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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

Two more essays: Aratlithiel on the Films, Lobelia S-B on the maleness of hobbits

Posted on 2005.12.03 at 13:36
Tags: , ,
[Warning: some adult content in quoted materials]



~ Film-Frodo looking bookishly, "kick-ass," at Cirith Ungol.

Oh, EXCRETA! Two more great essays!

One by Aratlithiel and another by Lobelia Sackville-Baggins. Many of you have no doubt read these, but for us relative newbies, I just want to give a little ‘heads up’….

1. In my “Swordplay” entry, Aratlithiel (aka Abby_normal) mentioned having written a “weeping and flailing” essay on the injuries done to Frodo’s character in the films.

I just read it and it is a must-must-must, unless you are a film-Frodo fan who cannot bear to see the films (and Frodo in them) given the old, one-two. You might really hate this, if so. But if you share some semblance of Aratlithiel’s love/hate relationship with the LotR films, you will love reading this. Does she loathe the films entirely? Scroll down to the bottom to see Aratlithiel confessing that she loves the stinking things, ANYWAY, even if she gripes the whole time.

I am sure many of you will “resonate” (such a tame, New Age term for such a slash-and-burn essay) with Aratlithiel’s observations. If you have not read this essay, and can bear some ranting, you are in for a treat. From the content, it was written after the EE of The Two Towers came out, but before The Return of the King was released.

P.S., she takes pains to state that this is her statement on the subject, not an invitation to debate. She has finished arguing about it. Just so you’ll know, in case you are planning to send her a challenge.

On the Films, by Aratlithiel:

http://www.lightindarkplaces.net/EssayOnTheFilms.htm


Here’s an excerpt:

OK, so there are money constraints, time constraints, reasons why certain scenes that work in the book would not work on film. But I have not seen one single diversion from canon that made more sense than the original material. And most of it seems pointless and frivolous to me. Why is Eowyn being a bad cook a more important scene than the Frodo and Faramir debate? Why is Theodred’s funeral more important than…well, any of the Frodo scenes left out? Didn’t PJ tell us that this story is about Frodo? So why are all of the scenes involving Frodo dominated by Sam? Why are these movies elevating Sam to hero status and dragging Frodo down to Victim?

In the more concise and intelligent defenses of the films, one of the more common complaints about canon is that it’s unrealistic. Frodo couldn’t have stood up to the Ringwraiths at the Ford with that Morgul shard stuck in his shoulder; he couldn’t possibly run with the orcs after his ordeal in the Tower and besides the orcs would spot him anyway; wanting to fork over the Ring to Aragorn and then a Nazgul is human and demonstrates his pain so well.

OK. Those are certainly valid opinions and anyone who shares them is entitled to them. I get no happiness out of seeing those changes, but would certainly not begrudge anyone theirs. But, you see, I wasn’t looking for reality. This is a fantasy novel we’re talking about and I had no interest whatsoever in seeing it made more realistic. If I want realistic, I watch the news. I don’t want my hobbits humanized; I want them to be hobbits. Yes, Frodo could have stood up to the Ringwraiths, because Frodo did. Frodo could have drawn his sword and taken a swing at the Witch King because he did. He also survived longer with the shard in his shoulder than any living being before him, nearly got impaled in Moria and survived, stood up to and even challenged Galadriel, outwitted and outmaneuvered the heir to the Stewardship of Gondor, debated a Captain of Gondor and won, tamed a creature who had been filled with hate and spite for 500 years and put him on the road to redemption only to have his work and kindnesses undone by Sam, carried the Ring at Its height of power without succumbing to it until he stood at Its center of power, survived a sting by Shelob, captivity by orcs, thirst, starvation and the slow, steady erosion of his mind, body and spirit.

And what’s Peter Jackson’s interpretation of this character? “I can’t do this, Sam”…?!

W… T... F…? Are you seriously trying to tell me that that’s Frodo? That may well be Peter Jackson’s Frodo, but it certainly isn’t Tolkien’s. And I’m sorry, but Tolkien’s is the one I’ve admired, Tolkien’s is the one I wanted to see come to life, Tolkien’s is the one who could have made it to Mordor. Wait, I take that back - I'm not sorry. Jackson’s Frodo – although Sam will, indeed drag him to Mordor – is not emotionally, spiritually or intellectually equipped to do so and the fact that he will go to Mordor and (from the spoiler pics we’ve seen) will crawl up Mt. Doom…that, my friends, in terms of this movie and its characterization of Frodo, is unrealistic. Now, if Sam is behind him the whole way, saying, ‘You can do it Mr. Frodo! You have to go on!’ then I suppose I can see the determined climb in the context of this movie. And that just makes me sad.

