… that is the question! For many people, there seems to be an easy answer. There’s so much hating out there, it makes me sick to my stomach, especially since some people just can’t distinguish between Tauriel, a fictional character, and Evangeline Lilly, an actual person who breathed life into said character because that’s her job as an actress. Seriously, people, what the hell is wrong with you?! If you’re in for a Tauriel witch hunt, fine, suit yourself. Just keep Evangeline out of it. For what it’s worth, she did a bloody brilliant job. It’s not her fault that the material she had to work with turned the whole thing into a mess.
So, what about myself? Do I hate Tauriel? Well, sort of. And then again, not really. Confused much? Yes, that’s also how I felt when I turned the whole issue over in my mind and came to the conclusion that Tauriel is innocent of all charges. In fact, she is the victim; has been abused and badly mistreated, ultimately becoming the most irritating character in the Middle-earth movie franchise. Wondering what the hell I’m talking about? Well, it’s not Tauriel herself that bothers me, it is how she was handled.
There are a number of characters that weren’t in the book that were included in the movies, probably because they already appeared in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and were supposed to draw people back into the theatres. While most of these characters were around at that time and meddled behind the scenes, there are also cases of characters that didn’t have much of an impact or were even dead long before the beginning of The Hobbit. Do I mind them being included in the movies? Not at all, although some could have had a little less screen time in favour of the actual Hobbit story.
And then there’s Tauriel. Tauriel does not exist in Tolkien’s works – at least, there’s no elf by her name although there are of course more elves around than the handful that is named. Therefore, her character isn’t that farfetched at all. Still, when I first learned about her, I wasn’t thrilled. Not because I suddenly turned into a diehard Tolkien purist and couldn’t handle an additional elf with a story arc. Not because I suddenly turned anti-feministic. It’s no secret that Tolkien’s works have a dire lack in female characters that get to do something other than just looking pretty, so yay for every single one that turns up – no matter whether they were actually Tolkien’s creations or invented by PJ & Co. No, I was wary because I suspected ulterior motives. And unfortunately, I would be proven right.
Nonetheless, when I saw the first pictures of Tauriel, I got my hopes up. Could it be possible that this lowly Captain of the Guards was just the badass warrior chick I wanted her to be? Then the first rumours spread that would crush my hopes into a million tiny pieces: Tauriel would be part of a love story. First, the other half was said to be Legolas. I didn’t like that at all. Then, it was said to be Kili. Kili, one of my favourites, and a dwarf at that. I couldn’t, didn’t want to believe a single word. Saying I loathed the sole idea is an understatement. As it turns out, it was even worse: a love triangle. The worst plot device ever invented. The character of Tauriel, the badass warrior, was reduced to nothing more than the love interest. Let’s just hold a minute of silence to commemorate the coldblooded destruction of a character that could have been an amazing addition to Middle-earth.
I liked Tauriel, the warrior. Her prowess with a bow, her stubbornness, her open-mindedness. She may have been young in years, but she could see much farther than most. She saw that evil forces were lurking in the dark, growing to be a danger to every living creature. She saw the necessity to step out of their confined picture-perfect world to fight against this evil, to make an impact. But all her wonderful character traits were overshadowed when she was forced into that ludicrous love story. If at least it had been somewhat believable, but no, it was insta-love at its best. They’ve know each other for what? A month? Let’s not even talk about the amount of time they actually spend in each other’s company. That would be along the lines of half an hour, max. Granted, in the book it takes Bilbo a couple of weeks to get the dwarves out; in the film, however, not so much. But hey, who cares?! “[I]t was real!” This line made me break into hysteric laughter. You can’t imagine how much I rolled my eyes and wanted to hit my head repeatedly against the next best hard object in annoyed desperation throughout the movies.
Tauriel was degraded to a plot device: the love interest, inclusive love triangle and insta-love – I think it cannot get any worse. Apparently, it’s just not possible to make a big blockbuster movie without a love story and if the source material doesn’t provide any, then why not invent something so farfetched it will surely enrage the loyal Tolkien fanbase? Did none of the writers stop for one second and look at what monster they were creating, a female character that fulfils about every cliché imaginable, the warrior turned into a lovesick, totally irrational teenager? Do female characters really have no other purpose than falling head over heels for some male character and cause mayhem? Why do you even need a love story at all? If your sole purpose is to draw in the non-geeky girls, then let me tell you this is not how it works. Even if I were a non-geeky girl only watching movies that feature a love story, I wouldn’t go to see a movie, let alone three, in which the love story has a screen time of about 5%. If a friend would drag me into it, would these 5% better my opinion of these movies? I don’t think so – especially not, if the love story is so unbelievable.
Implying that women need a love story or else they are not interested is on the same level as labelling books/shows with “a female version of …”. Don’t even let me get started on how mad those labels make me implying that someone wants to dictate what I can or can’t read or watch and what I will like or dislike. I want to read and watch the good stuff, whatever that may be. I don’t need a watered down version of anything. Therefore, I don’t want to see a gorgeous talented elf warrior act like an irrational lovesick teenager. I want to see women I can identify with, I can look up to. It’s simple, really. How would you like me to advertise your film to my non-geeky friends if asked about the main female character? I could have told them that there’s a totally awesome female warrior elf who kicks some major asses. I will tell them that said warrior chick is unfortunately the greatest imaginable annoyance because she fell for a classic case of insta-love, which took so much of the emotional impact I wanted the movie to have on me away. Does that sound like something that’s going to convince my friends to go and see the movies? I don’t think so.
To Tauriel, I give my heartfelt sympathy. I’m so sorry. You deserved so much better.