Uh oh! It seems that some woman is offering some opinions about Tolkien!
Over on Time.com, Ruth Davis Konigsberg has a brief personal essay reflecting on the almost complete lack of female characters in the new Hobbit film, and in Tolkien’s ouvre generally. As she notes, it’s not until about two hours in to the nearly three-hour movie that “we finally meet someone without a Y chromosome,” namely Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel — and she was added into the originally all-male story by the screenwriters. Blanchette’s is the only female name out of 37 named in the cast list – though there are a couple of unnamed female characters who make brief appearances.
“I did not read The Hobbit or the The Lord of the Rings trilogy as a child, and I have always felt a bit alienated from the fandom surrounding them,” Konigsberg observes.
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.
Yes, yes, as she admits, Tolkien’s few female characters tend to be powerful. But that hardly changes the basic fact that the Hobbit, and Tolkien generally, is overloaded with dudes.
These fairly commonplace observations have, naturally, sent the orcs and the elf princesses of the Men’s Rights subreddit into an uproar. Naturally, none of them seem to have bothered to read any of Konigsberg’s brief piece before setting forth their opinions, which sometimes accuse her of ignoring things she specifically acknowledged (like that whole powerful-female-character thing), and completely miss that the bit about reproduction is, you know, a joke on Konigsberg’s part.
Here are some of my favorite idiotic comments from the “discussion.” (Click on the yellow comments to see the originals on Reddit.)
Uh, Jane Austen’s books are filled with dudes. Especially Pride and Prejudice 2: Mr. Darcy’s Revenge, which was later adapted into a buddy cop movie starring Robin Williams and Danny Glover.
EDITED TO ADD: Somehow forgot to include two of my favorite comments:
Oh, and if you were unable to find a woman in the picture above, try this one instead: