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Back in July, Williamette Week ran an article entitled "Hobbits Gone Wrong" chronicling the sad and bizarre drama behind the Tolkien fan group Bit of Earth and exploring how its charity efforts spun out of control along with the lives of some of its leadership. The current legal drama, and the stranger-than-fiction story behind it, continues.

Interestingly enough, one member of the group has now written a book called When a Fan Hits The Sh*t: The Rise and Fall of a Phony Charity. The way I understand it, this work -- which included input from a number of Bit of Earth members as well as Tolkien-related artists, actors, and others, who are now openly endorsing the volume -- is meant to set the story straight and warn other fan communities of what to look for and how to avoid similar debacles. According to the author, some of the proceeds from the book will be used to reimburse fellow fans who fell victim to the fraud that was perpetrated in the name of the fan club.

The story of Bit of Earth seems relevant not only to fans of The Lord of the Rings, but also to participants in fandom in the broadest sense. I find the example of how the remaining members of Bit of Earth united to help law enforcement and to produce this book, to make public the wrongs committed, and to share their experiences and advice with other fans to be instructive, even inspiring. This unfortunate situation could have torn apart far more relationships and networks than it did: instead, we see friends united in an example of the kind of self-policing that has allowed fandom to survive and flourish for decades.

In honor of the survivors of Bit of Earth, a quote from Sam's own Frodo:

"O! Wanderers in the shadowed land
despair not! For though dark they stand,
all woods there be must end at last,
and see the open sun go past:
the setting sun, the rising sun,
the day's end, or the day begun.
For east or west all woods must fail..."

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
thrihyrne
Oct. 6th, 2004 01:54 pm (UTC)
Excellent observations
This unfortunate situation could have torn apart far more relationships and networks than it did: instead, we see friends united in an example of the kind of self-policing that has allowed fandom to survive and flourish for decades.

And how wonderful that it didn't ruin those connections and instead brought forth some kind of good fruit, despite the dire financial and personal havoc that was wreaked (is that even a word? wrecked??) as part of what went on. Fandom can be a very great thing indeed. Definitely worth teaching to upper-level students. ;)

p.s. where did "shout at the shadows" come from? I'm dying to use that phrase now. As a title or something.

eldritchhobbit
Oct. 6th, 2004 02:03 pm (UTC)
Re: Excellent observations
Thanks so much!

Fandom can be a very great thing indeed. Definitely worth teaching to upper-level students. ;)

*facepalm* :):):)

p.s. where did "shout at the shadows" come from?

I was trying to think of some of the imagery Tolkien and Lovecraft have in common, to fit the theme of the LJ, and the idea of shadows came into my head. So glad you like it. Go forth and use it, if you wish! :)
turimel
Oct. 18th, 2004 09:42 am (UTC)
warm fuzzy
Sorry to just pop in and post uninvited, but I just wanted to tell you it was really nice to read your entry. That's how I've seen it all along--one of those "all things lead to the glory of Illuvatar" type things. Thanks!
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 18th, 2004 10:23 am (UTC)
Re: warm fuzzy
Hello there! I am so glad you dropped in and posted -- uninvited, the same way I "friended" you! LOL! I've ordered the book and added a link to its nice new page on my site. More power to you for all you've done.

That's how I've seen it all along--one of those "all things lead to the glory of Illuvatar" type things.

Well put, indeed!
turimel
Oct. 18th, 2004 10:42 am (UTC)
the glory of Illuvatar...
heh, I'm afraid that wasn't original *wink*.

I'm still a bit baffled by all this friends stuff, haven't had a chance to really sit down and read the faqs about what they all mean. But you're totally welcome to friend me or befriend me or whatever the verb is!
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 18th, 2004 11:13 am (UTC)
Re: the glory of Illuvatar...
LOL! :) Many thanks!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )