvergelmer
Posts: 13,372
Originally Posted by Chardros View Post
Si, è fuori dal mondo. Di Tolkien.
Guarda, io a differenza tua non ho mai preteso di essere l'autorità di stocazzo per quanto riguarda Tolkien. Ho letto i libri del SDA, lo Hobbit, i figli di Hurin, il Silmarillion l'ho trovato troppo pesante, però fine, e di sicuro non penso di essere un esperto.

Quindi sai cosa faccio quando non penso di essere abbastanza ferrato in un argomento? Mi informo.

On a side note, the trailer had a black guy and someone in the Youtube comments was outraged. It's not absurd to assume that there would be a black guy in Gondor right? Especially if Gondor controlled Near Harad, that land south of Ithilien.
The answer is yes and no.
The reason this can't be answered with one word and left to sit in a way that makes sense is because a lot of secondary works of Tolkien have been reinterpreting his works with piss poor care for skin color since day one. I say skin color, not race, because they aren't the same thing, even if you don't want to accept that the latter is a social concept.
Tolkien talks about skin color and he talks about nationality or heritage. When he talks about darker skin color, he mostly talks about 'brown' or 'swarthy'. There's actually only one line about black skinned humans in LotR, at the Battle of Pelennor Fields.
Now, swarthy doesn't mean black. It comes from the Old English meaning 'black', but words don't always mean their literal parts (or whole), and the word means 'dark-skinned'. But remember that it's an English word, used by the English, and they've been known to apply it to Italians at the drop of a hat. But Tolkien uses it to describe both southern Gondorrians and Haradrim. Tell me the last time you saw art or a movie or a game that showed the men attacking Gondor as having the same shade of skin as its defenders. If you have, it's few and far between, and not from the most popular sources.
'Brown', on the other hand, is most frequently used by Tolkien to describe Sam. And despite people who claim that's because he's working class, he keeps using it for the whole journey, alongside Frodo's continual 'pale'. Sam packed rope, if I recall, but I don't think Frodo packed a parasol. The prologue also say that the Harfoots were 'browner of skin' than the other Hobbit branches.
But we generally don't see that in the derivative media, because whitewashing is a hell of a drug. And it can be the other way round, too. People often show the Woses as dark-skinned, which has always seemed a bit racist to me, because they're named after the Woses
, and making them darker of skin because they are primitive is, well, what it is. People don't do their due diligence, and suddenly all the good people are white and all the common bad people are shades of brown, and then because the Haradrim are a bit brown and are 'bad', the Dunlendings, who are from nowhere near the same place and more akin to the Breelanders than any other group are now 'dark' (what it currently says on Tolkien Gateway), even though nothing to that effect is ever said. The facts escape people who make a mix of dumb and biased assumptions, and then we get to the point where people rebel.
While it is good to rebel against the bad, it can also be bad. My prime example is how Jackson, after whitewashing the LotR films (if you shave the heads of the extras from Gondor and Rohan in the movies, you can't tell them apart), threw a more varied assortment of skin colors into Laketown, where logically it makes less sense for them to be than Gondor. When you do that, not only are you not being accurate, but you make it look like Tolkien was responsible for the initial problem, when it has more to do with you. That's a pretty shitty thing to do.
Part of this is that society is so overly concerned with race. Black, White, Asian, etc., are not old and stable concepts. Some of my ancestors belonged to a nationality that, while now considered firmly 'white', a couple hundred years ago most certainly did not get that distinction, and in fact were the subject of propaganda seeking to show they had 'negroid' features. 'Race' doesn't have a good track record of meaning anything real. If the whole of human civilization could get its collective head out of its collective ass, the idea of race would disappear overnight, it being a drastically simplified and muddled bastardization of multi-axial ethnographic blob that is the human race. But people do believe in it, and so it means something, if only that you have to pay homage to it when you talk with them.
Tolkien's error, if anything, is in not playing that game, of not calling his characters capital-w White, capital-b Black, capital-other-letters etc. Because people in general need that now. They demand identity politics from every angle.
See Letter 29: and should regret giving any colour to the notion that I subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine.
See Letter 81: At most, it would seem to imply that those who domineer over you should speak (natively) the same language – which in the last resort is all that the confused ideas of race or nation boil down to;
But the problem with going hands-off is people will tell you what you mean, and tell others the same thing, and the people who speak the loudest on those lines tend to be the people who are most concerned with race. They'll assume your stances are theirs if they like what you have and they'll assume your stances are their enemies if they don't, which is why Tolkien can explicitly badmouth Nazi race-doctrine and still be loved by White Supremacists.
Is there reason to believe that Gondor would have people who, if you shaved off all their hair, would still look different than the Rohirrim? Absolutely. But how different? They might just look more Italian than Scandinavian. That's not really what people are talking about here.
Gondor, in the stretches that weren't south of the mouth of the Anduin (which is what people think about when you say Gondor, despite their holdings extending more south at various times) would probably be most likely to have 'Black' people during the times when the way into Gondorian society from pretty far south was the easiest. That would probably be when Gondor controlled Umbar.
Now, Gondor lost Umbar for good a bit more than a thousand years before the date in the Third Age that this game is set. If that was the last time for any decent influx of people with that color of skin, anyone with that heritage is going to be much, much paler. A thousand years is a very long time, and a subpopulace that breeds wholly within its own stock for that long is not going to realistically be integrated well enough to be city guards, even in the unlikely event it can stick to itself that long. The two big ways to form bonds in a community are sharing food and fucking each other. You don't do those, you build walls, not patrol them. Half of that's a metaphor.
But this game goes a bit off with the timeline. Things that should have happened a thousand years before, like Sauron's forces moving back in to Mordor, are happening in the time of the game. People are pretty sure we see the fall of Minas Ithil in this trailer, again, a thousand years too late for how Tolkien writes it. Which means maybe, in this mess of a timeline, Umbar wasn't lost a thousand years ago. Maybe it was lost a hundred years ago, or two hundred. Who the hell knows?
But if that far southern port was a part of Gondor recent enough in however the game is reordering events, there could quite easily be some traffic from peoples even south of that up to the three big cities of the Southern Realm.
Would there likely have been someone as dark as skin as the guy who showed up for two non-contiguous seconds be in such a position in Gondor according to Tolkien's timeline? No. Can we rule it out in Shadow of Mordor's hijinks? No. Is this the first thing anyone who knows anything substantial about Tolkien's work would complain about upon seeing this trailer? Not unless you're really fucking racist. The less you know, the less racist you have to be in order to ensure this is your prime focus, because that was a Balrog erupting out of the ground. I saw that. Did you see that? Absolute rubbish.

Buona lettura.

(ma se vuoi un tl;dr: non sono i neri ad essere fuori dal mondo di Tolkien, casomai è Shadow of Mordor/War che ne è fuori, e per motivi ben più importanti di un tizio dalla pelle nera a Gondor)

Last edited by Brom; 3rd March 2017 at 14:57.
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