Tauriel Test

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Synonyms:
See also: Bechdel Test, Mako Mori Test, Furiosa Test, Sexy Lamp Test, Willis Test
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The Tauriel Test is a measure of female representation in a canon. It was named after Tauriel, a female character in Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies.[1][2]

The test simply asks if the canon has:

  • At least one woman
  • Who is good at her job[3]

Origins

No named female characters appear in The Hobbit novel. The screenwriters for the Jackson movie adaptations added several. One of the most prominent, who received significant backlash for her presence (far more than all the other women combined), was Captain Tauriel of the Mirkwood guard.[4][5] However, she also received support from many women who saw her as a strong role model.[6]

Though all three Hobbit movies failed the Bechdel Test and the Mako Mori Test, JennIRL wanted a test that captured the difference in female representation between movies like Desolation of Smaug and movies like Skyfall,[3] which fails the Tauriel Test for all its female characters[7].

As JennIRL explains:

the grounding idea of the Tauriel test is that women are regularly depicted as being bafflingly-horrible to maybe-kinda-ok at their jobs, while men are held up as the standard for good work. i picked Tauriel for as the baseline (although there are many other fine examples of kickass female characters being awesome at their jobs) because in Hobbit 2 she is clearly incredible at what she does, to the point at which she’s commended for her skills by Lee Pace’s eyebrows. A TRUE HONOR.[8]

Additions

Headless added the caveat:

  • "If she has a love interest, explicit or implied, does she drop everything (namely her job) to pursue said interest? If yes, bad."[9]

Headless went on to explain that they perceived Tauriel as continuing to do her job despite being thrust into a romantic triangle, so romantic interest from men did not prevent her from being competent.[9] In many other contexts, women who are initially competent at their work suddenly abandon it or become incomprehensibly incompetent when a romantic subplot appears.

Wider Context

The Tauriel Test is one of an array of tests designed to call attention to particular tropes and pitfalls in female representation in media.[1] It's frequently mentioned in the same context as the Bechdel Test, the Mako Mori Test, the Sexy Lamp Test, and the Willis Test.[3][9] Though women are increasingly depicted as Strong Female Characters on the surface of many narratives, these characters are frequently incompetent, irrelevant to the plot, static, rendered helpless, fridged, or reduced to rewards for the male hero.[10] In short:

Looking at a so-called Strong Female Character, would you—the writer, the director, the actor, the viewer—want to be her? Not want to prove you’re better than her, or to have her praise you or acknowledge your superiority. Action movies are all about wish-fulfillment. Does she fulfill any wishes for herself, rather than for other characters?[10]

For JennIRL, the wish fulfillment was to see a woman who is good at her job.[8]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "The Tauriel test—named for the lone female character in The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug—asks if there is a woman who is good at her job." - The Bechdel test is fine just the way it is by Caroline Siede. Posted May 1, 2014. Accessed July 30, 2015.
  2. Dragonrage: Testing your ladies by Nicole Brinkley. Posted March 9, 2014. Accessed July 30, 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "the Tauriel test (which i made up in response to The Hobbit 2 [which passes] and Skyfall [which fails]): a) there is a woman, b) WHO IS GOOD AT HER JOB." - the Bechdel test, the Ellen Willis test, ALL THE TESTS: or, a handy guide to feminist critiques of narrative by JennIRL. Accessed July 30, 2015.
  4. Wish She Could Be Part of Your World: On Tauriel-hate and Original Material by Zoe Chevat, posted Dec. 17, 2013. Accessed February 20, 2015.
  5. Lilly About Why Tauriel Was Created Posted September 23, 2011. Accessed February 20, 2015. See comments section for typical reactions.
  6. Evangeline Lilly on ‘The Hobbit': It ‘changed my mind about acting’ by Noelene Clark. Posted December 10, 2014. Accessed February 21, 2015.
  7. I have a question! about the tauriel test by JennIRL. Accessed July 30, 2015.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Clarification about the Tauriel test by JennIRL. Accessed July 30, 2015.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 The Bechdel Test (and others not unlike it): A Masterpost by Headless. Accessed July 30, 2015.
  10. 10.0 10.1 We’re losing all our Strong Female Characters to Trinity Syndrome by Tasha Robinson. Posted June 16, 2014. Accessed July 30, 2015.