Tauriel and false feminism

[Article previously published in Italian here. English translation made by Spectrethief, with the additional revision of JoSeBach and Evgenij.]

Today your fanwriter91 will talk about Tauriel, a female character added to the Hobbit film trilogy. I imagine that the reason was to insert a strong female figure, both to “get in step with the times”, and to offer the female audience a point of reference.

Unfortunately it went very bad.

Let’s start from a premise: if Evgenij is a wild-eyed fanatic of Tolkien, he grew up with his books and has an altar with candles and a photo of Tolkien, to whom he often sacrifices a fat calf, I, unlike him, did not grow up with those books, so I will have no problem analyzing it from a neutral point of view. I thank Evgenij for the information used here.

There are elements that even who is not a fanatic is obliged to question, namely “context”: if you make me a film set during the Second World War and you show a fanatical Nazi who rejects his own beliefs for the Jew girl he got to know the day before, certainly I’m incapable of approving it; there may be beautiful dialogues, but the thing cannot make sense.

Let’s go in order.

Tauriel was inserted to add a strong and capable female warrior. Ok, that’s fine. But they even made her captain of the royal guards.

This very young Elf (the equivalent of a twenty-year-old) is the captain when there are still veterans from the war against Sauron? I think that these people, if three thousand years ago they were already excellent warriors, are a little more qualified than her with such responsibility. Why not just make her a MEMBER of the guard? I would have sufficed.

She is also a healer. Too bad that in the book it is said verbatim that an Elf cannot be both a warrior and a healer!

And Elrond? He is a Half-elven, and a descendant of Melian, goddess, albeit minor, of nature!

But these are details, and let’s start with the mockery, both towards us and the actress: a love triangle between Tauriel, Legolas and the cool Dwarf Kili (aesthetically not accurate to the book description, but, I repeat, details) not only does not make sense plot-wise… but it was introduced at the last moment! The actress had expressly requested that her character should not be involved in romantic stories, and so she was assured. But then at the end they added this detail.

And now I have to go back to the infamous “context”, almost unknown to those who haven’t read the books: between Elves and Dwarves there is a very strong hostility, born because, some time ago, an Elven sire commissioned the Dwarves to set a jewel in a necklace. There are two versions of the following happenings: according to the Dwarves, the king refused to pay and tried to kill the blacksmiths, for the Elven version Dwarves were the ones to betray the king. And so it was that the Dwarves killed the Elven king and fled with the jewel.

One could bring up Romeo and Juliet: there too two young people fall madly in love despite having known each other for like five hours (counted) and the hatred between their families.

But they were kids, an age where you still have to form your own character and you are very emotional. Also, Tauriel was a warrior, not a sweet princess. If you are an Elven soldier who has to protect the royals during a time when Elves are not on good terms with Dwarves, I doubt that they have instructed you to be sociable with the latter ones.

Now we have to analyze Tauriel: in the second film (in which she makes her first appearance) she is among those who capture the main Dwarves, also saving Kili from a giant spider.

Kili here is a handsome guy, as well as a seducer and fascinated by Elves. During the frisk, he even asks the beautiful Elf if she wants to check his pants, where he could hide a weapon.

She dismisses it with a “Or nothing!”

According to Evgenij’s complex analysis, here Tauriel seems to shush a guy in a discotheque.

During the getaway, Kili gets poisoned by an arrow, and Tauriel is the one to cure him. On this occasion she is also kind to Bard the Bowman’s children (characters non-existent in the book).

In short, it could still make sense; she had also seen that some Dwarves, including Fili, Kili’s brother, did not leave for a glorious mission just to look after the wounded. 

Tauriel here is proving to be very human and helpful, she could have prejudices but seeing these things could debunk them. She also helps the kids and Dwarves escape when the city is ravaged by the dragon.

The problem is that this brief meeting is apparently enough to create a romantic bond between the two! Tauriel then went so far saying on and on:”Middle-earth needs us”, but she was just after the handsome Dwarf.

Tauriel participates in the great final battle, but what are her main concerns?

The human citizens? (Note: in the book they were clearly soldiers, in the film they are instead civilians improvising.)

The Elven soldiers? (You are the captain of the guard, your main responsibility should be to defend the royals and maybe, I say maybe, your comrades. Weren’t there her friends among them?)

Of course not: she thinks of Kili.

And it would very much make sense, of course, if their love had been properly developed. A loved one matters more than a thousand strangers. But it is certainly not a behavior worthy of admiration, although I imagine that at least someone must’ve said: “Oh my gosh, it’s a true looove, she loves him so much that she is ready to abandon and sacrifice all her companions!” 

Yes, even though it was not about, Tauriel I’ve really seen similar comments.

The script makes matters even worse: a quarrel takes place between her and King Thranduil, who, seeing the devastation and death of so many of his subjects, orders the retreat. Gold is important, but not so much. The gesture is appreciable, he’s putting, after several losses, the good of its people before riches. Tauriel, however, stops him, even going so far to threaten him by pointing at the bow, accusing him of cowardice and of abandoning Dwarves and humans. The king, however, re-establishes the hierarchy by disarming her with a move: it wouldn’t have been uncalled-for to add a “bitch, please!”

This scene is supposed to present Tauriel as the good character of the situation, since she speaks of cowardice and to help Dwarves and Humans.

She also accuses Thranduil of considering his own life more valuable than mortal creatures’ ones (Elves die only if killed or if they renounce their immortality).

Emblematic is the sentence: “There is no love in you!”

Too bad she is so eager to help Kili, whose life must be very important to her.

It would have worked if she had rushed to the soldiers and backed them, but no, she rushed to save the guy she’d known two days earlier.

We could argue that the logic would be “kill the boss and the soldiers will retreat” but she does not follow it. She only says that she must save Kili, involving Legolas, who by the way (totally out of characterization with respect to any work that sees him involved, parodies aside) is in love with her.

We add that her accusation is debunked by the scenes shown immediately before: we SEE Thranduil wandering among the corpses of his men, the actor manages to convey how much his character suffers due to the irreparable losses. This too is a form of love, not addressed to an individual, but to the community! The community that makes his kingdom!

In this regard… in the book Thranduil is NOT the asshole shown in the film. In the book he simply imprisons foreigners (the Dwarves) who have entered his territory without his permission. He doesn’t torture nor kill anyone, they just do not want to explain their motives and he arrests them.

And why did they make him an asshole?

Because this way a greater hostility can be forged between the factions, in order to make the story between Kili Montecchi and Tauriel Capuleti feel more tragic.

However, what has been said debunks anything good Tauriel’s character could have been, making her, among other things, hypocritical: if you say that you have to help the people, then do it, don’t forsake them just for the sake of some handsome guy.

Following the script, Kili dies, and Tauriel grabs the spotlight from Fili’s death and Uncle Thorin’s grief. In the book, the two brothers died to save their uncle. The uncle-nephew relationship is a common theme of chivalric novels, for instance the Chanson de Roland, where the intrepid paladin was precisely Charlemagne’s nephew (a term used is “sister’s son”).

Tauriel’s tears and screams of pain, upset by the death of the beloved, to the point of even rejecting love because it makes her suffer too much, have a ridiculous effect.

Come on, you don’t even bat an eye as countless comrades you’d known for a lifetime died under your same eyes for your inaction, then you are upset because the guy you’ve first met the day before yesterday dies?

Tauriel was supposed to be an iconic character of feminism, a combative and altruistic woman, a positive figure in which to project oneself on; unfortunately, although she started promisingly, she ended up being only good at claiming virtues she is deprived of, in order to give herself moral superiority and justify all her choices.

fanwriter91

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