A Defense of Tauriel: Fan Reaction

So yesterday I posted an opinion piece on Evangeline Lilly’s character, viagra Tauriel, in the Hobbit movie. To say that I got a visceral response would be an absolute understatement.

But I love that. Look, I tend to have unpopular opinions and I’m used to that. Just the other day, I pointed out that while I think John Green is a fantastic writer, I do think that he gets overrated a lot, and that there are tons of authors that are way better than him.

That didn’t go over too well.

So because of that, I feel like I’m more open to differing opinions than most because I’m usually the one with the different opinion. A dear friend of mine (one of my BEST friends though we’ve never met in person) and follower of this blog, Chloe, wrote her own response to what I wrote (which you can read here). She was so worried I’d be offended but honestly, I loved it. I could see the points she made, and while I still stick to my own opinion, I do love hearing others opinions, mostly when they back it up.

I’m posting Chloe’s response to my post today, because its fun, and its a different opinion than mine and I think that’s awesome. So enjoy!

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THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (2013)EVANGELINE LILLY

Ahh this is one of my favourite topics for discussion – females in fantasy, the concept of female hero versus heroine. I have no real firm opinion on the matter, but I do enjoy discussing it. I do see your point Sara, but I think there’s more to it than that.  Tauriel as a created character, yes. One could easily see her as being a purely commercial creation, since she is involved in a love triangle and happens to be amazing eye-candy. However…

However, I find it equally annoying to have female characters who are basically men with long hair and female names. Captain of the Guard would usually be a male role – making the role female for no reason is not really doing anything for feminism, in my opinion. It’s just creating a token female to make a lazy attempt at avoiding being labelled sexist.

I’m not saying that female characters should not be able to have martial skills, but I think real feminist characters are ones that still have ‘feminine’ qualities that are represented as strengths, rather than weaknesses. Everyone knows women can be as physically skilled as men. That’s nothing new. But not every woman is physically strong, and that does not make her any less of a worthwhile human being than a strong man. I think what we need now are more female characters who use classically feminine qualities and traits as strengths.

For example Luthien, an Elvish woman featured in the Lay of Leithian (and mentioned in Lord of the Rings) escapes from a prison by weaving her long hair into a rope. Long hair and weaving are both female traits, but are here used as strengths. Bam! Awesome character.

If this was an original movie not based on a book then I would have no issue with it being populated with more female warriors. But it is a book, and Tauriel is a deviation from the original. Creating a character like this is a significant dramaturgical choice, and I am certain that the writers and Peter Jackson, being the wonderful storytellers that they are, were well aware of the fact. There has to be a reason for making this character a female other than commercial interests. Take away Tauriel’s love interest and she’s basically a male. She would add nothing to the story but a female who can kick-ass. Good, but it’s not enough. Tauriel is a warrior, but she is also a woman.  She is a woman who allows herself to love (female trait) , and allows her love to overtake her pride (usually a male, warrior trait). Her femininity is a strength, as I will explain.

You said that Tauriel “knew what the right thing to do was, whatever her king said.”

 Is letting giant spiders go off to multiply in other lands when Tauriel and her fighters have the skills to protect these other people really the ‘right’ thing?

Is letting a dwarf go off to die when Tauriel has the skills to save him really the ‘right’ think to do?

In this day and age people resist the idea that a monarch is absolutely correct in everything, and that anyone who does anything apart from displaying unquestioning, blind loyalty is a traitor. Thranduil is not a perfect king. That is made quite clear. He is calculating, cruel and interested only in protecting his own, yet feels happy to allow the dwarves to go off and risk waking a dragon if he can take a share in the treasure.

Tauriel uses her love – a trait usually presented as female and often as a weakness – to allow her to see and do (what I would consider to be ) the right thing.

I think it’s worth noting that Legolas goes through much the same thing as Tauriel. He only follows Tauriel because of his fondness for her, much as Tauriel follows the dwarves for her fondness for Kili. Is it a weakness in him? I would rather argue that Legolas’s love for Taurie and Tauriel’s love for Kili is what allows them both to see what the ‘right’ thing. Previously both Legolas and Tauriel had used their loyalty to their king as an excuse to hide away from the world that they could help, to take the coward’s way out. Here, love is presented as a positive quality. Legolas is given love, a female trait, and it makes him a better person.

This is also explored when Fili and Oin stay behind from their mission to try to help Kili. The love their share makes them forget their pride and their lust for wealth. They will gain nothing by staying behind, but they do because they love Kili.

Are these men’s actions, which are the product of love, weakness? Or is it nobility? Why then is a female allowing romantic love to drive her – as opposed to a male being driven by familial or romantic love – a weakness?

Selfishness is a large theme in this film – selfishness and a lust for wealth. The love-triangle is not an isolated, tacked on addition to the film. I see it as another aspect of the exploration of these themes.

Is Tauriel necessary to the story? Is her romance necessary to the story? No, not really. But then again since when have movies ever been about economic storytelling? This film is much more than a simple narrative, and Tauriel’s charcter, her sub-plot and her influence on other characters are all part of what makes it so rich and beautiful.

I’m sure some people with have issues with this discussion. I am NOT saying that love is feminine and pride is masculine, for one thing. I would just argue that this is often how they are presented in literature, especially sword and sorcery fantasy. I am also not saying that there is no other way that Tauriel could be an awesome strong character without having a love interest. I am simply saying that this is how I see her as working within the plot to provide a strong, female character, and that having a love interest is not intrinsically anti-feminist. I also hope that this post will make people realise that there is more to being a feminist and being a worthwhile woman than possessing physical strength.

Thanks for reading my discussion, and I’d love to hear some responses!

A Reaction to The Hobbit’s Tauriel: Strong but Still Not as Strong as a Man

So the Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug has been out for a couple weeks now, decease and yes, it took me this long to get to a point where I had the free time to write this. Starting TWO new jobs, around Christmas time (which is also boyfriend and dad birthday times), just kept me busy. I swear, I’m going to try and get back to posting often, like usual.

Moving on though.

Warning: the following has major spoilers for The Desolation of Smaug. Proceed with caution.

I was going to write an actual review for the movie but…I think I need to reread the book before I can do a fair review. I felt…well, I just am not sure how I feel about the movie yet. But I do feel very strongly about the character of Tauriel, and that needed to be said.

When I first heard they were adding a character, a brand new made-up character to The Hobbit movies, I was extremely skeptical. I knew they were adding Legolas in. Now, while Legolas does not actually make an appearance in The Hobbit, his father does, and he is a pivotal character in the Middle Earth world. So that didn’t bother me. But a whole brand new character? That was weird to me.

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (2013) EVANGELINE LILLY

But then I learned about Tauriel, and why she was created, and it made a lot of sense to me. The fact is, nerd is cool now. And while that irritates the hell out of my sixteen-year-old self (seriously…the teasing, the bullying…), I appreciate that girls, especially, are being introduced to fantasy and science fiction and all that. It makes me incredibly happy. And with that has come a plethora of strong, badass female characters.

Now Tolkien wrote DECADES ago, and so he only has a handful of female characters in his novels: Arwen, Eowyn, Galadriel. Galadriel has a tiny baby part in The Hobbit Part 1, but other than that…its a meat factory. Its all men. In this day and age, and with the fans that The Hobbit has garnered, it just made sense to make a female character. Tauriel, an elf living in the Mirkwood kingdom, was created.

And I’ll say this: Evangeline Lilly rocked this part. She’s a beautiful woman, seriously. I had a major crush on her while she was on Lost. So they definitely had that going for the character of Tauriel.

But they also made Tauriel SUPER badass. Seriously, I was blown away from the beginning at how awesome they made her. Like Legolas, she wields a bow and arrow and two short swords, and she rocks them. She’s quick, clever and brave as hell. She’s a perfect elf warrior, and I would find her completely intimidating in person. She’s a fighter, and an incredibly clever and loyal one, and honestly, Tauriel could have easily become a favorite for me, until…until they introduced her storyline and I felt disappointed, and cheated.

I really liked Tauriel, and the introduction of her character, especially when I learned why they did it. But when I actually watched the movie, and got her storyline…I felt incredibly cheated. Like “here you go…sort of”. I don’t understand how its possible that the directors, producers, writers, whomever, said they created Tauriel in the hopes of creating a strong female character for the female audience in a story that didn’t have one, and then give her a love story.

hobbit-desolation-of-smaug-legolas-tauriel-666

Yeah, a love story. Because god forbid a female not have a love story.