Not realistic. Bah.


Oh, Aratlithiel, reading your third paragraph me weep with pleasure. Ah, for such a Frodo! If only PJ and the screenwriters could have seen their way to dramatizing that Frodo. Ah, well, I still am going to watch the films, probably until the day I die. And probably griping with my last breath, while pleading that when the angel of death comes, he will look just like film-Frodo. *sigh*



2. While I was browsing her essay page (these are from Aratlithiel’s web site, “A Light in Dark Places”), I could not refrain from clicking open another essay with a very leading title. It was….

Why Can’t a Hobbit Be More Like A Man?, by Lobelia-Sackville Baggins:

http://www.lightindarkplaces.net/EssayMira.htm

Lobelia Sackville-Baggins is another author of Frodo fanfic of whom I have always heard, but never read. I have had her fic on my “to read” list for over a year. But, as was the case after reading Mary Borsellino’s essay, I may have to goose it up a little.

In this essay, Lobelia S.-B. tackles an issue that has always bothered me about slash, the feminization of its male hobbit characters, Frodo in particular. Related to that, is what she calls the “infantilization” of the hobbits, Pippin in particular. With scathing humour, she says for me many things I have thought since I began reading slash fanfics.

Here’s a spicy excerpt:


When Frodo in a given fic has no male characteristics at all beyond what's between his legs, and even that issue is sometimes skirted with varying degrees of tact, it makes me look a bit askance. He ought not to be a macho jerk, please let's not make him one, but what's so bad about him being a GMC [grown male character]? I'm all about Frodo being a total bottom too, but why is it bad for him to occasionally back Sam into a corner and say "Look, I've had blue balls all day and I'm dying, you are now going to put down the damn clippers, come to bed, and fuck me right through the mattress, and no, foreplay is not required right now, just grab the lube and come on"? I can't imagine that Sam would object overmuch to that particular variety of manhandling. You could argue that it's OOC for Frodo, but Frodo, in any canon, is physiologically male; and physiological masculinity does bring along with it certain imperatives. If you're going to make him sexual at all, it seems to me, you're going to have to deal with those imperatives. Frodo is not a woman; he's a man, and male sexual response is different from female sexual response, and while some fudging of that issue is usually necessary, there's only so far that you can ignore the fact without tipping over into unrealistic characterization.

However, it's not only sexually that Frodo is so often feminized; he's also often feminized emotionally (and Sam is too, but mostly it's Frodo so I'll frame the discussion in those terms). Hobbits in canon are damned emotional little creatures. They burst into tears at the slightest provocation, they respond to new things with an unabashed "Oooo!", they follow their feelings and trip headfirst into a big-ass vat of trouble and then don't understand what happened. But while they do diverge that far from our current cultural standards of masculinity, they're still recognizably male. Book!Frodo is the type who under normal (non-Quest) circumstances wouldn't stop and ask directions on a car trip if it meant the firing squad; he'd keep insisting that he was just fine with the map, thank you, and had everything under control, and the fact that he'd passed the same tree four times did not at all mean that he didn't know where he was. Sam, presaging Sean Astin's on-set behavior, has built a huge part of his identity around being the provider, the protector, and generally the person who could move the world if given a place to stand and a big enough roll of duct tape. Merry fantasizes about charging to Pippin's rescue and leaving slaughtered orcs littered in his wake. Pippin's first act on meeting Denethor is to offer not his wit or his tales or even his pipeweed but his sword.

Remember when they're leaving Rivendell and Frodo forgets a bunch of stuff? Does Sam say outright, "Hey, Mr. Frodo, you forgot some things"? No. He sticks them in his own pack, so that when Frodo goes "Ack, what a flake I am, I left Item X in Rivendell" Sam can pull Item X out of his pack and go "Looking for this?" This, O my sisters, is a Guy Thing.



All this made me snort my drink, but I knew just what she was talking about.

