Under the spell of the Ring novels have spawned a truly beloved multimedia franchise over the decades. From Peter Jackson’s awesome movie adaptations, critically acclaimed video games like Shadow of Mordoreven the coming Rings of Power TV show from Amazon, there are several ways fans are drawn to JRR Tolkien’s groundbreaking fantasy universe and will continue to do so. Last Saturday at Fan Expo Boston attendees excitedly gathered in large lines to collect autographs and photos of the four Fellowship hobbit actors, and to watch them reunite, to show how impactful the series’ characters are.
Just a day earlier, the Fan Expo Boston panel titled “Lord of the Rings Psychology: A Change of Hobbit” looked at exactly what made Tolkien’s characters, represented on both page and screen, so resonating with fans. The panel was moderated by: dr. J. Scott Jordan who was joined by fellow psychologists and Lord of the Rings fans dr. Kelly Wallace, dr. Yoni Sobin, dr. Travis Langley who first remembered their favorite Lord of the Rings memories.
dr. Langley’s favorite memory was watching the expanded editions of the first two films just before the third film came out with his kids and their friends. As a distinguished professor of psychology, he was able to take them on campus to watch the movies with a large projector in an attempt to recreate the cinematic experience. “[I was] be the cool dad to something so freaking nerdy,” he said to the laughter of the crowd.
Then the panelists each chose their favorite character(s) and discussed them through the lens of their expertise. Although Dr. Sobin talked about Sam first, he also took some time to talk about Gollum/Smeagol. As someone who has experience with people who struggle with substance use, he thinks the character and his relationship with the ring is an excellent representation of the ambivalence people often feel when they use substances, but also want to stop using them at the same time. time.
dr. Wallace added: “Smeagol finds a ring and it’s beautiful, and then he has power over it. He didn’t mean to be consumed by it. He didn’t mean to let it ruin his life. But it happened, and [with] many people struggling with addiction is exactly how it started. It just happens because there are a lot of biological components involved.” She also said that one aspect of Gollum is that he is alone and that many people who struggle with addiction feel isolated and alone, but it is with social support, help and treatment that people can get rid of this addiction.
Before turning things over to a Q&A with the audience, Dr. Jordan asks panelists some compelling questions based on the fate of the Fellowship at the end of the series: Are Fellowships Doomed to Fail? Could they have stayed together?
“Maybe it should sort itself out,” Dr. Wallace said. “You have the memories and that shared experience where, trauma or not, [is] will always bind you and keep you together. Maybe that will be a success.”
It was a joy to see the love emanating from the panelists and audience at ‘Lord of the Rings Psychology: A Change of Hobbit’. The end of Return of the King may have marked the end of a Fellowship, but judging by the passion that radiated this weekend, fans will always have a close relationship and take inspiration from Tolkien’s characters, making the Fellowship of Fandom for Lord of the Rings to live on forever.
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