The billionaire criticized the Rings of Power series for its weak male characters and tokenism.
Tesla tycoon Elon Musk slammed Amazon Prime Video’s hotly-anticipated new ‘Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power’ series in a cluster of tweets on Monday, suggesting the series’ original author J.R.R. Tolkien was “turning in his grave.”
Almost every male character so far is a coward, a jerk or both. Only Galadriel is brave, smart and nice.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 5, 2022
The SpaceX CEO explained that “almost every male character so far is a coward, a jerk or both,” with only Galadriel – a female warrior elf – managing to be “brave, smart, and nice.” The series, the first two episodes of which premiered on Thursday, is the most expensive TV show ever made, costing $715 million for the first season alone – seven times as much as one season of HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’.
Musk was far from the only Tolkien fan to find Rings of Power, set thousands of years before the events of the better-known ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ books, to be a disappointment. Audience ratings on review site Rotten Tomatoes averaged just 36%, even as critics rated the series an impressive 84% and a record number tuned in to watch the premiere.
The billionaire took issue with some pro-Amazon critics’ efforts to defend the show by writing off the negative responses as mere “social media vitriol” coming from “miserable little trolls” who hated the idea that “people of color [could] exist in Middle Earth” and filled their “review bombing” with harassment of nonwhite actors and other site users, rather than substantial criticisms.
“Those who claim any criticism of Rings of Power means you’re racist are outing themselves as closet racists,” Musk tweeted. While he didn’t elaborate on his feelings about the diversity of the cast, many of the negative reviews left that topic out entirely, instead pointing to a “boring story” that was “poorly written,” especially with regard to the dialogue. While viewers generally agreed the production was visually stunning, detractors found the writing “baffling” and “robotic,” with one user describing it as “like they had asked an AI to write it.”
“The soul is just not there,” another viewer agreed. Amazon has reportedly tightened the review guidelines on its platform in response to the barrage of negative feedback, at least temporarily barring all reviews of the series, and its film database subsidiary IMDB deleted several negative critiques due to alleged “review-bombing.”