Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Where are the womyn of Middle Earth?

This critic of Peter Jackson's version of The Hobbit doesn't appear to have read the books as an adult either:
I did not read The Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings trilogy as a child, and I have always felt a bit alienated from the fandom surrounding them. Now I think I know why: Tolkien seems to have wiped women off the face of Middle-earth. I suppose it’s understandable that a story in which the primary activity seems to be chopping off each other’s body parts for no particular reason might be a little heavy on male characters — although it’s not as though Tolkien had to hew to historical accuracy when he created his fantastical world. The problem is one of biological accuracy. Tolkien’s characters defy the basics of reproduction: dwarf fathers beget dwarf sons, hobbit uncles pass rings down to hobbit nephews. If there are any mothers or daughters, aunts or nieces, they make no appearances. Trolls and orcs especially seem to rely on asexual reproduction, breeding whole male populations, which of course come in handy when amassing an army to attack the dwarves and elves.
Perhaps for her next trick, Miz Konigsberg can lament the lack of women in movies based on the Apollo program, the medieval Papacy, and the National Football League.  Personally, I think it is absolutely obnoxious that Jackson, or more accurately, his female co-writer, dared to create characters, male or female, who don't exist in the books.

She doesn't even appear to have seen Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, or she might have noticed Aragorn marrying Arwen, Eowyn pairing up with Faramir, and Samwise marrying Rosey.

67 comments:

Ian Ironwood said...

Okay, now I'm pissed off.

I'm a hardcore hobbithead. I read the Hobbit when I was eight and never quite recovered. I've read the combined series - The Hobbit and LOTR -- over 250 times in my lifetime. Mrs. I was in hysterics as I mouthed lines of dialogue with the movies for the first time. I know a fair amount of Elvish (both Quenya and Sindarin) and I can reel off names and places from the First Age to the Fourth in my sleep (and occasionally do).

Not only is Ms. Konigsberg in error, as you point out, but she totally misses the point of the exercise: there were "no women" in Middle-Earth (that is, as main characters in the story) because Tolkien wrote within the tradition of the Western European Heroic Saga, in which it is MEN who get together, build boats, and conquer new worlds, not women. Or womyn.

Tolkien knew that such heroics were in the province of masculinity, not femininity, and with a few brave exceptions his characters are male because they do stuff, not sit around and talk about stuff (Elrond and Bombidil notwithstanding). The Hobbit and LOTR are action and adventure stories, not hen parties. There is evil to be faced, not a protest to be planned. It is a matter of life and death, freedom and slavery, not consensus and agreement and cooperation. At its core, LOTR is a celebration of the masculine will to adventure, to fight, to accomplish tasks and take risks in the pursuit of something larger than ourselves. It is a look at why men face down evil when they find it, and the perils and pitfalls of doing so.

Okay. I think I'm done. Need a shot of mirouvir now.

Unending Improvement said...

Ladygish is really mucking up those comments. I had a mocking reply ready, but decided that I didn't want Time to have my email address, I don't want their crap flooding my box.

Daniel said...

Gadzooks. Is she also irritated that the automatic exit doors at TJ Max don't open for her when she tries to go in the wrong way?

I really want to know more about this creature's laser-focused insights. Does she get mad because her kindle can't give her paper cuts? Throw a righteous fit because righty-tighty and lefty-loosie? Because her iphone doesn't cause the sexy cancers?

It's like she doesn't care for studying history because Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure was too complex and nuanced.

Girls like that are worth their weight in gold. They give banal idiocy a joie de vivre it simply could not attain by the normal means.

Run along, precious spinster. I'm sure they'll come out with a Sweet Valley High adaptation that suits your fancy, any day now.

Josh said...

Why aren't there any black people in Hitler's high command in all those ww2 movies?

Anonymous said...

Besides Eowyn, Arwen, and Rose, there's Galadriel, of course.

Also, Konigsberg has missed the point of the orcs reproducing asexually. As a Catholic, Tolkien believed in the inherent goodness and appropriacy of sexual reproduction (within marriage). The fact that the orcs reproduce asexually is further evidence of their _evil_ nature. This is evidence that Tolkien _valued_ the role of women in reproduction, not the opposite.

Soga said...

It's things like this that really show how feminism is its own satire.

ajw308 said...

I watched The Longest Day last weekend. It's a 3 hour movie and there's 1 woman in it. She's in the French Resistance.

Assault on Firebase Gloria has less women (as I recall).

Where are women in war movies? Or would she object to the rape scenes?

Wendy said...

Oi, women ruin everything.

Ok, perhaps she should read and/or watch before writing an article, and then, explain Dernhelm.

