I have been rather cranky about The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Even though it’s not out here yet. (Will be soon though – this week!)
You see, the existence of Tauriel began to annoy me on many levels, starting from the first full trailer where she was spouting things like “This IS our fight” and I thought: Oh no, she’s going to be the preachy “wise” sort that thinks the Elves should help the Dwarves. After seeing more pictures of Tauriel – they have chosen to feature her (and Legolas) really really heavily in the promotions for the movie – I then found that her red hair disturbed me too. Elves don’t have red hair! But I looked it up and found that I was wrong. Elves can have red hair – but it seemed largely limited to the family of Nerdanel, wife of Feanor. And they are Noldorin Elves, whereas the Elves of Mirkwood are mostly Nandor or Avari (I can never remember which) or Sindarin. I could have borne it all to an extent, accepting the red hair colour as an artistic choice on the production team’s part…
But then Joyce said that it looked like Tauriel was going to be a love interest for Legolas as well. I had been assiduously avoiding the second trailer as I’d had a feeling it would just tick me off. I couldn’t avoid it after what Joyce told me, and to my dismay, she was right. I haaaate that. It’s so… Expected? They just had to add a beautiful female character to the story. Of course she’s an Elf, not a Human (are normal women too boring?). Of course she’s feisty and a great fighter, and of course she’s also red-haired – so she’ll stand out more (Natasha Romanov, anyone? Or Merida?). Of course she has a tragic backstory which makes her “wiser” and choose to support the Dwarves. Aaaand of course, Legolas is going to fall for her. I simply can’t stand the whole combination. Someone wrote that she seems like a Mary Sue character out of fan fiction and that is the most accurate description of her and the most accurate explanation for why so many people – like myself – have such strongly negative reactions to her. I like Legolas, but I would gladly give up his presence in The Hobbit trilogy completely if it meant I could be rid of Tauriel too.
And so, as if to console myself, I have been listening to podcasts by the Tolkien Professor. They are the most intellectual yet not pretentious discussions of LOTR that I’ve heard. (… Not that I’ve had many intellectual discussions of LOTR.) I assume this is because it’s a discussion amongst fans – fans who are not all academicians. A discussion between people with PhDs in Tolkien literature would drive me nuts because I wouldn’t understand even half of what was said. (Despite an MSc, I am pretty sure that my mind was not made for that level of thinking. Too straightforward for all that, and it bores me once it goes past my threshold.) It’s been a joy to listen to the podcasts, especially the series on The Silmarillion. So many interesting ideas people put forth!
I even managed to join in one of the Tolkien Professor’s informal classes on The Return of the King. Saw a tweet that the class would start at 10-ish in the morning on Friday (10pm EST Thursday), but I had a class of my own at that time. However, my students ended all their presentations in about an hour and I was lucky that ROTK #7 was still in session when I got back to my office. Got the Webinar thingy running and joined the class! The uni has a good enough Internet connection that I didn’t have any problems streaming the video feed. 8Db