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Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Immoderate Maleness of Middle Earth

-- h/t Feministing, then Blame It On the Voices.


jimf said...

Yeah, it's true.

I remember that Tolkien makes a point of mentioning, in one of
the appendices to The Lord of the Rings, that only a single
Dwarf-woman is mentioned in the entire recorded histories
(Dís, mother of Fíli and Kíli).

And after the passing of King Elessar (Aragorn), Arwen
"said farewell to Eldarion, and to her daughters, and to
all whom she had loved. . ." (but only the son and heir get
mentioned by name).

And in The Silmarillion, only the male children of King Finwë
of the Noldor (Fëanor, Fingolfin and Finarfin) get mentioned.
It's only in a much later volume of the History of Middle-earth series
that we find out he also had three daughters (Findis, Faniel and Finvain --
yes, Galadriel has an Aunt Fanny), who apparently stayed home
in Valinor and knitted tea-cozies, or whatever it is Elvish
ladies do with all those millennia on their hands
(lots and lots of embroidery, I suppose). They exist at all only because
Tolkien kept on making up names.

Yes, yes, yes. We know. ;->

jimf said...

Let's be fair about trees, though -- the Two Trees of Valinor
were gendered -- the Silver Tree (the elder, but the lesser light)
Telperion was a "he", but the Golden Tree (younger, but brighter)
Laurelin was a "she".

jollyspaniard said...

I played LOTR for a spell last year. We had three of us playing including one woman. She got bored after two sessions once she realized that we'd only spend 15% of our time on story quests and the rest wandering around aimlessly on mindlessly collecting stuff. After she quit we did to and I haven't picked up computer gaming since then. Women gamers have different preferences for these kinds of things (group dynamics and story based quests) but it's easier and cheaper for content providers to focus on status obsesses adolescent male urges to go up in levels by killing random monsters and looting them.

jimf said...

A (rare) interview with J. R. R. Tolkien's son and literary
executor Christopher Tolkien was published by _Le Monde_ this year
( ).

It reads in part

"[An] enormous gap, almost an abyss, . . . has been created between
his father's writings and their commercial descendants, in which he
does not recognize the work, especially since New Zealand film-maker
Peter Jackson made Lord of the Rings, three phenomenally successful films,
between 2001 and 2003. With the years, a sort of parallel universe
has formed around Tolkien's work, a world of sparkling images and
of figurines, colored by the original books of the cult, but often
very different from them, like a continent that has drifted far from
its original land mass.

This commercial galaxy is now worth several billion dollars, of which
most does not go to Tolkien's heirs, and this complicates the management
of his heritage for his family, which is polarized not over the images
or objects, but over the respect for Tolkien's words. Through a curious
parallel, the situation recalls the plot of Lord of the Rings, where
everything starts with an inherited problem. . .

The writer's influence in the literary domain was first felt in
fantasy, where his creations had reactivated a genre that dated to
the 19th century. Beginning in the 1970s and especially 1980s, a
heroic fantasy genre developed, steeped in Tolkienism. . .

First in the United States, then throughout Europe and even in Asia,
the genre became an enormous industry, soon including comic books,
role-playing games, video games, films, and even music, with progressive rock.
In the 2000s, "fan fiction" arrived on the internet. . .

But none of this bothered the family until Peter Jackson's films. . .
First, it had a prodigious effect on book sales. . .

Rather quickly, however, the film's vision. . . threatened to
engulf the literary work. Their iconography inspires most of the
video games and merchandising. Soon, by a contagion effect, the book
itself became less of a source of inspiration for the authors of fantasy
than the film of the book was, then the games inspired by the film,
and so on.

jimf said...

"I could write a book on the idiotic requests I have received,"
sighs Christopher Tolkien. He is trying to protect the literary work
from the three-ring circus that has developed around it. In general,
the Tolkien Estate refuses almost all requests. "Normally,"
explains Adam Tolkien, "the executors of the estate want to promote
a work as much as they can. But we are just the opposite. We want
to put the spotlight on what is not Lord of the Rings." . . .

This policy, however, has not protected the family from the reality
that the work now belongs to a gigantic audience, culturally far removed
from the writer who conceived it. Invited to meet Peter Jackson,
the Tolkien family preferred not to. Why? "They eviscerated the book
by making it an action movie for young people 15 to 25," Christopher
says regretfully. "And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same
kind of film."

The divorce is systematically reactivated by the movies. "Tolkien has
become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed by the
absurdity of our time," Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. "The chasm
between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become,
has gone too far for me. Such commercialisation has reduced the esthetic
and philosophical impact of this creation to nothing. There is
only one solution for me: turning my head away."

Athena Andreadis said...

Well, like all good Christians Tolkien adhered to the Biblical "begat" system. He also adhered to the abrahamic religions' misogyny and racism. Eowyn is the only bright spot in this murkiness, until she decides her destiny is to have babbies.