The Hobbit Fandom

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Ah, Hobbit fandom. Ah, Martin Freeman in braces and a striped shirt and a very mod waistcoat. It’s enough to make any refugee from the Sherlock fandom swoon. 


I stumbled into the Hobbit fandom on my birthday last year, which was the day The Hobbit was released where I live. Got up at 8 and took a bus down to the cinema and caught it alone, sitting in the theatre with a chocolate bar and a bottle of water. Martin Freeman was astonishingly proper and well-suited to the role of Bilbo, a very proper Hobbit, previously played by Ian Holm in the LOTR trilogy. No adventures, no wizards, and certainly no dragons. You could almost hear the scathing ‘my goodness‘ at the end of each sentence. As I watched, I knew… Knew that I wasn’t the only one seeing a giant fucking cruise liner of a ship appear before my eyes. The only other ship I’ve seen that way was in X-Men First Class and how that ended, you don’t need me to tell you. (A bullet fired into the spine. That’s how it ends. The Beach Divorce. Sob.)

And then a kink meme appeared the next day. It starts slow, glacial, even, and then it picks up and you’re getting eleven fills a day sprouting up in your inbox. The AO3 welcomed us with open arms. Some detractors looked upon the fandom, scandalised.

“Hobbit sex,” they said, and promptly fainted dead away at the amount of explicit fic this fandom churned out. Which is to say, a lot.

The Hobbit fandom is still young. Most of us read the book as a child, caught it in theatres, and the next thing we know, we’ve just uploaded a 10k word-long coffeeshop AU in which Bilbo is an employee and Gandalf is a meddling boss full of tricks and eyebrow waggles, shoving him across the counter at [insert dwarf of choice]. It’s a very fast downward spiral, unlike some of the other fandoms I’ve been in. What makes this one so special? What attracts people to it? What are our most popular pairings? Who on earth is Bilba, and why are there so many fics that have been tagged ‘BoFA AU- everyone survives’? And, touching on the Hobbit cast RPF, why is there such a massive amount of angst in Richard Armitage-centric fic?

These are questions I will now attempt to answer to the best of my ability.

What makes this fandom special is that it never really started as a baby fandom. There were two significant ones that tied into its conception– Sherlock and LOTR. LOTR, a sprawling mother of a fandom, is somewhat diminished by now, but this is where Sherlock comes in. Some of us in the Hobbit fandom came over from Sherlock. Tired of writing about cockblocked army doctors and asexual sociopathic flatmates, we cast a longing eye to the green rolling hills of the Shire and the dark grandeur of Erebor. An endless parade of simple, provincial hobbits and proud dwarves marched on through our stories. Bizarre courting rituals, misunderstandings, sex in bedrolls, are you feeling my enthusiasm yet? (See also: cooking fat as lubricant by the campsite. Don’t look at me. I’m blushing. There’s a fic where Bilbo has to decide between having crispy chips and getting fucked. Guess which he chose. P.S: Nobody complained.)

Then we hit a dead end.

There was no escape for the fans of the stories. The Battle of the Five Armies severely limited our fic genres to angst and condemned our favourite characters to death. That’s where the ‘BoFA AU: everyone survives!’ trope comes into play. We sidestep the pesky, messy business of deaths, and write about Bilbo becoming a husband and settling down with a dwarf. A miner, a consort, the proprietor of a tea shop– the possibilities are endless.
 
The most popular pairings tend to be Bilbofur (Boffins) and Thilbo (Bagginshield). Confused? Yes, our two main ships have two names each because no one can really make up their mind. They’re lovely names, at any rate.
 
Bilbofur:
image

I can recite the actual phrase Bofur says here, which is ‘cheese knife? He eats it by the block’. But this is much better. Do carry on.

Thilbo:

image

Massive amounts of feels, there. They had a moment. An embracing-in-the-sunlight moment full of feelings and repressed sexual urges.

I might have taken some liberty with that last bit. Whatever. Other very popular pairings are Thorin and Dwalin- from sword bros to boner bros. They fought in a war together and Dwalin has been by Thorin’s side for years. Who’s to say nothing happened?

Thorin/Dwalin:

image

Or, alternatively, have a salad of Durincest as a side to your main pairing. The most widely-written Durincest involves the brothers Fíli and Kíli, heirs to the throne after Thorin. They’re his nephews, and if you believe some fic, lost the ponies because they were having a quick shag up against a nearby tree.

Fíli/Kíli:

image

UNF.

Also, what the books have but Peter Jackson doesn’t is size kink. Dwarves (or dwarrows, as Tolkien prefers) are actually bigger than hobbits. They range from 4 to 5″, whereas Hobbits top their own charts at 3.5 to 4″.

Next explanation: Bilba Baggins. Sometimes Belladonna Baggins, mostly Bilba, sometimes still Bilbo. Essentially genderswap fic. I love me some fem!action, but it comes across as skeevy when you consider the movie in the Bilbo-has-been-genderswapped context. Would you like thirteen hairy dwarves with weapons and things trampling through your home with absolutely no given notice at all? Some authors took this into consideration and completely Rule 63’d the whole Company of dwarves. There’s amazing fanart of it.

