The Nature of Fandom

by Primula with responses


Treble found This Comic and passed it on to me - the basic premise being that no matter what it is, it has a fandom and that fandom is something that is a common behavior found in any group of human beings with a shared passion -

I've never thought of myself as being a part of a fandom before this one, certainly I never "joined a club" or sent off for things with images of what I loved best, or spent so many hours happily exploring these passages with my own pen and imagination before.  To me, it felt very unique and unusual and I am pleased to have been able to share that journey with so many other fine people who have had the same passion ignited in them.

But is it as unusual as I thought?  I am not quick to rave over something, and never was one to bedeck my walls with posters of celebrities, but am I a "fan among other fans" whenever I am sharing a passion in a group? I know there are elements of fandom within my church, for instance - we are all there for a shared passion, we all care about it deeply and there are the two factions of "the old ways" and the new. 

I see it in my husband's singing group, who like to order clothing with music notes on them, get together to debate styles of singing and have their factions with the "old" and the new.

I see it in us, the Ringers, wearing our buttons and jewlery replicas, with the Purists and the Jacksonites and everything in-between.

I see it in the serious businessmen who buy certain clothing, wear certain watches, drive certain cars and debate about which is better, the old or the new.

Perhaps there is a lot more fandom and geekness out there than we think.  Business-geeks. House-painting geeks. Woodstove geeks.  Hot-sauce geeks.  We laugh at one another's fandoms, but you know, I begin to doubt there is one person out there who could not be accounted a fan for at least one cause. 

What are your thoughts on your own fandom? Do you ridicule the fandoms of others, or get that "I so know what you mean" feeling when they rave about some obscure person, show or cause?

Lady of Light:

I so know what you mean. For the longest time all I got from my family was the "eye roll" everytime I even mentioned LOTR. I compared it to the diehard NASCAR fans. or the TREKKIES or those who love NFL or any other sport. I think its the same kind of passion I have for the LOTR, but it took the movies to make me see it. I read The Hobbit back in High School but didn't even remember till my brother reminded me (required reading) I have read the Sil..... The Hobbit. and All three LOTR since seeing The Two Towers. I told my husband "Hey I could be hooked on worse things"

Elfstone 1:
I still get the eye roll! Some people just don't get it.  I guess Ringers are like other fandoms though.


The eye rolling, the sighs, the "You're going where and doing what with a bunch of people you met online???"

Been through it all.... and seventeen theater visits (yes, I know it's not a lot compared to some.. but I did drive 1000 miles to do one of them), two Oscar parties, an Into the West Party, two visits to the Fashion Museum, a Denver moot of 25, a New Mexico Moot of 10, a North Carolina Moot of 25, the Newport Beach Film Festival, Last year's ORC, this coming ORC, 25 action figures, five Sideshow Weta busts, a website (, 18 solo fanfics, and 25 collaborative fanfics later I'd do it all again.


I get the eye roll too, especially from my mom.
"you're going to keep that trash?!" she says about the few LOTR popcans I have-nevermind that my brother has several old cereal boxes with sports teams on them!

I try to respect other fandoms. Except for the Simpsons-its just too hard to do that when your brothers quote the Simpsons nearly every night. It wouldn't be so bad if they quoted other things too, but they just do Simpsons.


I get the eye rolls, too, but with tolerance. After all they they each have their different interests.
As for other fans of other things, each his own.


I've been a fan of other things, and still am, so it doesn't seem odd to me at all. And I don't care so much what others think. So if they are rolling their eyes I don't pay attention!
I certainly could be obsessed with worse things! I don't smoke, drink (well, *very* rarely, and *very* moderately!), sleep around, drive too fast (usually) or take drugs or engage in other risky behaviors... As addictions go, reading, movies and fabric are not that bad.

I also feel some empathy with anyone who has a particular obsession, or belongs to a particular sub culture. After all, I belong to at least two, I'm still peripherally involved in the SCA, and my primary community which I can't imagine ever leaving is the morris. When the lads discuss the fine points of dance styling or pub etiquette or which teams' kits or dancing looked the sharpest at the Ale, I can keep up. So although my eyes would glaze over at discussions of car racing or football, I understand the way something can be so interesting, even if it isn't to me.


