hobbit_taurielThis morning Voyager Online asked why the majority of online reactions to the newly-created elfmaid Tauriel sadly seem to be misogynistic and packed full of nerd-rage. The first part of the question is simple enough, it doesn’t take a lot of eloquent thought to brand a female character you dislike a “stupid bitch” and we all know what the internet is full of. The second part of the question is a little more complex.

I have to preface this by stating that I have enjoyed all of Peter Jackson’s adaptions so far, and I am sure I will enoy the next two. But it is not without complaint.

Is it just a desire to stay true to the text? No, it’s a desire for the story to stay true to the creation of Middle Earth, and Middle Earth is no trifling matter. The reason The Lord of the Rings has inspired such a devoted fanbase is because Tolkien changed the world of fantasy literature forever. His publishers didn’t like the idea of an unseen foe, thought that people didn’t want to see fallibility in their heroes, the book was too big, and too risky, not foreseeing it would become one of the most-read books in literary history.

You could say Tolkien fans can be rather difficult. It is with good reason.

Voyager asks “if you need to pad out the story why not pad it with some kick-ass female role-models?” adding that we had the female warrior Eowyn in the LOTR movie trilogy.

Firstly let’s not reduce the character of Eowyn to a simple “female warrior” when comparing it to the movie-creation character of Tauriel. Eowyn was Tolkien’s most complex and interesting female character (and there was certainly not a lot of them in Lord of the Rings), initially a tragic character, infinitely brave yet desperately sad, one who sought peace as well as glory in battle and death, until “her heart changed, or at least she understood it; and the winter passed, and the sun shone upon her.

What can we expect from Tauriel? In a cringe-worthy statement Evangeline Lilly claims she is “supposed to be an absolutely ruthless, deadly killer” clearly not grasping the anti-war themes that pervade Tolkien’s works (whether you cordially despise allegory or not Professor). With statements like this it’s not surprising so many fans are complaining about the “video game” aspect of The Hobbit movies, something we of course saw in the LOTR movie trilogy, but not on such a grand scale. After all they had to leave a lot out, in The Hobbit they are getting to pack a whole lot more in.

The Battle of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers is an excellent example of the film-version not respecting the text. In the book, Legolas and Gimli are keeping count of how many they have slain. Peter Jackson interpreted this, in the movie, as a sort of testosterone-fuelled silly game which ends with Gimli out-scoring Legolas, jeering at him and Legolas having a little tantrum and trying to kill an already-dead Orc to catch up. Of course it is a far cry from the book, where it shows men in battle trying to master fear, and comradeship, Legolas telling Gimli “You have passed my score by one. But I do not grudge you the game, so glad am I to see you on your legs!

Then there is the treatment of Gimli. It is true the Dwarves in The Hobbit novel are for the most part, a little more light-hearted, but this wasn’t the case in The Lord of the Rings. A far cry from the first dwarves of Middle Earth, who fought Morgoth alongside men and elves at The Battle of Unnumbered Tears, Peter Jackson insisted on using Gimli as the funny-side-kick-to-Mister-Majestic-elf in the LOTR movie trilogy. Yes he did show the friendship between Legolas and Gimli develop, a very important theme in the book, but he also left a lot of Dwarf traits out to make Gimli look less hardy than his human and elf companions. Dwarves in fact, are much stronger than humans (and hobbits) and have much more endurance, so what was the necessity of having Gimli puffing and complaining while running behind Aragorn and Legolas, if not to make him more amusing? Clownish, in fact. Gimli is comic relief.

In a spin on Gimli’s ardent admiration of Galadriel, Peter Jackson will have the character of Kili mooning after Tauriel. Gimli and Galadriel’s exchange was symbolic, a pledge of peace and mutual respect. I doubt Kili’s affection for Tauriel is going to show us anything important, other than the two prettiest characters in the movie indulging in some flirting to please those who like a little romance. I am not even going to get into the portrayal of dwarves and hobbits as sex symbols. It is weird, and icky.

