The ‘Born to Fail’ Era of Entertainment

The ‘Born to Fail’ Era of Entertainment
Royd Tolkien and guests arrive at the global premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power in London, Britain, on Aug. 30, 2022. (REUTERS/May James)
Alexandra Marshall

“Go Woke, Go Broke” is a Western phenomenon where companies dip their toe into activist waters only to find that fringe ideologies do not represent their customer base.

As a result, customers stop buying their products and the whole thing ends in awkward apologies and a shiny new marketing campaign. Think “men are bad, but please buy our Gillette razors ...”

Streaming services Amazon and Netflix have a similar problem. They were created to combat pirate downloading which was out-competing DVD sales and structured TV releases.

Studios thought they were being smart by delaying hotly anticipated shows only to find they had already been ripped and uploaded to the internet, creating an unofficial global release half an hour earlier while simultaneously making studios look petty.

For the on-demand digital age, streaming services should be a winner—so why are customers rage-quitting?

Amazon had already lost $3.8 billion in revenue in 2022 by April, and 1.2 million Netflix customers walked out at the start of the year. Even the pirate sites have lost their shine, with swashbuckling nerds no longer bothering.

It’s as if the content has lost its value.

Characters Now Lack Character

Creative executives in charge of expensive productions have begun a “born to fail” era of ideologically-based entertainment that wraps the bare minimum of character and story around whatever the preferred political hot topic is of the day—and audiences hate it.

The $53 billion Marvel brand laid itself down on the sacrificial temple of Woke a few years ago, replacing male heroes with a generation of “empowered” female leads that lacked a few essentials such as personality, story, and acting skills.

Film critics made sure to fawn all over these colourful but ultimately vacuous instalments, but box office profits halved.

Audiences wanted hunky men saving beautiful women, but what they got was “fat Thor,” “She-Hulk,” and the crowning of a new movement industry executives are calling “Woke-lash.”

Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, attends the world premiere of Marvel Studios' new series "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law" at El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., on Aug. 15, 2022. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, attends the world premiere of Marvel Studios' new series "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law" at El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., on Aug. 15, 2022. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

Netflix had its watershed moment last year when it aired French coming-of-age film “Cuties” featuring scantily clad young girls gyrating in front of the camera for extended periods of time giving off a distinct paedophilia vibe. The result, #CancelNetflix trended for months.

Amazon has always been the more pro-active of the two streaming services, keen to interact with their customers. This could be because they have taken on content with active fanbases (such as science fiction, comics, and fantasy).

Either way, Amazon would frequently joke with its “Grand Tour” (the new Top Gear) audience or use its social media accounts to talk directly to subscribers.

This works when everyone is excited about a new show. It’s far more dangerous as a marketing exercise when fans of much-loved source material are furious.

The BBC proved this when they replaced Doctor Who—a straight white male—with a queer-leaning female. They went into damage control with an “anyone who doesn’t like this is sexist!” campaign. But when showrunners went that extra step and completely re-wrote the lore regarding Timelords, social media fury turned to commercial devastation.

It didn’t matter how many interviews the stars and writers did about “diversity,” “inclusion,” and bringing Doctor Who into the modern era—the endless propaganda drove their viewers away. Not for a season—forever.

The BBC is a taxpayer-funded service. Destroying valuable intellectual property is a luxury they can afford.

Amazon is a commercial product, and the future of the streaming service is being called into question after it performed exactly the same kamikaze move—except with a more expensive sword.

Ticking the Diversity Box

It’s hard not to hear about Amazon’s $1 billion flagship show “Rings of Power,” based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings intellectual property.

This should be the biggest show in the world. There is a huge, adoring fanbase that wants nothing more than to throw their money at a network that takes them back to Middle-earth.

And then, Amazon started releasing promotional material.

It became immediately clear that Rings of Power had been created as a nostalgic shell to house the ideological desires of a painfully Woke and immature cast of writers and creatives. Actors were paraded out onto talk shows to ramble about how this was about “updating the content” by filling it with “representation” and diverse original characters.

Lord of the Rings and its associated materials are not random fiction but are specifically created as a Northern European fantasy work. Its characters represent the look and mythology of these ancient cultures.

Black-washing Lord of the Rings is no different, from an intellectual standpoint than white-washing African mythology.

This is why things like black dwarfs and elves caused a collective eye roll from fandom. Remember, if Marvel released a sequel with a white Black Panther, the Woke would be the first to scream—but desiring to keep characters true to Tolkien’s image is “racism.”

This is all happening in an environment where audiences see intellectual vandalism everywhere. Suddenly, English Queen Anne Boleyn is black. Joan of Arc is not a woman but a “they.” Stale, white, toxic male James Bond is facing replacement therapy.

Roman Catholic Saint, Joan of Arc ('The Maid of Orléans') entering Orléans, France, 1429. From an original engraving by W. Hulland after a painting by Henri Scheffer. (Kean Collection/Getty Images)
Roman Catholic Saint, Joan of Arc ('The Maid of Orléans') entering Orléans, France, 1429. From an original engraving by W. Hulland after a painting by Henri Scheffer. (Kean Collection/Getty Images)

Not Just a Racism Problem, but Mediocrity

Amazon knew that their “changes” in service of their personal politics would be unpopular. They spent months before the release talking about it, leading to headlines such as, “The Rings of Power Has People Of Colour, Get Over It” (The Gamer).

The most interesting comment perhaps comes from “Lord of the Rings: Debunking the Backlash against Non-White Actors in Amazon’s New Adaptation” (The Conversation).

“Why not stick to having actors of colour playing the characters who are dark-skinned in Tolkien’s texts? But that would perpetuate and reinforce the radicalised view of good and evil in Middle-earth. Despite Tolkien’s overall message of friendship and co-operation, and despite his raging against the Nazis, the face of evil in Middle-earth is invariably non-white/non-European.

“Tolkien’s portrayal of the Orcs and their men who ally themselves with Sauron uses many stereotypes associated with orientalism and the language of prejudice often found in literature from the era of British imperialism.”

In other words, how dare a European author create a fantasy world to transcribe the very real wars and threats that faced his civilisation.

Would the same stick be wielded against works of fantasy that act as an allegory for the colonisation of Africa where the “evil forces” were white? Would Amazon recast the aggressors as black to reflect the current ethnic makeup of the country? These are the questions that audiences are forced to ask in the face of overt industry racism against its customers.

The media storm has allowed Amazon to blame the commercial failure of Rings of Power on “racism.” It was a safety net for mediocrity, and they certainly needed it.

The show, which Amazon hailed as its last test of expensive original content, is tanking.

And it’s not because of racism. It’s not because of painful stars gushing about how “special” they are. It’s not even because Amazon attacked its audience.

Rings of Power is boring—which is the greatest sin of all.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Alexandra Marshall is the online editor for The Spectator Australia, contributor to various publications, political commentator on GB News and Sky News Australia. She is the Young Ambassador for Australians for Constitutional Monarchy and the English-Speaking Union, a political advisor, and a former AI database designer.
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