awrrex a demandé: 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.
the average life expectancy in 1830s france was 36.7 years.
AKA, while the amis’ early deaths were tragic, they actually did all right for the time….and jean valjean was basically an actuarial miracle.
(source: adolphe, comte d’angeville’s essai sur la statistique de la population francaise, 1836.)
As an epidemiologist, I can’t quite let this go without comment. (barricadeur, this isn’t me trying to tell you you’re wrong, just a clarification.)
It’s a very common misconception, but ‘average life expectancy’ does not mean that the majority of people die at around whatever that average life expectancy is. The majority of people in 1830s France did not die in their mid-thirties. Actually, a relatively small fraction of the population would have died in their mid-thirties. This is because the ‘average life expectancy’ averages ALL deaths, and when you have a substantial percentage of the population dying in childhood — as was true, everywhere, until the 20th century — that drags your ‘average life expectancy’ way down.
The average life expectancy of the population as a whole was in the mid-thirties, but the average life expectancy of anyone who lived past childhood — generally, around age seven or eight was the ‘safe’ age — was much higher. Among the European urban poor in the 18th and 19th centuries, the infant and childhood mortality was often greater than 50%, mostly due to infectious disease. If you survived childhood, though, you had a good chance of living to your fifties and sixties. Averaging the two together gives you a total ‘life expectancy’ in the thirties, but because of the way the mortality curve falls, when you are concerned with adults they are likely to live well past their thirties. The Amis therefore did die young — they didn’t die when they were children, so they had every reasonable assumption of living until they were old men.
Moreover, average life expectancies of the population as a whole don’t take into consideration class, which had a huge influence on life expectancy (again, until the 20th century). The upper class (of anywhere and anywhen) has always had lower infant mortality, longer lives, and less risk of dying as a young adult through illness or accident. In 19th c. France, the upper class regularly lived into their seventies and eighties; M. Gillenormaund, in his 90s, would have been considered an old man but it would not have been considered particularly remarkable that he was an old man, after all, he was rich. The majority of the Amis were wealthy — so again, they did die young, they had every reasonable assumption of approaching M. Gillenormaund in age (as, presumably, Marius did).
Valjean is something of a special case. He did beat the odds on several occasions: first, he survived childhood, which is a feat in and of itself, given that he was born poor. (Although he was rural poor; that makes a positive difference; death rates were distinctly different between the city and the country because of the burden of infectious disease.) Second, he survived Toulon; spiderfire ran the numbers recently and determined he had a 1 in 3 chance of surviving 19 years. And third, he survived moving to the city (M-sur-M and then Paris, FFS) as an adult, which wouldn’t have been an issue except that, as mentioned above, he was rural poor. Historically, the rural population was not exposed to all the crowd diseases as young children, which gave them a better infant mortality rate but a much, much worse mortality rate among adults who later moved to the city; contracting the majority of the common crowd diseases as an adult has a substantially worse outcome than contracting those diseases in childhood. So Valjean is exceptional in that he lived to be an old man, not because there were no old men in 19th c. France, but because of his life history.
I dug up an awful lot of data/information about early nineteenth century French mortality rates and life expectancy some time ago. Should I see if I can find it back?
Yes!!!! I’m going to try and find the relevant information in my epidemiology textbooks, but I doubt any of that information is going to be anywhere near as narrow as ‘19th c. France’. IIRC, historical data given in the textbooks were either ‘case-study’ examples, where you were given just one historical record as an ‘example’, or was Europe-wide and highly generalized.
(Oh gosh, I’m so glad I had actually left some notes for myself as to where to find everything back. I’m not always so foresighted.)
Okay so, the exact age people died at is hard to know for sure because there’s no precise, year-by-year data for it before 1899, but by comparing the censuses made in France between 1901 and 1901 and the information the civil registry could give them, it was possible to make good estimates.
Now I’m just going to cut short and graphspam.
Age distribution according to the 1851 census (men on the left, women on the right; in black are the actual datum, but the white curve is the adjusted one because 1. a lot of people didn’t know their exact age, so they rounded it up to the nearest multiple of 5, and 2. the number of children (alive or dead) was usually either underestimated or not taken into account, hence the lager white bars at the bottom of the pyramid.):
They could even recreate the mortality rates by age in 1853 for men:
(the part of the graph for over 25 should be smoother, it’s the rounding-age-up thing again)
Life expectancy at birth between 1806 and 1898:
And the same thing, but in numbers:
Mortality rates for people aged in infancy, and for the 1-4 and 5-14 years old ranges:
Mortality rates for people aged between 15 and 24 years old:
Oh wow great, there’s no graph for the 25-34 range. Moving on, then.
Mortality rates for people aged in the 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, 65-74 and 75-84 years old ranges:
Also, from another source, Life expectancy at birth from 1750 to 2000 (women in grey, men in black):
And for anyone who likes to see large tables of numbers with no explanation whatsoever: here are the life tables for men, women, and both sexes for the 19th century in the entirety of France. By year. It’s absolutely great once you can make sense out of it (as far as I can tell, the columns go as: Age - Population alive per 100,000 people - Number of death over the year to come for [column x] people - Same thing, but in presented as a ratio - Average life expectancy for the survivors - and, uh, idk?)
IIRC, 1832 was not a really good year.