What feminists don't get is that in world Tolkien wrote (and lived), women were too precious to waste in wars and high adventure. And they still are. Even Tolkien had an example of the outlier woman, and she was driven by despair and to some degree ambition. The role given to Arwen in FOTR by Jackson was stupid if one knows the real story. Given what happened to Celebrian, there is no way Elrond would let Arwen wander about alone. We don't need more stories of women unrealistically kicking butt.

And as for orcs and trolls, Tolkien preferred not to go into any detail as to how they multiplied.

Stingray said...

It's been several years since I read LOTR, but wasn't it Eowyn who killed the ring wraith? I often wondered what Tolkien meant by that as it was apparent he believed as Wendy stated above, that women were too precious to waste in war.

Soga said...

Another brilliant example of feminist self-satire by sara.i.rosenbaum in the comments over there:

"Tolkien's much more comfortable with homosocial bromance than with anything involving even a hint of heterosexuality. If you don't believe me, reread the scene where Sam kills Shelob the giant spider - probably the most vivid female character in the books - by skewering her bloated, heaving abdomen with his fragile upright sword. YUP."

I want to laugh. I really do. But I can't. This creature is just... so pitiable. I would feel bad about laughing at someone who exhibits this level of mental incapacity.

This is also another element I see a lot in feminist writings. They seem to love to make sexual innuendos out of everything, and especially where there is really none. Never mind that Sam is a FREAKING HOBBIT (between 3' and 4' tall), and he was fighting a GIANT spider. It makes sense that he would likely end up killing the spider by striking upward at its abdomen.

I guess when you're a fat, ugly feminist, you have to fantasize about having "swords" skewering your "abdomen" because there's no other way you're really getting that action.

Signe said...

It's been several years since I read LOTR, but wasn't it Eowyn who killed the ring wraith?

Yes. Yes, it was.

Stickwick said...

Stingray,

Eowyn not only killed a ringwraith, she killed the ringwraith -- the Witch-king of Angmar. Men of war would fall cowering before him, but she took care of business. Then you had Galadriel who was one of the most powerful and wise beings in Middle Earth. But that's apparently not good enough. We need Middle Earth Affirmative Action to have more bearded dwarf ladies to serve as comic relief and more hardy Hobbit womyn joining in on all the toiling and questing.

My dad once told me that the reason women have to butt in on everything is because they can't stand to be left out. Jackson's critic certainly supports this idea. Personally, I enjoy an all-male ensemble vibe in stories -- like The Hobbit, Carpenter's The Thing, the first Expendables movie, etc. -- so, it's difficult for me to understand this gal's POV. I'm almost dreading the next Hobbit movie, because of the writers shoe-horning the elf chick into the story.

Stickwick said...

" ... Shelob the giant spider - probably the most vivid female character in the books ..."

That she remembered a hideous spider as the most vivid female character in the LOTR says everything we need to know about her mindset.

taterearl said...

"My dad once told me that the reason women have to butt in on everything is because they can't stand to be left out."

And that's why being vague with everything is like chick crack. There's no more party when she knows everything about you.

Giraffe said...

But Peter Jackson, the director of The Hobbit, has said, “To me, fantasy should be as real as possible. I don’t subscribe to the notion that because it’s fantastical it should be unrealistic.

Glad he didn't go for realism. Who wants to sit through two hours of women whining about everything?

Stingray said...

Personally, I enjoy an all-male ensemble vibe in stories -- like The Hobbit, Carpenter's The Thing, the first Expendables movie, etc. -- so, it's difficult for me to understand this gal's POV.

I couldn't agree more. I would go so far as to say Tolkien would not be remembered today had he done as this woman wishes. His books books would have been completely forgettable.

because of the writers shoe-horning the elf chick into the story.

I didn't know that. Bleh.

It's a classic for a reason. Precisely what about it should be changed? Do they honestly think they could improve it? That's like saying Shakespeare's plays were missing something so here, let me just add this bit in so I feel better about it.

Jeigh Di said...

"Also, Konigsberg has missed the point of the orcs reproducing asexually. As a Catholic, Tolkien believed in the inherent goodness and appropriacy of sexual reproduction (within marriage). The fact that the orcs reproduce asexually is further evidence of their _evil_ nature. This is evidence that Tolkien _valued_ the role of women in reproduction, not the opposite."

Actually, Tolkien wrote in The Silmarillion that orcs reproduced "after the manner of the children of Iluvatar" i.e. elves and men. I've never understood what possessed Peter Jackson to add those gross out scenes saying otherwise. But he added a bunch of other crap too.

Jeigh Di said...

Also, Tolkien commented that Bilbo and Frodo were quite unusual for never having married.

Stickwick said...

I would go so far as to say Tolkien would not be remembered today had he done as this woman wishes. His books books would have been completely forgettable.

In all likelihood. I dunno if this is Konigsberg's explicit motive, but it seems to be a motive of feminists in general -- to make masculine literature irrelevant.

swiftfoxmark2 said...

