Saturday, September 12, 2015

Story Saturday: Dwarf Love, Elf Love (Exploring the Dietrich Cycle, IV)

As I am working on the Dietrich cycle, a full storytelling show is slowly taking form, pieced together from different parts of the sagas. It has to do with King Dietrich and his court, and their relationship with the Dwarven realms under the mountains.
Some of these relationships are fairly personal.

I have gotten several messages and opinions about the question I posed last week. While most people are comfortable with the idea of a Dwarf queen, some of them expressed worries that she would not make a good love interest for a human (let alone a human king).
Here is the thing: The storytelling show, as it looks now, includes not one, but two inter-species relationships. One of each: Dwarf king - Human princess, Human king - Dwarf queen.

I am the storyteller, therefore I have to make some decisions of how I tell these stories. And I have the same responsibility of representation as any other form of media would.

Here are some things I do NOT want to do:
1. Have an Elf queen rule over the mountains because she is prettier than a Dwarf.
2. Abduction and rape. That trope is just not happening on my watch.
3. Make one of those couples OK, but not the other.
4. Twist the original legends completely out of shape.
5. Completely rely on the Tolkien/pop culture images of Dwarfs.

Female Dwarf concept art
for The Hobbit movie
Here are some things that I DO want to try:
1. Expand ideas of beauty. There seems to be a huge debate on the Internet (thank you, LotR fandom) about what Dwarf women look like, and whether they can be attractive to human men or not. I think most of the debate is fairly dumb, and it mostly hinges on beards.
2. Explore inter-cultural relationships. For me, neither relationship has their most potential in physical Dwarf-Human compatibility. Rather, they come from very different places, and very different cultures, and they have to navigate the transition from one to the other (a human princess living in a Dwarf kingdom, a Dwarf queen running a human court).
3. Explore the male-to-male and female-to-female connections of these two related families. Laurin and Dietrich talk quite a lot, king to king; but I also want to find connection points where the Dwarf Queen can talk with the human princess. Put the two ideas of femininity and royalty next to each other. Make the saga pass the Bechdel test.
4. Play off of pop culture why staying close to the original sagas.

Gender-bent Thorin,
because Rule 63
Here are some things I know:
1. Dwarf-and-Elf love has been done in pop culture, with ambiguous results.
2. A lot of people are still bothered by the idea of a shorter man having a relationship with a taller woman. (Look at all the Kiliel fan art, they keep hiding the height difference)
3. A lot of people are still bothered with a woman having a stockier body type than a willowy Elf.
4. NO ONE in folklore ever had a problem with fairy maidens marrying human men.
5. Dwarf women are treated as mostly nonexistent, both in pop culture and in folklore. (My favorite counter-example, of course, is Terry Pratchett's The Fifth Elephant.)

Also, I should be writing a take-home exam.
We'll see how this goes.

1 comment:

  1. You are even more awesome than I had previously thought.