Connect with us

Tolkien ‘Bout Sex

Strong Opinions

Tolkien ‘Bout Sex

Illustration by Miranda Supelveda

“Hey, remember in ‘The Hobbit’ movies when they went way off canon and included stuff like a Romeo and Juliet style romance between Kili and Tauriel? Remember how everyone loved it? Okay, now going off that, let’s get a shot of two naked elves. Ya know– for the fans!” This must have been the thinking behind the decision to hire an intimacy coordinator and put out a casting call for background actors comfortable with nudity for the new Amazon Prime show coming set in Middle Earth. The Tolkien Estate ruled out anything involving The First Age (creation of the universe, Elder Days stuff) and The Third Age (“po-tay-toes” Peter Jackson-covered stuff). That leaves The Second Age. The rise of Sauron, the creation of the Rings of Power, the Last Alliance of Elves and Man. Pretty cool, huh? Lots of literally “epic” material, huh? Nudity and an intimacy coordinator … huh?

I am a Tolkien fan, but I will admit “The Silmarillioncan be a brutal read. It uses archaic language and has 50 Elvish names on each page. Now picture it with some topless ladies, perhaps even a tasteful shot of a man’s full frontal. Better, right? Wrong. Believe it or not, people actually don’t turn to Tolkien when they’re interested in how elvish babies are made. There are indeed websites for that kind of thing (I’ll spare you the hyperlinks.) It is the mythopoeia that draws us in, the characters that keep us there, the triumph, the tragedy. To put Arda on the screen requires the utmost ardor for the spirit of it all; this WWI veteran, pipe smoking, pub attending orthodox Catholic Oxford professor writing tales to simultaneously amuse, provide a backdrop for his invented languages and give England a national mythos. If this is all shrugged off for the dull exploitation of “Game of Thrones,” it will be just another battle lost, albeit a relatively minor one, in what Tolkien called “the long defeat” (history).

There’s nothing prudish in resisting prurience. If you’re being robbed and you hold on tight to this priceless necklace you’ve inherited, that’s not pearl clutching. People get this wrong all the time. It’s not that one objects to gratuitous sex on the screen, because it’s so shocking we just can’t handle it. No, it’s actually just painfully boring. Adding sex scenes to Middle Earth wouldn’t be so steamy as to fog our glasses but so banal as to lull us to sleep. Oh wow, more porn on TV. Thrilling. 

I could be charging at windmills here, but the evidence does seem to suggest the worst. It is a fact that there is an intimacy coordinator, Jennifer Ward-Lealand, who was hired for an Amazon project, UAP, in New Zealand. There is only one Amazon show in production in New Zealand, and UAP is known to be the working title of the show. However, she could have been hired for something as innocuous as a kissing scene. That casting call for “background actors comfortable with partial or full nudity” does not necessarily entail some Game of Thrones-esque brothel. Perhaps there’ll be some elves airily frolicking or lounging about, like the second edition Houghton Mifflin cover of “The Silmarillion,” but simply without any robes. It could all be very poetic and prelapsarian (despite occurring in the Second Age).  

As ever, I may be wrong. I’d be glad to be shown histrionic over something unconfirmed. That will mean the show will be spared. It wouldn’t be the worst thing if there are a few sex scenes after all. Ilúvatar knows I’ll find a way to carry on. Nor would I like to give the impression that the work of Tolkien is something sanitized, with lords and swords and ladies, maybe a couple bad guys who are soundly defeated in the end and everyone living happily ever after. On the contrary, Tolkien’s universe is often a nasty place to live. There’s murder, madness, torture and suicide, but there’s also friendship, courage, sacrifice and hope. Therefore, to think all that is not enough — that we need nudity to carry the team — is thoughtlessly materialist in every definition of the word, which is to say anti-Tolkien. I’m still very excited for the show. It has potential to be every bit as good as “The Lord of the Rings” film trilogy and even better. Famed scholar Tom Shippey was on board (although there were rumors he and the show parted ways) along with many knowledgeable people on the subject. The budget exceeds even Dr. Evil’s wildest dreams at one billion dollars. The material is all there. They don’t need sex to sell. If they think they do, they haven’t paid attention to the success of Peter Jackson’s trilogy at all. Money is, of course, the reason for the seemingly lascivious in film and television. Sex is rarely presented for its own sake but only insofar as it will hopefully make money. However, Arda is a foreign land; they do things differently there. The show could be excellent. It all depends on whether they serve Middle Earth or Mammon; the former will get you both, the latter likely neither.