In the expanded versions, there were hints of Faramir and Eowyn.

I did like the idea of exploring the relationship between Aragorn and Arwen with Elrond caught in the middle. Seeing your daughter become a mortal might not be an easy thing for an immortal father, especially after seeing his own brother make the same choice and the disastrous results of the future generations.

Still, it did slow down the pace of the movie and they didn't exactly do a good job of explaining the implications of Arwen's actions in marrying her distant cousin.

VD said...

Actually, Tolkien wrote in The Silmarillion that orcs reproduced "after the manner of the children of Iluvatar" i.e. elves and men.

Weren't orcs simply elves that were degraded and twisted by Morgoth?

Daniel said...

Weren't orcs simply elves that were degraded and twisted by Morgoth?

No. They may have been, and it is clear that Morgoth/Melkor had a twisted hybrid program going on that provides the origin of orcs, but in the Hobbit, Azog (the orc) is listed as a father. It was something that Tolkien fussed about but never came down terribly clearly on.

So, yes orcs were not "created" out of nothing, and their ability to reproduce "naturally" was, at best, a supplementary function.

It isn't that clear - to the point that I honestly can't remember which book has which origin version (I trust the above is correct, but I know it is also incomplete). All I remember is being terribly intrigued and simultaneously confused by the orc origin mystery.

One of the goblin stories somewhere suggests that they were a native evil precisely because they were the only non-sexual creatures with the capacity for speech.

Jeigh Di said...

"Weren't orcs simply elves that were degraded and twisted by Morgoth?"

According to the Silmarillion, yes.

Jimmy said...

The issue of reproduction is interesting considering that feminists are opposed to it.

Daniel said...

To clarify: the "no" was to the "merely" part. Yes orcs were a degradation, and at least to a great degree, somehow asexually hybridized and created. Melkor doesn't give out his recipe. However, there are other indicators that reproduction was possible the normal way under certain circumstances. Bolg being the kid of Azog, for one, but even more, there's something in either Tolkien's notes or letters, or heck maybe an appendix where he say's there probably were orc gals somewhere, but they were off in another dingy secret part of Middle Earth, away from the action, presumably dreaming of writing for Time Magazine.

Jules L. said...

I watched The Longest Day last weekend. It's a 3 hour movie and there's 1 woman in it. She's in the French Resistance.

A few more excellent movies with barely a woman in them are: The Hunt for Red October, Master and Commander and Glory. None of these were made in the last 10 years. Would be well nigh impossible to get away with it now.

Sarah said...

" I suppose it’s understandable that a story in which the primary activity seems to be chopping off each other’s body parts for no particular reason"

This comment says it all, Vox. No further explanation required. She's a dunce.

"Weren't orcs simply elves that were degraded and twisted by Morgoth?"

Yes, but it's important to remember that these elves allowed themselves to be warped. They were afraid to face down evil, so they *turned to it* instead if only to save themselves some pain.

Jimmy said...

It is lovely how we make sexist movies in the 21st century. What else is new? Perhaps the sexist Obama Administration with its all male Cabinet.

Wendy said...

Never mind that Sam is a FREAKING HOBBIT (between 3' and 4' tall), and he was fighting a GIANT spider. It makes sense that he would likely end up killing the spider by striking upward at its abdomen.

Actually, he used Shelob's strength against her by propping the sword on the ground as she tried to crush him because he knew his strength alone wasn't sufficient to adequately wound her. Sting well lived up to its name.

They may have been, and it is clear that Morgoth/Melkor had a twisted hybrid program going on that provides the origin of orcs...

Melkor couldn't actually create anything, so he was left to twist and torture things to his purpose. This leaves an even worse possibility as to the fate of the elf women he captured. Because he was never particularly specific, I don't think Tolkien liked to dwell on that aspect of Middle Earth.

Wendy said...

But Peter Jackson, the director of The Hobbit, has said, “To me, fantasy should be as real as possible. I don’t subscribe to the notion that because it’s fantastical it should be unrealistic.

Wait, did he watch his own movies? The stone giant scenes? The amazing, magical falls with nary a scratch (and not crushed)? Thorin being gnawed on and unconscious then fine right after?

Wendy said...

It's a classic for a reason. Precisely what about it should be changed?

They said it lacked feminine energy. Not looking forward to it.

ray said...

