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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is a fantasy television series set in the world of Middle-Earth and based on stories by J. R. R. Tolkien. The series, which takes place thousands of years before the events of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings books and films, premiered on Amazon Prime in September of 2022.
On November 13th, 2017, Amazon acquired the global television rights for The Lord of the Rings for a sum close to $250 million. The casting for the series took place around the world in 2019 and 2020, with the filming for the first season of the series starting in New Zealand in February 2020 but was put on hold between mid-March and May 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On January 19th, 2022, the title announcement teaser premiered (shown below, left). On February 13th, 2022, the first trailer for the series premiered during Super Bowl LVI (shown below, right). The upload of the trailer by Prime Video gained over 9.6 million views and 69,000 likes on the first day.
According to official information, production of season one of the show cost $452 million, with the combined cost of the planned five seasons projected to exceed $1 billion.
The first two episodes of the series, titled "Shadow of the Past" and "Adrift," premiered on September 2nd, 2022.
The series opened to largely negative reviews by critics. Entertainment Weekly gave it a particularly scathing review, writing, "this series is a special catastrophe of ruined potential, sacrificing a glorious universe's limitless possibilities at the altar of tried-and-true blockbuster desperation."
On the premiere day, the series had a 71 average critics rating on Metarcitic based on 37 reviews and a 2.1 average audience rating based on over 360 reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the series had an 83 percent critics rating and a 37 percent audience score.
Diversity Debate / Beardless Dwarves / Short-haired Elves Controversy
Following the announcement of the premiere, cast of the series and the "first look" photos in early February 2022, a viral debate began with some online groups and fans stating that the elves and dwarves in Tolkien's universe should not be diverse, particularly the elves who are described as fair-skinned in the book The Silmarillion. The official posts on Twitter, YouTube and other platforms received replies in which users argued against the introduction of non-white actors for characters playing elves and dwarves, including memes (notable example shown below, left). The comments, in turn, sparked discussions on Twitter and Reddit, with users commenting on the issue in large numbers (example posts shown below).
Another prevalent issue raised in early February 2022 following the first look and teaser trailer was the inclusion of beardless female dwarves and short-haired elves, both of which go against Tolkien's descriptions and lore. For example, Twitter user Quasar_Bryan replied in a thread to Variety's first look tweet commenting on the female dwarf princess Disa lacking a beard, receiving 85 likes in five days. On February 14th, Twitter user coopercooperco tweeted about the ongoing drama surrounding the debate on LotR subreddits, noting the dwarves without beards and elves with short hair as two major contentions, receiving over 2,250 likes and 50 retweets in 24 hours. Many memes were also made on the various controversies, such as Redditor Beginning_Ad8227 who posted a bearded female dwarf Drakeposting meme on February 10th, receiving over 4,100 upvotes in five days (shown below).
YouTube Comment Spam
Following the release of the teaser trailer on February 13th, 2022, users on YouTube spammed paraphrased Tolkien's quote "Evil cannot create anything new, they can only corrupt and ruin what good forces have invented or made" in the comments on YouTube in various languages, including Polish, Russian and German (shown below). The top comment with the quote in English has since been removed.
Entertainment Weekly Shoot
Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Entertainment Weekly Shoot refers to a promotional montage of actors in Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power filmed for entertainment news publication Entertainment Weekly. The montage, showing each actor looking at the camera before fading away over a black background, was incorrectly labeled the show's introductory sequence by a Twitter user, leading some to mistakenly gawk at its poor quality. The montage also inspired parodies and jokes on social media.
— Litten Propoganda/Parody 4, 2 (@LittGanda4Paro2) September 1, 2022
The One Star Review
On September 2nd, an unknown Prime Video user managed to give a one-star rating to the series despite Amazon installing a several-day waiting period for reviews. On that day, Redditor not_my_real_slash_u posted a screenshot of the review to the /r/lotrmemes subreddit, where it gained over 5,800 upvotes in twelve hours (shown below).
The review received viral spread online as it was reposted and inspired discussions on Reddit and Twitter.
Lawd Dem Rings
Lawd Dem Rangs refers to a series of memes mocking cast diversity in the 2022 Amazon television series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, in which, unlike the 2001 adaptation, multiple characters are portrayed by BIPOC actors. Inspired by a We Wuz Kings meme circulated after the announcement of the series in 2017, the meme surged in popularity on 4chan's /tv/ board near the time of the series premiere in 2022 with posts about a Black dwarfess character changing a gospel about "dem rangz."
 Entertainment Weekly – The Lord of the Rings The Rings of Power review Amazon's prequel is kind of a catastrophe
 Metacritic – The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Season 1