I really can’t help but think that a lot of this is stemming from the idea that some fans (not the fandom, some fans) are putting up their guard.
We have three weeks until the Hobbit movie. And we all know what that means: an onslaught of new fans from all over the place. Already the Sherlock fans are involved. Lee Pace might bring some Twilight fans. Doctor Who fans might come for Sylvester McCoy. People who are fans of Orlando Bloom are going to flock to see him. Parents are going to bring their kids to these films. People who were too young to see Lord of the Rings when it came out will see this. This is inevitable, there are going to be countless amounts of new fans.
So I’m wondering if perhaps the older, more elitist “fans” are just trying to put up a guard of some sort. Why? They might be afraid of the new fans. This same thing happened ten years ago when Lord of the Rings was being made into a film franchise. You had a group of people who had been “fans” since the sixties (or whenever) who did nothing but bash the newer fans. “You didn’t come here because of the books, you’re not a true fan.”
Let me quote Sophie for a second on what constitutes a “true fan”:
~there is no criteria except love and respect for something in order to be a fan of it
And that goes for any fandom. If the films brought you here instead of the books, you still get to be a fan. Never read the Silmarillion? You still get to be a fan! You don’t sit around in a pub called “The Prancing Pony” speaking in fluent Quenya and debate whether or not Balrogs have wings? Guess what - YOU STILL GET TO BE A FAN! There is no prerequisite for being a fan of anything, except to have a love for the particular topic the fandom is based off of. So everyone, I repeat, EVERYONE, gets to be a fan. (Although I think if there were any other prerequisites it would be to not be a complete asshat to newer and younger fans.)
I don’t care who you are or how you discovered Middle-Earth, you are allowed in this fandom, and there are plenty of people, myself included, willing to shout out a hearty “Mae Govannen!” and give you a hug.