They couldn’t just let Tauriel be super badass, wielding her weapons, and being a great fighter, who knew what the right thing to do was, whatever her king said. I don’t know why they felt it was necessary to introduce a love story to the movie, in the first place. The Hobbit is a full story already, and with adding the back story to the leading up to the LOTR, with the extra stories from The Silmarillion and the various appendices, there was just NO need to introduce a love story. It was unnecessary and incredibly stupid. And the fact that they gave it to the female character within five minutes of her being introduced just angered me to no end.

And okay, I love love stories. Fine. I really do. I ship pairs together, and I have my OTPs, and I have yet to write a novel that didn’t have romance in it. Hell, my novel A Little Less than Famous, is all completely a love story. I do love a good love story.

But I don’t feel like a love story was necessary in this movie. It just wasn’t. It detracted and was annoying and unnecessary. It just didn’t fit.

And here’s my thing: if you really wanted to argue for a love story, fine. If they felt like it was so “absolutely, totally, positively necessary” (so much sarcasm in my voice right there) to give Tauriel a love story, all right. Maybe I could have handled that.

But they didn’t just give her a love story. They gave her the most annoying and frustrating of love stories in the whole wide world, one that has been driven into the ground and makes me want to throw things: a love triangle. I mean, seriously? You HAD to make it so both Legolas and Kili were attracted to her, and vice versa. Why? Why?

It just makes me so incredibly frustrated and mad. I felt incredibly cheated. I felt like the filmmakers dangled this seriously badass, strong female character in my face but then were like “mmm, just kidding, she’s not THAT strong”. Because again, how dare we create a female character who is strong on her own, without any outside influences of romantic love, but just because she knows its the right thing to do. They should have made it so Tauriel chases down the Orcs because it was the right thing to do…and not alluded that she was doing it for Kili and his safety too. It just made me gag.

I feel like…Hollywood creates these strong female characters but they can’t seem to do it 100%. There is always a little bit of anti-feminism going on, just enough to show that the females are strong, but are not as strong as the males, and just enough that it won’t be noticed by most people.

Its like Carol Marcus in Star Trek Into Darkness. She is incredibly intelligent, and sneaks aboard the Enterprise because she knows something is amiss and she’s determined to figure it out. She is integral to some crazy moments in the movie. She gets the missiles open, she is an extremely strong character.

CAROL-MARCUS

And yet, they felt the need to undress her in the movie. Why? Seriously, it was completely pointless. Why couldn’t she just be the incredibly intelligent, beautiful and strong female character WITHOUT taking her clothes off?

Or Uhura, Zoe Saldana’s character in the Star Trek movies. She is also another incredibly strong female character, who is a great fighter, and is fiercely intelligent as well. And yet, while her, Spock and Kirk are heading down to the Klingon planet (an incredible danger that likely would have resulted in death had they not been saved), she feels the need to pull the whole “I’m-fine-but-not-really” stereotypical female reaction when she’s mad at her boyfriend. Seriously? Uhura is NOT like that at all; she is strong and dedicated to her job, and she’s going to do her job, whether she’s mad at Spock or not. And yet, they have her having this pissy, “female” reaction.

Zoe-Saldana-as-Nyota-Uhura-in-Star-Trek-Into-Darkness

Don’t get me wrong: I do think Tauriel is a very strong female character, and I liked her a lot. I liked her a lot as a character. I think she’s a great warrior and incredibly intelligent. I think we sometimes equate actual strength and fighting for strength in a female character but I also attribute strength to intelligence as well. An intelligent female character is also something that makes me happy.

 But I was incredibly disappointed in her storyline. I thought they sort of negated her purpose of being the strong female character that the movie needed by giving her a soft storyline. I know that even Evangeline Lilly was not into the idea of Tauriel having a love story, and they gave her a love triangle. Its incredibly disappointing to me.

Now, you don’t have to agree with me. I think there are plenty of people who won’t agree with me, but I do think that you should pay a little more attention to the portrayal of women in movies. Because even if you don’t necessarily agree with me, you have to admit it a little bit. Hollywood IS starting to make stronger female characters (like Katniss Everdeen…but really, we have to thank Suzanne Collins for that more than Hollywood), but if you look hard enough, you’ll see that its like “Here’s your strong character…but just not as strong as the boys”.

I hope in the last Hobbit movie that Tauriel will make a return, and in a warrior capacity more than the object of two male’s affections. She has so much potential to be an amazing character, and like I said, I honestly liked her a lot. I thought she had some incredible fight scenes and I think she could have a big impact in the third movie, as a fighter, and as the loyal, caring elf that she is.

