man what I really want is a silmarillion commentary work that attempts to piece together the actual history behind the revisionist interpretations of both the historians who set down the text AND the victorian interpreter who translated it
you just know that Eagles are an accepted literary euphemism for some other behavior or action that’s considered too offensive or too subversive to put into text like
what if Eagle intervention is a deus-ex-machina way of concealing, not divine intervention by the Valar, but sympathetic and morally conscious behaviors and actions by orcs and other ‘evil’ creatures
what if Fingon’s assistance came from an orc patrol whose rounds took them past Maedhros’s suffering on a daily basis and who were conflicted enough and disgusted enough to offer their help if Fingon would just get this whiny asshole off their mountain
what if Turgon kept spies from his mountains by brokering a secret peace with the Free Peoples of Uzhuk despite their gray skin and black blood, and one of the great secrets of his city was that it traded with and depended heavily upon these unenslaved orc tribes
what if the War of Wrath saw orcs turning on Morgoth and fighting for the promise of land and peace as had been given the races of Men; what if it were these insurgent groups who rescued Fingolfin’s corpse from defilement and brought it to his kinsmen, asking in return for a land of their own where they would not be killed
what if Gandalf and the dwarves were rescued by a rival war-band from a neighboring orc kingdom and Gandalf awed them with his tales of slaying the Great Goblin and secured their aid as far as Beorn’s lands
what if Sam and Frodo had interactions with orcs that went beyond sneaking and butchering, made connections and even forged dim flickering friendships as they marched through the pits of Mordor, and were saved in the end not by disinterested windlords but by the determined claws of their own troop
but how would that look, to historians, to victorians, even to gondorians?
Frodo, finding solace among orcs in Mordor?
Fingolfin, defended at bloody cost by snarling goblins who sought to win their freedom?
Maedhros, unchained by the grace of creatures who knew the back ways and high stairs of Thangorodrim, owing his life to a black-blooded clan?
“Jane the Virgin” is known for its surreal flights of fancy and its melodramatic moments, but behind the whimsy and fanciful elements, it is one of the realest shows on TV. The comedy is actually quite ambitious: It combines on-screen text, subversive narration, multiple plot threads, a variety of tones and twice the number of scenes that most one-hour TV shows shoot. It’d be a shame if “Jane the Virgin” were left out of conversation about programs deserving of the highest levels of acclaim, because its unique combination of pleasurable fantasy and narrative complexity has made it one of the most consistently surprising and rewarding shows of the season.
And yet it doesn’t have what many shows in the “prestige” realm have: A white man with ambiguous morality at the center, or narrative arcs that are mostly about Caucasian characters.
Another actually interesting way to subvert some of the tropes of the magical girl genre, since I’ve been on the subject today anyway, would be to subvert the main “befriend/forgive/redeem everyone” core of the genre.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that in general magical girl shows are about the power of love and friendship, and I wouldn’t want a show that didn’t assert those as powerful things. My favourite thing about Steven Universe, my actually favourite show on TV right now, is its embracing that legacy (as it’s clearly taking a LOT from the magical girl genre).
BUT I do sometimes think magical girls over-emphasize the “save them with the power of love” to the point that it becomes, basically, “You can change people, just put up with abuse, just put up with toxic relationships, accept everyone unconditionally even if they hurt you.” And I do think sometimes the genre veers into demonizing certain completely healthy emotions, like anger or sadness.
So just to restate:
“Subverting” magical girls by making them grimdark and cutting down girls’ power fantasies isn’t subversion, it’s a reassertion of the status quo.
Good ways you could ACTUALLY subvert magical girls:
1. Allow the main character and more than one girl character to be not centered in traditional femininity. Allow her to be masculine without challenge and without that being a narrative sticking point. Allow her powers to be based in masculine things. Make her not “pretty” in conventional feminine expectations of beauty. This doesn’t mean she needs to be violent or anything. But have her powers based on more practical things than make up and gemstones. Make a handyman-themed magical girl or something. Make a coder-themed magical girl who fights in overalls with a cool butch haircut. Have the magical GIRL wear the tuxedo. Make Zarya a magical girl and change absolutely nothing about her. Just a Zarya show. Make an anime about Zarya from Overwatch.
2. Allow the main character to be older, especially when they first get their powers. Moms, grandmas, struggling college students, successful businesswomen, just - adults. Adults as magical girls. You don’t lose your ability to be a hero the instant you turn 20.
3. Allow the main character to cut ties with abusive people, to not redeem the villain, to assert her boundaries, to get angry when it’s justified. Don’t demonize her for experiencing less than positive emotions about other people. Allow her to be antisocial and still pure and good and worthwhile. Allow her to have trust issues and have that be justified and okay.
And there’s almost certainly more.
Cool? We all on the same page? Want to subvert magical girls? Go fucking ahead. Just don’t do it like a 12 year old who thinks adding extra violence and angst to things is automatically a subversion.