1. #2201
    Quote Originally Posted by Varodoc View Post
    It's become engrained in our society and perception that elves have long flowing hair and fair skin, stop trying to pretend otherwise.
    Oh man, the irony of spouting this bullshit on a WoW forum…

    Yeah, Tolkien’s version of things like elves, dwarves, and orcs guided much of the modern perception of how those creatures look, but just as he took existing references and expanded on them, so have others since Tolkien.

    D&D, MTG, Harry Potter, Warcraft, Warhammer, and a multitude of other games and books have been expanding on Tolkien’s fantasy races for decades now. Depending on what games you play or books you read, what constitutes as an elf, dwarf, orc, hobbit/halfling, goblin, wizard, ranger, etc might be pretty different from how Tolkien described.

    Female dwarves without beards, elves with a variety of skin tones and hair colors, orcs as hulking green aliens. Yeah, the foundations that Tolkien set were important in how these fantasy races developed, but we’re way past his narrow descriptions for them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerovar View Post
    First of all, I don't think you can compare Shakespeare to Tolkien since they wrote in totally different genres. Tolkien himself described the difference rather aptly:
    "Thus, if you prefer Drama to Literature (as many literary critics plainly do), or form your critical theories primarily from dramatic critics, or even from Drama, you are apt to misunderstand pure story-making, and to constrain it to the limitations of stage-plays. You are, for instance, likely to prefer characters, even the basest and dullest, to things. Very little about trees as trees can be got into a play."
    That’s fair, but this whole thread is pretty much about adapting the literature to a dramatic medium. That’s why things like character and action are far more important than any and every minor detail. As great as Tolkien was in describing the details of his world, when brought to a visual medium there’s still a lot of room for interpretation while maintaining the spirit of the setting. Additionally, many of those details (such as the timelines) simply don’t work when adapting the story to a drama.

    As for the narrative themes being adapted in the show:
    - Covering the fall of Numenor explores how the power hungry and corrupt can lead to the downfall of a civilization
    - The story of Arondir and Bronwyn mirrors that of Aragorn and Arwen (and by extension Beren and Luthien). A rare romance between an elf and a human
    - Not sure what they’ll be doing with the Harfoots, but it stands to reason that it’ll follow the whole “courage of even the smallest folk in the face of evil” theme that was the backbone of Frodo’s journey

    These stories are all very much Tolkien, transposed into a part of his legendarium that he never really fleshed out. If you don’t want to watch them, that’s fine. If you don’t like which details they chose to keep and which they chose to change or drop, that’s fine, too. But given what little we’ve seen so far the show still looks and feels like the dramatic interpretation of Tolkien that we’ve gotten used to since Peter Jackson’s movies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nerovar View Post
    Why don't you try that excercise with the following characters:
    - Elrond
    - Tar-Míriel
    - Galadriel
    Pretty loose interpretation of “main character” but sure:

    Elrond - Lord of Rivendell. Great warrior turned advisor and protector. Member of the White Council and host to the creation of the Fellowship. Caring father.

    Galadriel - Lady of Lorien. Tall. Beautiful, intelligent, and enigmatic. Ring Bearer. One of the most powerful elves in Middle Earth, but wise enough to resist the power of the One Ring when offered. Gift giver.

    Obviously some of these traits change depending on what point in the story you’re considering, these being specific to the 3rd Age. I would say that Galadriel’s hair color is a pretty notable detail, being compared to other important narrative devices in the story (the Two Trees of Valinor and the Silmarils). To the point of her depiction in the show, descriptions of her as Amazon-esque, strong in body, mind, and will, tall as a man and capable of matching the other elf princes in feats of athleticism, and student to all the Valar, the idea of her as a capable warrior isn’t outlandish. Nor does it detract from how she is presented in the 3rd Age, like Elrond having taken a position more as an advisor and protector than a warrior.

