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Straight White Males oppressed by blog post

So straight white science fiction author dude John Scalzi has created a bit of a hubbub amongst straight white dudes on the interwebs with a blog post called Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is.  The post, later reposted on Kotaku, is basically an attempt to talk to fellow dudes in their own language about the concept of privilege “without invoking the dreaded word ‘privilege,’ to which they react like vampires being fed a garlic tart at high noon.” (And they do.)

Scalzi’s thesis:

Dudes. Imagine life here in the US – or indeed, pretty much anywhere in the Western world – is a massive role playing game, like World of Warcraft except appallingly mundane, where most quests involve the acquisition of money, cell phones and donuts, although not always at the same time. Let’s call it The Real World. You have installed The Real World on your computer and are about to start playing, but first you go to the settings tab to bind your keys, fiddle with your defaults, and choose the difficulty setting for the game. Got it?

Okay: In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is.

This means that the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it’s easier to get.

Scalzi should have added “cis” to “straight white male,” but otherwise I’d say that’s fairly spot-on.

Of course, as Scalzi himself points out, life for straight white (cis) dudes is not always peaches and cream. They may have any of a number of disadvantages in life that make things difficult for them. They may have been born poor, or in a war zone; they may have been abused as children or the victim of crime or violence as an adult. Or faced any number of other problems and conditions and disadvantages.

Scalzi deals with this issue a little more obliquely than he could have, noting that some people begin the grand game of “The Real World” with more points than others, and that this can make a good deal of difference.

But do straight white cis males face disadvantages stemming from being straight white cis men? I honestly can’t think of any that have affected my life in any serious way, and these small disadvantages pale in comparison to the many advantages. Yeah, I had to register for the draft when I turned 18. Of course, when I registered there was no draft, and there still isn’t one, and the draft has virtually no chance of being resurrected in the foreseeable future, so I can’t say this requirement has affected my life in any tangible way.

As Scalzi puts it:

If you start with fewer points and fewer of them in critical stat categories, or choose poorly regarding the skills you decide to level up on, then the game will still be difficult for you. But because you’re playing on the “Straight White Male” setting, gaining points and leveling up will still by default be easier, all other things being equal, than for another player using a higher difficulty setting.

Anyway, Scalzi got a lot of responses to his post, many of them from straight white dudes outraged by his assertions. So he wrote a followup taking some of these critics to task. He was particularly amused by the criticism that by “picking on” straight white males he was being racist and sexist.

This particular comment was lobbed at me primarily from aggrieved straight white males. Leaving aside entirely that the piece was neither, let me just say that I think it’s delightful that these straight white males are now engaged on issues of racism and sexism. It would be additionally delightful if they were engaged on issues of racism and sexism even when they did not feel it was being applied to them — say, for example,when it’s regarding people who historically have most often had to deal with racism and sexism (i.e., not white males). Keep at it, straight white males! You’re on the path now!

I am sure there are many gems of obtuseosity in the comments, and in the Reddit thread on his original post. But it’s Friday night, and I have a  migraine — which sucks, but it’s not because I’m a straight white cis dude —  so I’m going to let you guys find them for me.

EDITED TO ADD: Thinking a bit more about Scalzi’s central metaphor here, and I don’t think it completely works: he assumes that obstacles other than racism, sexism, and homophobia can be explained as the equivalent of having started the game with fewer points. But it you have, for example, a disability, that’s something that makes you life harder every day; it’s more akin to raising the difficulty level than to starting off with fewer points. (Not to mention that you’re likely to face bigotry because of it as well.) This doesn’t erase the privileges a straight white male with disabilities gets from being straight, white, and male, of course, but it does ratchet up the difficulty.

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Tulgey Logger
Tulgey Logger
8 years ago

>>Historically ,Aren’t Privileged white men the first to be killed when things go pear shaped?

Usually for the same reasons that nobility or whatever current oppressive ruling class are the first to get their heads chopped off.

Men are usually considered the danger, whereas women are often the spoils.

Just the other day I heard about the coordinated nature of the conflict across Serbia. Serbian nationalist councils were formed widely, at the town level. Apparently when they finally acted against their Croat neighbors, among those who weren’t simply expelled, the men were killed and the women were kept as sex slaves and/or killed.

(This is a topic I am not well read on, and this information is gleaned from a relatively brief segment on NPR (spoken by someone much more knowledgeable than myself, but still) so please forgive/correct my vagueness/factual errors or oversights.)

Tulgey Logger
Tulgey Logger
8 years ago

You know guys, I think you’re being too harsh on that one. *Obviously*, in the alternate universe in which gay ‘transvestite’ black women get rich and access to good education and health care, then life would be a breeze, since that would be some universe in which there is no longer racism, homophobia and misogyny.

Perhaps I’m misinterpreting you, but that seems to ignore outliers completely. I mean, the personal success of Oprah and Obama doesn’t mean Usonian society is no longer racist, does it?

hellkell
hellkell
8 years ago

I stated such because the person talking to me asumed I was straight because of my positions. Am I not allowed to fight discrimination?

I fail to see how coming here and displaying your utter ignorance of… just about anything is fighting discrimination.

Myoo
Myoo
8 years ago

Perhaps I’m misinterpreting you, but that seems to ignore outliers completely. I mean, the personal success of Oprah and Obama doesn’t mean Usonian society is no longer racist, does it?

Heck, Obama gets constant racism directed at him, even though he’s wealthy, educated and the effin’ President of the USA: the witchdoctor thing, the birthers, the “he’s a muslim terrorist” thing. I really don’t know that much about Oprah, but I’d be surprised if she hasn’t been subjected to racism.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

Discrimination against people who’re proud of their ignorance – one of the great issues of our time. Why must we all persecute this poor man for being ignorant and proud of it?

Vindicare
Vindicare
8 years ago

The good thing about the development in Rwanda is that women are now given a chance, which they don’t have even in developed countries, with a low sex ratio, 0.9 even in the early 2000s, because of the effects of the genocide. Rwanda is also unique for it’s female majority in the parliament.

Rutee Katreya
8 years ago

Perhaps I’m misinterpreting you, but that seems to ignore outliers completely. I mean, the personal success of Oprah and Obama doesn’t mean Usonian society is no longer racist, does it?

He’s being facetious.

Tulgey Logger
Tulgey Logger
8 years ago

Makes sense. I’ve been up all night and probably am not attuned to anything subtle.

pecunium
pecunium
8 years ago

extraterrestrial biological entity princess: . There are other works, like Starship Troopers, that are far more pro-war, but are less used as bad examples because they’re not as well known.

I don’t think ST is pro war. I’m pretty sure, actually, from talking to Heinlein that it’s not; or at least that one can’t use it to say he is.

I don’t even think, at root, it’s pro-military. It’s a gedankenexperiment about obligations being needed to get the franchise. One of the things the book makes plain is that it’s not military service which gets the franchise. The protagonist, in fact, does everything he can to avoid ending up in the military aspects of “Federal Service”.

That he adopts the mores of the MI has to be taken into account when we see the ways in which “the military” is praised in the book. The narrator is moderately reliable, but not completely so.

PsychoDan
PsychoDan
8 years ago

Nobody’s mentioned Discworld yet? 😉

It only just occurred to me now that there are at least 2 Discworld books that are primarily about gender issues: Equal Rites and Monstrous Regiment. And that’s in addition to the tons of fantastic female characters throughout the books. It’s part of a larger reason I like the Discworld books; it’s one of the only fantasy worlds I’ve read in which any progress takes place. (That I actually will place some of the blame for on Tolkien’s influence; Middle Earth spends thousands of years at the social and technological level of Medieval Europe, with the only real changes being political divisions.)

On the other hand, I’ve been reading around a bit randomly, and just got around to reading Small Gods. Except for a goddess or two, I don’t think that book had a single female character at all.

And the main good that came of LOTR was the fact that “The Hobbit” (which was written last but is chronologically first) was actually quite well-written (barring a few parts that were a bit sloggy).

I kind of did a double-take at this, because it didn’t sound right, so I checked to be sure. The Hobbit was published in 1937, and Fellowship didn’t come out until 1954, with the rest of the trilogy coming out the next year.

Ithiliana
8 years ago

@PsychoDan: he Hobbit was published in 1937, and Fellowship didn’t come out until 1954, with the rest of the trilogy coming out the next year.

But the underarching mythology (which JRRT never published himself, but which has been published in multiple volumes edited by his son, THE SILMARILLION, BOOK OF LOST TALES, etc.) was being created from circa 1918-19 up until the day he died (he was rewriting Galadriel’s story/ies).

But it’s true he wrote LOTR only in response to demands for more hobbits, and it took him decades (he sent the publishers the versions he had of the SILM and was told nobody would want to read them)–and he has to retcon THE HOBBIT (original edition, Gollum not as scary, Ring not the one Ring, etc.) to make it fit the later work (the “version” of the tale Bilbo is said to have told the Dwarves is a summary of the original first edition chapter).

But it’s accurate to say the SILM which takes place in the first three ages or so of Middle-earth was published well after HOBBIT and LOTR.

However, originally the HOBBIT was not meant to be a part of the SILM mythology (for the best sources on this, I can recommend the ones I’m teaching with this year: Doug Anderson’s THE AnNOTATED HOBBIT and John Rateliff’s two volume HISTORY OF THE HOBBIT, a manuscript study).

PsychoDan
PsychoDan
8 years ago

Hmm, I knew that he had rewritten some of the Hobbit to make it fit better with LotR, but I didn’t know that it wasn’t originally part of the mythology at all. It makes sense, though, that he’d use the request for a sequel to bring it into the mythology rather than write a book he wasn’t particularly interested in writing.

Pecunium
8 years ago

Sugar: I also actually present this rare, interesting thing known as an “argument”.

Not here you didn’t. You’ve made assertions; but there is no support, no actual defense of the positions you took.

In places you contradict yourself (the entire rant was you blaming, “the system” the “stupid liberals” say exists.

Pecunium
8 years ago

Argenti: Regarding Sam’s job as Baggins gardener, do you remember the books well enough to recall if that was paid work or something he’d volunteered for?

It’s not said, but the impression is that it’s an ongoing relationship, and that Frodo is in the role of “lord”.

Could NWO handle it? No. His life, if we take his reports as that of a moderately reliable narrator isn’t wine and roses, but’s not the life of someone who is handicapped in any significant way.

That he whines about how hard he has it, possessed of a job which values him enough (or is rare enough) that he is flown from place to place that it be done… yeah, he’s clueless as all fuck.

FTR, even if the ending makes perfect sense, it’s still going to irk me, everyone but Frodo gets a happy ever after and he fucking earned his!

Here is where I get to be bitter: We all earned it. Not all of us get it. That aspect of it is one of the places Tolkien’s status as veteran really shows. It seems perfectly understandable to me.

Pecunium
8 years ago

Sugarbloop: Also, is it too much too ask for you to remain civilized?

Why? You started with an insult in your first comment, raised to Sharculese and Rutee with the specious claims that you don’t make grammatical errors when calling people dumb, and insulted our intelligence with the pretense that you had either arguments, or legitimate facts.

You’ve not earned more polite treatment than you’ve gotten.

Pecunium
8 years ago

re Sam: I’m not sure hired help is the right thing, it’s closer; or seems to me, to the family servitor. It’s a more familiar relationship, and has more class-related aspects. It’s a fundamentally non-american model.

Dracula
Dracula
8 years ago

Yeah, he did inherit his position from his father.

Polliwog
Polliwog
8 years ago

Gaaaaahh you all were discussing LOTR without me! Why did I have to have an actual life yesterday!

Most of the points I wanted to answer have already been covered, but I wanted to dig into this one a little more:

Class seemed to be another big thing in Tolkein, as far as I remember.

Tolkien is actually really interesting (to me, at least) on the subject of class. Just sticking to the four main hobbits, we essentially have four different social classes right there – Pippin is the closest thing to royalty hobbits have, Merry is nobility, Frodo is upper-class, and Sam is decidedly working class.(I’m fudging a little, but those are decent real-world approximations.)

All four of them are heroes, but if you had to pick just one who is consistently the most brave, steadfast, and generally displays nobility of character, it’s pretty obviously Sam. (And, interestingly, both Pippin and Merry’s heroism explicitly takes the form of serving under another, and is not through anything to do with their status at home.) And all of them, regardless of their social class within hobbit society are presented as “just plain folks” in the world at large – vastly less attention is spent on the fact that Pippin is in line to be the next Thane of the Shire than on, say, the fact that he really likes smoking some pipeweed.

Most of the characters in the book aside from Sam are some form of nobility, of course – but Tolkien was explicitly trying to create not just a novel but a mythology, and mythologies tend to center around princes and kings and gods, and not so much gardeners and ordinary everyday folks. To my mind, the fact that his idea of a mythological world was one in which he fairly unambiguously glorifies the “just plain folks” as being every bit as great and heroic in their way as kings and superhuman beings is pretty notable and subversive.

