Inclusion of queer characters?

Odola

Well-Known Member
Why can this not be true of a homosexual character? A person can fall in love and stay true to that person AND the person be the same sex or gender as them.
If you wrote if this way, I assume you could. This is just a response to the historical figures you listed, which were mostly "Don Juan"- types as far I could see? The "Don Juan-ity" would not work in Tolkien if you want the relationship shown in a positive light.

Can I just express, I dislike the implication expressed here that homosexuality is somehow unnatural or a corruption and wouldn't want that to be something that forms part of our worldbuilding, regardless of whether its possible to read this from the source material (which I don't think it is) or Tolkien's own opinions (which I don't see value for in this context).
You can of course express what you wish to express. ;-) Still this one would not be a response to my point here. My point is still - if you want to show a queer relationship on a positive light in Tolkien it has to be free from promiscuity. So no "serial relationships". That's all I wanted to draw attention to.

(Still it would requires imho some very artfull writing not to make a queer relationship seem artificial in Tolkien's heroic world. Do not really see how one could gracefully pull this of without taking inspiration in Greek mythology).

The other issue, such an relationship, if faithful, would break the bloodline. Which automatically is bad in the context of royal houses - as we jave seen in Numenor and Gondor - a king/queen dying childless fastenst the decline of the nation. So imho best to choose someone whose bloodline is not important.
 
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Kathrin

Well-Known Member
Well even Tolkien has Finwe take another wife, and it is not at all the point of conflict in Finwës story, that comes much later. Finwë just has the force of the story behind him, where Finduilas has not. So Tolkien's tragedy definitely doesn't just strike arbitrating one clear strict code of behaviour.

Also, we are adapting this story, so what we are trying to do is retell Tolkien's work so it most effectively works for our viewership, not a 1600's or 1950's audience. In my opinion, simply refusing to take on topics that Tolkien did not consider does not automatically result in a neutral, accurate representation, to some viewers it can also read as "These writers don't know how or don't want to make the effort to take on these topics and think about what they would mean in this world"
I think everyone in this thread doesn't just want to add any queer characters somewhere just to "tick a box", but only a meaninful, fitting inclusion, and to at least try. If we start brainstorming a story, and it doesn't work, it won't mean we have to put it in the script automatically, but I don't think we have to account for every thing that could not work in advance so we can decide if we want to include queer characters at all, ever.

And I think it's gotta be said that queer relationships don't inherently have to be any more serial than heterosexual ones (and, also, heterosexual relationships are often serial).
And it's clear, succession and having children etc. can complicate matters, but luckily that doesn't apply to the large majority of characters.
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
Well even Tolkien has Finwe take another wife, and it is not at all the point of conflict in Finwës story, that comes much later.
? It is one mayor point in the downfall of Feanor from the very beginning of Faenor's story and ends in Finwe having to stay in Mandos forever. The consequences are so disastrous for the whole of elvenkind that it is never ever even attempted again among the Eldar?
 
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Kathrin

Well-Known Member
? It is one mayor point in the downfall of Feanor from the very beginning of Faenor's story and ends in Finwe having to stay in Mandos forever. The consequences are do disastrous for the whole of elvenkind that it is never ever even attempted again among the Eldar?
Well there we disagree. I do not see Feanor's story and the whole doom spiralling from it as a punishment of Finwë's action, that would rob that story of immense impact to me. The strife of the House of Finwe and all the conflicts ultimately spiralling out of control into the exile of the Noldor and all the tragedies of the Silmarils are caused by a multitude of things, hubris, ambition, love, envy etc etc etc. There the narrative simply works differently for me than it does for you.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I do not see Feanor's story and the whole doom spiralling from it as a punishment of Finwë's action, that would rob that story of immense impact to me.
But neither mine nor your personal interpretation of this story has any impact on how the event is received in the broader elvish culture. And we know that the elves wondered at Miriel's unnatural choice as they later wondered at Finwe's unnatural choice which they both considered to have lead to the downfall of the greatest elf ever and the horrors that followed.

