Dec 6 2014, 3:05pm
OK, I haven't seen BOT5A but I've read the spoilers posted here, so this is partially speculative until I see it for myself. I wasn't going to see the film in cinemas if they were going to kill her off (so I can't actually say outside the spoilers if I'm seeing it or not!) But my opinion of Tauriel is heavily influenced by how women in general are portrayed in fiction, so be warned, there's a bit of a feminist rant coming up:
A few more answers - BOT5A SPOILERS
Usually when there's a woman in an action movie, she either falls in love with the hero (see: every action movie ever) or is tragically killed off to motivate the hero (see: every Christopher Nolan movie ever). If the hero is James Bond, she usually does both. Either way she's portrayed as a prize to be won or lost by the male protagonist. David Wong comments on the girl-as-reward phenomenon in this article: http://www.cracked.com/...d-to-hate-women.html
When the Karate Kid wins the tournament, his prize is a trophy and Elisabeth Shue. Neo saves the world and is awarded Trinity. Marty McFly gets his dream girl, John McClane gets his ex-wife back, Keanu "Speed" Reeves gets Sandra Bullock, Shia LaBeouf gets Megan Fox in Transformers, Iron Man gets Pepper Potts, the hero in Avatar gets the hottest Na'vi, Shrek gets Fiona, Bill Murray gets Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters, Frodo gets Sam, WALL-E gets EVE ... and so on.
As for the prize being lost, that's more of a comics thing, which you can read more about here: http://www.comicvine.com/...gerators/4015-43763/ and here http://lby3.com/wir/ with Gail Simone's documentation of the Women in Refrigerators phenomenon. AKA Fridging, this is the kill-the-girl-to-hurt-the-guy storyline. The site TvTropes goes into it further with The lost Lenore http://tvtropes.org/...p/Main/TheLostLenore (where the woman is dead from the beginning, and her death motivates the protagonist) and its sister trope I Let Gwen Stacy Die http://tvtropes.org/...ain/ILetGwenStacyDie (where the hero tragically fixates on his guilt over the death of a woman) . They also have a page on fridging that looks at other media besides comics: http://http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StuffedIntoTheFridge. Basically, a geeky, action-based story with a lot of dudes is a dangerous place if you're a girl. And it sucks.
I'm sick of seeing the death and suffering of women used as a cheap source of drama in the lives of men. Five years ago I'd have shrugged it off if a blockbuster movie killed a cool female character and gone "Welp, that's Hollywood and women, if I want a good non-cliche female character I'll go read a Margaret Atwood book", but that was before the series of attacks on prominent geek women that have happened in the last few years. (And before I moved to New York, too - yes, that street harassment video is what it's really like). When there's more sexism in real life, it's harder to take it in stride when it shows up in fiction.
So now we go on to the BOT5A spoilers! Select the rest of the post to read:
2. Yes, reading the spoilers affected whether I would see BOT5A in the cinema or wait for the DVD. I didn't think I could take seeing yet another cool female character get stuffed into the fridge, and I thought it was pretty likely she would be.
I thought that since Kili dies and Legolas is (presumably) single in LOTR, the only way to wrap up Tauriel's story would be to kill her. Which of course would give some nice motivation for The Hobbit's naive, insular, arrogant-as-hell version of Legolas to change in to the guy who pledges his bow to Frodo at the Council of Elrond. He falls in love with a woman whose tragic death teaches him a valuable lesson in caring about the world beyond his borders. Sucks for her, but gives motivation to him, and he's the one who's in the sequel. Sure it's a cliche, but so is the love triangle, so I figured they'd probably go that route.
Ultimately this was why I read the spoilers for BOT5A, and the fact that they don't kill her off is why I'll see it in the cinema. Sure, it sucks that she got forced into a love triangle, but there are apparently girls who like that plotline, and when there's only one major female character there's no way for her story to please everyone. So if the Twilight crowd got what they wanted I'm ok with that.
Now getting to question 3, which I'm answering based on pure spoiler-based speculation:
Yes, there is one major decision I'm happy with, and it goes back to the girl-as-reward comment at the start of this post. I've heard that Tauriel is something of a damsel in distress toward the end of the movie, and that Legolas comes to her rescue in what can only be described as the most, well, Legolas of action scenes.
Now, we all know the rules for a female character in an action movie: the hero likes her, she rejects him and then he does something heroic - defeats the baddie, wins the tournament, saves her life or all three - and she changes her mind and falls in love with him. Because clearly she's just a prize to be won with sufficient effort on the hero's part. So the fact that Tauriel's rejection of Legolas continues even after he saves her life in a blaze of physics-defying glory is actually pretty progressive. While the preteen girl audience might focus mainly on the tragedy, they're also seeing - whether they know it or not - a woman whose love isn't a reward for good behaviour. She doesn't owe her love to the man who saves her life. Sure, it's because she's grieving for another guy she loves, but hey, baby steps. They're still breaking a pretty major rule of Hollywood here.
Meanwhile the boys in the audience are learning that girls aren't rewards. They're learning that if you save a girls life (or help her with her homework, or are her supportive and loyal nice guy best friend) then you aren't earning her love - that's something that she'll feel, or not feel, for reasons of her own, not because she owes it to you. They're learning that sometimes even Orlando freakin' Bloom doesn't get the girl. And it sucks, and you cope with it, and you move on.
And for that to show up in an action-filled sausagefest fantasy movie is actually pretty damn impressive.
The Balrog has wings, but it isn't capable of flight. It's basically a kiwi, only bigger. And on fire.
(This post was edited by TricksyHobbitses on Dec 6 2014, 3:19pm)