    As for Tar-Miriel - this isn’t a character. She’s a name and plot device that appears once in the appendices. “Rightful ruler, usurped” is pretty much the extent of her role in the story, and that gives a pretty good amount of leeway in interpreting the character for the show.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SirDjord View Post
    Not necessarily, yet we have an obligation to present his work in the light of how and when it was written. When its based upon old Norse sagas (Gandalf is taken from Odin) that should reflect the world and characters the way he intended them. If you disapprove of his work then thats to bad its his intellectual property. If you want to create a world where Richard III has pink hair and indulges in homosexual acitivity then do it, noone is stopping you.
    One of the best movie adaptations of Richard III portrays him as a 1930’s fascist. Pink hair would hardly detract from what makes the character what he is to the story. The idea that anyone is obligated to present adaptations strictly in line with how and when they were written is hardly true.

    James Bond, despite having been created in the 1950’s with a very particular look and history, has endured through various renditions and is always adapted to modern times.

    Characters based on those from the Norse sagas are played nowadays by Australians, Britons, Canadians, and Americans. Heimdall is still Heimdall, whether he’s played by Idris Elba or a Norwegian actor. As for Gandalf, there’s a lot more to him than simply “visually based on Odin”.
    Last edited by Adamas102; 2022-08-06 at 07:49 AM.

  2. #2202
    Quote Originally Posted by Biomega View Post
    So point out where Tolkien talked about the skin colors of dwarves or elves, and how they're different because of where they're located.

    I'm happy to be shown references.

    There's SOME references to different HUMANS, although with them, too, it's very hard to tell where/if Tolkien is talking about skin color and not something else. Just like him describing elves as "fair" does not have to refer to their complexion, as it can (and most likely does) simply mean "beautiful to behold" rather than "light-skinned". And even where he IS talking about skin color, one group being primarily one skin color would not automatically mean all OTHER groups of humans are ALSO just one skin color.

    Skin color wasn't what Tolkien was interested in, it's as simple as that. His narrative revolves around different forms of categorization, and those are preserved even if you have a black dwarf or an Asian-looking elf.


    You and me both. Mostly because 90% of it isn't an argument, it's just "I don't want black people in my fantasy, because they don't belong in there for... uh... reasons that aren't racist I promise I swear I really do".


    That's a complete misrepresentation of the argument. It's not about a fictional setting reflecting "what the world actually looks like". It's about removing selection criteria for which there is no good, relevant narrative or artistic justification. What you're suggesting is getting that process entirely backwards.




    This can and does happen in fiction ALL THE TIME. In fact your example is a pretty good one, as "updated" reinterpretations of classic folk/faerie tales are ubiquitous across all kinds of genres. That's a GOOD thing, and it's done in all sorts of contexts and in all kinds of literary spaces. Some of those stories are great, some are shit; but that's because for ALL stories some are great and some are shit. Nothing new there.

    What YOU would need to explain here is how Hänsel and Gretel being white matters to the story. In fact, stories like that are often dissected into constituent parts in academic scholarship, which are largely context-agnostic - i.e. for the vast majority of them the principles at the root of the narrative do not care one bit about whether it's two white kids or whether it's a boy and a girl or whatever, and the story would work just the same - at a fundamental level - if it was two black girls or two Asian boys.

    You've effectively demonstrated precisely WHY race does NOT matter for a majority of stories, and is relevant only to those narratives that specifically and profoundly engage with those characteristics themselves. So thanks, I guess!
    The issue is that their whole race/clan is white but not those two characters for whatever reasons. If at least, the narration would explain why they do not have the same skin color that their brethrens, it would be more welcomed. If it is not explained, we can conclude they were inserted for political reasons and that is what most people hate about that.

    Simple as that.
    Last edited by Specialka; 2022-08-06 at 09:21 AM.

  3. #2203
    Quote Originally Posted by Adamas102 View Post
    Oh man, the irony of spouting this bullshit on a WoW forum…

    Yeah, Tolkien’s version of things like elves, dwarves, and orcs guided much of the modern perception of how those creatures look, but just as he took existing references and expanded on them, so have others since Tolkien.

    D&D, MTG, Harry Potter, Warcraft, Warhammer, and a multitude of other games and books have been expanding on Tolkien’s fantasy races for decades now. Depending on what games you play or books you read, what constitutes as an elf, dwarf, orc, hobbit/halfling, goblin, wizard, ranger, etc might be pretty different from how Tolkien described.
    Oh right! And I totally forgot that this is a Warcraft show! Not, you know, a Tolkien show.

