The LOTR Movie Site
October 11, 2000

An Overlooked 'Fan' Pitches Back In
Brian M.

Apparently Max thought so little of my previous response to him that I don't even rate as one of his "fans," at least not one he felt like responding to. Still, I'll put in my two cents worth whether or not he thinks the actual essay to be worthy of even that much.

"Firstly, for anyone who believes I framed the issue incorrectly, please note that I was responding to a specific post."

--I'm afraid that doesn't release you from anyone's criticisms. You responded to a specific post, but related it to much broader issues. It was your interaction with those issues that people had problems with.

"But that doesn't mean that his vision can't be expanded on.... We are living in a post-post modernist textual climate.... Remember, the author has been dead for some time (metaphorically and now that I think of it, literally as well)."

--You're not an English major, are you? I had heard they had already abandoned PM, even if the rest of popular culture hasn't (Unfortunately, I don't think what they've ended at is any more intellectually respectable than PM.). I think this is the crux of the situation. According to your philosophy (do correct me if I got you wrong), the text is merely an artifact with not a shade of authorial intent involved. To you, Tolkien is as much dead in his books as he is in real life. As such, there is no reason why you can't make any arbitrary, sweeping changes to anything you feel like. If PJ honestly employs your approach, he could even insert a colony of smurfs and still feel guilt free. You have pled guilty to what I and others have accused you: only taking Tolkien's context into account to ignore it. I understand this is not a philosophic forum, so I'll spare everyone the arguments to prove it (but you might check out for a!
 creative look at the question), but it is safe to say that Tolkien as an author is very much alive and well in his works. For the most part, only people who are made uncomfortable by his beliefs will feel the need to cite philosophic excuses for changing anything.

"It's indicative of your train of thought that you instantly cry "PC" in reference to requests for active female roles."

--I think the real problem is that people like you seem to think there aren't any already there. It isn't just the fact that you're asking for alterations, it's that your alterations have to fundamentally change characters in ways that Tolkien never intended. You can scream "death of the author" as much as you want, and it will still leave a bad taste in most people's mouths.

"Having women on the battlefield suggests they are as diverse as men. In the book, men are both active on battlefield and passive/active behind it, while women take on the latter completely. So, we have men who employ both traditionally female and male qualities, while women are simply girls. Your argument does not stand up."

--I would very much be interested in hearing your definition of "female and male qualities." You seem to think that female=passive and male=active (though I would take strong issue with that). Is the battlefield the key? Do they actually have to hack someone's arm off and bask in the gushing blood in order to be "diverse as women?" Again, I think that many women and Tolkien himself would agree that a woman can be just as much a woman without having to perform an arbitrary test such as this. You are insisting that in order to be equal (or diverse, as you put it. What exactly does that mean in practical terms, anyway?) women must act like men; exactly the opposite of what you say you want to see. There's no way around it.

"Tolkien was writing at a time when feminism was stirring, and I think he was a bit of visionary by supplying this role to Eowyn."

--So, at least from what we've been given here, your only reason for believing that Tolkien would agree with you is that feminism was "stirring" at that time? Might it also be that he wrote Eowyn in to correct what he saw as its excesses? One interpretation is as valid as the other without outside evidence. Indeed, from his association with the Inklings, particularly C. S. Lewis (author of The Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity), I would think the latter the more likely.

There are other issues I could raise, but I'll refrain (A fact for which I'm sure all are thankful). I hate to come across as a jerk, and I don't mean to come down on Max as a person (How can I? I've never met him.). Its just that the postmodernism, or post postmodernism (So that's what you kids are calling it these days. ;) ) he espouses hardly has a leg to stand on, and I would hate to see it get its claws into the Lord of the Rings at any level. Why argue so vehemently? I've heard PJ and others at New Line read through these sites on a regular basis, so I hope that something I might add may actually make a difference, even though I'll never know it.