Fanon Beliefs Which Need to Die

11Dec12

Let’s talk “fanon.” What is it? To quote Wikipedia: “Fanon is established in a spontaneous manner by the community of fans at large, for example fan clubs, whenever the official canon is not clear on some points of its narrative.”

Now, fanon itself isn’t bad. It allows for lively discussion amongst fans and is interesting. I’ve seen many arguments from fans of “How I Met Your Mother” that believe we’ve already met the woman and explain why/why not Ted’s past girlfriends could be the mother. Other fanon ideas are so well constructed from canon clues they actually do become canon. Many Harry Potter fans wondered if Snape’s hatred of Harry went beyond James’ bullying and his occasional bouts of protecting Harry seemed overkill for a life debt. They hypothesized that Snape loved Lily. Then comes Book 7…

But there is bad fanon. This is when fan beliefs actually contradict canon. And I went through examples my fandom friends and I encountered in Lord of the Rings alone. Let me explain why they are wrong and need to die. Now.

Rivendell is a kingdom and Elrond is a king.

I honestly don’t know how this one got started. But Rivendell isn’t a kingdom. It isn’t even a city. It’s one house. Elrond has a big house, allowing others to seek refuge there. But he is no king. He is of noble blood, though his only title is “Lord.” I can only assume people are mistaking him for his brother Elros, who was the first king of the Numenor.

The Council of Elrond was planned.

I swear authors out there think Elrond sent out invitations to the thing. He didn’t. No one knew for certain where the Ring was until Frodo stumbled into Rivendell. And Elrond knew there was only so long his ring could continue to protect Rivendell from Sauron before Mordor’s forces descended upon him. So he needed to have the Council quickly—not wait for messenger to go out and for people to come to Rivendell. Part of this I blame on the movie—it was a great cinematic way to introduce the rest of the Fellowship, but it did make it seem like Legolas, Gimli and Boromir arrived just for the Council. They came to Rivendell for their own purposes (Legolas to tell Elrond about Gollum’s escape, Gimli goes to report about Erebor, and Boromir because a dream told him and Faramir to go) and are invited because Elrond recognizes they are important enough to do so.

Rivendell and Mirkwood are right next door to each other.

No, they aren’t. Tolkien created maps of Middle-earth. They are easy to find on the internet. Look one up and you’ll see that there are mountains separating Mirkwood and Rivendell. So, no, chances are Legolas just didn’t make random trips to Rivendell and become good friends with Aragorn, Elrohir and/or Elladan. And the same applies for Lothlorien, so the same with Haldir.

Eowyn was an Emo, Lovelorn Woman

Eowyn, Shieldmaiden of Rohan, is my favorite Tolkien character. So I get very annoyed when I see people completely miss the point. Let me break this down: Eowyn’s father was killed when she was young and her mother died soon after. Eomer and Eowyn went to live with her mother’s brother, King Theoden. As she grew up, she watched him fall under Saruman’s control. She watched as the darkness of Mordor crept up on her country and her life. It is no surprise she wanted to help free Rohan. And if she were to do so, she saw the only way was on the battlefield. If she were to die, it would be an honorable death and preferable to the nightmare her life was at the time. Not because Aragorn rejected her.

And her affection toward Aragorn was not some “teenage crush.” Aragorn represented everything the men currently in Eowyn’s life were not (keeping in mind her brother was often out protecting Rohan): strong and honorable, a leader and a warrior. I’m sure women everywhere fell a little bit in love with Aragorn. So can you blame Eowyn? But his rejection is not what pushes her to the battlefield. It was her choice long before meeting Aragorn.

Boromir was a Rapist/Chauvinist/Ass

Okay, authors, let’s get something clear about writing and life: Sometimes, things and people aren’t black and white. Sometimes, they are cast in shades of gray. Some of literature’s best characters exist in these shades. And Boromir was one of these. He was honorable. And courageous. And he loved his country. The problem was the Ring took these good qualities and twisted them until Boromir did something ugly. He was not bad. So stop having him be the jerk of the Fellowship! Or to be the one who will inevitably try to rape your oh-so-irresistible Sue.

And a note about chauvinism: Tolkien based Middle-earth on medieval cultures. Which placed emphasis on males. That doesn’t mean your bamfed female character can’t clash with the culture. It adds some great tension. But the problem is when your character steamrolls over social conventions and just condemns them as “wrong.” The characters need to meet half way.

Only Evil People Fall Prey to the Ring

This is a fanon thing that I feel shouldn’t be called “fanon.” Why? Because it completely misses the point of “Lord of the Rings.” Tolkien wrote it so anyone could become a victim of the One Ring’s power. This is why I put it under “Boromir was ebul.” Boromir was tempted. Aragorn was tempted. Frodo gave in. Evil or good, the Ring can tempt anyone. And that includes your original character. The Ring doesn’t prey on the evil in people. It takes the good and twists it into something evil. Strength isn’t not getting tempted at all; strength is resisting the Ring. Remember that.

The Hobbits are Like Children

I hit my head every time I see this characterization. The Hobbits are child-sized, not child-like. And it’s demeaning to see Sues treat them as such. Most Sues fall within the ages of 16 to 26. The youngest Hobbit, Pippin, is 28. Frodo, the oldest, is 50! So most Sues are younger than the Hobbits. Show some respect! Don’t have your character “mother” them. They don’t need bedtime stories or lullabies. And don’t do what the author of “The History of a Famous Friend” did: Have Pippin call Elrond “Rondy” and throw a tantrum when Gandalf left like a toddler with a babysitter. No…just no.

Gandalf Can Teach Anyone His Magic

No, no he can’t. I touched on this in my post about crossovers, when I said Tolkien’s idea of magic was different from Rowling’s. Gandalf is a demi-god. He cannot teach someone magic. It is merely part of his nature. So having your OC be his assistant? Not going to happen.

And now, a section just on Elves! People love them! Especially since they are played in the movies by some of the hotter actors. But a lot of the fanon about Elves comes from a lack of research. Tolkien spent his entire life working on lore for Middle-earth. Including traditions amongst the Elves. All you have to do is look for them. Or read on!

Elladan and Elrohir Are the Weasley Twins of Middle-earth

Look, we all loved Fred and George Weasley. In Harry Potter. You don’t have to turn every set of twins into the Weasleys. Tolkien doesn’t say much about Elrohir and Elladan’s early years in Rivendell. So, they may have liked to play a prank or two. But after their mother was attacked and sailed for Valinor, they became more fixated on fighting Mordor’s power. Yes, Fred and George still maintained their sense of humor as the darkness of Voldemort’s return surrounded them. But Tolkien describe Elrond’s sons as “somber.” So writers, you need to find a way to tone them down. They can still enjoy some pleasures—a good story, some songs, a laugh or two—but don’t go overboard.

There Are a Lot of Half-Elves Running Around Middle-earth and They are Treated Horribly for Being Half-Elven

We have no proof there are other Half-Elves aside from Elrond, Arwen, Elladan and Elrohir. So, yes, there could be more. But it’s highly doubtful. We’ll get more into the romantic nature of Elves below, but it’s important to note Elves can die of heartbreak. So they would likely stay away from Men as romantic partners. The separation would be eternal—even if the Elf decided to go to the Halls of Mandos. But let’s say there were more Half-Elves in Middle-earth. First, your special half-elf won’t have the same choice as Arwen. They will be mortal, another reason why an Elf/Man pairing would be avoided. And there’s no reason to think they would be reviled. Elrond is treated with great respect by everyone and no one has any problems with Arwen, Elladan and Elrohir. So why must they scorn your Sue? She can be conflicted about where she belongs, but don’t have them hate her.

Elves Are Horny, Horny Creatures Who Love Lots of Sex

NO.

Let me explain. Yes, Elves are played by some of the hottest actors in the cast.  Yes, you probably have sexual fantasies about them. But writing them down and sharing them on the internet means you are now bound by the rules of canon. And Tolkien did not write horny Elves. Elves did not have sex until they were married. And then they had sex to have children. It wasn’t uncommon to have large gaps between their children, during which time their sex drive was nonexistent. They focused on other things during this time, primarily their children. And Elves usually only marry once. There has been only one known exception and it did not end well.

So write your sexual fantasy about an Elven orgy, but don’t be surprised when people criticize it to kingdom come. Better yet, just leave it for your own personal enjoyment.

Elves Can Be Mean, Horrible Parents to Their Offspring

We’ve seen this story time and time again. It’s a variation on Cinderella. The parents of an Elf treat her horribly. She was unwanted and it is made known to her. Another sibling is preferred to her, perhaps. Except there is a major problem. Please reread my last entry. Elves focus on their children because they become the most important people in their lives. They did not neglect their children or abuse them. Elves cherished them from the moment they conceived. So if you want to tell the Cinderella story, I advise using Men.

Also, the same applies to Thranduil’s relationship with Legolas. So please stop with the “Thranduil is ebul and abusive to Legolas and the only person who can save him his my Sue/Aragorn!” plots.

The Mirkwood Elves Live in a Palace

No, they don’t. I hope with “The Hobbit” coming out this gets cleared up. But Mirkwood’s elves live in caves. Mirkwood started to feel Mordor’s power early and a darkness came over the woods. It was once called Greenwood (and returned to said name after Sauron’s defeat). Besides the darkness, there were also large spiders to contend with. So they sought safety underground. So no recreating the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. And no romantic walks amongst the trees unless it’s after the War of the Rings.

And last, but certainly not least…

Westron/Common Tongue is the Same as English

It isn’t. Tolkien was a master linguist and came up with different languages, including Westron. It is noted “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” are “translated” from Westron into English. (Tolkien always meant for his stories to be a mythology, believing Middle-earth WAS earth several millenia ago). So Westron is NOT the same as English. For example, many of the other Middle-earth races refer to Hobbits as “Halflings” because it is the English translation of the Westron word for Hobbits, Banakil. The reason I bring this up is because all the BAMFed Sues should not be able to understand anybody when they arrive in Middle-earth. Allow them to learn the language—it’s a good plot, allows for character development and maybe even bonding between your character and whichever canon you’re glomping them on to.

Those are only a sampling of the fanon beliefs I’ve seen used ad nauseum in fanfiction that I think need to be stopped. But this is only a sampling. More fanon beliefs can be found here.

moreyouknow

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2 Responses to “Fanon Beliefs Which Need to Die”

  1. 1 Moéjviensurtoéhéhé

    I think you did a good job with your article. But I just wanted to say that when you’re in front of a fanfiction… Well, it’s fanfiction. As it is written by fans to make their dreams come true, it’s normal to find some weird things in it. I’m okay with your opinion about all that stuff and I’m personaly annoyed by most of what you’re pointing, but we have to keep in mind that a fanfiction is made to ”re-write” parts of a canon story. So in my opinion, if the fiction is well written and if the author shows consideration for the original story, that’s okay (even if you don’t have to love what he/she wrote in his/her fanfiction). But I still love your analysis, clearly you are a real Tolkien fan, and if you write fictions I would be glad to read them.

  2. 2 qwertyzeldar

    hmmm been a while since I commented here. so anyways my comment would be that the same is true about language in many other fandoms. Star Wars for example the main language is Basic, which is commonly thought to be English. this is in no way true. the best evidence of this is if you look up the writing for Basic. so a character being throw into Star Wars would not be able to speak basic.

    another common mistake in Star Wars, is that people don’t know that there are in fact non energy based weapons. bringing a gun from modern earth gives you no advantage at all. on the same note Jedi can still block bullets, they just cant reflect it back. they can force push them away though.

    in Fallout it should be noted that the Pip Boy 3000 cannot be removed and put on some one else. a Pip-Boy 3k is engineered to detach from someone if they use a complicated method to detach it or they die. these devices are horribly difficult for the people of the wasteland to use or understand hence the fact that almost no one has them. if they were simply plug ‘n play the raiders would have several.

    this is mostly a joke, but it should be noted Darth Vader is a Coke guy not a Pepsi guy.

    every army in Warhammer 40k is very very different from another.

    also Commissars are not all bad.

    just because its a grenade doesn’t mean its a frag grenade. also researching what grenade is being used can drastically change the survivability of a character.

    a 10mm bullet is not a small bullet.

    Darth Vader cannot use force lightning.

    a shot gun is not a close range gun. shot guns can use a wide range of bullets and depending on weather, arc, and aim even buck shot can hit something 200+ meters away.

    that’s just some stuff I would like to die that I can think of off the top of my head. again sorry about the poor grammer… its better then it used to be.


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