The Year in Fantasy: 2022The Dark Herald
I don’t think there has ever been a worse year for the genre of fantasy than the year of our Lord 2022.
There is something almost magical in the way that an entire school of storytelling has been so unrelentingly subjected to incompetence in every way available to it. How could any studio which theoretically exists to make money, so thoroughly fuck up everything they touched?
These shows failed consistently on every single level.
One of the most important elements of epic fantasy is to create an immersive world. It has to be one that you can not only believe in but get lost in. It needs to be aesthetically unique so much so that you can’t mistake it for anywhere else. Within minutes of firing up Shadow of Mordor, I knew I was back in Middle Earth. But show anyone who hasn’t seen these 2022 shows random pictures of The Witcher, Wheel of Time, Blood Origins, Willow, or Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power I guarantee that person won’t be able to tell the shows apart.
They all looked exactly the same.
There is no sense of place. All of these characters could walk from one show to another and wouldn’t look out of place. Because they aren’t.
DIE is what killed the genre this year, Diversity Inclusion Equity. Look, you can have a fantasy setting with diversity in it if you account for that diversity in the story. In the Conan stories, the city of Zamora was the “crossroads of the world.” A mixed ethnic cast of characters in the foreground and background is not only acceptable in this setting but it wouldn’t be Zamora without peoples from all across the Hyborean world.
However, in Wheel of Time the first place we spend any time in, is this mountain village in ‘The North’, with about two or three hundred people in it and the population looks like Los Angeles. Every single race and ethnicity known to man is present in this tiny, remote location. This raises the question, how are there any identifiable ethnic groups in this isolated population? Especially when you consider that there appears to be a taboo against same-race relationships.
Given that 100% of the relationships are cross-racial, then within three generations, there will be no distinct ethnicities at all. The entire population of this town (apparently based on northern Europe) will look pretty much Polynesian. However, given that this is a cold climate people will have to spend a big chunk of the year covered from head to toe to stay warm. Consequently, this whole town is going to have problems with Vitamin D deficiency because of excess melanin. Rickets will create selective pressure towards light skin and in about three hundred years, the population will be white. Vitamin D deficiency is why Caucasians turned white in the first place.
Then there are the various accents that are just shotgunned all over the place. American, Oxbridge, London, Cornwall, Ireland, Scotland, and Californian. I shouted, “pick a fucking accent!” at all these shows at one time or another.
I am certain that the big reason for that failure is that all of the showrunners on these fantasy shows were Americans and most were Los Angeles natives. It is honestly embarrassing to me as an American that the United States film industry is that parochial and provincial. Hollywood was nowhere near this bad in the fifties. Mostly because they knew they had a limited outlook, so they made an effort to at least appear sophisticated.
This new generation of showrunner is convinced they are worldly and sophisticated because every place they go, everyone thinks just like them. And they don’t go anywhere else.
The bad casting decisions were however inexplicable to me. I can understand bad choices being made because of self-imposed mandatory diversity choices. But that doesn’t explain horrendous choices like Morfydd Clark (Rings of Power) and Ruby Cruz (Willow). The former specialized in portraying mental health patients and the latter played a mush-mouthed Zoomer teen from California. Neither was remotely up to dominating the screen as the lead of something as big as an epic fantasy.
The sad part was that veterans like Warwick Davis and Michelle Yeoh apparently decided they were too good to bother acting in these damn things. I know a “hold your nose and cash the check” performance when I see one.
Even the costuming looked like it all came out of the same warehouse. Part of that was a desperate desire to avoid anything looking like it has an identifiable place of origin. If costumes could be described as anything it would have to be average Eurasian.
None of the writers had a clue how to write fantasy dialog. The words that plopped out the TV were either something that would have been more at home in Euphoria or in the case of The Rings of Power, someone had clearly fed Tolkien into a Gtp-3 AI text generator and turned the output into a script.
I know because I tried feeding Tolkien into a Gtp-3 and the result was indistinguishable from a typical episode of Rings of Power. I’ve seen fan fiction that showed more promise.
Apparently, the showrunners didn’t think their scripts were worth reading either because none of them could keep track of events that happened in previous, or indeed current episodes. They were constantly contradicting themselves.
At the end of the day, there seem to have been 5 issues:
First, everyone wanted their own Game of Thrones, (it wasn’t just Jeff Bezos).
Second, none of these producers knew anything about fantasy and they didn’t want to learn. They just wanted to glom on to something and tell their own version of THE MESSAGE.
Third, neither did the people who ran the studios. They were green-lighting anything that could be accused of being a fantasy franchise with an existing fanbase. And they also wanted to use it to spread THE MESSAGE.
Fourth, Woke. All of these shows were much more interested in contemporary politics than they were ancient worlds, eerie wonders, and glories beyond imagining. They cared more about scoring points in Hollywood than they ever could about fantasy.
Fifth, all of these shows were the result of globalism. Oh, it was Hollywood globalism to be sure, so on top of all of their other failings, they were shallow as a mud puddle. But it was all globalist fantasy. It was something too hopelessly bland to be at all interesting.
“The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own. I don’t think it gave life to the orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them; and if they are to live at all, they have to live like other living creatures.”
House of the Dragon was okay though.