    Also, Warcraft and Warhammer elves are literal copy-paste of LOTR elves in appearance. It's not exactly a secret that, back when TBC released, most Blood elf hunter players were Legolas wannabes.

  4. #2204
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    Those dark skinned night elves sure look like their LotR brethren?

  5. #2205
    Quote Originally Posted by Adamas102 View Post
    Heimdall is still Heimdall, whether he’s played by Idris Elba or a Norwegian actor.
    I have a question, if the Black Panter was played by white Norwegian, would it matter? Will it matter if the make Wakanda a mulit race society with loots of asian and europeans.

  6. #2206
    Quote Originally Posted by Hansworst View Post
    Those dark skinned night elves sure look like their LotR brethren?
    I'm glad you agree that skin colour is important and is not some "Irrelevant detail" like one guy here said, thus black elves are not faithful to LOTR lore.

  7. #2207
    The concern I have is that the show will be poorly written. The casting choices will then be the only thing left to talk about and the attempt to more inclusively portray Tolkein’s world will sink as a consequence of poor writing.

  8. #2208
    Quote Originally Posted by Rennadrel View Post
    That whole "influencer" fiasco was stupid because literally all those vapid idiots talked about for 15 minutes was diversity and not about anything of substance like whether the story is interesting enough to be engaging. I swear that people who only give a damn about the most inconsequential aspect of a characters existence (aka skin colour) are some of the most boring and sad individuals ever because literally there's nothing tangible about whether a character is white, black or brown that makes them interesting. We've gone decades where characters that were predominantly white were appreciated equally by people of colour and then all of a sudden you get these idiot zoomers and some millennials who think it's wrong to like them because they can't associate with them due to their skin colour.
    Thats exactly my point.

    As long as it tics diversity boxes thats all that matters. Doesnt matter how good it is because people *should* see it because of diversity. You are a bigot if you dont like it because of diversity.

  9. #2209
    Quote Originally Posted by Fantomen View Post
    I have a question, if the Black Panter was played by white Norwegian, would it matter? Will it matter if the make Wakanda a mulit race society with loots of asian and europeans.
    The Black Panther is literally a story about an African Prince. It would not be appropriate to be played by a white man.

    However, if they made Nick Fury a white man (as he's been for long stretches in the comic), or made War Machine a white man (no precedent in the comics), I doubt anyone would give a shit.

    I grew up with Ben Kingsley, an Englishman, playing the patriarch of my country, which was oppressed and colonized by Englishmen. He gave a masterful performance. That doesn't mean I don't want to see an Indian man play the role.

  10. #2210
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    Quote Originally Posted by Varodoc View Post
    I'm glad you agree that skin colour is important and is not some "Irrelevant detail" like one guy here said, thus black elves are not faithful to LOTR lore.
    Nope, you claimed all elves are faithful to LotR depictions claiming they ALL are fair skinned. Night elves aren't fair skinned.
    Tolkien never claimed all elves are fair skinned. It's a fantasy world. Why couldn't different skin complexions be a thing?

  11. #2211
    Quote Originally Posted by Hansworst View Post
    Nope, you claimed all elves are faithful to LotR depictions claiming they ALL are fair skinned. Night elves aren't fair skinned.
    Tolkien never claimed all elves are fair skinned. It's a fantasy world. Why couldn't different skin complexions be a thing?
    Nope, I said an objective fact, which is that common perception of elves is that they are fair-skinned and long-haired. If you ask a random person how they imagine an elf to look like, rest assured, they won't say "black with crop hair".

  12. #2212
    Quote Originally Posted by Fantomen View Post
    I have a question, if the Black Panter was played by white Norwegian, would it matter? Will it matter if the make Wakanda a mulit race society with loots of asian and europeans.
    The argument is specifically about ignoring race when it DOESN'T matter for the narrative, so bringing up a character where it DOES is kind of a silly argument.

    Try something like Batman or James Bond or whatever, where race has been nothing but character tradition and has no narrative function.

    Quote Originally Posted by Varodoc View Post
    Nope, I said an objective fact, which is that common perception of elves is that they are fair-skinned and long-haired. If you ask a random person how they imagine an elf to look like, rest assured, they won't say "black with crop hair".
    And is that a GOOD thing?