(Oh, and because people were trying to remember how the hobbits are related, and I’m enough of a dork to know the answers offhand – Pippin and Merry are cousins. Merry is Frodo’s cousin once removed. (I think I’m getting the terminology right. Frodo’s mom was Merry’s grandfather’s sister, anyway, whatever you call that.) Pippin is Frodo’s cousin twice removed (I think) – Frodo’s grandmother is Pippin’s great-grandfather’s sister.)

(Yes, I’m a huge nerd. In my defense, I pretty much had to become a giant LOTR fan, seeing as my actual name is in Elvish. No, seriously. And my brother is named after a hobbit. I come from a weird family. :-p )

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

“That he whines about how hard he has it, possessed of a job which values him enough (or is rare enough) that he is flown from place to place that it be done… yeah, he’s clueless as all fuck.” — yeah, that’s pretty fucking clueless (I have my interview 5/30 btw, there’s a combination of w00t for that and *terror!*)

“Here is where I get to be bitter: We all earned it. Not all of us get it. That aspect of it is one of the places Tolkien’s status as veteran really shows. It seems perfectly understandable to me.” — someone pointed out that Sam does join him eventually, which was the closest to a happy ending I figured possible…I wasn’t just irked he doesn’t get some perfect shiny life, I too realize that’s just not always possible, but how he lost nearly all the friends who’d literally kept him alive really irked me — you’re right about that being Tolkien’s status as a veteran showing though, highly doubtful he didn’t see friends die (this is why I love doctor who, in his world many things are solved with peaceful methods, too bad our world can’t work that way…)

“It’s a fundamentally non-american model.” — which is probably why I’m not really getting it >.<

and re: super bloop, I am probably going to be fuming for days over that idiotic comment saying that the poor sometimes don't eat for days and that’s more dangerous than being killed — that hit my nerves ala remind me never to present as not-bio-gender around him, and not to let anyone I care about do so either

His cluelessness rivaled NWO’s…except NWO I think is actually clueless, whereas super bloop was pulling too much from a gaslighting 101 handbook for me to give him the benefit of the doubt. (NWO is also consistently clueless, which would be harder to fake)

“‘Also, is it too much too ask for you to remain civilized?’
Why?”

Because gaslighting 101 was his game — he knew damned well he didn’t earn respect, but since we were swearing and he wasn’t, we must be “the bad guys”

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

“All four of them are heroes, but if you had to pick just one who is consistently the most brave, steadfast, and generally displays nobility of character, it’s pretty obviously Sam.”

And while the other humans do treat the Rohan people as lower class and lesser, it’s the Riders of Rohan who are always there to answer the call — Gondor has a small fit about not requesting their aid, they were debating why they should answer the call, but when that call came? Hello Riders of Rohan, you’re just in time to turn the battle. Sam is so the hero of that story, even Frodo says so when Sam jokes about telling future hobbits about Frodo and the ring — Frodo says something, pretending to be the kids, about tell me the one about Sam, he was so brave; “I was being serious” “so was I” — their relationship is more complex than just hired help.

Polliwog do you know the mythology after the end of the trilogy? Are the humans less classist under Aragorn? He’s written as a king by both blood and actual leadership/loyalty/etc, even as Strider the ranger he seems more fair than any of the kings. And iirc, all the kings die in the final battle, he’s literally the only blood heir to any of the thrones.

Dracula
Dracula
8 years ago

Thing is, there’s not much to tell us what Frodo’s life in Valinor was like. He did basically get permission to retire to the land of the gods* with his beloved uncle Bilbo and his good friend Gandalf.

Dracula
Dracula
8 years ago

*Okay, not exactly gods, but you get my drift.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

Yeah, and I assume if all the elves went that includes Legolas, it really could be the best possible life. I’m not saying I was irked in some highly rational way or anything, just annoyed he had to leave Sam behind when they seemed somewhere between good friends and lovers (he tries to leave Sam behind at the end of the fellowship, and then dismisses him just before the giant spider, and Sam will not leave — whatever duty bound them initially wore into at least friendship)

Pecunium — you were right they aren’t anything like the modern use of “lover” — I was thinking more like a “Boston marriage” without the modern assumption that included sex — but it could be just the sense that the families would always be interacting in a master-hired help sense and them being actual friends as well.

