alex-does-mad-science a dit: So, me and some friends went and saw the Hobbit and THE SCENES WITH LAURIEL MADE ME SO ANGRY. I understand wanting to introduce female characters, but they've set it up so that all she is is a romantic subplot tool and it's so frustrating! Also, so much bloat. They could have done this in two instead of three movies. Too much mountain.
Look, I’ll be the first person to admit that Tolkien could maybe use some more ladies in his books, and that I’m not entirely happy with the way he writes ladies. But I’m even more upset with Peter Jackson, who included exactly three novel female characters, one of whom was an elf, and two of whom were children whose only role was to scream a lot.
For one thing, there are thirteen fucking perfectly good dwarves that could have been genderbent to good effect — last time I checked, for example “Ori” and “Oin” were pretty gender neutral names (And, oh man, if Gloin had been cast female, I would have literally jumped up and down in delight for so many reasons). This would have allowed Peter Jackson to create meaningful female characters who contributed materially to the quest without introducing long, bloated subplots to the film that MADE NO SENSE. It also would have allowed us to get away from bearded dwarf ladies as a JOKE and see them as actual, real people.
But, okay, if he wanted his lady character to belong to the race that he has decided will be portrayed by slender, conventionally attractive white people … fine. It’s not an unproblematic decision, but once you make it, you do have the responsibility to treat her as a person with her own emotional agency, and that’s my biggest problem with her romantic subplots; her own opinions aren’t actually all that important. Thranduil yells at her because he says that Legolas has a crush, but her behavior doesn’t indicate that this is anything but one-sided. Similarly, Kili’s declaration comes to her when she is his doctor and he is a patient, hardly the circumstances under which she could actually make a true emotional declaration (especially since, conveniently, her patient doesn’t even think she’s REAL, so nothing they say really counts as an emotional truth anyway). I don’t object to female characters being involved in romantic plots (and I do actually LIKE that Kili, rather than Tauriel, is the damsel in distress), but I do object to female characters being the object of romantic plots without being given the agency to determine their own fate within them.
I also think that a Romeo and Juliet plot to reconcile Dwarves and Elves, if it’s used here (and it looks like it’s going to be, since we know that Kili will die, and I think it very likely that Tauriel will too), immeasurably cheapens the relationships of Gimli with Galadriel and Legolas, because it means that reconciliation does not come about through the elves explicit admission that the culture and way of life of the Dwarves has inherent value (Galadriel’s role), and it makes Legolas into a petulant child nursing a grudge over the death of a loved one rather that someone who makes a conscious! difficult decision to overcome his own prejudices.
And, to be perfectly fair, if you do see Legolas and Gimli as a romantic couple (and I think this is a very valid interpretation of the two, even though Tolkien would have considered it … non-canonical, at best), I think that their romance is, as a queer romance between two people who, neither of them, really fall into normalized ideals of masculinity, a more interesting, more desperately needed romance, than a straight romance between two conventionally super attractive people, whose only objection to being together lies in a FICTIONAL difference in race. And having two ridiculous queer boys reunite their peoples through the power of grouchy beards and walks in the woods is, I think, more powerful than having two super attractive people do it through conventional romance.
I’m also really bothered by all of the little ways in which Peter Jackson showed that, sure, Tauriel might be badass and rebellious and all that, but she’s still not as good of a fighter as Legolas.
(Oh, and that thing she says about fighting evil and being part of this world. Is not, to my mind, a thing an Elf would say. And also I’m not sure that she should glow.)
(So I’m just going to blame everyone. EVERYONE. Just going to go off and cry about Antoine-Jean Gros, Georges Pontmercy, and Mabeuf….)
50-Year-Old Mystery Over the Identity of the Soldier in "A Farewell at Elba" Solved
A recently uncovered letter by British captain John Aubrey solves one part of the Gros mystery that has puzzled art historians for over half a century.