Although, unlike Lobelia S-B, I do get tired of Frodo always being on the receiving end of his sexual encounters with Sam. If for nothing else, I think I appreciated Hare and Hounds the way I do because Bill the Pony reversed this scenario. Although she put her Frodo in virtual drag in order to lure straight-guy Sam to pursue him, in the end, the feminized guise came off and dominant-male Frodo was revealed. Sam could barely say, “Guh” before Frodo had seized him, mounted him, and, well, reversed the usual order of things. Perhaps having watched Sean Astin’s Sam dominate film-Frodo so much, I am impatient with the usual sexual set-up. I want to yell, “Get up, Frodo! Pick up your damned sword and let that hobbit have it!”

Heck, reading those essays got me all excited.

I’m going to have to go and read me a fanfic!

~ Mechtild

Comments:


pearlette
pearlette at 2005-12-03 21:37 (UTC) (Link)
Ha! Oh, I love Aratlithiel's "I am a Frodo-fan, hear me roar" essay!

We had some *cough* lively discussion in the Harem post-ROTK on Film Frodo before it *cough* got shut down. (I was not best pleased about that, as I considered it to be a smothering of dissension, and wish to this day I had made more of a stink about it. But by then I was fed up with Harem rows and couldn't really, in all honesty, be bothered.)

And let me ask you to be honest with yourself once more: would you be so forgiving of this characterization of Frodo if he were played by someone else? Say, Steve Buscemi or even Brad Dourif? Picture that for a moment and then try to answer honestly. Isn't the pretty face and big, blue eyes at least a little bit of the reason why staunch Frodo fans are not screaming for PJ's head?

Ouch! She's right. I forgave PJ much simply because Film Frodo is just so damn gorgeous. And, give Elwood his due, he DOES portray Frodo's purity of soul very beautifully. :)

But, when you read the book ... boy, Tolkien's Frodo is something else.

Of course, not everybody feels the same way. A colleague of mine read LOTR after seeing FOTR and said to me, "But you know, I was far more impressed with Sam than with Frodo in the book ... I mean, Sam did so much more in the book ..."

*shrug* Different folks have different perceptions. Book Frodo had his detractors long before the films came out ...

And I am a big defender of Book Sam too, btw (who also has his detractors ... before the films came out, I used to debate on TORc with a poster who couldn't stand Book Sam ...)

I've always seen Frodo & Sam in the book as a team, really. I can't quite imagine one without the other. I adore them both ... Frodo has always had the slight edge not just because he's intelligent and spiritual but because he moves me more, because he's the tragic hobbit ... Sam is anything but tragic.

I love Lobelia/Mira's hobbit characterisation:

Hobbits in canon are damned emotional little creatures. They burst into tears at the slightest provocation, they respond to new things with an unabashed "Oooo!", they follow their feelings and trip headfirst into a big-ass vat of trouble and then don't understand what happened. But while they do diverge that far from our current cultural standards of masculinity, they're still recognizably male.

Awww. That's why I loves 'em!

Mechtild
mechtild at 2005-12-03 22:03 (UTC) (Link)
We had some *cough* lively discussion in the Harem post-ROTK on Film Frodo before it *cough* got shut down.

Awww, I'm sorry I missed that. I would love to have been there then.

...would you be so forgiving of this characterization of Frodo if he were played by someone else? Say, Steve Buscemi or even Brad Dourif?

Oooh, that Aratlithiel strikes in a weak place. Yes, that made a big difference to me, that EW played it. But as I brushed by briefly in a the Swordplay entry, for me it wasn't primarily his looks. I was impressed with his looks in the first two films, never fear. But what "got" me was the way he opened up Frodo emotionally for me. Not all of the feeling was true to the book, but the mere spectacle of it made me see book Frodo in a new way. I must not be a very imaginative reader, because I just didn't see it, reading the book. Now, that may mean it simply isn't there. But I think the movies legitimately helped me imagine a richer emotional subtext for Frodo. Tolkien's writing is so spare, he just didn't clobber me enough for me to get it. I've talked about how, before the films, reading Helm's Deep or even the Scouring simply didn't make a dent in me, I didn't take the human drama inherent in the situations seriously. After seeing the battles in the films, I read those scenes completely differently, especially the Scouring, which never even is portrayed in the films. The films helped open up my imagination to see those ugly scenes in a way I never had before, from Tolkien's restrained descriptions. I think the same is true for Frodo. He's a restrained person in the book, and I think I sometimes took his reserve at face value. He was that competent and self-disciplined because he just was. It wasn't until film-Frodo that I began to read his scenes and imagine the cost at which Frodo's competence and self-discipline came.