My annoyance really is the not rational annoyance that them seem to have a sense of a shared future together and then Frodo leaves without Sam. That Sam joins him eventually does make me feel somewhat better about it. I’m also kind of annoyed that Legolas and Gimli probably never speak again, as they also definitely became friends by the end of the trilogy, but it can be assumed Legolas left with the elves. But Tolkien could’ve never foreseen an audience used to talking to people across the globe in real time, I can’t fault him for not inventing the internet a half century early!

Dracula
Dracula
8 years ago

Legolas didn’t leave for a long time. In fact, he and Gimli sailed to the Undying Lands together.

Polliwog
Polliwog
8 years ago

Polliwog do you know the mythology after the end of the trilogy? Are the humans less classist under Aragorn? He’s written as a king by both blood and actual leadership/loyalty/etc, even as Strider the ranger he seems more fair than any of the kings.

Yup. Tolkien didn’t write a whole lot about what happened after the events of LOTR, but it’s clear that the friction between Gondor and Rohan pretty much ends for a long time after the War of the Ring, and it’s definitely very strongly implied that Aragorn’s awesomeness as a king is very much based on his general awesomeness as a person and his respect and decency towards everyone.

And iirc, all the kings die in the final battle, he’s literally the only blood heir to any of the thrones.

Not quite – Eomer’s alive, and as Theoden’s nephew, he inherits the throne of Rohan. He goes on to marry a woman from Gondor, and Eomer and Aragorn are pretty much best buds (Aragorn has a line in the book about them being brothers) for all of their respective very long, very successful reigns. 🙂

Polliwog
Polliwog
8 years ago

<blockquoteLegolas didn’t leave for a long time. In fact, he and Gimli sailed to the Undying Lands together.

Yup. It’s quite explicit that the two of them are BFFs in a very literal sense. 🙂

Polliwog
Polliwog
8 years ago

Grr, blockquotes, why do you thwart me?

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

For the record, my favorite book has become Emilie Autumn’s Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls, and there are no happy endings in the asylum. (lower case as I mean both the book and the place, it’s got layers upon layers of allegories, which is a good bit of why I love it so much)

I really wasn’t expecting everyone to have a happy ending, just annoyed at how willingly Tolkien split the fellowship — that too is probably a reflection on his time at war and the loss of contact with friends he’d made while serving though; particularly given examples like the unlikely friendship between the elf and the dwarf. Both elves and dwarves would shun such a friendship, but they became friends over the course of many battles, to the point they directly refer to each other as friends (or at least, Gimli “never thought [he’d] die alongside an elf” “what about a friend?” “aye, that I can do”) — I guess much of my annoyance is Tolkien’s experience as a veteran and that I lack that perspective.

I need a LoTR geek to explain…the trilogy implied Elrond, Frodo et al were the last elf ship to leave, but wiki is saying that Aragorn not only united the various races, but that Legolas didn’t sail to the undying lands until after Aragorn had died (of old age it seems) and that Gimli did go too?!

That would just make my day if true (it’s been a slow day, so that’s actually not just a phrase)

Dracula
Dracula
8 years ago

Interesting thing about Sam is, he rose to considerable degree of prominence after he got back to the Shire.

Not only did he gain recognition for beautifying and restoring the Shire, as well as rejuvenating its agriculture, he also went to become the Mayor of Hobbitton and keeper of the Red Book of Westmarch.

Polliwog
Polliwog
8 years ago

I need a LoTR geek to explain…the trilogy implied Elrond, Frodo et al were the last elf ship to leave, but wiki is saying that Aragorn not only united the various races, but that Legolas didn’t sail to the undying lands until after Aragorn had died (of old age it seems) and that Gimli did go too?!

The bit about the ship Frodo takes being the last elf ship is just in the movie, not the book – there are indeed later ships, including the one Legolas and Gimli take together. Wiki has it right.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

answered while I was reading the wiki — w00t, I am glad at least some of the friendships created during the books got to stay friends in the end.

“and it’s definitely very strongly implied that Aragorn’s awesomeness as a king is very much based on his general awesomeness as a person and his respect and decency towards everyone.” — yeah that’s what I was trying to get at, that yes, he is heir to the throne, but he’s also just a frikken excellent person

I remembered Eomer lived, and Eowyn certainly did, but I’d assumed nephews/not-sons didn’t count given the big stink over Aragorn’s heritage. A silly assumption considering I don’t know he’s related to the steward of Gondor, if at all.

