Dungeons and Dragons, that original and quirky game that was created in the waning days of the 60s counterculture, and became a fad in the early days of Reagan, casts a long shadow over our modern idea of fantasy, both for good and bad. Its popularity seems to be enjoying a resurgence in recent years. When a certified geek became the wealthiest man in the world, and fantasy is now the basis for half of all video games and a force to be reckoned with at the box office and on TV, it’s easy to see why.
It’s doing better than one of its main influences, J.R.R. Tolkien.* Tolkien, like so many, is falling victim to the modern Multicultural witch hunts, where self-proclaimed inquisitors of PC righteousness are scouring all things from before 10 years ago to remove any hints of bigotry as defined today. The reason is to demonstrate our righteous superiority over everyone else who failed to see the obvious bigotry and racism and sexism and homophobia. Being a white male in Europe, Tolkien didn’t stand a chance. Of course many who feel they have achieved righteousness by today’s standards might be surprised in 20 or 30 years, but that’s the price of progress.Even Gygax wouldn’t be immune to the coming juggernaut, but because the game was altered by later contributors, the game was brought into conformity to the dictates of our moral crusaders, and Gygax’s failures can be focused on without hurting his creation. So it is today that a whole new generation of kids might be able to embrace what our cultural sensitives of yesterday cast into the outer darkness of nerdville and geekdom.
*I get that Tolkien’s influence on D&D is a matter for debate. For the purposes of this post, and in order to make my broader point, we’ll assume the position that Tolkien was a major influence.