"Personally, I think it is absolutely obnoxious that Jackson, or more accurately, his female co-writer, dared to create characters, male or female, who don't exist in the books."


yep the only major flaw in the LOTR films

Holyrood and its PC Politburo couldnt resist "improving" a rare masterwork by forcing heroic females into characters and situations not extant in tolkien's books

suddenly, arwen -- not glorfindel, 'cause who needs another stupid MALE hero? -- carries frodo across bruinen, saving the day . . . yeah! right on! if only more women were presidents and corporation execs, why, the world would finally be a Happy and Equal Place!

jackson dropped the ball(s) when he allowed his female co-writers to insert their ideopolitical thuggery into what was already judged good

for like reasons, every Holyrood film must include some female kicking the ass of males, or smashing him in the testicles, etc etc

FIRST, the requisite sop to FemPower, and THEN we'll get on with the "story"

it says a great deal about the (pathological) psychology of people in the West -- male and female

Stingray said...

suddenly, arwen -- not glorfindel, 'cause who needs another stupid MALE hero? -- carries frodo across bruinen, saving the day

I was absolutely furious at this when I saw the movie. The book is so incredible. I can no longer get but slightly annoyed when someone says women ruin everything, because dammit, we do.

Unending Improvement said...

Yep. You'll note that even Expendables 2, as male-oriented as it was, as criticized by feminists for being macho and macho being "bad", had to include an ass-kicking female character.

Cail Corishev said...

"This is also another element I see a lot in feminist writings. They seem to love to make sexual innuendos out of everything, and especially where there is really none."

This is especially obnoxious in online fandom for seemingly every single piece of entertainment ever made -- people scour it for any possible homosexual subtext, and exaggerate it and build fan-fiction around it until you can't hardly chat with people about your favorite series without hearing someone talk about the way Spock was looking at shirtless Kirk that one time.

Daniel said...

I was okay (for a movie, after all. It wasn't like I was ever going to lose sight of the book.) with swapping Glorfindel for Arwen, even though I felt the twinge. I knew going in that the very pretty courtship between Strider and Arwen would likely be woven in.

I also stupidly assumed they'd have, for the same purposes, the Healing House scene, transitioning Eowyn from her interest to her lifelong love in Faramir.

Yes, it "should" have been Glorfindel, but it wasn't like they made Arwen a warrior princess. She did a she-elf thing, and struck out to aid her future husband in a fairly feminine way.

The bit that bothered me is that it was she, and not Frodo, who argued with the nazgul at the riverbank before Elrond washed them away (with a clever assist from you-know-who.)

Overall, the adaptation didn't bother me that they took liberties to put a pretty elf into the third circle (instead of the 4th). What bothered me is that they whiffed entirely on the release of Saruman by Fangorn, and the scourging of the shire. Hell, he could have released an 1.5 hour epilog recounting the militia revolution and its various intrigues.

If for nothing else, but to give the excellent Christopher Lee a more epic and tragic trajectory.

Oh, and I guess, to please the Konigsberg's of the world, they could have made wormtongue a topless lesbian.

IrishFarmer said...

This reasoning is probably also why they cast a female in the lead of the Evil Dead remake, which completes the "this remake will suck" trifecta. That is, the original was a product of its time, a product of its director (at a certain point in his career), and it featured a lead which could only convincingly be pulled off by a man (IMO). This remake will have none of that, and the one of those three failures they actually could have controlled (the main character) they still chose to ruin.

Eowyn was portrayed as more of a feminist heroine in the Return of the King movie than she was in the book. In the book: After she kills the witch-king, she decides that fighting isn't her thing and she wants to help people instead. This is a completely rational reaction anyone would have, since fighting, killing, and dying aren't really virtues, they're obligations that essentially dehumanize and dis-empower you. If you don't have to do those things, why would you strive to do them anyway?

In the movie, they make it seem as if it's Eowyn's grrrrl power that allows her to kill the witch-king, but in the book it's clearer that it has more to do with "prophecy" than anything else. That is, the witch-king COULD have been killed by a man, but it was prophesied otherwise.

As far as this author is concerned, however, I don't think any of that factors in. We're supposed to rewrite the best of everything to better suit an unrealistic feminist narrative. Why not ruin The Hobbit as well?

I, for one, am anxiously awaiting the all-female Expendables sequel.

kh123 said...

Ironic that her last name translates somewhat as King's Mountain.

Jimmy said...

"I can no longer get but slightly annoyed when someone says women ruin everything, because dammit, we do."

Except for the happy ending. I think having a woman appear in the ending with a happy embrace and lustful kiss works. And maybe a little more.

Leonidas said...

Nevermind that the whole thing about there only being male dwarves doesn't appear at any point in any of Tolkien's works. The film adaptations borrowed that joke from Terry Pratchett.

Stickwick said...

Yes, it "should" have been Glorfindel, but it wasn't like they made Arwen a warrior princess. She did a she-elf thing, and struck out to aid her future husband in a fairly feminine way.

