Friday, October 12, 2007

The tale of one brave little hobbit

I'm suffering from insomnia, and the whole bruhaha with Warner Bros. and female leads in action films reminded me of something I wanted to write eons ago.
When I was in junior high, like many others of my age, I read Lord of the Rings. I can at least say that I did read it at the same time as all my class, at it was mandatory reading for that course. And, like many others, I fell in love with Tolkien's careful constructed universe.
But for some reason, call it bad translation, call it that by the end of the first chapter , my version of Lord of the Rings had a very particular difference.
See, I was throughly convinced that Merry was, in fact, a girl hobbit. Not only that, but that 'she' was Pippin's wife.
(Later I found out that I wasn't the only one. A lot of my friends here in Mexico made the same conclusion. So I can blame translation.)
Now, I went through the whole Fellowship and part of the Two Towers with this idea in mind, following brave Merry as she did exactly all the same things that Pippin did, sometimes being braver than he was, and being utterly terrified when the orcs took them, and all that jazz. It wasn't until the beginning of the last battle, when I found out my small mistake.
The thing is, it didn't matter. Merry was equally cool for me as a man as 'she' had been as a woman.
Of course, it was just my childhood version of the Lord of the Rings. But sometimes I wonder, if there had been a woman in the Fellowship, would it have been any less successful? I'm not talking about gender-bendering Aragorn, Frodo, Sam or Boromir -I believe those four really have to be male to work as characters. One of the strongest moments -for me- on the books is when Eowyn kills the Witch King, so we know that Tolkien could write strong women. And while I understand why there weren't any women in the fellowship, I can't stop wondering what if?

In fact... how much of the succsess of some of the great adventure and action epics we all love would change if one of the characters was a women instead of a man?


logovo said...

How cool! I mean, really, I know that similar stuff has happened to with other materia, specially when I was in my early teens. But to your question, I do believe that at this point people are willing accept that a women character fits into this type of story. However, with older stories, I don't know if anything written 30 yrs ago or more would have received the same success as stories with men as the heroes. Newer stories? The story of Harriet instead of Harry? Hmmm... now I'm worried that I'm wrong.

Adalisa said...

Lol, there's a Harriet the witch series of books here you know? Next time I find them, I'll take a picture of it.
Now, can you imagine Harry Potter, just as it is, just with Hermione, Ron and Draco gender-bendered? I mean, his male friend as the smart nerd, his female friend as the good witch from an old family, and his nemesis as the blonde girl who won't give him the time of the day? Would the relationships would've read differently? Even if the plot had been exactly the same?