I first became aware of fanboys when the hoopla surrounding the release of the original Star Wars hit the 6 o’clock news. The idea of fandom wasn’t new to me but the level of obsession was. I saw footage of people lined up outside theatres; camping in tents to be the first ones through the doors on opening day and it seemed like every fan with an old toilet roll or two had made a light saber or a replica of Darth Vader’s helmet. Those Star Wars supporters opened my eyes to the level of radical fanboy behavior later described as “mindless paroxysms of adoration” in the pages of Fandom Confidential.
Although the term “fanboy” wasn’t officially recognized by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary until last year, as a group fanboys (and girls) have wielded considerable power in Hollywood for the past decade.
King Fanboy, Harry Knowles of the Ain’t It Cool website, went from obscurity to Entertainment Weekly’s “101 Most Powerful People in Hollywood” list and fanboy opinion on the internet actually brought about changes to the script of Snakes on a Plane. With that kind of power it isn’t surprising that these film fans have become film subjects.
Fanboys, a new movie about four childhood friends who break into George Lucas’s ranch to get a first look at The Phantom Menace, is just the tip of the iceberg.
The most famous fanboy movie is 1999’s Trekkies, a documentary focusing on Star Trek subculture. Narrated by Denise (Tasha Yar) Crosby it introduces us to extreme enthusiasts like the dentist whose Star Base Dental office is modeled after a starship and Barbara Adams who showed up to serve on the Whitewater jury dressed in a Starfleet uniform. “I am an officer in the Federation universe 24 hours a day,” she says.
On a different note is We Are Wizards, an upbeat exploration into the cult of Harry Potter, specifically the genre of wizard rock tribute bands who play Potter inspired power pop. Bands Harry and the Potters and The Hungarian Horntails bang out songs like Wizard Rock Heart Throb and I’m a Dragon and I Don’t Care, and while the music is often more passionate than good, the film offers up an interesting glimpse into a little known subculture.
There are many other crazed fan movies—The Dungeon Masters profiles Dungeons and Dragons fanatics; there’s the self-explanatory The Achievers: The Story Of The Lebowski Fans and Cinemania about a community of fervent film aficionados—but the one thing they all have in common is the passion of fans who have found a way to most enjoy being a fan and become involved with the object of their obsession.