Hobbits in canon are damned emotional little creatures. They burst into tears at the slightest provocation, they respond to new things with an unabashed "Oooo!", they follow their feelings and trip headfirst into a big-ass vat of trouble and then don't understand what happened.

I agreed with this description of the hobbits generally, but not of Frodo. I think book Frodo has deep feelings, but he approaches things from a thinking, not a feeling point of view. He is not credulous and spontaneous the way the others are. When his "spark" is kindled, it catches him at a very deep level, one that fires him from his entrails. But his way of looking at things, of judging situations and determining how to act, seems to me to be cerebral, not visceral.
pearlette
pearlette at 2005-12-03 23:45 (UTC) (Link)
Mech, some of the best fun I've ever had on the internet was with the Harem. We had some kick-ass discussions ... and so many deliciously saucy and tender vignettes were penned ... and we also had some very juicy rows. :D Including arguments with people from other threads. :D Oh dear. The Frodo versus Sam wars ... I ask you. *wipes eyes* Grown women. Arguing over which fictional character was the more heroic! Nuts, I tell ya, nuts. :D

But what "got" me was the way he opened up Frodo emotionally for me. Not all of the feeling was true to the book, but the mere spectacle of it made me see book Frodo in a new way ... I think the movies legitimately helped me imagine a richer emotional subtext for Frodo. Tolkien's writing is so spare, he just didn't clobber me enough for me to get it ... I think the same is true for Frodo. He's a restrained person in the book, and I think I sometimes took his reserve at face value. He was that competent and self-disciplined because he just was. It wasn't until film-Frodo that I began to read his scenes and imagine the cost at which Frodo's competence and self-discipline came.

Very well said! To recap: I think the movies legitimately helped me imagine a richer emotional subtext for Frodo. The BBC radio LOTR began that process for me. Ian Holm's interpretation of Frodo simply vibrates with deeply felt emotion! The movies were a wonderful and exhilarating continuation of that. And certainly fanfic opened up a very rich emotional subtext regarding Frodo's childhood!

I think book Frodo has deep feelings, but he approaches things from a thinking, not a feeling point of view. He is not credulous and spontaneous the way the others are. When his "spark" is kindled, it catches him at a very deep level, one that fires him from his entrails. But his way of looking at things, of judging situations and determining how to act, seems to me to be cerebral, not visceral.

You're right. Pippin and Sam are the very essence of what Lobelia/Mirabella describes so well. Merry is like a younger Frodo in some ways: more measured and thoughtful. (I've always loved Merry, and must confess to being partial to Frodo/Merry slash on occasion - they seem so well matched!)

Morphing the cooler, controlled, cerebral Book Frodo into the dusky delicious lover of our lusty fanfics and Tol Eressean vignettes has been fun ...
Mechtild
mechtild at 2005-12-04 00:41 (UTC) (Link)
The BBC radio LOTR began that process for me. Ian Holm's interpretation of Frodo simply vibrates with deeply felt emotion! The movies were a wonderful and exhilarating continuation of that. And certainly fanfic opened up a very rich emotional subtext regarding Frodo's childhood!

Amen, to that, sister. Although I didn't hear the BBC production for the first time until this year. Remember me complaining to you that Ian Holm was too over-the-top as Frodo? You remarked that he was doing with his voice, because it was radio, what EW was doing with his face: bringing Frodo's emotional range and depth to the surface. That really turned around my listening. I now love Ian Holm's performance.

You're right. Pippin and Sam are the very essence of what Lobelia/Mirabella describes so well. Merry is like a younger Frodo in some ways: more measured and thoughtful. (I've always loved Merry, and must confess to being partial to Frodo/Merry slash on occasion - they seem so well matched!)

My favourite partner in slash for Frodo so far has been Mac in "Rites of Passage", but, in lieu of Mac, it has been Merry in her "Nexus." I see book Merry as book Frodo's social and mental peers, and, easily, his soul friend, although not anything sexualized in the book.

As you know, I have never seen Sam as an appropriate partner for Frodo, although fanfic has tweaked Sam into someone far more plausible. Igraine's last three S/F stories (are you out there, Aisling? *huge smiley face*), which I loved, are stories that I could warm to because she has such a sense of AU magic and mystery going on in her fic, it allows me to think of the two characters "as if" they were in another world, which makes the relationship more plausible. Sam's character and abilities are refined and elevated by his out-of-this world situations, and Frodo, perceiving this Sam's worthiness, is completely freed from considerations of societal expectation.

