Are Hobbit Fans So Weird?

Agency Spy offers this little gem: Air New Zealand is debuting a new “Hobbit plane,” based on the assumption that “nerds will pay top dollar to ride it.” It seems to be nothing more than a regular passenger airplane with a “Hobbit” montage painted on its exterior, and, it seems, a safety film starring Peter Jackson’s characters. Fun, but probably not worth a whole lot more on your ticket price.

What bugs me, though, is author Bob Marshall’s derogatory tone. He refers to Tolkien fans as “nerds” (an appellation I don’t mind, though it is often used as an epithet) and “your weird friend…” who “will do anything to live out their silly fantasies.”  If you don’t like the 75-year-old tale, that’s your perogative. Dissing the people who do just shows that you need to grow up. Picking on nerds is so junior high school.

I can almost hear the opposition protesting: “But they dress up in costumes and buy silly souveniers!” That’s true; fanboys and -girls do some outlandish things to show off their love of all things Middle Earth. But is what we do so strange? Look at football fans. They dress up in costumes, paint their faces, wear giant foam fingers or hats made to look like cheese. They sing songs and yell at their TVs. They spend good money – up to thousands of dollars in some cases – to sit outside in the freezing cold, rain or snow to watch grown men play with a ball. So who’s really the “weird friend” living out a “silly fantasy”?

[Edited to add: The Atlantic has a great article on this very topic, of how sports fandom is no different, really, than religion]

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