Hobbit casting agent embroiled in race row

It is with a dully thudding sense of ennui that Best For Film presents yet another bloody news story about the benighted production of The Hobbit – our twenty-fifth, we note, since the first of December last year. Given that filming hasn’t even begun yet, a one story per fortnight average is really rather silly. And just when you thought the on-again-off-again shoot couldn’t sink to any greater depths of farce, we’ve learned that a race row has sparked – over the casting of extras

An independent contractor handling extras casting for the film, due to be shot in 3D in the New Zealand locations used for the Lord of the Rings series, has been fired after stipulating in an advert that applicants for supporting roles as Hobbit extras should have “light skin tones”. He turned away a devoted LotR fan of Pakistani origin, and she kicked up something of a fuss. We feel your pain, tiny wannabe Hobbit lady – but we can also see things from the point of view of the casting agent.

Regardless of JRR Tolkein’s intentions, the entire Middle Earth saga seems spectacularly racist to a modern audience – and what’s more, the original films were more than happy to stick to the monochrome characterisation which Western audiences were presumed to have imagined. Even Sam Gamgee, who belongs to the Harfoot strain of Hobbits (specifically described as being “browner of skin” by Tolkein), has barely more than an honest burnished look from his hours of gardening – whereas, of course, the forces of Mordor are all either black, brown or grey. Or Oliphaunts. Demanding light skin may not be particularly PC, but we see little point in trying to shoehorn 21st century values into Middle Earth at this late stage in the game…

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