A new Facebook page called Orcs of New York is chronicling the experiences of The Lord of the Rings‘ misunderstood Mordorian minions.
Orcs of New York, inspired by photographer Brandon Stanton’s project Humans of New York, began quietly in August. The images of seemingly-brutal orcs, transposed against classic New York City backdrops, have garnered many fans – especially as the pictures are accompanied by hilariously humanizing quotes from the creatures.
“I’ve worked at the Black Gate for fifteen years. As I get older, I find myself losing connection to the hopes and aspirations I had as a young orc. There’s something sad about that, but there’s also something comforting.”
“I came up with the idea a couple of weeks ago,” says creator Harry Aspinwall, a New York filmmaker. “When it dawned on me, it seemed like the most obvious thing in the world.
“Humans of New York has done so much for helping nurture understanding between different humans all over the world at this point,” he continues. “Having “humans” in the name made me want to take it one step further and bridge the gap to other anthropoid species. After all, we all have to get along.”
“I took this stick from a sneaky ranger manfilth. I’m going to give it to my best friend.”
Aspinwall is passionate about the Orcs of New York project, and credits his monstrous subjects for the captions which have helped make his work a success.
“When you ask people/orcs to talk about themselves, it’s amazing what comes out,” he says. “I don’t think most orcs are used to outsiders/sharaz asking about their lives and culture.”
The orcs share their thoughts on their lives and upbringings, often hinting at painful personal and cultural histories. But just as often, the brutal killers just want to talk about life, love, and making it in the Big Apple.
“I work weird hours, so I just started trying out a couple of dating apps, mostly to meet new people. It’s actually been pretty good.”
“It’s striking how easy it is to relate to people’s lives, even across species divisions and historical stigma,” Aspinwall observes. “In a way, it’s no wonder they end up so similar to HONY posts.”
“I grew up in a traditional household. I took weekly lessons in Black Speech, and my parents wanted me to get an engineering degree. I ended up with a BA in psych and visual art. They were pretty good about it.”
Aspinwall is excited to see Orcs of New York continue to grow, and looks forward to creating greater understanding between human and orcish citizens of New York.
“There are a couple of good ones touching on dating, cultural appropriation and LGBTQ issues coming up soon,” he teases. In addition, fans can look forward to learning more about how close their world really is to the orcs’ reality – Aspinwall is working on a map portraying the “greater NYC area bordering on Mordor and Haradwaith.”
“I live in East New York and commute into Gorgoroth. I love my job. I design the war paint for Uruk chieftains. I might have the only artistic job in Mordor, except for maybe the Dark Lord’s architect. But I think the Dark Lord designs his architecture himself.”
“If I were an orc living here, I think I’d have a lot to say,” Aspinwall says, on his classically mysterious subjects’ willingness to speak with him. “Under the superficial differences – the skin colour, the accents and language, the bones, ritual scarification and war paint – we’re all pretty much the same, living, feeling creatures.”
“I’ve broken three phones in the past month. I think I might be cursed.”
“But by the same token, these superficial differences have a huge amount of baggage and discrimination accompanying them, and we can’t ignore that,” he observes. “We need to acknowledge the role we each play in systems of oppression.
“I’m hoping some of this message gets communicated through Orcs of New York.”