If I can explain what I mean:

Would I have to adapt a Chinese pseudo-historical novel I would not make the main hero unfilial even if I personally am in no way a proponent of the virture of Filiality - to the exent it is typical for ancient Chinese stories - but I would know the society of my hero is - and that would be what counts for the story.
 
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Rob Harding

Active Member
I think part of the issue here is that it is being stated that the model for relationships that we by and large see in Tolkien's works is integral to the identity of the stories told in his world.

That, I feel, is a matter of opinion. No, we don't see a great variety of relationships. That said, the kinds of characters he writes, particularly in his historical summaries (i.e. Silmarillion) are large the 'high' characters. Or rather, those of notable deeds. The shapers of history. So we are limited by scope and nature of telling histories of people which (by his own meta-storytelling) are not from an omniscient narrator but from in-universe scholars. So what we have, is by and large but a fragment of the history and reality of an entire landmass in an entire world.

So we don't see all there is and we don't know all the stories that exist.

What we do see are the ideals that matter narratively and that we would want to emulate. In terms of what we must include for our story to make sure it contains the spirit of Middle Earth while still being a fresh adaptation, I don't think that the general standard of heterosexual monogamy ranks any where nearly as highly as making sure that even small deeds can make an impact, that hope in the face of darkness is a good and noble and correct thing, that evil can be overcome even by the smallest of folks, that there is beauty in the world and in a thousand forms and that friendship and loyalty count for a heck of a lot (to name a handful of things). I would say many people find those types of things (plus swords and magic and fantasy species) make a thing feel like a Middle Earth story. Yes, we aren't going to throw a mobile phone in there, but if a relationship between characters is true to the core ideals of the narrative, then it can be between previously unseen characters. It's why I think some of what we've seen in the Amazon show so far is a wonderful expansion and why I think Turiel and Kili works for me. It is inkeeping with the spirit even if not the source material. And just because it wasn't recorded didn't mean it didn't happen.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I think part of the issue here is that it is being stated that the model for relationships that we by and large see in Tolkien's works is integral to the identity of the stories told in his world.
Yes. Because the core of Tolkien's work is the Beren and Luthien story and that only makes sense if romantic love is understood as constant, exclusive and eternal - the pure romantic ideal. All other forms are shown as only degenerations of it - and are doomed to end not merely tragic but "bad".

How can one play with something so fundamental to Middle-Earth's very fabric without tearing it apart in the process?

As far I understood most found the Tauriel Kili relationship strange. I did too, as dwarves are not Eruhini as such seem in their very corporality incompatible with elves and humans (and it seems dwarves would find elven women unattractive as they are beardless).

We have no hybrid dwarves ever reported, while we do have half-elves and half-orcs.

But about the queer relationship - while I still think it would being far more trouble than gain to the story overall, at least make it faithful if you want it perceived as something positive in ME's context.
 
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Rob Harding

Active Member
Regarding Beren and Luthien, I'm not sure I agree entirely with the premise. That is to say, yes, it is central to understanding Middle Earth and how a Middle Earth story should feel. It is the ideal in many ways in what it represents. But what it represents can be elusive. Does it need to be eternal? Yes, in its ending is is. But does it need to be constant? Can there be no troubles in that relationship? No conflict of culture? No turning away but choosing to pursue? Is it possible Beren chooses the quest and it forms a rift but one they jointly make the choice to heal? I don't think a love that needs to be worked at is a lesser love. It shows the strength that binds those sharing it. And creates good drama as we watch those choices made. Does it need to be exclusive? Well, yes. Nobody else is involved in it. But I personally don't think their love is lessened any by it not being the only relationship say Beren has had, for example. I'm not saying I think there is a story there to tell, but what I mean is, yes, maybe elves mate once in a lifetime, but I don't think humans are the same species. If Beren had loved and lost before Luthien, that for me, wouldn't lessen the power of their tale. In many ways, it can make it more epic. More healing and radiant. Again, I don't want to do that, but I don't think the core of their story is that 'one true love' ideal. More, it's that love can conquer darkness. If you choose for it to.

It comes down to interpretation of meaning is my point. And when you adapt something, you weigh your interpretations against others. And not everyone will agree. I get that. But I think we need to do the weighing rather than assuming interpretations are empirical truths about what makes a thing what it is and how it should be enjoyed. That path all too often can lead to toxic gatekeeping. Which is why I like the open-mindedness of these boards.