 I've been thinking about this a lot lately... and I've kind of come to the conclusion, like you, Prim, that everyone fits into at least one kind of geekiness.

I think geekiness (read fandom, if you like) is a good thing. It means you're interested in something -- that you delve deeply into something. Now, the object of one's interest can be more or less worthy, but some of that is in the eye of the beholder.

I entered a whole new world of geek-dom with my whole sailing thing. (I discovered that tall ship geeks are the ones who have to back up the DVD so they can see the 2 seconds of the preview with sailing ships in it.) So, I'm getting to know these sailing folks and one of the gals gives me her email addy... and it just so happens to be the name of a LotR character..... hmmmmm... so that's another level of geekiness that she and I share.

I could list half a dozen other areas of geekiness that I have. I think most people don't really realize what areas they're geeks in until they get egged on by a bunch of like-minded people.

Daughter of Kings:

I agree with onónë...

I would be willing to bet a pound of mithril (if I had one) that every single person who rolls their eyes at my LOTR fandom/geekiness is just as passionate about their own thing. And that's as it should be... this would be a very boring world if we all liked all the same things.

I say, the next time somebody rolls their eyes at you, turn the tables on them... ask them what they are interested in. See if the light comes on... if it doesn't, roll your eyes at them. could list half a dozen other areas of geekiness that I have. I think most people don't really realize what areas they're geeks in until they get egged on by a bunch of like-minded people.


The only other fan group I'm a member of is the Jane Austen Society. I've been a member of the JASNA (Society of North American) since the early 1970s and I joined the original English group when I moved here. I've been to visit Chawton, Brighton, and Bath. I attended some Jane Austen Society meetings in both countries and recently spent a long weekend in Bath for the Jane Austen festival, which was really good.

Fans in this group are similar to Tolkien fans which is not surprising since they are both based on books and films made from the books. The major argument among Jane Austen fans is between those who write sequels to Pride and Prejudice or the other works and those who think that's ridiculous and disgusting because nobody can do it like Jane did. But they have great cons with people dressing in period costume and playing the music and doing the dances from Jane's time. And there are so many scholars who give excellent talks.

I'm old enough to be considered amusingly eccentric so I don't get the eye roll about my LOTR activities. My son and daughter in law are into Japanese anime and they attend conventions and wear costumes so they can't make fun of me. And my mother is a big LOTR fan herself. When I tell her about the moots I'm having here and the Tolkien tours I take vistors on she just says "you're really having fun with all that, aren't you?".

I hope I'm pretty tolerant of other peoples' obsessions too, except for sports fans who get carried away and cause bodily harm.


I receive a lot of gentle ribbing...and sometimes not so gentle ribbing ...about my love for LOTR. Some think that people who attend fan conventions (or dream of attending conventions...ahhh, someday!) are extreme geeks. How is it different than attending a football game, concert, or every movie ever made by some particular movie star? You go to personally experience that team, singer or actor and share the experience with other fans. At least I don't feel the need for a giant styrofoam finger that says Frodo is #1 or anything (even though he is!!) Yes, my wishlist includes a hand signed movie poster from FOTR and attendance at a convention where I can meet other fans like myself, but how is that different from wanting a signed baseball or Van Halen T-shirt? It's not. Problem is, there aren't as many LOTR fans concentrated in one area, except in places like this, so we do stand out. However, when I do find another fan, it's fun to watch the others around us drop away as we chat about the subject. I am also recruiting people here and there at my office. I have lent out my movies to a couple of co-workers, who also borrow my cd's from time to time, and I have made fans of them. Just today, I sent my movies w/ a co-worker who is planning to watch them with her 12 year old daughter, who recently ordered the books.
It's great to have things in our lives that evoke an inner passion, whether it's Green Bay Packers, The Rolling Stones, or LOTR. Our lives are filled with lots of "have-to's" and responsibilities...we need our escapes, as long as they don't require 12 step programs to return from! I say enjoy and accept...and quit making fun of my Legolas poster on the back of my office door!