The Hobbit, was of course a children’s book, and never intended to be a serious epic as The Lord of the Rings was. Movies are marketed at different audiences, decisions made for marketing and merchandising reasons, and more often than not take at least some of the heart out of the story it is adapted from. It is not changes and additions The Hobbit in particular that get fans worked up, it’s not because Tauriel is a girl. It is, quite simply, the treatment of Middle Earth as a whole.

Because yes, it is “Our Precious”.

Read Voyager Online’s Blog Fan Rage, Women & The Hobbit

About The Author

Olga Hughes is currently pre-occupied with fairy tales, fantasy, misanthropy, medieval history and the long eighteenth century. She has a Bachelor of Fine Art from the Victorian College of the Arts and is currently majoring in Literature and History at Deakin. She has contributed to websites such as History behind Game of Thrones, The Anne Boleyn Files and The Tudor Society.

3 Responses

  1. Feamelwen

    Oh god, I totally agree. I don’t care whatsoever about Tauriel being a female elf.
    What I DO care about is :

    a) putting in a whole new character, that, unless some writing genius or miracle happens, will necessarily be underdeveloped, when we already have TONS of undeveloped charcaters, like the dwarves, whom we already know and who could benefit from a little more screen-time, even if it would be PJ-patented and not exactly taken from the books. Just a strict tiny bit more of charcater development, dammit!

    b) I also care, in the sense that I absolutely loathe it (I’ve already seen the second movie), about the rote “love” story and the shoe-horned love triangle (really, the screenwriters? really?). I second everyhting you already said about it. Yes, to see a sexualized dwarf while the others remain goofy and cartoonish (except for Thorin, of course) is odd and almost icky, as you said. Yes, dwarves have women in their own people, but the whole point of their people is their secretive and solitary nature. We know that many dwarves prefet not to marry at all, even with women of their own people available for marriage.
    And of course, it JUST SO HAPPENS that the one dwarf to fall for the elf is the one who is good-looking in human terms and who doesn’t actually look like a dwarf AT ALL. Thanks for that. Because of that, it’s not even a beauty and the beast story, which would have been just as underdeveloped, but maybe a tiny bit more interesting, because there would be, you know, some CONFLICT. What we see are just two gorgeous people who flirt with each other without restraint and are only pretending to be separated by some terrible social and racial boundaries. It doesn’t work, like, AT ALL, and it takes time from …. ghaaaaah, so many other parts who could have had more screen time! Like Beorn (who comes and goes in five minutes), Gandalf on his journey or the company in Mirkwood. The fact that Legolas was in the film at all also doesn’t bother me that much … Of course, since he has nothing to do here, I would rather him being a background charcater and just a quick and pleasurable fan-service moment, than him being one of the main characters …

    But on top of that, he gets swept up in the love triangle as well, and it’s so nauseating that I must stop writing this response right now and go to puke.
    Thanks for reading anyway!

    • Olga

      Please don’t vomit LOL. I haven’t seen it yet (not out until the 25th here) and am trying to read with my eyes closed – but they have shown the romantic stuff between Legolas and Tauriel in the trailer. Although this does sound slightly worse than I was expecting.

    • Erulasse Aranel

      That’s pretty much my opinion on the whole thing, especially the *shudders* love triangle! I mean, that’s quite a huge change you’ve made there, and especially because it changes first Kili, one of the- um- second main characters…? Supporting characters?… and, worst of all, Legolas! I personally don’t even think he should be in this, but I suppose it wouldn’t be bad at all to give him a small part. A small part… Not a love story!!! What- were- you- thinking, Peter Jackson?! I don’t know, but it certainly wasn’t logical whatever it was… And of course there’s the whole problem of those movies being WAY stretched out, but that’s another issue… And- “a ruthless killer”??? What? Again, Sir Director, no. Just. No. Leave the ruthless killing to Sauron. And I’m a girl; I and probably many other enraged fans certainly wouldn’t mind an elf-maiden in the story, so don’t say we’re prejudiced about that. Also, I noticed you entered an Elven name ^u^.