Now, for Richard Armitage.

“I didn’t really unpack my bag for about three weeks, ’cause I thought that I was going to be on the plane going home.” – Richard Armitage (x)

Let me repeat that. The man playing one of the lead characters didn’t unpack his bag for three weeks because he thought they were going to send him home. I have no words for this, mostly because I’m too busy hanging around the RPF post on the hobbit kink meme furiously writing fic where Richard is self-conscious and embarrassed and Martin Freeman’s just a really nice dick.

That didn’t come out right, but you get my drift.

The hobbit fandom is huge and what I’ve managed to illustrate here is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve got loads more pairings and AUs, brilliant ones, ranging from modern day!the-Company-is-really-the-Mafia AU to everyone-dies-but-they-meet-up-again-in-the-undying-lands not so AU. (“Headcanon,” the majority of us say, and cover our ears.) The artists and the writers are wonderful and good at art and fic, and since I last checked, the Hobbit 2012 tag on AO3 is updated with at least 10 fics everyday.

I’m proud to be part of this. So come on in, you’re very welcome, wipe your feet on the mat but not mother’s glory box. The Hobbit fandom, at your service!

Want to write about a fandom we haven’t represented yet? Send an email to submissions@keysmashblog.com with the fandom as the subject line.

Keysmash OT5

Keysmash OT5

keysmash \ KEE-smash\ verb

1. Randomly hitting your keyboard to express overwhelming emotion, such as anger or excitement.

ot5 \ oh-TEE-fahyv \ noun

1. Favorite combination of five persons in a fandom.
Keysmash OT5

Latest posts by Keysmash OT5 (see all)

  • Meg Keysmash

    THE HOBBIT.

    I am not “in” the fandom but I see it existing quite happily on my tumblr dash and it seems SUPER cool. Perhaps I will dip my toes in and see what kind of trouble I can get into. 😉 My godson, who is 4, loves Lord of the Rings and insisted on going to see The Hobbit on Christmas Day. I was kinda worried that it might be a little much for him, but he sat through the entire movie, totally enthralled. The only time he got upset was when he thought the trolls might eat the ponies. lol

    In sort of related Lord of the Rings news, I have a funny story. I recently went to a job interview and the first question the guy asked was “rate your favorites: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Back to the Future.” And like, I KNEW that I should say Star Wars because this dude was one of those fanboys who scoffs at chicks being into “nerd” stuff and thinks he knows everything about everything but I was like, “no, Meg. Fuck that. You tell him that Lord of the Rings is at the top” so that’s what I did. And he tried to give me grief over it but I just gave him that “don’t try to argue with me about fandom, asshole, because you will LOSE” look and he backed down and was like “haha of course I could probably get into trouble acting like that was a serious question…” YA THINK, DOUCHECANOE?

    *ahem* Anyway. Yeah, I like this ‘verse. Thanks for writing the post–I’m going to keep the tab open and poke around in your neck of the woods. 🙂

    • 😀 our neck of the woods is very friendly! also, it’s no competition. For me, LOTR ties with Star Wars. THERE ARE PARALLELS, I TELL YOU. *shakes fist* Aww, a kid who loves the Hobbit! My nephew is 7 and he knows way more about LOTR than I do because my cousin is the biggest fangirl I know. 😀 these kids are growing up right. *nods*

  • Liz Keysmash

    I have never read any of these books or watched any of the movies. Please don’t hate me? /0\

    • It’s totally fine 😀 fandoms are like food, and it’s alright if you haven’t tried any from this cuisine. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but maybe someday we can have a livestream and we can all watch it together! 😀

      • Liz Keysmash

        That is such a neat idea! I wish I knew how to livestream things!

        • I think you need some sort of account :-O I see the arty people doing it all the time!

          • Liz Keysmash

            I FIGURED IT OUT. I’m running the idea of interactive Keysmash movie nights past the others right now, actually.

  • Amy / FutureGirlNZ

    Living in New Zealand, you cannot escape the Lord of the
    Rings or the Hobbit. Not that I’d particularly want to, I enjoyed
    the LoTR movies, and read the books as the movies were being made,
    but man – do not breathe a negative word around these parts about
    any of it, or you’ll be shot! Not to mention the MASSIVE tourism
    boom and therefore economy boost these movies have given our little
    corner of the world. I recently went on a Hobbiton set tour for the
    first time (even though I live less than an hour away and it has
    been there for years) with relatives from the UK and I was the only
    kiwi on the tour. These amazing super-fans from all over the world
    couldn’t believe I hadn’t ever been there, I almost felt bad! I
    don’t know much about the Hobbit fandom but I embrace the concept
    of any kind of fandom and I am glad you have found your place. If
    my country can take any kind of credit for that (or at least for
    PJ) then I’m glad we have helped. It’s funny, everyone here has a
    claim to LoTR fame. Mine is that my uncle was a featured extra in
    Return of the King and can clearly be seen on screen (if you
    freezeframe and know where to look). If there’s anything I can do
    to help or you’d like any trivia/memorabilia from here I would be
    happy to help.