Saturday, May 14, 2022

Who are the 'Tolkien Influencers'?

So, I know what a Tolkien fan is. And I know what a Tolkien scholar is. Now I've been introduced to a new term: Tolkien Influencer. As in, someone who has an online Tolkien-themed site with a following. Between twenty-five and thirty of whom were flown to London (with a day-trip to Oxford) to watch a twenty-minute clip from the forthcoming Amazon Rings of Power series.

Only a few of them were named in the article I saw,* and I'd be interested to hear who the others were --in particular how many of them are people whose name I know.

Here's the list so far:

Corey Olsen, 'the Tolkien Professor', founder of Signum University

 Shaun Gunner, chair of The Tolkien Society

Justine (last name unknown), as representative from

Kaitlyn Facista, of 'Tea with Tolkien' (new to me)

I am bemused to learn that the main purpose of the event seems to have been to reassure the gathered Influencers that Amazon series' special effects will be Peter-Jackson worthy.  That wd never have occurred to me as a major concern. In fact I don't think it'd have made a top ten list, if had a top ten list. Which just goes to show I'm not the target audience. But I remain a curious bystander. And I'm glad these folks got to enjoy a visit to Oxford while they were in the neighborhood, more or less. 

--John R.

---current reading: SKIN & BONES by Thorne Smith (1933)

NEWS OF THE DAY: just finished up the last Tolkien-themed session at Kalamazoo for the year.



Carolyn Priest-Dorman said...

I was curious about this too, so I went digging. Here's a reddit post) with a lot of names and links to the social media postings they made about the experience.

Wayne and Christina said...

Hi, John,

You can find a list of "influencer" attendees, with links to online comments, on the Tolkien Collector's Guide site, here:


Paul W said...

I wish I had your level of calm about all of this. I find this turns me off the project even more, and everything about it frustrates me. I particularly hate that those unhappy with the looks of the show so far are being lumped in the with the racists. I don't care if elves or dwavres are being played by people of color, I think that's fine. I do care that they seem to be butchering the chronology and present us with "Galadriel, Warrior Princess." :(
But the racist critics will dominate the discourse. :(

John D. Rateliff said...

Thanks for the link, Carolyn.


John D. Rateliff said...

Thanks, Wayne.
Hi to Christina.


John D. Rateliff said...

Dear Paul.

Well, I deplore the attacks you mention but I think they're endemic to the medium (online discussions). Unfortunately.

If I'm calm it's largely due to a feeling of detachment. I hope this series is good and does well, but whether it does or doesn't won't be changed by any effort of mine or lack thereof. So I'm going to keep my head down and get on with my work.

As for 'butchering the chronology', I think of it as giving JRRT the Shakespeare treatment; the playwright was apt to compress time in his history plays. Galadriel as a warrior has some basis from JRRT's late writings that presented her as something of a virago.* My fear isn't that she shd have those elements in her backstory as what kind of use they'd make of this. Having a good/workable idea isn't the same thing as pulling off that idea.

We'll see.

--John R.

*have to say that I enjoy viragos, whether Hervor or Britomart or Eowyn.

Paul W said...

I have no problem with powerful female warriors - an Elven Eowyn or a Numenorean Eowyn would be excellent. But Galadriel represents a different sort of power, I always thought her connection to Melian (and thus Luthien) was important to her character.

I just see little chance that this will respect and grow the legendarium. But then, I older I get the more I dislike all that PJ did to LOTR. :(

Tim Bolton (Ranatuor) said...

John, in terms of the people that have been lumped as "influencers", only a few are what I would call "professional" influencers - ie try to make a career from being paid to sway people's opinion. These people often demand gifts and other things to post ratings on the internet.

The rest of the people, some you may know, are a good mix of scholars and people heavily involved in the wider Tolkien community - the chair of the Tolkien Society, people who run podcast discussions on Tolkien (some to massive audiences) etc.

A lot of these people know each other - met at Tolkien Society events, we all chat via social media and other methods. This is the active and creative Tolkien community. I don't see influencers as a big part of that community - we are all fans and these are all highly intelligent people who don't need assistance over how they feel about something. I see influencers work well with people who don't bother to educate themselves about something, which is crazy in a world where we have access to the internet.

Of course this was a savy marketing ploy by Amazon but I think it was also a great reach out to the wider Tolkien community in a hopeful attempt to garner interest in what is coming. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.