Boromir fanatic and proud of it.... The family is considering a white jacket!

Oh dear - the rest of you might think I'm extremely silly, but once in awhile, when night is very dark, I consider the things that I've been blessed to collect... a little obsession here... and I worry about them... and I think... what if anything ever happened to me.... where would they go... who would care for them....

I think I have fallen over the edge!

Linaewen - please come and get the Boromir things if anything does happen! Please.

Perhaps Denethor's madness is catchy?


If you insist....

Though I'm not sure what my hubby would say. He seems to think I have enough Boromir stuff. He actually had the audacity to say recently, "What do you need that for?" when a dear friend gave me as a parting gift the WETA BOROMIR STATUE!!! Only the one item I've been wishing I owned like forever... Boromir and I both gave him The Look and I replied, "It's Boromir, duh! I must own all things Boromir, didn't you know?"

Please, though -- don't let anything happen to you! I'd much rather have you around to talk non-stop Boromir/Denethor/Faramir with than to have your stuff!

Strange Elf:

Wonderful, thought provoking thread!

I have often been asked if 'I'm over it' yet. Like I have some kind of disease.

I've been a 'fan' of Tolkien since I was a teenager, decades of my life where I've read, read and re-read his works, it's just that now, with the movies, books in every size, colour and form, parties, cons, moots, posters and more, my fandom is more visible.

I've enjoyed so much reading your thoughts on this, and when the inevitable teasing starts at our Thanksgiving gathering, I will be armed with wise and sensible arguments.


Like many of you I have been a fan of something or other since childhood:
dinosaurs, whales, Star trek, Shakespeare, Tolkien, Babylon 5, Firefly, and on and on and on... I collect enthusiasms it seems.
When I like something I tend to like it forever.

I try to enjoy what I like and not worry about what other people might think. Life is too short for that.

The trick is being able to find someone else to talk to about it.  Like-minded people are thin on the ground where I live. So I mostly enjoy what I enjoy in contented silence. A bit boring, but what can you do?

But the Web has really become a great comfort in these last few years. While it does not offer the immediacy or intimacy of face-to-face enthusiastic conversation, it does help me feel that I am not totally alone. That I am not too strange or off-kilter.


Star Trek, LOTR, Harry Potter, Star Wars, sports, politics, religion.... Silly for people to criticize one, when chances are they have some bizzare fandom of their own. I mean, what about the guys who just love insects? Thats bizzare! ;-)
I have a bro-in law who refused to see LOTR just because everyone else in the family was raving about it, and yet he's a season ticket holder for the Utah Jazz and has all kinds of memorabilia.

Ladyhawk Baggins:

When I was going through formal physical therapy last spring, we'd just talk while I worked (it's pretty boring). LOTR came up, and I couldn't resist. I mentioned how many times I'd seen FOTR in the theatre (34 or maybe it was 36... can't remember any more, definitely getting old). Be that as it may, the guy who was working with me that day did the math and stared at me wide-eyed. "You spent over 100 hours watching the same movie!" I looked at him and said, "You're going on a hiking trip next week and will spend far more than 100 hours hiking. It all depends on one's passions." He decided I was right.

Bonnie Half-elven:

Written by Tehanu in "The Peoples Guide to J.R.R. Tolkien"
My own definition of geeks is this: people who care about a subject or system so much that they're willing to learn how to master it, whether anyone else cares about it or not.

I think that about sums it up.

A coworker was lamenting about the old days and how he wished he could have lived in a time when things were "simpler" when there were no cars or computers. Not me! I'm so grateful for the Internet where I can find people who share my passions!


modelnut wrote:
...the Web has really become a great comfort in these last few years. While it does not offer the immediacy or intimacy of face-to-face enthusiastic conversation, it does help me feel that I am not totally alone.

This is something I truly love about living in the time we are in. It was not that long ago that those of us with a "passion" for something were left having to squint at homemade fan "magazines" produced from someone's garage with only a dream of ever being able to have a good, deep, passionate conversation about our favorite thing with someone else who understands it and loves it too. Occasionally we even manage to meet face to face with a person here or there, but again, so often that meeting was only arranged because we found each other existed through the net.