  13. #2213
    Quote Originally Posted by Biomega View Post
    And is that a GOOD thing?
    Considering how long-haired and fair-skinned elves like Legolas, Thranduil, and Annatar are objectively beautiful and attractive, Yes, it's a good thing. I can assure you, when fangirls first say Thranduil in the Hobbit trailers, their reaction wasn't "wait why isn't he black?".

  14. #2214
    Quote Originally Posted by Biomega View Post
    Here's where we run into a bit of a problem, though. I agree neither of us knows what was or wasn't important to Tolkien directly (how could we), but we DO know indirectly by what he wrote about, and what he concerned himself with. Which was NOT about skin color at all, but about species (elf, dwarf, human, etc.) as well as about culture. That's the prime distinguisher of collective identity in practically his entire work, and while skin color clearly isn't absent (you've proved that sufficiently) it also isn't a main focus, and occurs only very sporadically.

    The more important question then becomes not "what did Tolkien intend/consider important", but what do WE consider important - because we're interpreting his work in any adaptation, and we have to analyze what we're given based on certain criteria. And there really is practically nothing to suggest that skin color as a distinguisher is more important to the narrative he built than factors like species or culture (or even language). Which means that when creating an adaptation, we have to decide where to observe the source material, and where to deviate.

    There is no question about that deviation, let's be clear - ANY adaptation WILL deviate in SOME way. It's purely a matter of deciding where and by how much. And given that there seems to be an overwhelming presence of species, language, and culture defining the relationships between the various collectives in Tolkien's works and only a vanishingly small amount of mention of skin color (let alone making it a direct driver of narrative as species, language, culture are in his works), wouldn't you say it's not unreasonable to largely disregard this characteristic in casting - considering we're disregarding all sorts of other details mentioned in passing, too.
    You're effectively just saying "we're going to deviate anyways" and that skin colour isn't really important on a narrative level (which no one denied). But when you are portraying a world (or time period) that is different from our own that has its own implied history, groups of people etc. the suspension of disbelief becomes much easier when this is also reflected in the appearance of the people. Doesn't really matter if the world is fictional or not either. If I watch a movie about feudal Japan I'd expect the people there to look the part. It's not the kind of thing that makes or breaks a narrative but it's pretty much always going to be perceived as jarring when you don't adhere to it because it will send the message that you aren't taking the world building seriously.

    Quote Originally Posted by Biomega View Post
    Let's be clear: my argument at least has never been about "this is what Tolkien intended" - as you said earlier, we have no idea what his intentions were aside from a few stated ones he made in letters etc. (almost none of which are pertinent here, save for the whole Galadriel = OP woman warrior thing, which is a different matter). Author intention is more of a layman's approach anyway, scholarship tends to avoid it altogether and focus on the work itself.

    Nor is my argument ever "I want things to look like New York/the US/whatever", which is equally preposterous, and backwards logic.

    My argument is purely this: when selecting people involved in any form of cultural production, be very clear about which characteristics are ACTUALLY RELEVANT to the choice, and which are not. In the case of narratives, that means characteristics that are clearly and profoundly relevant to the narrative - and in 99.99% of cases, skin color is not that. There ARE cases where it is, and those need to be dealt with appropriately; but most of the time it's an ancillary side detail of no real narrative impact or relevance.

    That's all. My goal is not "have 30% PoC actors" or whatever, it's simply saying "if the skin color doesn't matter to the narrative, disregard it for the casting". I don't care about author's intent or the history of the work unless it's relevant to the narrative - story comes above all else, for me. With some narratives the author's intent or the history ARE relevant, but, again, in the vast majority of cases they're simply not.
    This is basically just repeating what you said earlier. On a sidenote, what academics consider to be important to the analysis of text isn't really all that relevant when it comes to the question of whether the average person watching the show feels like the source material is receiving the proper respect and whether the adaptation achieves the sort of inner consistency they have come to expect from Tolkien's world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Biomega View Post
    That's a biased argument, though. There's plenty of changes NOBODY cares about, which means it's not about "fidelity to a text" - it's about SPECIFIC features that somehow are more important than others. If a character is described as 6'2" and you cast an actor that's 6'4" nobody will give a shit, and nobody will go "BUT MUH TEXTUAL FIDELIITTTTTY!" because it's very clearly a detail that's (most likely) completely irrelevant to the actual story. Yet somehow there's characteristics - like skin color - that are singled out from this and are MADE relevant despite the fact that they're equally meaningless to the narrative.

