Whoever said that there is no such thing as bad publicity never really understood what it was like to experience the deluge of negative publicity that has befallen trolls.
The origin of trolls is unknown and the subject of much speculation. One theory cites their origin is a distant folk memory of the time modern humans first made contact with their strange looking cousins the Neanderthals, with their shorter, stockier bodies, pronounced brow ridges, and large noses. They were human but alien to us.
Another theory states that the troll mythology sprung from the Old Norse word denoting a witch and describes the pagan practise of sitting on grave mounds in order to communicate with ancestors. While in the Norse sagas there are also tales of beautiful women cursed and transformed into trolls.
Therefore, although the origin of trolls is unknown, the underlying factor is that trolls are abnormal and lesser versions of men. In the modern world, the word is used to describe an ugly, slow-witted creature of irregular size either a giant or dwarf but never normal.
The demonising of trolls within the world of men, begins at a young age with the telling of The Three Billy Goats Gruff and how the goats, who only wanted to trip trap happily across the bridge, were terrorised by a-monstrous looking troll intent of eating them. In the story the two younger goats persuade the troll to wait for their larger, meatier older brother, but when he comes instead of doing the honourable thing and sacrificing himself for the greater good, the older Billy goat brutally attacks the troll and walks across the bridge.
Is this fair?
The goats knew of the food tax when crossing the bridge and not only refused to pay it but were all compliant in assaulting the poor troll taxman. This is not the behaviour of a moral goat family.
Trolls were further demonised in The Hobbit when coming down from the mountain, on one of their hunting-gathering expeditions they tried to eat a few dwarves.
Surely, this is just a case of Darwinism in practise and their hunger-based actions should be understood and not vilified? Not only were they condemned for wanting some fresh meat, but they also were portrayed as a slow witted and cumbersome race. However, if they were that slow witted how did they outsmart a troop of dwarves and one hobbit?
J.k. Rowling has also been part of the anti-troll movement with the iconic scene of Professor Quirrel raving into the Hogwarts dining hall and shouting, ‘Troll, troll, there’s a troll in the dungeon.’ The troll then proceeded to attack Hermione in the girl’s toilet only to be felled by a wand pushed up his nose. A humiliating and higher improbable death for such a wondrous creature.
Fortunately, the case for trolls has been changed over recent years with the rebranding of trolls as loveable, cute blue dolls with funky hair. Trolls, the movie, showed them as having the same character flaws, assets, and worries as humankind. Suddenly, trolls could sing, dance, and fall in love just like human characters.
This shows the power of advertising. So, for the moment trolls are cute but one ill-thought out story or film could strip them of all their recent good publicity.
That is the power of writing.
We create and we can destroy, so use this power wisely.