But I really hope they phase out that love story nonsense, especially the triangle part of it. It was unnecessary, and frankly, insulting to me. I wanted to watch Evangeline kick ass, and while I did get that, I got an added storyline that had me leaving the movie theater with a sour taste in my mouth.

Take note, Hobbit filmmakers, you have a year to fix this. Don’t continue this baffling love story, especially if you’re doing it just to fill time. I want to see Smaug, and Bard, and the dwarves and Bilbo. I want to see the epic battle. That’s what matters to me.

What about you? What did you think of Tauriel? Share in the comments!  

A Reaction to The Hobbit’s Tauriel: Strong but Still Not as Strong as a Man

So the Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug has been out for a couple weeks now, decease and yes, it took me this long to get to a point where I had the free time to write this. Starting TWO new jobs, around Christmas time (which is also boyfriend and dad birthday times), just kept me busy. I swear, I’m going to try and get back to posting often, like usual.

Moving on though.

Warning: the following has major spoilers for The Desolation of Smaug. Proceed with caution.

I was going to write an actual review for the movie but…I think I need to reread the book before I can do a fair review. I felt…well, I just am not sure how I feel about the movie yet. But I do feel very strongly about the character of Tauriel, and that needed to be said.

When I first heard they were adding a character, a brand new made-up character to The Hobbit movies, I was extremely skeptical. I knew they were adding Legolas in. Now, while Legolas does not actually make an appearance in The Hobbit, his father does, and he is a pivotal character in the Middle Earth world. So that didn’t bother me. But a whole brand new character? That was weird to me.

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (2013) EVANGELINE LILLY

But then I learned about Tauriel, and why she was created, and it made a lot of sense to me. The fact is, nerd is cool now. And while that irritates the hell out of my sixteen-year-old self (seriously…the teasing, the bullying…), I appreciate that girls, especially, are being introduced to fantasy and science fiction and all that. It makes me incredibly happy. And with that has come a plethora of strong, badass female characters.

Now Tolkien wrote DECADES ago, and so he only has a handful of female characters in his novels: Arwen, Eowyn, Galadriel. Galadriel has a tiny baby part in The Hobbit Part 1, but other than that…its a meat factory. Its all men. In this day and age, and with the fans that The Hobbit has garnered, it just made sense to make a female character. Tauriel, an elf living in the Mirkwood kingdom, was created.

And I’ll say this: Evangeline Lilly rocked this part. She’s a beautiful woman, seriously. I had a major crush on her while she was on Lost. So they definitely had that going for the character of Tauriel.

But they also made Tauriel SUPER badass. Seriously, I was blown away from the beginning at how awesome they made her. Like Legolas, she wields a bow and arrow and two short swords, and she rocks them. She’s quick, clever and brave as hell. She’s a perfect elf warrior, and I would find her completely intimidating in person. She’s a fighter, and an incredibly clever and loyal one, and honestly, Tauriel could have easily become a favorite for me, until…until they introduced her storyline and I felt disappointed, and cheated.

I really liked Tauriel, and the introduction of her character, especially when I learned why they did it. But when I actually watched the movie, and got her storyline…I felt incredibly cheated. Like “here you go…sort of”. I don’t understand how its possible that the directors, producers, writers, whomever, said they created Tauriel in the hopes of creating a strong female character for the female audience in a story that didn’t have one, and then give her a love story.

hobbit-desolation-of-smaug-legolas-tauriel-666

Yeah, a love story. Because god forbid a female not have a love story.

They couldn’t just let Tauriel be super badass, wielding her weapons, and being a great fighter, who knew what the right thing to do was, whatever her king said. I don’t know why they felt it was necessary to introduce a love story to the movie, in the first place. The Hobbit is a full story already, and with adding the back story to the leading up to the LOTR, with the extra stories from The Silmarillion and the various appendices, there was just NO need to introduce a love story. It was unnecessary and incredibly stupid. And the fact that they gave it to the female character within five minutes of her being introduced just angered me to no end.

And okay, I love love stories. Fine. I really do. I ship pairs together, and I have my OTPs, and I have yet to write a novel that didn’t have romance in it. Hell, my novel A Little Less than Famous, is all completely a love story. I do love a good love story.

But I don’t feel like a love story was necessary in this movie. It just wasn’t. It detracted and was annoying and unnecessary. It just didn’t fit.