SUPPORT STUDENT MEDIA

Hi, I’m Sara Crawford, a senior journalism student from Cleveland. I’m also the editor in chief of The Burr and the opinions editor for KentWired this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you interesting, humorous and hard-hitting stories that tap into current events, trends and the lives of those who have made a home in Kent, Ohio. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Strong Opinions

Facebook

Trending

Staff Playlists

Playlists

Playlist: On Our Radar

By February 13, 2021

Playlists

Playlist: The End Of An Era

By December 12, 2020

Playlists

Playlist: The End of The World

By December 5, 2020

Playlists

Playlist: Moments In Movies

By November 14, 2020

Playlists

Playlist: Absolute Chaos

By November 7, 2020

Recent Stories

The Art Outlet

The Art Of Self Care

By February 24, 2021

FEATURES

The Artists of Phil Spector

By February 22, 2021

GUEST BLOGGERS

My Journey With Mental Health

By February 22, 2021

FEATURES

Here’s To New Beginnings

By February 21, 2021

FEATURES

Romanticizing Serial Killers

By February 20, 2021

Talking With Taylor

Let’s Travel! (After Corona)

By February 19, 2021

Picture Books Aren't Just For Kids

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #1: The Secret of the Old Clock

By February 18, 2021

Real, Good, Human

Not Everyone Should Be A Leader

By February 17, 2021

A Step Forward

A Step Forward

By February 16, 2021

Playlists

Playlist: On Our Radar

By February 13, 2021

GUEST BLOGGERS

Division

By February 12, 2021

Entertainment Analysis

Entertainment Analysis: Bridgerton

By February 11, 2021

The Art Outlet

Seven Tips For Success In The Arts

By February 10, 2021

Celestial Conversations

Mercury Retrograde and New Moon in Aquarius

By February 8, 2021

Talking With Taylor

My Guide to Morning Classes

By February 5, 2021

Picture Books Aren't Just For Kids

Picture Books Aren’t Just For Kids

By February 4, 2021

Real, Good, Human

“Maybe I’m Not Tired”

By February 3, 2021

A Step Forward

A Step Forward

By February 2, 2021

Season of Justice

Season of Justice: Michelle Martinko

By February 1, 2021

Strong Opinions

On Santa Deniers: A Christmas Meditation

By December 17, 2020

FEATURES

The Plight Of Student Workers

By December 16, 2020

Speakeasy Sounds

Final Speakeasy Sounds

By December 15, 2020

A Stonewall State of Mind

Growing Up Gay #3: The Creative Way

By December 11, 2020

FEATURES

More Than Just A Pen And Paper

By December 9, 2020

In the Queue

In The Queue #5: Female Empowerment

By December 9, 2020

FEATURES

I Never Left The Stage

By December 7, 2020

Season of Justice

Season of Justice: Carla Walker

By December 7, 2020

Playlists

Playlist: The End of The World

By December 5, 2020

GUEST BLOGGERS

Ending Where I Began

By November 20, 2020

Strong Opinions

Strong Opinions: The Bar Scene in Kent

By November 19, 2020

The Art Outlet

A Day in the Life of a Musical Theatre Major

By November 18, 2020

Speakeasy Sounds

Speakeasy Sounds #12

By November 17, 2020

The Egg Burner

The Egg Burner: Layered Taco Dip

By November 16, 2020

In the Queue

In The Queue #4: Comedic Break

By November 11, 2020

FEATURES

On Video Games and Escapism

By November 10, 2020
To Top