"The thinking woman's Legolas": appropriations of an online parody
(University of Canterbury)
Paper short abstract:
The architecture of the online readily enables dynamic communication practices such as instantaneousness, searchability, and communitas of discourse, which resonates in a range of affirmative, contradictory and unforeseen intertextual potentialities. These dynamic potentialities are also revealed within the dialogics of online and offline interactions.
Paper long abstract:
Before his international success in Flight of the Conchords, Bret McKenzie found unlikely fame as a movie extra in Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring. Onscreen for the less than three seconds, McKenzie's non-speaking elf role was subsequently named Figwit (acronym for Frodo Is Great…Who is THAT?!?) by a group of online Lord of the Rings female fans. Dubbed "the thinking woman's Legolas", Figwit was created as a parody to lampoon the "swooning, drooling girly" fans who participated in the online LOTR movie fandom and to differentiate his more discerning creators. The creation, dissemination, different reproductions, and eventual atrophy of the Figwit phenomenon provides insight into the potentialities of online discourse and into the dialogic that exists between the online and offline. The architecture of the online readily enables dynamic communication practices such as re-editing, searchability, archivability etc (boyd 2007). Figwit's evolution from a message board 'in-joke' to his ironic recasting as a genuine celebrity heartthrob with dedicated websites also illustrates the varieties of authorship and intertextual discourses that exist online. Beyond online LOTR fandom, offline media interest also disregarded the parody intent of Figwit and his creators, casting the phenomenon within the dominant narratives of adulatory female fandom. Figwit was also conventionally commodified by movie industry interests, appearing in the final instalment of LOTR and in associated merchandising. This paper explores how ideal, affirmative, contradictory and unforeseen potentialities can emerge within online discourses and in online-offline conversations.
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