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 recent 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?