In 2017, Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos mandated a programming shift at Amazon Studios: Bring me “Game of Thrones.”
They have moved towards just that. One reason Amazon is on our annual Dirty Dozen List is for their growing trend of inserting gratuitous scenes of nudity and sexual violence in their Amazon Original content (and then the long trend of recommending those pieces right next to kids’ content). They also host thousands of pornography and prostitution websites and sell incest-themed porn, sex dolls, photography books with eroticized child nudity, and pornographic magazines. Learn more about our concerns with Amazon policies here.
It appears Amazon might also be gearing up to hypersexualize the fantasy world of one of the 20th century’s most popular books among children and adults alike—with over 150 million copies sold in more than 35 languages—J. R. R. Tolkien’s high fantasy series, The Lord of the Rings.
Amazon has announced that their new project, already contracted for five seasons, will have at least a one billion (yes, with a “B”) dollar budget. While it is true that Amazon has released only a few details about the series, there are a number of concerning developments that could put Amazon’s LOTR-related series at odds with Mr. Tolkien’s wishes of how his work could be portrayed. In Letter 131 to his publisher, Tolkien (now somewhat famously) stated the following: “…[I]t should be ‘high’, purged of the gross, and fit for the more adult mind of a land long now steeped in poetry.”
It has long been clear that Tolkien, a devout Catholic, had no intention of including overtly sexual scenes in his works. Despite that, Amazon Studios has, through their New Zealand partner, issued casting calls for actors who “must be comfortable with nudity.” Furthermore, Amazon Studios has hired an “intimacy coordinator,” a job described by SAG-AFTRA as “an advocate, a liaison between actors and production … in regard to nudity and simulated sex.” On top of all that, Amazon Studios has also brought on a consulting producer, Bryan Cogman, who formerly served as writer for HBO’s Game of Thrones where he helped develop some of the most grotesque rape and incest scenes in the series.
Screenshot from https://www.bgt.nz/casting-now/
Over at TheOneRing.net, dedicated fans of all things Middle Earth—the fantasy world Tolkien created and which became widely popular through The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings—are urging Amazon Studios to refrain from creating a hypersexualized series which would inherently be an antithesis of the source material. Tolkien scholar Clifford Broadway put it this way:
Grit and realism have their place. Darkness and light are explored in their extremes. No one is shying away from the more “adult” things Tolkien had in his stories or saying they don’t exist. The real question is to what extent are they going to “sexify” this show for the sake of getting their next Game of Thrones mega-hit?
Join us and many thousands of other Tolkien fans in urging Amazon Studios to honor Tolkien and develop a moving story without sexual violence, gratuitous sex scenes, and/or nudity!
Sign the petition here.