I suppose I should be reading some Frodo/Merry stuff. Hey, Aratlithiel, which Merry/Frodo fic of yours should I start with? *grin*
pearlette
pearlette at 2005-12-04 00:55 (UTC) (Link)
[i]Remember me complaining to you that Ian Holm was too over-the-top as Frodo? You remarked that he was doing with his voice, because it was radio, what EW was doing with his face: bringing Frodo's emotional range and depth to the surface. [/i]

I said that? :) Cool! :D

Holm can be quite a theatrical actor at times ... he does over-act as Frodo, sometimes! But he nails other moments so perfectly ... *heart*

[i]I see book Merry as book Frodo's social and mental peers, and, easily, his soul friend, although not anything sexualized in the book. [/i]

Oh gracious heavens, no. :eek: :) Fanon and canon are miles apart!

(Mac is lovely ... who wouldn't want their first time to be with someone so loving and caring?)

As you know, I have never seen Sam as an appropriate partner for Frodo, although fanfic has tweaked Sam into someone far more plausible. Igraine's last three S/F stories (are you out there, Aisling? *huge smiley face*), which I loved, are stories that I could warm to because she has such a sense of AU magic and mystery going on in her fic, it allows me to think of the two characters "as if" they were in another world, which makes the relationship more plausible.

I think that was always the approach I took to F/S slash, that it was AU rather than canon ...

I love the way the BBC portrays the Frodo/Sam relationship, it's much more canon and satisfying than the PJ version. Holm and Nighy bring such DEPTH to both characters. And you really feel the strength of the bond between them ... and you can hear that relationship changing and deepening throughout the dramatisation, just as it changes in the book. I appreciated the touchy-feeliness of Film Frodo and Film Sam (Film Sam's looks of adoration just slay me :D) and their final Grey Havens embrace and oh-so-canon kiss is to die for ... but, as has been documented elsewhere mucho times, there are other, less satisfying aspects ... well, for Frodo-nuts like me, anyway. :)

Oooh, I've missed discussions like this ... :)



Ariel
elasg at 2005-12-04 02:43 (UTC) (Link)
I love that essay of Aratlithiel's and told her so several times. I am even more of an unabashed book canon fan than she is, but having already said my piece on NUMEROUS KD posts both in the harem and out (yes, I know of the kerfuffle Pearl speaks of - and was one of the most outspoken defenders of the right to not like the films for one reason or another - it got me in some hot water but what else is new?) I tend not to bother beating that dead horse any more. But yes, there is nothing in that essay I can find to disagree with at all.

As for hobbits being emotional creatures, I must beg to differ on that. I found them to have the reserve of a regular English country gentleman, with Sam being a bit more emotional as might be expected in someone from more humble backgrounds. In truth, I didn't even recognize the hobbits I read and loved from the description in LSB's exerpt, though her description did sound like most of the fanfic that is out there.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2005-12-04 03:01 (UTC) (Link)
In truth, I didn't even recognize the hobbits I read and loved from the description in LSB's exerpt, though her description did sound like most of the fanfic that is out there.

You are probably right about hobbits not being as lavishly emotional as we have come to think (not you, of course). I think perhaps we owe that to the films, too. But I am not sorry. I loved that part of the films, the ease with which hobbits allowed their feelings to show.

I was only sorry they made Merry and Pippin be such boobies so much of the time. I think the that very silliness, though, is what so many ficcers actually like. It's closely related to joie de vivre. But I think the two younger hobbits were often made into the Gimli's of the hobbit world. (Gimli being made into a buffoon and source of comic relief.)

I do think LBS was right on about the feminization of hobbits in fanfic, though. Very much so. But, since it is mostly a tendency found in slash, you might never have noticed it. Het has its own problems, and the feminization of Frodo is not one of them. *titter* ("Oh, Frodo, throw me against the nearest tree, you BEAST!")
Mechtild
mechtild at 2005-12-04 03:33 (UTC) (Link)
You know, come to think of it, Ariel, the book hobbits did show their emotions, but they tried not to show or dwell on their negative ones. Think of Pippin and Merry. They were quick to laugh and joke, "because that is our way to make light of things" when they were serious or deeply felt, but others seemed to know how the hobbits were feeling and learned much by observing them carefully, even when they didn't speak. After the kidnapping by orcs, M and P are asked to tell about their experiences. P begs off, it is too fresh and too near. It's not as though the young book hobbits gush, but they do seem quick to feel and don't seem to mind letting their feelings be known, unless they are instructed otherwise or unless they feel as though expressing them will have a dampening effect on others. They do not seem ... "guarded" in their behaviour, under normal circumstances.