It would have been far less egregious to swap Arwen for Glorfindel if all she'd done was show up to do what Glorfindel did in the book -- Bakshi swapped Legolas for Glorfindel in the animated film to keep things simple, and it worked fine -- but what I objected to was Arwen doing the "You want him? Well, BRING IT" thing at the Ford of Bruinen instead of Frodo. That was his moment. The whole point was to show how hobbits, Frodo in particular, are made of stern stuff. It's meaningless to have an immortal, who says she's not afraid of the ringwraiths, to stand up to them. The writers did stuff like this time and again in the movies -- screwing up scenes that were supposed to show how the hobbits and other characters were strong, and making them soppy and weak instead.

This reasoning is probably also why they cast a female in the lead of the Evil Dead remake, which completes the "this remake will suck" trifecta.

The Thing was remade recently with a female lead, and it sucked.

Stingy said...

but what I objected to was Arwen doing the "You want him? Well, BRING IT" thing at the Ford of Bruinen instead of Frodo. That was his moment. The whole point was to show how hobbits, Frodo in particular, are made of stern stuff.

Exactly. It was such an amazing part of the book and it was such a let down in the movie. Frodo had real strength in the books and the movies were missing much of this. I can't explain it as well as I would like, but Frodo didn't feel strong. His dopey/sad eyes took much away from the character as did the writers changing pivotal scenes such as this one.

Stickwick said...

The bit that bothered me is that it was she, and not Frodo, who argued with the nazgul at the riverbank before Elrond washed them away (with a clever assist from you-know-who.)

Whoops, you already made the same point I did. Somehow I missed this paragraph the first time around. Anyway, we agree.

Stickwick said...

I can't explain it as well as I would like, but Frodo didn't feel strong. His dopey/sad eyes took much away from the character as did the writers changing pivotal scenes such as this one.

Agreed, completely. Ugh, the sad eyes -- half the time, Wood looked like he was confused and thought he was in a movie called Terms of Frodo's Endearment. The writers really just made him and Sam into girls.

Wendy said...

The writers really just made him and Sam into girls.

And Faramir into...I don't know what, but it was horrible.

tz said...

Eowin (Or Eowyn to go with Womyn?) is the only prominent female crossover. Awren, Galadriel, and Goldberry and the rest I can think of don't switch roles. (I remember the "bored of the rings" "hashberry", mate of "Tim Benzadrine" which causes a giggle).

That said, there is something obvious but which goes unsaid. Middle Earth is as bad if not worse than China's one-child policy, and parents rarely appear. Modern Italy and Japan are more fecund. Frodo is an only child of deceased parents. There is a short reference to Aragorn's Mother (and Aragorn himself is only a hero because he was the great-great-great-...-grandson of Isuldur, not because of anything he actually did or does). Name any three very close relatives, parents, or siblings of a main character. You can't. At least Athena was a brainchild.

Bilbo? Only child. Aragorn? Legolas? Gimli? Elrond is half-elven, Elros decided to be human so was mortal, but no wonder the elves were a dead end. Sterile. Contraceptive. Boromir dies, Faramir survives. The Riders of Rohan should have been long dead given their fecundity. Even Awren and Aragorn have one child.

Samwise and Rose were the only exception, yet only in a short epilogue. Reading it they managed to singularly repopulate Hobbiton.

Islam will win simply because they reproduce and exist in a century. Sauron and Saruman could create factory Orcs, (multiplication snake magic involving shifting and adders, CPU and FPGA engineers will groan in about 10 seconds) but had they simply been patient, in a few hundred years they would inherit Middle Earth. The Meek might inherit the earth, but they have to exist first.

And there is no music in Mordor, one would think they could have an Orc-estra larger than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir playing (with) Rock and (t)rolls. And where are the Orc-ettes kicking things up?

Let me go further. Consider children. We would think of them as the product of their parents. (This is a theme in Harry Potter of all places - the Weasleys are shockingly, horrendously ideal). And there may be sibling rivalry, but sibling solidarity is even stronger. I would personally be proud of what both my mother and father did, and honor them as the 4th commandment requires. And it is not idle or simple, My parents were simple, but also great and holy.

Fatherhood especially, but also Motherhood is absent from today's culture. Brave New World with a veneer of tradition with two technicians monitoring the growth of the child-unit. Yet where is anything that would even approximate a nuclear family AS A NORM instead of an exception in LoTR? Or even a Pater Familias (not Dysfunctional like Denethor, or spelled like Theoden), or Matrona. For that matter ANYTHING?

John Paul II used the term "genius of Women", and a major part was Motherhood. Yes, in the background, but as a Catholic, God's Mother (theotokos) Mary is honored as the ultimate in feminine virtue. Yet LoTR handles women and especially the feminine genius and virtue in at best a parody. Eowyn? She and Faramir both are sick and end up together.

