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SYFY WIRE Neil Gaiman

Making sense of the bizarre Twitter feud between Neil Gaiman & Elon Musk around 'Rings of Power'

The billionaire and the award-winning author are on opposite sides of a fandom fight.

By Matthew Jackson
Neil Gaiman and Elon Musk

The thing about celebrity social media beefs is they often emerge without warning, and sometimes involve some very unexpected combatants. In the case of this particular beef, at least as of this writing, the two celebrities in question haven't even directly engaged with one another, but their comments were still enough to get portions of the internet talking yesterday. 

The celebrities: Billionaire rocket builder Elon Musk, and bestselling and award-winning fantasy author Neil Gaiman. The subject: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Amazon Prime's new fantasy prequel series based on J.R.R. Tolkien's sprawling Middle-earth world. 

It all started Monday, when Musk tweeted about The Rings of Power and sided with viewers who have so far been very unkind to the series for things like its casting of characters of color and willingness to play with various aspects of the Second Age timeline as Tolkien originally (albeit spottily) laid it out.

Musk went on to be a bit more specific with his complaint, adding that he thinks "Almost every male character so far is a coward, a jerk or both. Only Galadriel is brave, smart and nice." An interesting comment given the vast number of characters in the series, many of whom haven't yet been challenged in a way that would prove whether they're "cowards" or not. 

The following day, Gaiman was asked by someone on Twitter what he thinks of Musk's comments on the show. His response was short and to the point. 

It's not clear why the fan specifically asked Gaiman for his opinion, but the author's mentions were, according to him, subsequently flooded with comments from people who thought he'd somehow had a hand in making The Rings of Power. For the record, Gaiman didn't work on the series in any capacity. Like Musk, he's simply a viewer in this case, and he was asked what he thought of the SpaceX's founder comment that "Tolkien is turning in his grave." It's also worth noting that at no point did he say Musk wasn't allowed to say what he said. It's just that, when you're Neil Gaiman, you tend to want to get storytelling advice from, well, other storytellers, and not from the guy who wants to go to Mars. 

So far, this is where this particular Twitter conflict ends, and hopefully it'll stay that way. After all, Musk has rockets to launch, and Gaiman hopefully has a second season of The Sandman to make. Meanwhile, new episodes of The Rings of Power drop Thursday nights on Amazon Prime Video.

Looking for some fantasy content to tide you over? Click here for our list of the best fantasy films available on Peacock.