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‘Tolkien is turning in his grave’: Elon Musk stokes Bezos rivalry by bashing Amazon’s beta males in ‘Rings of Power’

September 6, 2022, 3:57 PM UTC
Elon Musk
CEO Elon Musk may be the progressive visionary behind Tesla and SpaceX, but he lashed out at Amazon Studios’ male portrayals in its new fantasy series “Rings of Power.”
Michael Gonzalez—Getty Images

Elon Musk added himself to the chorus of critics hating on Amazon Studios’ lavish new action series, The Rings of Power, loosely based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

It cost a reported $1 billion to bring the author’s fantasy realm to life, which has now has become a lightning rod for controversy in an ongoing culture war. Viewers on the left and right of the political spectrum are clashing over whether Jeff Bezos’s $1.3 trillion corporate behemoth cynically gender-swapped and race-swapped Tolkien’s characters to make it more commercially accessible to modern audiences.

In a post to Twitter, the Tesla CEO burnished his recent credentials as a growing voice on the political right by taking sides with the critics who take issue with the depiction of beloved characters like Galadriel, portrayed as more of a sword-wielding Valkyrie than the wise forest queen from Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning cinematic trilogy.

“Almost every male character so far is a coward, a jerk or both,” he posted to Twitter. “Tolkien is turning in his grave.”

Amazon aired the first two episodes of Rings of Power on Friday, which centered on Galadriel, commander of the Northern Armies, bent on exacting vengeance for the death of her brother centuries earlier. By comparison, fellow elf Elrond prefers his life of quiet counsel to King Gil-galad, who attempts to send Galadriel away to avoid any military skirmish with Sauron’s scattered forces.

The debate over Amazon’s Rings of Power began in earnest after showrunners and studio executives argued in Vanity Fair they needed to take liberties when adapting Tolkien characters such as Galadriel and Elrond, since his Middle-earth was badly in need of an update to reflect today’s more modern societies.

Musk’s war on ‘woke’

Musk’s criticism of the series’ depiction of beta male characters is the latest step in the billionaire’s personal political journey following his surprise $44 billion bid for Twitter in April, meant to restore conservative voices to the platform.

The Tesla CEO has since openly switched his allegiance to the Republicans, blasted identity politics repeatedly, and attempted to create awareness of what he believes is a crisis for humanity—too few women giving birth.

His recent views are that much more unusual given his fascination with all things modern, all the way up to developing artificially intelligent humanoid robots for menial labor, an endeavor that almost certainly would have offended a deeply religious Roman Catholic like Tolkien.

Musk’s motivation cannot be reduced to trashing an Amazon series simply because it was produced by Jeff Bezos, with whom he maintains a long-running feud. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO had foreshadowed his views earlier in the year, after blaming Netflix’s subscriber loss on “woke” politics that made its programming “unwatchable.” 

Netflix has had its own fan backlash after independent filmmaker and perennial Comic-Con guest Kevin Smith adapted a new He-Man series that saw the titular animated character killed off in the first episode with female lead Teela anchoring the story line.

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