It is still incredibly rare for me to find in "real life," in my own town, among my own acquaintances and friends, a person who has a passion for the same things I do. They might find it mildly interesting, but they often seem completely bowled over by my enthusing if I get started. Thank goodness for my computer!

Doctor Gamgee:

There is an old adage that fits us:

"A little bit of Foolishness,
Is relished by the Wise!"

Pity those who roll their eyes -- they gave not found passion in this life. If they did, and even if they didn't share yours, they may not understand the subject, but they should understand the passion for it. I don't particularly care for sports, but I understand the facination they hold for others, so I smile and nod as I hear about our local hockey team being #1 in attendance (and in the desert no less!). C'est la vie!

Yaviel of Lorien:

Well first of all, geeks are awesome!!!
Rolling eyes at the mere mention of LOTR of course...
and being told by most people you meet that "you're the biggest Lord of the Rings fan I've ever met" or an "LOTR expert" (which is so not true because there are much more knowledgable members on this board for kudos for you awesome peoples!)

Fandom is awesome! esp LOTR fandom 'cause it rocks and the people are so great!!! You know what you like and really don't care what others think! You also want to learn as much as you can about your obsession! Go geeks!!!

A plus is that you know what you like and so do other people and it makes it easier for people to shop for that's always pretty sweet!


I still get the eye-rolling too, not because I'm the only one with fandom, but because people don't understad how much alike we all are. They have a fandom too, of something, but their fandoms are "real", and mine is just "silly" or "childish" or "insane".
I wonder if anyone think about that whatever it is, it is something we need. I need LOTR, and I need you wonderful people, just as they need their thing.

And I think it all starts with something, or is more than just that we find the movie good or the politics interesting or the sport fun. It satisfy something in our lives that we missed before. For example; When I started liking LotR, so many things were happening in my life, and few of them were good, and I have no doubt that had something to do with that I found my passion right then, when I needed it the most. And if I tell this to people, which I haven't done yet (told anyone, I mean, besides you), I don't think they'll make fun of me so much more. Maybe they'd start realizing that I'm serious. If they want to say "get yourself a life" then fine. Say so. But this is my life.


I love how it crosses all ages, all races and creeds - I've found Ringers of every size, shape and chronological age and various nationalities as well. I expect any language it has been translated into has it's share of fans...

Just remembering how this past week as I was finding books about airplanes, Santa, pigs and fairies for a first-grade class (I love looking for their special requests), I found a first-grade boy who showed me a picture of a crossbow in a book about medieval knights he was holding. He wanted to tell me that "those are like what Uruk-hai use!" We were shortly in an earnest conversation about the use of crossbows in M-e, whether their design was taken by the Uruks from Gondorian or other sources and how many action figures we each respectively had (he had an overflowing box full). His dad, he told me, has two rooms decorated with action figures and similar items, though the dad's fandom was comicbook superheroes.

He was only perhaps 7 years old, but in this fandom we connected. I assume this happens with other fandoms as well, though I have little experience with it - what a marvelous thing, a shared passion!


I've been reading through this thread saying to myself, "I'm not that absorbed in LOTR, I don't have it as bad as others..." But the fact is if you guys really knew me, knew my life, I'm the last person on the planet to join a Message Board group about a movie. But here I am. I even came over to this site from the official fan site because of familiar names and interests in the movies. Thought provoking... at least.

Gandalf the Grey:

I quit worrying about what people think of my interests long ago. In truth, one could go mad trying to ‘fit in’ or balance how much is acceptable to show one’s interest of something in public. We are what we are ~ some will like it, some will not, and in turn I will like what others are interested in and think others a waste of time, but to each his own, and do not hasten in judgment of others.
I have liked LOTR long before there were any movies and at my age I suppose I will always have an interest in it. I have many interests but LOTR is one of my favorite. I cannot now imagine what it would have been like not to have had it around. The internet allows people of the same interest to chat like this, which is wonderful, whereas in the past it was much smaller groups and you at times wondered how many others shared your passion.
In the end, I have found that people are much more comfortable with you when you are comfortable with yourself.