Yep. And also, no one is saying that “He lived in a different time so you CAN’T criticise his work.” Like, I’ve literally seen ZERO Tolkien fans who claim that. I think Tolkien-haters fail to realise that the people who criticise Tolkien the most are Tolkien’s fans.
Just yesterday, Ceren and I were talking about how it would have been amazing if Tolkien added more interracial* couples and had made them more acceptable by their respective socities as opposed to viewing them as “rarities” or “oddities.” And then it expanded to “It would have been awesome if the Kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor kept the inheritance laws of Numenor,” and “There REALLY should have been more people of colour in his books.” Like, us Tolkien fans break those books down and comment on/criticise every little thing about them. What the fuck do others think we do, just read them and clap?
Our explanation of “Tolkien lived in a very different time than us,” is not an EXCUSE for his writings. It’s an EXPLANATION. The general tone of Tolkien fandom is just as you said, “He lived in a different time but yeah, by today’s standards, his books were pretty problematic.” If a POC/non-Christian/woman/LGBT*QA comes up and says “Yes I understand that, but I still didn’t like it because the misrepresentation and/or the lack of representation of people like me bothered me,” ** their concerns will be viewed as valid and no one is going to say “NO YOU CAN’T BE OFFENDED AT THAT BECAUSE TOLKIEN LIVED A MILLION YEARS AGO SO FUCK YOU!!1!” And if someone did, I’m confident that Tolkien fans would be to first to let that person know they’re a dick.
I hate it when people go “If you like Tolkien’s books despite ALL THE PROOF I’VE SHOWN ABOUT HOW PROBLEMATIC HIS WRITING IS, you’re a shitty person!!!1!” I have actually seen a blogger who claimed “Every white person who worships Tolkien is a piece of shit.” Umm… no? No, we are not. By this “logic,” you could say the same thing about almost all the fandoms. (Like, say, if you like ASOIAF series you condone rape? It’s a very recurring theme ASOIAF and it’s even regarded as normal during war-times -it’s a pretty shitty world that GRRM created- but how does liking GRRM’s books make you a potential rapist? How does liking Tolkien makes its fans racist? Are those people (who claim such things) even hearing themselves?)
There’s a major difference between coming up with excuses for something’s problematic aspects AND acknowledging them but still liking it anyway. I’m always up for debates, but I have zero patience for people who try to make others feel ashamed for the stuff they like.
* When I mean racial I mean elves, dwarves etc… not different races of humans as we understand in our society.
** I’m paraphrasing 10followedfelagund’s meta right now. Seriously, go read it if you haven’t yet.