The older hobbits in the Shire seem quick enough to show their feelings, and to let their opinions be known, too, although they are often censorious ones, LOL.
Ariel
elasg at 2005-12-04 03:57 (UTC) (Link)
You know, come to think of it, Ariel, the book hobbits did show their emotions,

But nowhere to the extent described in fanfic. I am thinking of those overdramatic things that show Sam pining for Frodo for the next 50 years to the point where, if I were Rosie, I'd have kicked him out of the house. I just SO can't see him being that way!

I think they are best described as having british reserve - which to me means exactly what you said - not dwelling on negative emotions but being very much the 'cherio, there!' type. The english country gentleman never struck me as being particularly devoid of happy emotions, so perhaps we are operating from a different presumption.

Het has its own problems, and the feminization of Frodo is not one of them.

Considering there isn't more than a handful of het fics out there, I am not sure it can be viewed as having anything even remotely like problems common to them all. I am, of course, not refering to the tweenybopper MS's, but real hetfic like your piece, Beleg's, Sally Gardens' and those ilk. Unfortunately, most people out there simply do dump us in with all those tweenybopper MSs and dismiss the lot of us, as you already are finding out, but I don't think that's a valid criticism.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2005-12-04 04:03 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, British reserve. I think that's good as long as it doesn't imply the dour thing. If it's like the Londoners who were serving tea and sweeping up ten minutes after the bombings, well, that's the ticket!

As for het's "own problems," I hadn't formulated anything yet. I was just guessing that it must have something. Any genre tends to have its trademark strong and weak points. But, as you say, there's not that much out there to make generalizations about. I'd have to read more of it to get a better sense for something like that.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2005-12-04 05:07 (UTC) (Link)
Or Pippin and Merry chatting along as if nothing had happened after escaping from the orcs. Yes, that is exactly what I was referring to.

Yes, like that. Although it was then that Pippin begged off telling his tale, on the grounds that it was too terrible and too fresh an experience. 'You tell it, Merry,' he said, or words to that effect. But what struck me was how the hobbits, unlike modern Americans, simply thought it best not to speak of bad experiences, as if speaking about them made it worse, not better, exacerbating them. It is quite the opposite of the therapeutic approach in vogue now.

Uh,... hate to break it to you, but you've probably already read all of it there is.

No kidding! I thought you were exaggerating. Still, I haven't read everything there is. I've only read some of yours and two of Belegcuthalion's, a lovely Harem-y shorty by Illyria, one of White Gull's, two of Aratlithiel's, two of Mariole's .... oh, and those beautiful Harem fics by Igraine. And two Harem fics by Pearl, both great. But as for the long fics, you are right, there don't seem to be many. But, wait. Isn't there a writer of a long fic starring Pippin and Diamond? And hasn't someone else written a larger Merry and Estella fic? Or are those just short vignettes? Of course, I haven't had those at the top of my list simply because I am so Frodo-centric, but those would count as hobbit, and het, no?
(Deleted comment)
Carole
abby_normal at 2005-12-04 03:01 (UTC) (Link)
Ha!! Glad you liked the essay, love. Can you tell I was a bit miffed when I wrote it? *cough* And I've gotta tell you: the reason I swore off message boards and forums was because of some outlandishly unreasonable behavior on KD. Don't get me wrong; ninety-nine percent of those ladies were/are remarkable women with whom I highly enjoyed regular, intelligent discourse. Okay, and the occassional dip into smut. ;) But that one percent...

Anyway, as far as which F/M you should start with... Ugh. It's hard to say. I'm currently completely in love with 'Counterpoint' but it's freakin' huge and more to come. Since you enjoy Willow's F/M and Merimac, 'Fair Play' might do you. She let me play in her sandbox twice and, even though I did not consciously try to 'RoP' that one, it turned out more RoP-ish than the other. (Not that I'm saying it's even close to what Willow can do -- only that you can recognize the characterizations as RoP characters for the most part. I think. I hope. Willow said so, so nyah!) Or, you could just wait until the 'Counterpoint' prequel I'm posting over the holidays and then decide if you even like my characterizations. Not everyone does. (I tend to give Frodo a little more chutzpah than some would like. ;)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2005-12-04 03:57 (UTC) (Link)
And I've gotta tell you: the reason I swore off message boards and forums was because of some outlandishly unreasonable behavior on KD.

