An Explanation

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.

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7 thoughts on “An Explanation

  1. Christine

    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.

    • Christine

      (but let’s face it, we all are probably going to end up on the barrel ride, or standing by it, watching, because it looks like FUN. I’ll be holding everyone’s purses and glasses, because I have motion sickness – but I’ll be taking photos of y’all like crazy!)

      • I love your example of having a meaningful emotional experience with everyone who visited Disneyworld. Utterly and completely impossible!

        Do you remember not too long ago TORn had a post about whoever owns the rights talking with Universal about a possible Middle Earth amusement park? I could totally see the barrel ride being an attraction there and yup, I’d totally be on that ride! 😉

  2. katie70

    Last year I took my two youngest sons to see the movie, then bought son2 The Hobbit book. I knew he would like it, after all he is my bookworm. Well after reading the book in one day (it was so good can’t put down type) he started to see the different between the two. Being the reader the book comes first, so he figured that the movie would not be as good, but still could not wait to see it ( a Richard fan too). After seeing it he thought it was ok, but still likes the book better, he has read a lot of Tolken now. Son3 also starting reading the book and is almost done and told me it was not the same, he liked the movie, but the book was better.

    I have chose not to read any of the books or see the LOTR movies till next year after seeing the last movie. After many a time I know the books tend to be better and don’t want to have that problem. I was a die hard Little House on The Praire book person back in the day and had problems with the TV show, it was always wrong to what the book was. I did like DOS but from the view of never reading the books.

    I think there is a mix of people out there and so many different ideas going around. Now with that said I have not been around the fandom to much as late, to much to do and still thinking about my dad a lot yet.

    • I’m glad your sons were able to watch the movie and enjoy it as a separate thing, even if they did like the book better. There have been cases in the past where I heard something about a movie based on a book that I thought sounded interesting and since I hadn’t already read the book I chose to wait until after seeing the movie before reading it. That’s definitely my preference since in most cases I’ve come across the book is better. So for what it’s worth I think you made the right call in waiting to read the book. 😉 And hurray that you like the movie!

      There are a lot of different ideas and feelings about DoS and I think it’s because as Christine points out there are so many flavors of fans about. It’s not just the Richard fans, the PJ fans and the Tolkien fans, but there are several other actors in the film who have large fan bases. That’s bound to bring a whole host of perspectives to the table.

      I haven’t been around that much myself for the last few months. Last I knew your dad had just turned 90 and wasn’t doing so well. I don’t want to pry, but did something happen?

      • katie70

        My dad died on November 10th, 10 years to the day as my mom. As we where getting closer to that date I had a feeling that would be the day he would go. He was looking for my mom all summer, forgot what she died from to thinking that I was her. He was awake that morning at 6:00 am and by 6:35 am he was gone, I think he knew what day it was and knew it was time. November was a hard month in terms of death, 4 including someone shooting son2’s cat but for him to come home and suffer, then take him to the vet to tell a big bill and no way of knowing if he would live or not, son2 told Mr.70 to take him home. He died that night, November 14. In 6 months we had 6 deaths and I am very wore out. I am hoping for a good 2014. Not that there was not bright spots in 2013 because there was. I still am around the fandom, just not as much as before. I got so much to do with work and school that I have to put things in there order. I am also spending more time listening to music than in the past, it use to be such a big part of my life when I was younger.

        As for the movie, I enjoyed it. But I am sure that I will like the books also. I was good to get away from it all for a couple hours and relax. I most likely will only see that once, unless son2’s friend wants to before he goes back to his new home in another state. Son1 was telling opening weekend that he saw somewhere that DoS was better than the first one.

  3. Oh Katie, I so sorry to hear about all that you have gone through over the past several months. That is pretty amazing about your dad, almost like he knew it was time to go. But that doesn’t make the loss easier. It’s understandable that you aren’t around as much with all you have going on, but I hope when you do have time to be around the fandom that it provides a pleasant escape for you. I truly hope that this year is much better one for you. Hugs.

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