Okay it’s been a whole day and I’m still angry about that hobbit casting thing, so let’s lay down some Tolkien canon here.
Fact 1: Per Tolkien, there were originally three races of hobbit. The Stoors were a small group, they were broad and stocky, they grew facial hair, they liked rivers, and their skin color is not specified, so Tolkien probably meant them to be white (but there’s no reason they have to be, since again, not specified). The Fallohides were a tiny group, they were thin, pale and tall, they were bold and good with languages, and they like trees. The Harfoots were the distinct majority, they lived in holes, they had hairy feet, and they were brown. Tolkien is super clear on this. He explicitly calls out Harfoots as having browner skin than other hobbits when describing the races and he uses phrases like “nut-brown skin” and “long brown fingers” when describing specific hobbits to back it up.
Fact 2: Britain planted its ravenous imperial flag firmly in the soil of India three centuries before Tolkien wrote The Hobbit. He knew what a brown person looked like. He would know he was not evoking a slightly darker shade of Caucasian when he said a person had brown skin.
Fact 3: Bilbo, Frodo, and all of their friends are aristocracy. Sam is the only hobbit we ever meet who is an actual laborer. In Tolkien’s time, laborers worked in the sun and middle class and aristocracy stayed inside where there was something resembling temperature control. Apart from Sam and Aragorn, no one in the Fellowship (or Company) ever voluntarily got a sunburn. If Tolkien talks about brown skin he’s talking about brown skin, not a farmer’s tan.
Where does this leave us?
Well, Tolkien says that after colonizing the Shire, the three hobbit races mingled more closely and became one. This leaves us with two options.
Option A: He’s talking about that thing that sci-fi writers sometimes do where “everyone is mixed race.” So all three races would have smeared together into a single uniform color. What color? Mostly Harfoot, aka brown. The “strong strain of Fallohide” in the Tookish and Brandybuck lines means maybe they’re white-passing, but in this scenario all hobbits are brown.
Option B: He’s talking about a more melting-pot scenario where visual racial distinctions still exist but everyone lives side-by-side in a fairly uniform culure. The Tooks/Brandybucks having a “strong strain of Fallohide” means that they are themselves remaining strains of Fallohide, and are straight-up white. Merry, half Took and half Brandybuck, is thus white (possibly part Stoor, given Brandybuck comfort with water); Pippin, half Took and half Banks, is either white or biracial. The Baggins family, sensible owners of the oldest and most venerable hobbit-hole anyone knows of, are blatantly Harfoot, making Bilbo and Frodo (half Took and half Brandybuck respectively) also biracial. Fallohides being exclusively adventurous high-class types, and the Gamgees being staid low-class homebodies with a distrust of moving water, Sam is obviously Harfoot and thus completely brown. (Smeagol, a Stoor, is probably white, but as discussed above, doesn’t have to be.) In this scenario, a minimum of three of five heroic hobbits are various shades of brown, four out of five of them could be, and most background hobbits are brown.
In conclusion, if you think all hobbits are white, you are canonically wrong. If you geek out over Aragorn wearing the Ring of Barahir, rage about Faramir trying to take the Ring, and do not even notice, much less complain, that Sam, Bilbo and Frodo are being erroneously portrayed by white guys, you need to reexamine the focus of your nerdery.
Why be sad about Bilbo and Thorin maybe not meeting in the afterlife when you could believe this perfectly feasible headcanon instead!
So–in canon–Yavanna was all worried about the dwarves (who btw were created by her husband, Aule/Mahal) destroying all the green of the earth which was the thing she had dominion over, yeah? So as a bit of insurance, Enu created for her the Ents.
Well I think that she would be equally as worried about the dwarves rebuilding the earth after Dagor Darorath (‘war of all wars’, basically the Ragnarok of Tolkien’s world) so she asks a favor of Eru. She asks for someone to regrow the earth, to make sure that the dwarves do not forget it in their spark of industry. Eru agrees but tells her he wishes her to grow them from the Houses of Men so they may be in tune with the Music of Ainur and not outside of it as the dwarves are.
So from the three Father’s of Men, Yavanna takes a lock of hair and buries it deep under the earth in her pastures where she knows her little ones will come to rest after their mortal lives have ended and they await the end of days.
And she cares for them tenderly and worries over them when she finds they are rather tiny things. Once Eru has come and gifted them life and spirit as only he can do, she unearths their feet from the soil and finds they’ve grown large like roots with little tufts of hair likely left over from the locks she planted. She teaches her children to care for the earth they came from, to love it as they love themselves.
They’re a gentle folk, as she had hoped, satisfied with simplicity and food (of which they require more than any creature she has ever seen) and good, tilled earth. And when they leave her for the lands to the East, their mourning is so great that they cannot even speak of her even to one another and as the generations go by they forget where they came from all together but not what they were taught.
As all mortals must though, hobbits do pass on. When they do, they come home to Yavanna and her pastures. And Yavanna…Yavanna is the wife of Aule, creator of the dwarves. So Bilbo finds himself spending his afterlife surrounded by, yes, his mother and father, Frodo and Sam, Merry and Pippin. But there is also his dwarven family. Ori, Nori and Dori. Oin and Gloin. Balin and Dwalin. Bofur, Bifur and Bombur. Fili and Kili. And of course…Thorin Oakenshield who looks just as lovely and regal as he did one fine evening in a hole in the ground where there lived a hobbit.
And together they rest, and together they toil, and together they fall back into slumber once the work is done and are taken up in in Eru’s arms to the places Men dwell, the places not even the Valar can know…
recently there was a bit going around about, i believe, an indian woman who was turned down as an extra for shire scenes because she was “too brown”
and for all the reasons that’s nonsense and racist, another thing is that in canon, hobbits of the shire are descended from three ethnicities of hobbit: stoors, harfoots and fallohides
their skin tones are literally described in the prologue of the fellowship of the ring – called “concerning hobbits”, which, in the lord of the rings trilogy, is one of the first scenes in the film, and is also the name of the jaunty musical theme you hear in shire scenes in the lotr/hobbit films
harfoots had dark skin, or at least darker than the stoors and fallohides, and the fallohides had lighter skin than the stoors, which means the harfoots are AT LEAST a few shades darker than your average white person
and the harfoots were the most numerous of hobbits, and the fallohides the least numerous and to have fallohide blood was a bit uncommon in the shire – most shire hobbits are primarily descended from the darkest group, the harfoots
tolkien wrote this
so what the fuck are they doing with tolkien casting
Here’s the first batch (½) of archived posts from Askmiddlearth that relate to the Prologue. A heads up for any first-time readers out there - I cannot guarantee that these posts are spoiler-free, so read them at your own risk.