Really!?! Well, times must have changed. I suppose it's the downside of the general winding down of fandom excitement. When posters were brimming with excitement, they also were far keener to argue their opinions. Now, posters seem far more circumspect, more, "live-and-let-live," but I suppose the ones left posting have seen the results of letting arguments flare in the past. Well, I really enjoyed watching the intellectual battles at TORc, though, from the side-lines. I learned a lot from the arguments, but I hated having the guns of my discussion enemies trained on me personally. It could be terribly daunting, and hurtful. Still, it was instructive and I'm glad I was there to see such doings.

When I said I liked Willow's M/F material, I meant it. But, in fact, I haven't read any other M/F stuff but hers. What I have read is S/F. I've read a few M/P's which I haven't liked very well, and some slash with three or more of the hobbits. These have not worked for me except as food for thought, as I consider what might be the attraction for readers (other than the sheerly sensational) in stories featuring sex with multiple partners. For slash or het to actually work for me -- as compelling story-telling or as erotica -- I have to be able to believe in the integrity of the relationship between the lovers. If the characters are having group sex, the very fact of that negates my belief that the love they feel could be serious, that is, the love of lovers. It could only be companionable, if it could even exist. Real love involves a tremendous degree of interpersonal trust and tends to be exclusive. Group sex does not further either of these things in lovers.

The only group sex stories I have read (all hobbit stories) that have been convincing as narratives have been ones in which the hobbits were none of them actually lovers, but more like close friends, who, in their AU world, used having sex with each other as a sort of intense form of male bonding. (Or, so it would seem.) I can't think of it working in real life, though. Friends who trifle with sex usually end up foundering their friendships.

So, Fair Play is based on Willow's characters? I wouldn't find letting Frodo's chutzpah have its head a bad thing. As I wrote in my reply to Ariel above, I loved Lobelia's proposed sexually assertive Frodo. Frodo manages to assert himself in het, but he's "done to" an awful lot in slash. Frodo having his lover up against a dresser (instead of always the other way around) might be a nice change.

P.S. I've read a lot of praise for Counterpoint, it has already gone on my "reading list."
Carole
abby_normal at 2005-12-04 16:39 (UTC) (Link)
Really!?! Well, times must have changed.

From what Ariel has told me, they have indeed and it's unfortunate for me because I simply haven't the time to re-join the 'community' that's been established there. The Harem goes by so fast that for someone like me who gets maybe a free hour or two every couple of days, it's just not realistic to try and keep up.

As far as your thoughts on multiple partners, you're probably right for the most part. Most of what I refer to as 'Hobbit Piles' are just romps and don't demonstrate anything more than the characters having a bit of fun, which is fine with me because romps can be fun. 'Fair Play', the F/M fic I referred you to, is more of a romp than anything else and so was the Hobbit Pile I did myself. But there are some out there that may convince even the most skeptical. Take, for instance, Lullaby, by LSB, which, I believe demonstrates something much deeper but in 'romp fashion'. (Which probably makes no sense to you now but if you read and see in it what I see, you may understand what I mean.) There is a Post-Havens drabble that goes with it that is so gut-wrenching it's amazing so much could fit into 100 words but unfortunately, I can't find it. It's on her lj somewhere and if I do find it, I'll send along a link.

And listen, don't expect too much from 'Fair Play'. I was having fun in Willow's world and she was letting me. It's not exactly 'War And Peace'. ;)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2005-12-04 20:02 (UTC) (Link)
Actually, The Harem does not move very quickly -- for a thread on a messageboard, that is. Well, it does when it is moving. I suppose one would have to say it moves in spurts. ("Spurts" - not a word to use around the Harem.)

Thanks for the recs. I will open the link to "Lullaby" and put it on my "to read" list (not really a list, but bookmarks or favourites on the menu bar).

And listen, don't expect too much from 'Fair Play'. I was having fun in Willow's world and she was letting me. It's not exactly 'War And Peace'. ;)

You mean, it's shorter than War and Peace?
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