I have seen the complaint that Middle-earth is too romanticized and Tolkien avoided dealing with some of the issues that would arise in a more grounded world. Some of Tolkien's heroes are a bit too pure for the tastes of some readers. This seems, in part, to be George R.R. Martin's position. I think there is some merit to this argument, though a little bit of grunge can go a long way.
On the other hand, just because we don't see any gambling dens or brothels, or any instances of infidelity, drug abuse or alcoholism, doesn't mean that they are entirely absent.
I don't like how vague the term "power" is. In Star Wars, for example someone who is powerful in the force has a greater affinity to it, meaning they can do more impressive things with less effort. In Tolkien, however, Tulkas, the "least powerful" Valar, could easily beat the crap out of Morgoth, the "most powerful" Valar. Power doesn't seem to have any real tangible meaning.
I've been reluctant to bring this up, since this is an uncomfortable issue for a generally lighthearted forum. But a few month ago, I saw an article accusing Tolkien's work of having racist overtones. There are other articles that refute those claims, but the debate continues. I got into one such debate myself and was called (by implication) an apologist. The other person apologized when I objected to that.
I have heard that some white supremacists were trying to use Tolkien's works for their agenda, the way they do with Norse mythology. This is nothing new, since in 1938, Tolkien told the Nazis where to stick it.
I would argue "so what?" There were a number of excellent people who would be called racist by today's standards, so worst case scenario, Tolkien joins them. That being said, I don't detect any form of racism in LOTR or any other Tolkien work, the closest thing being the hostile "Middle Easterners." In the case of the men of the east, they are not portrayed as inferior or backwards, simply as opponents.
Very true. And yet they give Lovecraft a pass, when Lovecraft was unabashedly racist, even for his time.
I wouldn't say that H.P. Lovecraft has been given a pass; more like there's not too much point in dwelling on it as he is long dead. I'm not sure that Lovecraft was any worse than Robert E. Howard or Edgar Rice Burroughs. The worst example in Tolkien's legendarium might be the description of Men of Far Harad as being like half-trolls due to their fearsome appearance. Even then, some interpret that as describing literal half-trolls.
...Gothmog the lieutenant of Morgul had flung them into the fray... ...out of Far Harad black men like half-trolls with white eyes and red tongues.
Now, to me that could describe warriors who chewed on a narcotic plant to put them into a battle-frenzy. Professor Tolkien might have worn some metaphorical blinders, and Middle-earth in The Lord of the Rings is fairly romanticized; but I do not think that Tolkien was racist.
Peters films left out that Frodo was actually Sam's master, but Sam still calls him Mister Frodo. This makes Frodo equal to Merry and Pippin because Sam calls Merry "Master Merry" while most of the time he just calls Frodo "Master"
"Master Merry's being squeezed in a crack!" cried Sam. - referring to Old Man Willow.
By adding his (Frodo's) name, it seems he is calling Frodo that out of respect, without truth or title.
We do actually learn in the films that Sam is Frodo's gardener, so I'm not sure that criticism of the movies lands as intended. Also, the question is more of a general one about Tolkien's subcreation of Middle-earth and Arda, not necessarily about the films.