I’ve seen some comments on negativity in the fandom about DoS and so on over the past few days. There have been comments that question why someone who is predisposed to dislike the movie would go and see it in the first place. Another suggested that such a person would only go see the movie under such circumstances in order to have something to complain about.
As someone who was open about my misgivings before seeing the movie and also someone who laid out her complaints afterwards, I feel like I’m a good person to address this topic. Mainly because I think people without some kind of affinity for the book are going to have the kind of thoughts listed above because they don’t, and perhaps can’t, see things from the perspective of a book fan.
With specific reference to Tolkien and The Hobbit many of us book fans have been waiting at minimum, a decade to see this book brought to life on the big screen. We’ve loved the story for so long and have been anxious to see it fleshed out. After a decade or more of waiting, you don’t just up and say, “Oh, the reviews give me misgivings. Damn, I guess I won’t go see this movie I’ve been waiting forever to see.” While I can’t speak for all Tolkien fans, the ones I know well would say such a thought was unconscionable. Even if you walk out of the movie unhappy with some or even most of the movie, there will be parts that made it worth going. Not to mention that if you don’t see it, you’ll never know if you could have liked it.
I think there’s also a distinction that needs to be made between being predisposed to dislike a movie and having misgivings. Again, I was pretty blunt with my assessment that based on reviews it sounded like PJ had really messed up the story. I can see where that would leave me personally open to criticism of being predisposed to dislike the movie. But let me be clear about something, when we walk into the theater to see the film, Tolkien fans–at least those I know well–don’t go in wanting to hate the movie. We go in hoping that the reviews have somehow misled us and that we’re going to love what’s been done. Because seriously, who in their right mind wants to dislike a movie based on a book they love? The thing we desperately want, that we crave is to walk out of that theater feeling the magic we felt when we read the book for the first time.
It’s always been more or less clear to me that fandom is something outsiders can’t understand. I didn’t really realize until this past week how incomplete that view was. It isn’t just fandom in general. I’m coming to understand that those outside of your very specific fandom(s) lack understanding as well. The view isn’t the same if your vantage point is different.
Yes. It’s like trying to explain to non_Richarders exactly why it is that we spend so much time thinking and talking about him, and then there’s the Terrible Moment when you HEAR YOURSELF and become aware that you’ve been slid over into the Crazy Cat Lady bin in the other person’s head.
That’s kind of how I feel this week has been for all of the various flavors of fans and non-fans of the books, movies, etc. In a way, it’s difficult that this franchise reaches SO many different types of people. I mean, hooray, it has enduring and true themes that reach across large swaths of the public to touch their hearts, it’s great I guess, but the upshot is it leaves us with this bizarre mismatched social dialogue going on – it’s very unwieldy and more than a little ugly at times, since we all have such different frames of reference and modes of interaction and connection with each other and the material.
Whew. Did that make sense?
It would be kind of like trying to have a meaningful emotional experience with every single person who came to Disneyworld in a day. Fuhgeddaboutit. Too much diversity of thought, emotion, expectation, everything. Different languages. Different dreams.