More Crap Journalism


In the Guardian today, author Namina Forna wrote about discovering fantasy through The Lord of the Rings and subsequently how disappointed and cut-off she felt on watching the film Trilogy and discovering that it featured no black or African characters. Maybe it’s just the fact that this is appearing in the Guardian, who have to find some means of denigrating any work of creativity that doesn’t conform to Twenty-First Century identity politics and sectionalism, but the piece comes over to me as critical of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien for failing to be more multi-cultural. I don’t think that’s meant to be Forna’s angle but under a sub-heading of ‘As a Black Lord of the Rings fan, I felt left out of fantasy worlds. So I created my own’ the slant is plain to see.

My first response was, what do you expect? This is a book written between 1936 and 1951 by a middle-aged Midlands white male who was a Professor of Ancient Languages at Oxford University and whose lifelong creative impulse stemmed from wishing to give Britain the kind of myth-cycle enjoyed by the Norse and the Greek. Is that a multi-cultural theme. It’s rather me, as a white European male, feeling excluded from the Afro-centric myths of Sierra Leone that she’s used to underpin her own fantasy fiction.

I wish her luck with her work. The thing about fantasy nurtured by myth is that it plays upon people’s unconscious attachment to those myth, upon the sense of resonance with things buried deep in our sub-consciousnesses. I would not expect Forna’s myths to necessarily resonate with me as I haveno cultural connection to the mythology of Sierra Leone or any other part of Africa. That she found resonance in Lord of the Rings probably indicates a broader mind than mine (I hope it doesn’t indicate that ashe may have been subjected, in the worse sense of the word, to European Cultural Colonial dominion).

But the Guardian‘s seeming incapbility to distinguish between then and now pisses me off more and more each week.

15 thoughts on “More Crap Journalism

    1. All ways round, from all I heard. I don’t believe Tolkien was ever consciously racist – he was certainly no anti-semite as his Letters demonstrate. It’s the way the paper cast it that I objected to.

      1. My favorite moment was when, I believe, in 1938 when a German publishing company demanded to know if he was a Jew or not before publishing The Hobbit. His response was excellent!

        And I very much agree with you that it seems like Tolkien’s intentions were to create a new type of mythology for the UK. Pretty much worked too–his wonderful books will stand the test of time and influence fantasy authors for generations to come.

  1. Yes, that was exactly what I was referring to.

    As for the English Mythology, that was a genuine desire on his part. Indeed, the first version of the Silmarrillion mythos, as essayed in The Book of Lost Tales (books 1 & 2 of the History of Middle Earth sequence), were the purest form of that intent. Christopher Tolkien confesses to not knowing why his father abandoned that cycle when he did but my theory is that, having concieved this myth-cycle to portray his Elves as the forerunners of the British, he then couldn’t bear to write of the defeats and declines that merged their history into that of mortal Britons

    1. Didn’t the Romans invade Britain before the Anglo-Saxons did?

      Interesting. I also read that Finnish was a major inspiration for the Elvish language (take that, modern fantasy writers–make up entire languages for your fictional species or no deal).

    1. Yes, I was reading that myself this morning. I mean, I loved Shrek, the whole family did, and we enjoyed the sequel too, though I’ve never seen 3 or 4. And 4s are really barrel-scraping time. It’s only the fact that I haven’t seen the film again in the best part of a decade kept me from kicking off. But if you wait patiently enough, someone in the Guardian will produce an up-themselves-until-it-comes-out-of-their-nose piece shitting on everything under the sun with the certainty that comes from knowing that they and only they are right. It has to be seriously egregious for me to bother now. I mean, I’ve even let Stuart Heritage talk some real shite without demanding the top of his head be shaved off with a rusty hacksaw…

      1. My comment was intended in jest, of course. My thoughts were the same as yours–loved the first one, liked the second one, other two not interested.

        There are serious, real-world issues that you can find utterly butchered by scrawling through the dumpster fire that is a mainstream newspaper op-ed page located in the Anglosphere.

  2. True enough. A long time ago, and for many years, the Grauny was a serious, intelligent, thoughtful paper. For the last decade I’ve only really been getting it for the sports and the puzzles, though to be fair I also worhship at Martin Rowson’s editorial cartoons and the satirical columns by Marina Hyde and John Crace. If you don’t read them, you should.

    1. Yep. I don’t think the whole mainstream press is rotten of course. I just think there are some very valid criticisms to be made of certain outlets.

      NYT crosswords are always worth doing.

      1. Ah. You’re more skeptical than I am!

        I have friends in continental Europe who are far more satisfied with their news outlets. So it really is just ours.

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