The first two episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Ring of Power have finally dropped last week and people have very strong opinions about the epic new series. One particular criticism about the Amazon Prime show is how it depicts Harfoots, a breed of Hobbit who appear to have multiple ethnicities. Now The Sandman creator Neil Gaiman is stepping up and slapping back at racist comments about the characters based on J.R.R. Tolkien's books.
Neil Gaiman was recently included in a Twitter thread discussing how Harfoots, who were never implied to be Black, are being portrayed by Black actors. The American Gods author then pointed out that Tolkien described the breed as being "browner of skin."
"Tolkien described the Harfoots as 'browner of skin' than the other hobbits. So I think anyone grumbling is either racist or hasn't read their Tolkien. Your mileage may vary," Gaiman wrote.
However, another Twitter user responded that "browner of skin means tanned white similar to people who work in the sun as they are in a temperate environment like England," before suggesting that Gaiman was lying. The writer quickly retweeted the response with some further explanation.
"Tolkien didn't say 'The Harfoots spent longer in the sun than any of the other hobbits and were a lot more tanned.' He said they were 'browner of skin,'" Gaiman wrote.
The Harfoots in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power are played by several actors of different races. All of the Harfoots are shown with darker skin compared to Elves and Dwarves. In this case, their appearance adheres to Tolkien's description of being "browner of skin" compared to the Stoors and Hallofides, the other breeds of Hobbit.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power dropped its first two episodes on Thursday, September 1, 2022. The next episode will premiere on Amazon on Friday, September 9, 2022.