Jackson wouldn't spice it up with sex because that would violate the sterility which seems to pervade Middle Earth in the background or shadows. It is so bad that he can bring in guano with Rad-Aghast, and rapid rabbits in an ode to Monty Python (&tHG, Vorpal Bunny just post Tim the Enchanter) or Bugs Bunny (v.s. Wile E. via Acme Speed, apparently xtal Meth is an old idea). But nothing which can generate new life.

Tolkien was a Catholic, but Margaret Sanger was there in the background.

Even during the Borgia Popes we had Lucretia. Nero's Mom at least recognized her death was due to her birthing. Even the Witch Craze thought of women as a credible threat (having power).

tz said...

No one has yet considered that Mordor could have expanded by simply declaring the rest of Middle Earth a "no smoking zone". Or perhaps simply convince the elves to don their jack-boots and do midnight ninja raids based on what Gandalf and Bilbo were putting in their pipes (ignited or flushed, the latter).

End 2nd Hand Smoke! Vote Sauron!. (well, if women had suffrage - remember USA prohibition?).

Massacre by swords and arrows! Ban swords and bows! Sauroboma can issue an executive order, but we need to get the Oliphants to go along!

Wendy said...

Perhaps Tolkien didn't mention all the siblings, parents, cousins, in-laws and relations and such because it wasn't necessary to the story. That, and those with few family members (and therefore obligations) are more free to be heroic. His characters do lament Gondor's decay and relative childlessness, so I wouldn't say he's in favor of the notion.

Aragorn didn't do anything heroic? Really?

Joe Blow said...

Of course there's very few women. Who picks a chick to go on a long road trip knowing the plan is to will hang out with violent people in disreputable places, and to do a lot of unspeakable things?

Besides, have you ever noticed that there's a severe lack of hair care products in Middle Earth? It's possible there are millions of women hidden in the subtext of Tolkien's story, they just aren't showing themselves because their hair is "simply impossible."

Daniel said...

"You want him? Well, BRING IT"

Oh, yeah. I forgot about that. It is funny: I enjoyed the movies a lot, but I can't remember them nearly as well as I recall the books.

Ugh said...

what I objected to was Arwen doing the "You want him? Well, BRING IT" thing at the Ford of Bruinen instead of Frodo.

I hated that scene not just because it was Arwen instead of Glorfindel, but also the horrible, horrible "Give us the halfling, she-elf!" line. My God, who wrote that, a teenage D&D player?

Possibly the moment I hate the most in the entire movie trilogy!

tz said...

Aragorn did something "heroic", but is that because he is the lineal descendent of Isuldur - and he could/would do similar things or exert the same authority if he and Denethor's characters were interchanged. Note there is no primogeniture mentioned. Aragorn had not brothers, uncles, great-uncles, great-great uncles, etc. since any of them would have the same authority to wield Anduril. And might be heroic. Maybe it was tradition to eliminate competitors to the throne. And elf says "The Blood of Numenor grows thin in men", not that "Character and virtue grow thin". So genetics or heredity is more important than character.

It appears "Married with Children" was originally his idea. Dysfunctional, not adventurous? Family is boring. If you want to have anything but a boring life, don't get married (compare game intersex relations). The characters don't even hook up. Priestly celibacy extended to the laity if you want the virtue instead of vice take.

Historically, it was families who sacrificed. Look at the founding fathers (USA). Or after fighting wars the men came home to something or to start something.

Compare Narnia. Siblings. And the insufferable Mrs. Beaver. I've mentioned HP's Weasley's but even Narcissa intercedes to save Draco. The parents are critical influences to almost every main character - including Dumbledore (who had a brother and sister). Three brothers, three deathly hallows. I would also note wizard-witch marriage is indissoluble. I won't get into whether it is good or bad literature, only that the world view finds nuclear family as normal and compatible with being heroic.

(This is getting too Black Gate, but it is at the nexus of family and fantasy).

There was a singleton available to wield Anduril. Not a veritable army of descendants.

(Gandalf is functionally the equivalent of an "Angel, neither being married nor being given in marriage", yet he and his order appear as male instead of female, and that is proper)

It was not a noble father and/or husband Hobbit featured, but an - single gamma or omega male? (maybe sigma later, but Samwise was the alpha Hobbit).

I can't help thinking that Legolas and Gimli are... - parodied is a nice term - transposed into? - Timon and Puumba from the Lion King.

Remember Dwarves never get into close shaves.

(There should be a federal law legalizing dwarf tossing).

I'm not sure what to comment other than to note the rings to men and dwarves, and thus the Nazgul, Orcs, Goblins, Uruk Hai, every Dragon mentioned even in the Silmarillion was male. The Spiders are apparently female in most cases, but Arachne and Black Widow would tend to tangle that web. But the masculine - feminine distinction is correct and strong.

happycrow said...

Oh, so Tolkien didn't like the idea of women getting stuck with arrows and generally getting the shit kicked out of them prior to messily bleeding-out on battlefields?

