Today’s social media serves as a common platform where heated virtual arguments can run amok. Wherever one stands in the political realm, a comment thread can be seen frequently and leisurely, and such threads may stir up a debate.
Recently, Viggo Mortensen, well-known for his role of Aragorn in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films, and who received both an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe nomination for his role in Green Book (2018), has expressed objection to a politically-charged tweet from the political party Vox.
Vox, a right-wing Spanish party founded in 2013, posted a meme in late April which had been generated using an image of Aragorn (here representing Vox) ready to fight against an evil army (in the meme, covered with icons to represent various ideologies the party disapproves of). Among the groups and practices widely shunned by the party are communism, Catalan separatists and approval of LGTBQ activity.
Euronews has claims from the British Tolkien Society that, in the novels, Professor J.R.R. Tolkien’s character Aragorn makes no statement as to his political standing. Additionally, Warner Bros., the film studio behind The Lord of the Rings trilogy, sent a tweet in response to Vox’s meme. It stated the company is aware that “the Lord of the Rings has many fans” but also that “Warner Bros has not authorised the use of our intellectual property for any political campaign.”
This is not the first time the representatives for the Tolkien film adaptations have produced statements to combat political turbulence. Back in 2015, director Peter Jackson offered some aid to the cause of Bilgin Ciftci, a Turkish doctor imprisoned for sharing a collage which showed comparisons between Lord of the Rings character Gollum and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. While making fun of the country’s president was taken as a serious offense, Jackson claimed the images were not of an insulting nature. The director argued the pictures showcased the character Smeagol, an alternate (and nicer) persona which comes out of the villainous Gollum at times.
Here, in regards to Vox’s recent tweet, actor Viggo Mortensen was the key figure to speak out against the message. In an op-ed published by El País, the 60-year-old actor stated:
“Not only is it absurd that I, the actor who played this character in Peter Jackson’s movies and a person interested in the rich cultures and languages of Spain and the world, is linked to a neo-fascist and ultra-nationalist political party…It is even more ridiculous that the character of Aragorn — a polyglot statesman who advocates for the knowledge and inclusion of diverse races, customs, and languages from Middle Earth — is being used to legitimise an anti-immigration, anti-feminist, and islamophobe political group…It’s not a joke and we must stay attentive and proactive as Aragorn did in the Tolkien saga.”
Mortensen shall make his directing debut with the upcoming 2020 film Falling.