News and Views: How I Quit Worrying And Learned To Love Legolas

Originally Posted June 6th, 2003

Legolas. Since the LOTR movies were released, no other Tolkien character has been so equally adored and reviled. In the more mature and intellectual side of the Tolkien fandom, Legolas fans can be brittle and defensive, even embarrassed. I am no exception to this. It was tempting to state all the ways that I, personally, fancy my Legolas admiration as being superior to the Legolas admiration of others - but, you know, all Legolas fans probably feel this way.  It's one of our symptoms. We all have our own interpretation of Legolas and can be touchy and judgemental about how others see Legolas. So all I shall do is present my thoughts on fan interpretations and how I see the character, some here in boring ranting, and some in two fanfiction tales. 

Many film viewers seem to lay eyes upon the face of film-Legolas and make decisions about the character, in both book and film, based on his pulchritude. As a result, much interpretation of Legolas in fandom has little to do with Legolas-the-character and is more about the fan's ideas and feelings regarding beauty: yearned for, identified with, or envied, reviled, and (most strangely to me) abused.

The last one strikes me as odd because in both the books and the films, Legolas is a fairly strong character. In the LOTR books, Legolas' personality is firmly established as a pleasant person, capable of both pride and fealty, more engaged than most Elves with the mortal folk around him but still primarily involved in elvish philosophical concerns.  Throughout the narrative of LOTR, Legolas and Gimli together provide perspective into the fading days of eld of Middle-Earth. And, though fair of face in the book, Legolas definitely kicks ass. The film adaptation has been fairly faithful to this. I wasn't crazy about the idea of Legolas as a blonde, but when I saw how the film character was depicted killing orcs, I was won over. In my fanfiction, I try to expand on Legolas' character as I see him. 

When I posted a Legolas story a few months back, several readers whose opinions I respect informed me that they did not read Legolas slash stories any more, on general principle.  Oh well. Despite this, I've written a new Legolas slash story. The short piece Talking Politics examines Legolas and his distinctly Third-Age-elvish relationship to power, framing a slash encounter around a political question. It's not meant as a sequel to my story Knives in the Dark because it's extremely different in tone, though does refer in passing to that story's events. 

Elf Slash Sarcasm is my reaction to the, shall we say, less mature and probable elements in LOTR slash fanfiction. It features Legolas in a distinctly out-of-character way, blushing and simpering. This parody has been on another site for some time. This piece also got shortlisted for a Mithril Award, in the Humor category. It didn't win - not everybody thought it was funny. Wierdly, based on feedback, it's readers who love elf slash who see the humor in it. One amused reader even sent me a fragment of an elf slash story she wrote - a three-paragraph description of one character getting dressed, an elf slash trope I bash away at in this parody. "It's funny because it's true!" she said. Yes indeed. 

Also at this time,  some of my writing was successful in the Tolkien fan writers'  Mithril Awards. The pieces that got noted are my essay Warm Beds are Good, which received the Best Critical Essay award, and the novella One Ring to Bind Them. The latter was honored by the judges by being Runner-Up for both the Best Drama and Best Silmarillon categories, and it also received the Voters' Choice Award for Best Silmarillion. Thank you for all the votes! I'm still a bit bewildered at having won, since as you can see from just my own Links and Darkfic Recs pages, there's a huge amount of good writing in this fandom.  

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some elves to dress in robes of surpassing gorgeousness...

Return to News and Views

Return to Ansereg Home