Fan Rage, Women & The Hobbit

Tauriel
Now that the new trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is out and Jackson has shown a clear picture of Evangeline Lilly’s newly-created-for-the-movie elfmaid warrior Tauriel ( which I already knew about thanks to the Lego figure of her!), it seems disappointing that the majority of online reactions seems to be misogynistic and packed full of nerd-rage ( I wrote a post about this on the old Voyager blog ). While I can certainly understand the desire to stay true to the text, I can hardly see how the addition of one character to what will likely only be a relatively small section of a trilogy of 3 hour films will “destroy the joint”. Given Tolkien’s inclusion of the female warrior Eowyn in LOTR, is not the idea of a female elf warrior in keeping with his vision for Middle-Earth? The vast majority of the adaptation is extremely true to the text and the biggest plot expansion, the Necromancer in Mirkwood, is drawn from Tolkien’s other works, so I can’t help but feel that Peter Jackson & Fran Walsh’s  intentions are good, so what is people’s beef?

I think it’s fair to say that Tolkien ( and this goes for Game of Thrones and other medieval-inspired epics that have been adapted in Sansarecent years ) was trying to emulate the social norms of a fantasy version of medieval Britain- which like it or not- was not exactly female friendly. And while the lack of female characters stands as testament to this, I hardly feel like this is the most important aspect of The Hobbit and if you need to pad out the story ( as turning it into a trilogy necessitates- but that’s a whole other article ), why not pad it with some kick-ass female role-models?

This dailylife article sums it all up nicely too and brings up another victim of the fan rage – Sansa Stark from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Whereas Tolkien was creating a whole new genre at the time, I think that Martin is really deconstructing that genre in ASOIAF, hence his modern, and enlightened, focus on women in Westeros and beyond. Sansa is perhaps the clearest “victim” of this deconstruction, as she most clearly represents the archetype of the demur “princess just waiting around for her prince”- who is most horribly punished for her naivety.

If you’re interested in looking further, Chuck Wendig has written a great ( if naughty language heavy ) blog post about why he thinks it IS important to look at these issues in our books ( and, I suspect, by extension, our movies & TV adaptations ). What’s you take on Tauriel & Sansa? Why all the hate and rage?

5 Responses to “Fan Rage, Women & The Hobbit”

  1. Zephyr says:

    I agree completely.. I don't understand it either! Notice no one is complaining about the appearance of Legolas?

    i am told that females in any gaming situation put up with a lot of abuse too.. i do play, but have managed to avoid online gaming so far, so this isn't something i have experienced personally..

  2. Mark C says:


    Zephyr

    I agree completely.. I don't understand it either! Notice no one is complaining about the appearance of Legolas?

    i am told that females in any gaming situation put up with a lot of abuse too.. i do play, but have managed to avoid online gaming so far, so this isn't something i have experienced personally..

    I linked to this up on Facebook too and got some good reactions and even a reply blog post on Nerdalicious: http://nerdalicious.com.au/filmtv/fan-rage-women-the-hobbit-a-fans-resonse-and-some-dwarf-respect/ Olga levels her criticism at the film adaptation as a whole rather than the specifics of Tauriel or even her gender. Well worth reading! Hopefully Olga will join us here on the Forums soon.

  3. Olga says:

    Er sorry it took me so long Mark. The forum registration kept trying to defeat me (or I confused myself which is far more likely)

    I suppose people find Leogolas being included acceptable because it is technically his home and he most likely would have been there (even if Tolkien didn't make the connection later). The timeline makes sense in any case.
    I haven't read the revised manuscript of the Hobbit Tolkien began yet, but I wonder if he would have included Legolas in there to tie it in to LOTR? That was why he started the revision in any case.

  4. Mark C says:


    Olga

    Er sorry it took me so long Mark. The forum registration kept trying to defeat me (or I confused myself which is far more likely)

    I suppose people find Leogolas being included acceptable because it is technically his home and he most likely would have been there (even if Tolkien didn't make the connection later). The timeline makes sense in any case.
    I haven't read the revised manuscript of the Hobbit Tolkien began yet, but I wonder if he would have included Legolas in there to tie it in to LOTR? That was why he started the revision in any case.

    No worries- Glad you could make it on!:) I do find it interesting that Tolkien did revise The Hobbit to better align it to LOTR- something I hadn't known until a few years ago. It does make sense that Legolas would've been there and given Tolkien's interest in creating meaningful backstories and histories I wouldn't be surprised if he would've added an appearance by him, but then it would perhaps seem odd that Legolas would never mention meeting Bilbo during LOTR?

  5. Olga says:

    I haven't come across a connection between them in any of the Middle Earth histories either (although I haven't finished all of them) but I am pretty sure Tolkien hadn't created a story between them. Then again I am not sure if he created Legolas until he started writing Lord of the Rings

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