Amy H. Sturgis (eldritchhobbit) wrote,
Amy H. Sturgis

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It's a Fandom thing: or, Don't Let Your Hobbits Go Wrong

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

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