In Praise of Fandom

by Celedor

We live in a world that is obsessed with celebrities. Children idolize them, teenagers worship them, and adults swoon over them. And not only does our popular culture revolve around the famous, increasingly our news is centered around these overexposed people as well.

It's a bit annoying for someone like myself! I don't really care about celebrities. It's not that I dislike them, I simply think of them as regular "folks", if I may borrow the overused word of the decade. (Fame and fortune are overated and don't solve the basic problems we all have.) I believe the famous should be treated with the same respect as anybody else, which includes not leering at them or their pictures and not following their private lives.

But I'm in the minority. And that's why there are people who will never get the credit they deserve for making LOTR the success it is so long as the celebrities are around to overshadow them.

I've talked to thousands of Ringers the last few years, and so many of them have said, "Boy, I wish I could be part of the Lord of the Rings project." People say they would have liked to have been an extra, or a grip... or heck, even a janitor.

What these Ringers don't realize is that they're actually the most important part there is. Fandom is not only the engine which drives the entertainment industry, it's the only point to it all, no matter how many award shows there are. Peter Jackson, Orlando Bloom, and company have jobs simply because of us. (We're actually their bosses!)

Fans occasionially are mentioned by the media, but our regularly scheduled celebrity swooning soon returns. Or, in contradistinction, fans of science fiction and fantasy are ridiculed.

I've always admired people who believe so passionately in something they immerse themselves in it. In fact, I enjoy seeing the fans at conventions more than I enjoy seeing the stars. Don't get me wrong: I respect many celebrities for their ambition and hard work. I admire Elijah Wood for having the motivation and creativity to film three scenes of himself in a homemade hobbit costume to ensure that he'd get the part of Frodo.

But I also admire Dan Madsen for turning a small Star Trek newsletter, made in his parents' basement, into the Official Star Trek Fan Club, and then turning that into a fan club company. (Dan may not be as cute or as famous as Elijah, but I'd join the "Dan Madsen Fan Club" anyday!)

However, when I say that the fans are important, I don't just mean those that publish magazines, or attend conventions, or dress up like their favorite characters. The majority of fans are just regular people who wear blue jeans and enjoy watching the movies at the cinema and at home. And LOTR would be virtually nothing without them.

One question which has popped up on virtually every LOTR message board is, "What would you say to Peter Jackson if you got to meet him?" The nearly unanimous answer is one word: "Thanks."

Before the journey is over, I think we're going to hear Peter say, "You're welcome. And thank You."

Because, in the end, the Lord of the Rings project isn't about Peter Jackson. It's all about us. And we should be just as proud of the part we play as anyone else involved with the project.