And here’s my thing: if you really wanted to argue for a love story, fine. If they felt like it was so “absolutely, totally, positively necessary” (so much sarcasm in my voice right there) to give Tauriel a love story, all right. Maybe I could have handled that.

But they didn’t just give her a love story. They gave her the most annoying and frustrating of love stories in the whole wide world, one that has been driven into the ground and makes me want to throw things: a love triangle. I mean, seriously? You HAD to make it so both Legolas and Kili were attracted to her, and vice versa. Why? Why?

It just makes me so incredibly frustrated and mad. I felt incredibly cheated. I felt like the filmmakers dangled this seriously badass, strong female character in my face but then were like “mmm, just kidding, she’s not THAT strong”. Because again, how dare we create a female character who is strong on her own, without any outside influences of romantic love, but just because she knows its the right thing to do. They should have made it so Tauriel chases down the Orcs because it was the right thing to do…and not alluded that she was doing it for Kili and his safety too. It just made me gag.

I feel like…Hollywood creates these strong female characters but they can’t seem to do it 100%. There is always a little bit of anti-feminism going on, just enough to show that the females are strong, but are not as strong as the males, and just enough that it won’t be noticed by most people.

Its like Carol Marcus in Star Trek Into Darkness. She is incredibly intelligent, and sneaks aboard the Enterprise because she knows something is amiss and she’s determined to figure it out. She is integral to some crazy moments in the movie. She gets the missiles open, she is an extremely strong character.

CAROL-MARCUS

And yet, they felt the need to undress her in the movie. Why? Seriously, it was completely pointless. Why couldn’t she just be the incredibly intelligent, beautiful and strong female character WITHOUT taking her clothes off?

Or Uhura, Zoe Saldana’s character in the Star Trek movies. She is also another incredibly strong female character, who is a great fighter, and is fiercely intelligent as well. And yet, while her, Spock and Kirk are heading down to the Klingon planet (an incredible danger that likely would have resulted in death had they not been saved), she feels the need to pull the whole “I’m-fine-but-not-really” stereotypical female reaction when she’s mad at her boyfriend. Seriously? Uhura is NOT like that at all; she is strong and dedicated to her job, and she’s going to do her job, whether she’s mad at Spock or not. And yet, they have her having this pissy, “female” reaction.

Zoe-Saldana-as-Nyota-Uhura-in-Star-Trek-Into-Darkness

Don’t get me wrong: I do think Tauriel is a very strong female character, and I liked her a lot. I liked her a lot as a character. I think she’s a great warrior and incredibly intelligent. I think we sometimes equate actual strength and fighting for strength in a female character but I also attribute strength to intelligence as well. An intelligent female character is also something that makes me happy.

 But I was incredibly disappointed in her storyline. I thought they sort of negated her purpose of being the strong female character that the movie needed by giving her a soft storyline. I know that even Evangeline Lilly was not into the idea of Tauriel having a love story, and they gave her a love triangle. Its incredibly disappointing to me.

Now, you don’t have to agree with me. I think there are plenty of people who won’t agree with me, but I do think that you should pay a little more attention to the portrayal of women in movies. Because even if you don’t necessarily agree with me, you have to admit it a little bit. Hollywood IS starting to make stronger female characters (like Katniss Everdeen…but really, we have to thank Suzanne Collins for that more than Hollywood), but if you look hard enough, you’ll see that its like “Here’s your strong character…but just not as strong as the boys”.

I hope in the last Hobbit movie that Tauriel will make a return, and in a warrior capacity more than the object of two male’s affections. She has so much potential to be an amazing character, and like I said, I honestly liked her a lot. I thought she had some incredible fight scenes and I think she could have a big impact in the third movie, as a fighter, and as the loyal, caring elf that she is.

But I really hope they phase out that love story nonsense, especially the triangle part of it. It was unnecessary, and frankly, insulting to me. I wanted to watch Evangeline kick ass, and while I did get that, I got an added storyline that had me leaving the movie theater with a sour taste in my mouth.

Take note, Hobbit filmmakers, you have a year to fix this. Don’t continue this baffling love story, especially if you’re doing it just to fill time. I want to see Smaug, and Bard, and the dwarves and Bilbo. I want to see the epic battle. That’s what matters to me.

What about you? What did you think of Tauriel? Share in the comments!