I still don't see why it would be trouble in telling homosexual characters' stories other than a fun creative challenge in the same way any adaptation is. The gain is telling stories.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Regarding Beren and Luthien, I'm not sure I agree entirely with the premise. That is to say, yes, it is central to understanding Middle Earth and how a Middle Earth story should feel. It is the ideal in many ways in what it represents. But what it represents can be elusive. Does it need to be eternal?
Yes, it has to. Otherwise Luthien is just using Beren to get herself freed from the shackles of Arda and to get herself a "free ticket" to the Timeless Halls - that she would not have been entitled to by just her own nature.

Yes, in its ending is is. But does it need to be constant?
See the point above. Were it not, she could have been expected to be a normal widow, mourn and then move on with her life and tasks towards her family and her duties towards Arda and not to bother poor Mandos with her lamenting.

Can there be no troubles in that relationship? No conflict of culture? No turning away but choosing to pursue?
Could be, but that has no relevance whatsoever for their love to have to be exclusive, constant and eternal to be true. And Tolkien has not bothered with the depiction those for their story minor details. Their romantic love was all he was interested in and the conflicts they faced were mostly external - with the world, not internal - with each other. When Beren decides to leave her behind there is no real conflict and neither there is one there when she decides to follow him still.

Most humans in Tolkien seem to marry whoever is available - of right age and rank - as there is not much choice there yet in the 1st Age - as the populations sizes are small and fragmented and you have to avoid too close kin - and then grow attached to their given life-partners.
Most elves have time to choose and pick but still most happen to marry socially equal and political advantageous partners.
Even in mixed elvish - human marriages the ranks of the partners in their respective communities of origin are equal - both partners are highest nobility (or middle nobility in the case of Mithrellas and Imrazôr).

So we have two main reasons for sexual partnerhips in Tolkien;s work - 1. practical necessity or 2. romantic inclination, 3. both

As a queer relationship is in no way practical to those societies, if entered in for romantic reasons then it has to follow the Tolkien romantic pattern: exclusive, constant and eternal - to be cosidered "good" in his framework.



What is appeal of Tolkien's stories? - That they are designed to feel "premodern" but are still understandable. Modern stories we have had enough - in various historic settings. Even with those ideas that you have listed included.
It is the mixture of familiar and exotic, the inclussion of the archaic and the archetypical, that people around the world do find appealing in Tolkien. Why to destroy it?
 
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Kathrin

Well-Known Member
But isn't Luthien and Beren's story exactly so famous because it is this unprecedented wonder, a eucatastrophe in many ways, this fairy tale, even in the world, where ppl regain hope at hearing it? In many ways that implies to me that it is much less a descriptive of the norm, it is something the narrator describes as a single event that is so famous because it is so extraordinary in how simple, unwavering and powerful their lovestory is, and how it can prevail against all the worldly things that would oppose it.

If this was just the norm, it wouldnt be such a standout myth to the characters of the legendarium, it has to be a contrast to some much less narratively simple, more complicated every-day-world.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
But isn't Luthien and Beren's story exactly so famous because it is this unprecedented wonder, a eucatastrophe in many ways, this fairy tale, even in the world, where ppl regain hope at hearing it? In many ways that implies to me that it is much less a descriptive of the norm, it is something the narrator describes as a single event that is so famous because it is so extraordinary in how simple, unwavering and powerful their lovestory is, and how it can prevail against all the worldly things that would oppose it.

If this was just the norm, it wouldnt be such a standout myth to the characters of the legendarium, it has to be a contrast to some much less narratively simple, more complicated every-day-world.
The wonder is not the love itself but that Luthien was allowed to leave - and that both were allowed to return to live for a time -. And Luthien was allowed to leave because it was not a caprice - it became a necessity for her because of her love. (Otherwise Aegnor would simply get reembodied and marry an elleth in Valinor some millenia after Andreth has died.)
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
The wonder is subjective and in the eye of the reader. We're invited to understand it from the elvish perspective but it resonates for myriad reasons.
 
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