    THAT is the problem. If it was as simple as "make it 100% text-accurate, period" we could easily go by objective criteria and make sure - but it's never that. Everyone accepts SOME things don't matter, yet others do, and the problem lies purely in who gets to decide which is which, and why.
    Well, this is just an accusation of hypocrisy. There's no excuse to deviate in other areas (like not making Gil-galad's hair silver). It's just that skin colour will unfortunately always stick out more for obvious reasons and is usually associated with a whole cluster of things (like different hair, eye colour etc.) that is also loosely connected to things like geography, culture (like in the case of hairstyles). I think most people understand this on an intuitive basis.

    I think what this really boils down to is that you're only coming from this from a purely dramatic perspective. You're just interested in seeing a good story and interesting characters. Other people are interested in being transported to a vibrant and authentic world that tries to be more than just a stage prop and takes itself seriously enough to hold up to scrutiny. In the case of Tolkien, the world building happens to make up a not insignificant part of the appeal. You don't care about that stuff? Fine. However, there are plenty of people who do.
    Last edited by Nerovar; 2022-08-06 at 01:15 PM.
    The absolute state of Warcraft lore in 2021:
    Kyrians: We need to keep chucking people into the Maw because it's our job.
    Also Kyrians: Why is the Maw growing stronger despite all our efforts?

  15. #2215
    Quote Originally Posted by Varodoc View Post
    Considering how long-haired and fair-skinned elves like Legolas, Thranduil, and Annatar are objectively beautiful and attractive, Yes, it's a good thing.
    So... are you saying black-skinned, crop-haired people aren't or can't be "objectively beautiful and attractive"?

    Just making sure before any names start flying.

  16. #2216
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    Quote Originally Posted by Varodoc View Post
    Considering how long-haired and fair-skinned elves like Legolas, Thranduil, and Annatar are objectively beautiful and attractive, Yes, it's a good thing. I can assure you, when fangirls first say Thranduil in the Hobbit trailers, their reaction wasn't "wait why isn't he black?".
    Ahh showing your true face now. Black people can't be beautiful and attractive?

    You'd better stick with your Alleria simping. It's cringe but at least you look less racist.

  17. #2217
    Quote Originally Posted by Nerovar View Post
    You're effectively just saying "we're going to deviate anyways" and that skin colour isn't really important on a narrative level (which no one denied). But when you are portraying a world (or time period) that is different from our own that has its own implied history, groups of people etc. the suspension of disbelief becomes much easier when this is also reflected in the appearance of the people.
    So, again: you're saying it's easier to believe in elves, dwarves, and dragons than it is to believe in black people? And before you go "but those are what fantasy is all about!" - that's the POINT, exposing those kinds of biases that basically exclude certain skin colors for no good reason, just because it's "tradition". They'll never change unless we change them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nerovar View Post
    If I watch a movie about feudal Japan I'd expect the people there to look the part.
    But that's a gross category error, because you're using something that is SPECIFICALLY historical and contrast it with something that isn't; in fact, something that is SPECIFICALLY fictitious (again to the point of featuring elves, dwarves, dragons, and all manner of completely made-up thing).

    Where the narrative SPECIFICALLY demands something, it should be observed. But the whole point is that a fantasy narrative like this DOES NOT. So bringing up an example where this is in fact the case is not only meaningless, it also demonstrates you don't actually understand what's going on.

