Fanaticism is Fantastic!

“Waiting for Star Wars is an art project designed to capture the evolution and journey of one person’s wait for a single event?”
— Jeff Tweiten and John Guth, two guys who waited four and one-half months in line for Star Wars Episode II.

This article is about fanaticism. Or should I say extreme behavior? Dare I say?insanity? Of course, I’m not talking about the type of fanaticism which would cause one person to harm another. We all know that’s wrong. I’m talking about taking a simple interest, nurturing it, feeding it, until ? before you know it ? it grows into it’s own potentially frightening entity with a mind, heart and soul all its own.

If you’re lucky, it can turn into a merchandising empire (think Martha Stewart). But for most of us poor slobs, it’s just one more reason people look at us askew (think of the potato chip lady on late-night talk shows with a bowl of chips in the shape of presidents’ faces). If you are one of those who is used to getting those looks, hopefully you will take comfort in knowing there are others out there like you. If not, maybe you’ll be relieved to know you’re not as obsessed as the two members of the Seattle Star Wars Society who began camping out in front of a movie theater in January, waiting for the opening of Episode II in May (see Waiting for Star Wars).

Apparently, two questions these fans get a lot are: “Why are you doing this?” and “Do you need to get a life?” But basically, all they want is acceptance, the same way people accept someone’s desire to climb Mt. Everest, even though they may think it’s a crazy thing to do.

“This project also explores the issue of the pursuit of happiness… It also asks will society as a whole fear or accept people for not desiring the things they desire, or for desiring things they consider frivolous or ridiculous.”

I think I read something once, a long time ago, about our country ? the greatest country in the world, according to us objective Americans ? being founded on the pursuit of happiness. Now where did I read that? Oh yeah, it was written on a little piece of parchment somewhere, if I’m not mistaken. Some sort of “declaration.” You may have heard of it.

So then why is it that a capitalist who works 80-hour weeks to make a buck is viewed as successful, responsible, doing the right thing? But two guys acting on their obsession are considered geeks (at best) and fanatical extremists or losers (at worst)? Who’s the insane one here? Isn’t it the person who spends their spare time passionately pursuing their harmless obsession, capitalizing on something equally as valuable as money? Something they care about, which inspires them and which ? believe it or not ? brings them happiness.

The concept of fanatical obsession has not only brought happiness, but lots of other cool stuff, as well. Keep in mind; these wacky obsessive types are in the company of Edison, Van Gogh, Amelia Earhart, Picasso, and Einstein. Who knows, this was probably the way the God of the Star Wars genre himself, George Lucas, got started.

The two Star Wars guys may have endured months in the cold and rain of Seattle , but now that the object of their obsession has arrived, to those brave lads, I say: “Bask in the warm glow of that light saber, boys, and savor it.”