I am definitely thrilled that Gandalf, Frodo, Sam, Legolas and Gimli all end up in the undying lands eventually though. And from the wiki it sounds like Aragorn, Pippen and Merry got to live they lives they wanted to before dying of old age. Quite possibly the happiest endings any of them could’ve hoped for.

Interesting that Eomer marries a woman from Gonder given his sister marries Faramir, that pretty much seals that the kingdoms will be on speaking terms for a rather long time.

Dracula
Dracula
8 years ago

Legolas and Gimli were largely responsible for restoring friendship between the dwarves and what elves remained on Middle-Earth, if memory serves.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

To have been at Elrond’s meeting they both had to be pretty important, so that makes a lot of sense really. Boromir was next in line to “rule” Gondor (steward not king issue aside) so I’d assume the other people in attendance were also important within their respective systems. I got the impression that Legolas, and maybe Gimli, were heirs to their thrones, or at least nobility. IIRC Gimli’s cousin was the dead king of Moria, and Legolas is treated with respect by every elf he meets, like his fame precedes him.

So it’d be a bit weird if their kings were friends but their people hated each other. (oh Moria, what a terrible idea that was…”we have a cave troll” — the tone Boromir says that in is priceless)

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

“they* have a cave troll” whoops! (my brother bought one of the games and I gave up after that thing killed me about a dozen times)

http://youtu.be/UAyh23l1mx4

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

I think what you have to accept here is that for all the elves and hobbits and magic, in some ways LOTR is more realistic than you might expect. In reality, very few people get happy endings – if you try to create them for everyone because you think they deserve it, you end up with a novel that feels deeply unrealistic. If you took all the sadness out of LOTR it wouldn’t be a series of books that’s been massively popular for over 50 years. It’s the pain and the sadness as much as the excitement and the friendships that makes people love those books so much.

(I really dislike when authors tie up their endings with neat little bows and the good rewarded/the bad punished. It just feels fake.)

Dracula
Dracula
8 years ago

Not all of the elves felt the need to return to Valinor, because some had never been there in the first place.

The Sylvan elves of the Woodland Realm in Mirkwood (known at the time as Greenwood the Great) chose to remain behind and resist the forces of Morgoth (Sauron’s predecessor) when the Valar called the elves to join them in the safety of their newly founded home.

And yeah, Legolas was the son of the king of the Mirkwood elves. The reason he felt the calling to return to Valinor is that the royal family of the Woodland Realm were not Sylvan elves like the majority, but Sindaran elves, who had left Middle-Earth and returned.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

Cassandra — yeah I know, and honestly I’d be pissed if the asylum did have a happy ending, it just never could without it being very forced (they do for awhile, but it gets the highly realistic all good things must end ending) — but LoTR is supposed to be Classic Myth, and all the heroes get heroic ends…I guess permission to travel to the undying lands being granted to a mere hobbit is a heroic ending though.

Dracula — oh, ok…I was basing that off Elrond’s annoyance his daughter wanted to stay, it made me assume she’d be the last of her people. He certainly never entertained the idea she could life with Aragorn until he died and then move in with other elves. That’d have been not nearly controlling enough of him, Elrond is easily the most obnoxious character in the entire trilogy, Sauron is just evil, Saruman is deceived, Elrond is an old controlling stick in the mud.

Dracula
Dracula
8 years ago

Elrond’s issue with Arwen has a lot to do with the fact she was planning to choose mortality over the immortal life of the elves. Elrond is half elven, and like all half-elves had to make choice for himself. As his daughter, Arwen is faced with the same decision.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

He still comes off as a father unable to realize his daughter is an adult now…which might be another little kind of progressive note of Tolkien’s. His own daughter would’ve been ~25 when they were published it looks like, so maybe that’s more commentary on his own life?

Polliwog
Polliwog
8 years ago

Dracula — oh, ok…I was basing that off Elrond’s annoyance his daughter wanted to stay, it made me assume she’d be the last of her people. He certainly never entertained the idea she could life with Aragorn until he died and then move in with other elves. That’d have been not nearly controlling enough of him, Elrond is easily the most obnoxious character in the entire trilogy, Sauron is just evil, Saruman is deceived, Elrond is an old controlling stick in the mud.