    Oh, and: even in works with great historical specificity, there's liberties taken. Hence why I like to bring up the argument of a Germanic-descended person playing Julius Caesar, which nobody has a problem with DESPITE the fact that it's historically ludicrous and flies in the face of the entire personal and historic context of that character and setting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nerovar View Post
    On a sidenote, what academics consider to be important to the analysis of text isn't really all that relevant when it comes to the question of whether the average person watching the show feels like the source material is receiving the proper respect and achieves the sort of inner consistency they have come to expect from Tolkien's world.
    The point is, those are people who engage a lot more with the actual material, and have a much greater understanding of it. "The average person" is an idiot who is effectively trained to follow tradition - that's not a good thing, because it fosters directly notions of "it's always been like that so why change it" which are inherently pernicious when it comes to entrenched inequity. We SHOULD change things, for good reasons; and "the average person", while not irrelevant by any means, is simply unlikely to have studied those reasons well enough to be taken as a measuring stick.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nerovar View Post
    Well, this is just an accusation of hypocrisy. There's no excuse to deviate in other areas (like not making Gil-galad's hair silver). It's just that skin colour will unfortunately always stick out more for obvious reasons and is usually associated with a whole cluster of things (like different hair, eye colour etc.) that is also loosely connected to things like geography, culture (like in the case of hairstyles). I think most people understand this on an intuitive basis.
    Of course most people have an intuitive understanding of how skin color etc. connect to geographic distribution in the real world.

    But that doesn't mean that should just be taken as license to REPEAT patterns of systematic exclusion. This is just an argument by tradition - "this is how it usually is, so let's keep doing it". Which doesn't hold water in a status quo that shouldn't be preserved for very good reasons. If you want to change the paradigm and establish a new normal, you have to challenge tradition, not swallow it whole-cloth as immutable and innate.

    If you DON'T want to change the paradigm, just say that. You can totally hold the position of "I don't want to see black people in my fantasy because I don't like that", with all the consequences that come with it. But don't pretend that you really do, it's just that, unfortunately, not your fault, you see it's not how it's done, really it's too bad but that's just HOW IT IS.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nerovar View Post
    I think what this really boils down to is that you're only coming from this from a purely dramatic perspective. You're just interested in seeing a good story and interesting characters. Other people are interested in being transported to a vibrant and authentic world that tries to be more than just a stage prop and takes itself seriously enough to hold up to scrutiny.
    No, that's a mischaracterization. Quite seriously so.

    You are asserting here - without evidence - that having a diverse cast means a world CAN'T be vibrant or hold up to scrutiny; and as for "authentic", that means very little when you're ALWAYS deviating, so what you're effectively saying is "all THOSE changes are fine even if they're not 'authentic', but SKIN COLOR suddenly makes things NOT 'authentic'" which is again smuggling in the argument without backing, explanation, or evidence.

    You're just CLAIMING that skin color makes something not "authentic" when all the OTHER changes from an original source somehow REMAIN "authentic". THAT is my problem.
    Last edited by Biomega; 2022-08-06 at 01:31 PM.

  18. #2218
    Quote Originally Posted by Biomega View Post
    So... are you saying black-skinned, crop-haired people aren't or can't be "objectively beautiful and attractive"?

    Just making sure before any names start flying.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hansworst View Post
    Ahh showing your true face now. Black people can't be beautiful and attractive?

    You'd better stick with your Alleria simping. It's cringe but at least you look less racist.

    Long-haired white people being beautiful and attractive means that black people are ugly and unattractive? What an interesting extrapolation from both of you. I'll admit it wasn't on my mind initially.

  19. #2219
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    Quote Originally Posted by Varodoc View Post
    Nope, I said an objective fact, which is that common perception of elves is that they are fair-skinned and long-haired. If you ask a random person how they imagine an elf to look like, rest assured, they won't say "black with crop hair".
    Quote Originally Posted by Varodoc View Post
    Considering how long-haired and fair-skinned elves like Legolas, Thranduil, and Annatar are objectively beautiful and attractive, Yes, it's a good thing. I can assure you, when fangirls first say Thranduil in the Hobbit trailers, their reaction wasn't "wait why isn't he black?".
    Nope that was all you.

  20. #2220
    Quote Originally Posted by Hansworst View Post
    Nope that was all you.
    Nope.

    I said that our perception and imagery of elves is commonly associated with how they are depicted in LOTR.

    Someone here asked me if that was a good thing. I answered, YES, because the main elven characters of Middle Earth are beautiful and attractive.

    You and the other guy then got all cranky and accused me of being racist and saying that black people are ugly. Don't project your ideals onto me. If you think that it's racist to say that white elves are beautiful, well, that sounds like your problem, not mine.

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