…not that we know each other, or anything.
Alyssa Rosenberg – who is, by the way, far too smart and sensible about SF/fantasy material to be on ThinkProgress* – asks the question Should there have been any women at all in the Hobbit? – and her answer is doubly surprising. First, because her answer was “No;” second, because I don’t entirely agree with her.
The first part is easily-enough understood; Ms. Rosenberg takes the reasonable view that there’s nothing inherently wrong, per se, about a movie that has what she calls “[a]ll-male spaces and social circles” as its background**. And if there’s a movie out there that would have an excuse to do that, it’d be The Hobbit, which is of course based on a 1930s child adventure story written by an English academic who had probably never really considered the issue in the first place***. And that’s fine, and most people would agree that that’s fine.
But at the same time? The Hobbit was released in 2012, and it’s brought in $251 million domestic, $765 million worldwide, in the last three weeks. On a practical level you have to expect that Jackson and del Toro are going to want to have a few women in the cast. It’s a lot like the Captain America flick: spoiler warning, but we didn’t HAVE an integrated military in World War II. But such a thing bothers us today, so if you’re not trying to make a point about that… you don’t. And if you’re not trying to make a point about early 20th Century gender roles, you just stick some women into the plot wherever you can manage it (I fully expect to see a couple of characters added along those lines in the next two movies, too)****.
And if the purists object… well, they grumbled at no Tom Bombadil and no Scouring of the Shire, so they’ll probably sit still for this as well.
*I note this despite the fact that in this case she’s writing for Slate.
**That I find such a view as startling as I do refreshing is either a reflection on me, contemporary feminist writers, or (probably) both.
***The argument over whether JRR Tolkien did or did not have a problem with strong female characters is the subject for another post, which I will not write.
****My wife also notes that The Hobbit trilogy is being made as a prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy. That means that you’re going to see characters from the second trilogy sandwiched into the first one whenever possible.