Well, great, I'll go re-read him tonight.

tz said...

I don't think he liked the idea of MEN getting impaled or getting a bootlaxative.

It is one thing to move women aside (compare "300"), or to the "chorus", and another to the background or eliminating them entirely because they are inconvenient for the story.

Note that Aslan did not have a Mother, but Lewis was an Anglican and rejected the Catholic view of Mary.

I will note that Berein and Luthein is a bit better, but they retired, and, what? Didn't found a race which saved middle earth.

JW said...

"that women were too precious to waste in war."

Well not anymore.

George said...

Well, nothing would please me more than Tom Brady lining up behind an O line of women.

Madvillain said...

The other day I was reading an old post on Roissy and I came across an excellent comment by our very own Stingray. One of the most honest and endearing comments I've ever read from a female about how women often feel left out from all male activities and beginning from an innocent place just want to fit in and be accepted. Eventually though, it turns into anger, then pathological hatred (feminism).

I've thought about that many times but the way she put it made me feel empathy, for her and good, honest women like her anyway. I should have saved her comment.

Brian said...

In a way, both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings tell the story of Tolkien's experiences in the trenches of World War I. There were no women in those trenches. I wonder if any epic fantasy in the calibre of Tolkien or Lewis will be written out of the gender equal experiences of the current wars.

Anonymous said...

You literally cannot win with feminists in the fantasy genre. If you write in a female character that is feminine, then she conforms to the oppression of social constructs and stereotypes. If you make her a warrior, she is an object of male fantasy.

I suppose Xena won over some feminists, but largely because of the lesbionic relationship with her sidekick, which may appeal to lesbian feminists, but doesn't really represent a positive role model (as a character or literature) for women generally.

Let's say you write in some wise queens and maybe a Joan of arc style warrior who succeeds because of her courage and persistance, not because she's so bad-ass and sexy? Then you would be Tolkien, and you would be criticized because you didn't include enough such women.

kh123 said...

"The Thing was remade recently with a female lead, and it sucked."

In all honesty, where can they find a Jack Burton in today's Hollywood. That casting director'd be on a journey as epic as LOTR to reach that goal.

tz said...

William Sturgis Lind is an expert on war. One of the above comments made me think he also knows the battle of the sexes as he once commented women's only purpose for war is to cheer their men on, and another time he was looking for "An Irish Serving Wench".

If women want to be around men in all male activities, they should look to a place like Hooters. Perhaps it is possible to find a woman interested in football or better yet, hockey. Or like to ride a motorcycle (where the wind noise makes communication impossible).

There are very strong women in history. Elizabeth I, but I would also go to the Doctors of the Catholic Church, Theresa of Avila and Catherine of Sienna. They had complex, interesting lives, made real differences, affected the male hierarchy (kicking the papacy back to Rome from Avignon in the latter case). I think you could get away with such a character in fantasy, but again, it isn't a sword or bow wielding Amazon, but a humble, quiet, but very wise woman who simply and humbly tells the truth. This is real "Girl Power".

Or even the modern Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta (or some of the lesser known saints in the US - Mother Theodore Guerin in Indiana, or Elizabeth Ann Seton. One of them (I can't find the reference now) had an encounter with an outlaw after he was wounded, where he said he was going to hell, so she went away and returned with a burning coal on a shovel and made a tart comment.

In the OT, you had Deborah, Judith (deuterocanonical), Esther, Rahab (a prostitute who with her family survives the battle of Jericho - compare the worry about "vulgarity"). There is a reason the distaff is what is in their hands.

In the trenches of WW1 there were no "shield maidens", but in the Crimean war there was Florence Nightingale.

If you want a credible evil woman, it would be a human Shelob or Ungoliant. A Witch using poison, spells, seduction and subtlety (it worked on Samson), not force.

Athena was born full formed out of Zeus' head. One wonders if this originated on the island of Lesbos, but you don't see her battling for all her armor, she is the voice of wisdom.

There is the one thing the Persians failed to try in the "300" - Balak's method - send their young women to seduce the men of the opposing army. If they didn't want to wait for the deity to judge, there could be coitus interruptus gladius.

One final note per Brian - it is not merely the gender equity warfare we have today, but now "don't ask, don't tell" has given way to Gay Lib. (is "G'lib a contraction?). I'm not sure what can come from creating an image where the empire is "tolerant", and the "islamofacist" at least gets gender roles correct and believes in the story of Sodom and Ghomorrah, yet the empire are the "good guys". Comedy might work though it would not be seen for being a parody.

grey_whiskers said...

@tz -- a number of replies, divided among your comments, even if not matched by date and time stamp...
Aragorn did something "heroic", but is that because he is the lineal descendent of Isuldur
Yes, but that is because the blood-line of Numenor runs pure in him. As Boromir said,
"Mayhap the Sword-that-was-Broken may still stem the tide - if the hand that wields it has inherited not an heirloom only, but the sinews of the Kings of Men." -- note also that Gandaldf says elsewhere of Boromir
"by some chance the blood of Westernesse runs nearly true in [Denethor]; as it does in his other son, Faramir, and yet did not in Boromir whom he loved best" -- thereby reinforcing the theme of inheritance connoting something by genetics, and not just by title.

(Gandalf is functionally the equivalent of an "Angel, neither being married nor being given in marriage", yet he and his order appear as male instead of female, and that is proper)

Tolkien wrote in a letter explicitly that "Gandalf is an angel."
There are very strong women in history. Elizabeth I, but I would also go to the Doctors of the Catholic Church, Theresa of Avila and Catherine of Sienna.
Try also reading up on Heloise and Abelard...
Finally, someone asked if Eowyn or Meriadoc killed the Nazg├╗l -- I would argue "neither" from the following quote (although, technically, it was Merry's sword, so give him the credit -- note also that Eowyn's sword broke into shards, recall Gandalf's earlier admonition following Weathertop that "All blades perish which pierce that dreadful king."):
"she (Eowyn) stumbled to her knees. He (The Witch-King) bent over her
like a cloud, and his eyes glittered; he raised his mace to kill.


"But suddenly he too stumbled forward with a bitter cry of pain, and his
stroke went wide, driving into the ground. Merry's sword had stabbed him
from behind, shearing through the black mantle, and passing beneath the
hauberk had pierced the sinew behind his mighty knee"


"'Eowyn! Eowyn!' cried Merry. Then tottering, struggling up, with her
last strength she drove her sword between crown and mantle, as the great
shoulder bowed before her. The sword broke sparkling into many shards.
The crown rolled away with a clang. Eowyn fell forward upon her fallen
foe. But lo! the mantle and hauberk were empty."

And then, a page or so later,
"So passed the sword of the Barrow-downs, work of Westernesse. But glad
would he have been to know its fate who wrought it slowly long ago in
the North-Kingdom when the Dunedain were young, and chief among their
foes was the dread realm of Angmar and its sorceror king. No other
blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that
foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell
that knit his unseen sinews to his will."

Stickwick said...

The other day I was reading an old post on Roissy and I came across an excellent comment by our very own Stingray. One of the most honest and endearing comments I've ever read from a female about how women often feel left out from all male activities and beginning from an innocent place just want to fit in and be accepted. Eventually though, it turns into anger, then pathological hatred (feminism).

God bless her for explaining it that way. It's difficult to convey to you men the deep sense of longing we feel for the masculine.

Madvillain said...

I found the comment by Stingray:

Even when the balance does begin to come back around women will still feel like we are missing out on *something*. Inherently we understand that, not only are we weaker, we are not as intelligent or often times, as interesting. We see the men congregate, the bonds that you form, the things you create and we know, deep down, that most of us will never have that. We can be a part of it by supporting our husbands doing these things. If we are intelligent enough and can learn to keep our mouths shut we may even be allowed into the group to at least listen and even sometimes comment. However, we will never be a part of what it is to be MAN.

As a (maybe silly) example. I was watching 13 Assassins a couple of weeks ago and a band of 13 samurai strangers band together to kill a man. WIthin days these men were bonded in a way that woman are incapable of. Some of us do see that and crave that. However, we also understand that if these men were stupid enough to allow a woman in, the entire thing would be finished, merely by her presence and she ruined what she wanted to be a part of by her presence. The best we can hope for is to be outliers, supporters of this. It is a noble place to be and arguably even necessary. But, deep down, we know it is never the same and this can be a very difficult thing to come to terms with.


Something similar to this can never be said in the mainstream, even if you take out the part about intelligence which many would find offensive. Unlike many women, especially feminists, Stringray doesn't see Men as oppressors or antagonists to wear down and defeat, instead she lives in the real world and is honest with herself about the profound natural differences between men and women.

What I felt after reading her comment was admiration for her as a women, and I believe that many men would feel the same way if more women carried themselves like her in a less angry and confrontational way. But, besides for a handful of other cool chicks in the manopshere, she is a rare breed.

Feather Blade said...

"I did not read the Hobbit of The Lord of the Rings..." tells one everything one needs to know about the quality of this woman's opinion.

Feather Blade said...

"I did not read the Hobbit of The Lord of the Rings..." tells one everything one needs to know about the quality of this woman's opinion.

Fred Mok said...

VD, have you read Tolkien's letter to his son Michael? He teaches him game principles - no white knighting, etc. It's precious. Letter 43 - http://glim.ru/personal/jrr_tolkien_42-45.html

I just blogged about it and would love to hear your thoughts on Tolkien's writing. It's so good.

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