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Does Faddism Make It Harder to Take Something Seriously?

galadriel

Galadriel - last seen in Salt Lake City at the movies

Just a quick question and a couple of things to think about today for Tolkien month.

Does faddism make it harder to take something–a work like Lord of the Rings, for instance–seriously?

When we went to The Return of the King, we stood in line next to a very fine lady dressed like an Elven princess. I think. In any case, she had two enormous blond braids, a crown, and a velvet gown. It was purple. She was taking the movie very seriously and obviously having fun doing it.

I can’t remember an essay I read, and I’ve been trying to find it, but I can’t. The author of the essay essentially states that the existence of the LOTR “fanboys” (and girls: Professor Drout makes a point of saying that Tolkien is almost single-handedly responsible for ushering in the era of gender equality among fantasy readers) is proof that the books aren’t to be taken seriously.

Why? If you’ve been reading this blog for long, you know I’m obsessed with Cormac McCarthy, but the lack of The Road or Blood Meridian reeanactors isn’t what makes the books worth taking seriously.

Books like LOTR, TV series like Star Trek, and movie franchises like Star Wars seem to me to be perfectly suited for hardcore fans–fans who want to take things a step further and reenact battles and wear cloaks and learn Elvish and attend Comic Con, etc.

Why are they drawn to such extremes? I don’t know. It doesn’t bother me that other people do, however. It makes me smile.

None of those things take anything away from the texts or the programs themselves. If we go back to Roland Barthes’ Death of the Author essay, nothing would matter but the text anyway. Not the author, and certainly not other readers.

What say ye? Have any of you bought any LOTR paraphernalia from SkyMall?

I haven’t, but I’m still a passionate fan. Are any of you reading this from an office with LOTR swords on the walls?

Josh

October’s almost here. Have you joined the book club?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Spencer September 20, 2011, 1:12 pm

    I think the only way to truly test your theory would be to spearhead a Cormac McCarthy reenactment group and see what plays out. I, of course, would be game. I am almost finished reading No Country for Old Men, and liking it so much, I can hardly take it!

    • Josh Hanagarne September 20, 2011, 1:14 pm

      Spencer, you have to read Blood Meridian. I am begging you. I don’t have anyone to talk about it with. Then we’ll see if we can reeanact. I’ll be the judge, and you can be the scared kid the Judge chases across the decades.

  • suzita September 20, 2011, 1:45 pm

    hi 🙂 that argument about fangirls/boys you read seems a little strange when you consider there are people who live life as though it were a certain decade, people who re-enact old wars (here in the UK for sure at least!) and aren’t there places in the USA where you can go and pretend to be a cowboy/girl?! I’m sure there are a ton more examples too.

    Unless I’ve completely misunderstood, I think maybe it just shows that people like to try something different or be someone different for a while.

    I haven’t bought any lotr paraphernalia as yet, though I am tempted to buy a map 😉

    enjoying your blog 🙂

    • Josh Hanagarne September 20, 2011, 1:49 pm

      Thanks Suzita. Go buy that map! I wish I could find that essay. I’ll keep looking. Maybe it was just some bizarre fever dream and I’ve imagined it all.

  • Pieter Collier September 21, 2011, 5:05 am

    Well I move around many Tolkien Societies and every time I see people dressing up and even taking part in a parade showing their costumes… While I like the costumes and admire the passion and time they spend to make it really look great, I just could not do it myself. Maybe it is something in my genes, but while I’m one of the biggest Tolkien fans around I don’t feel the need to dress up AT ALL. Hope someone here can explain why… I have been wondering why they do it for a long time.

  • Todd September 21, 2011, 7:32 am

    I wouldn’t put LOTR in this category, and for one reason: That was never the intention of the books.

    Harry Potter, Twilight, etc.; these were written, perhaps not initially, but eventually, FOR the fandom.

    I seriously doubt that Tolkien, nor Roddenberry could have imagined anybody dressing up like Cpt. Kirk, or Gimli, son of Glóin in order to attend a conference or watch a movie.

  • Caroline September 24, 2011, 3:24 pm

    Haven’t bought anything (or dressed up)…YET. I’d definitely go for a lovely little ring with the classic inscription. And now that I’ve read suzita’s post, I’m most definitely getting a map!!

    The dress-up idea works for me when it comes to Regency dancing events. And I think Suzita is right about that as well..there are many venues that seem to inspire (if not require) a different mode of dress, style, living. Dude ranches, as mentioned.