Elrond didn’t allow for that option because it wasn’t actually an option. Elrond is himself descended from two unions of an elf and a human, and the way those basically work in Middle Earth is that the members of his family get to decide whether to live as humans or elves – and if they choose humanity, they are mortal. By marrying Aragorn and tying her life to his, Arwen is choosing to grow old and die along with him. Elrond is less than perfectly pleased with this not because he’s a big meanie, but because really, what father would be happy about the prospect of one of his kids dying when it could be avoided? (And given his heritage, he has a pretty complicated relationship to human-elf pairings. He chose to live as an elf; his brother chose humanity and died, so y’know, there’s that.)

The movie does make him seem like more of a dick about it than the books, though, both by leaving out all that background and by just generally making him act kind of dickish.

Polliwog
Polliwog
8 years ago

He still comes off as a father unable to realize his daughter is an adult now…which might be another little kind of progressive note of Tolkien’s. His own daughter would’ve been ~25 when they were published it looks like, so maybe that’s more commentary on his own life?

Nah, you can’t blame Tolkien for this one – book-Elrond really just says, “Well, I’m sad about this, but all I demand is that Aragorn be awesome enough to deserve this sacrifice.”

Polliwog
Polliwog
8 years ago

I quite like the movies overall, and think they are by and large good adaptations, but the writers did seem to have decided at several points that there wasn’t enough conflict and chosen to create it by making characters who are awesome in the books randomly act kind of shitty. (I’m looking at you, WTFaramir…)

darksidecat
8 years ago

Elrond has two sons (twins, if I remember correctly), she’s not his only child. Also, he’s much more against their marriage in the film than in the books.

Dracula
Dracula
8 years ago

I suspect they wanted to put her in conflict with her father as a way of fleshing out her character a bit for the movie. They had to do a lot to expand her role in the story.

darksidecat
8 years ago

Sorry to comment so quickly again, but I totally hated what the films did with Faramir too, polliwog. The entire point of Faramir is to be a foil to Boromir, making him give in to temptation as well really ruins his character.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

Point taken about book-Elrond. Movie-Faramir isn’t kind of shitty, kind of stupidly loyal maybe, but his one questionable action is to ride into what is almost certain death when his father demands it (and wtf else was he going to do with every route out of Gondor swarming with orcs?)

Do you mean Boromir, the one that’s part of the fellowship? Or that their father is less an ass in the books?

I remember Faramir being a bit “kidnapping hobbits now” in the books too, there’s more explanation given as to wtf is going on there, but the movies have enough explanation to make it clear he’s smarter than his father or brother by miles.

Polliwog
Polliwog
8 years ago

<blockquoteSorry to comment so quickly again, but I totally hated what the films did with Faramir too, polliwog. The entire point of Faramir is to be a foil to Boromir, making him give in to temptation as well really ruins his character.

Agreed! I was so annoyed by that, especially since I was a little bit in love with Faramir in the books. I could deal with a lot of the movies’ changes – even losing the Scouring of the Shire and Tom Bombadil – but I freaking hated WTFaramir and the hasty Ents.

(…that totally sounds like a band. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, please give a big welcome to WTFaramir and the Hasty Ents!” Now I need to form a band just so I can name it that. :-p )

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

darksidecat — but Faramir doesn’t give into the temptation of the ring, he lets them go once he’s actually tempted by it personally, even gives them directions for safe passage. Faramir has the lightbulb moment that Boromir never has that the ring is pure evil and must be destroyed, one of his men says something about how if he lets them go his life will be forfeit, and he replies “then it is forfeit”.

IDK, maybe you are all thinking of something I’ve forgotten, but I rewatched the movies yesterday and Faramir comes off as the only sensible member of that family.

Dracula
Dracula
8 years ago

All right, I definitely need to reads the books again. I can’t recall at all how Faramir’s actions differ.

Polliwog
Polliwog
8 years ago

Point taken about book-Elrond. Movie-Faramir isn’t kind of shitty, kind of stupidly loyal maybe, but his one questionable action is to ride into what is almost certain death when his father demands it (and wtf else was he going to do with every route out of Gondor swarming with orcs?)

Do you mean Boromir, the one that’s part of the fellowship? Or that their father is less an ass in the books?

No, I mean Faramir – in the books, he completely rejects the idea of taking the Ring from Frodo from the get-go. He has a line that’s something to the effect of, “I would not take the Ring even if I just found it by the side of the road and also it was the only way to save Minas Tirith.”