What if there were a place on the internet where civility reigned? Where anime nazi avatars didn’t descend like locusts on any attempt at rational thought? A place where time stopped in 1999, and the only thing worth living and dying for is Airheads star Brendan Fraser? Friends, such a place exists.
In most circles, Brendan Fraser has mostly gone forgotten, or at least pushed the recesses of the brain until the need for a manic clap GIF arises. But for 30-year-old Adele Mellish and the nearly 23,000 members of the Facebook group BrendanFraser1968, the B-list heartthrob of the early aughts has only improved with age.
Reading the page itself can be jarring. Where’s the ironic distance? The random cruelty? Why is everyone being so nice? None of it makes sense. Scroll deep enough down BrendanFraser1968 and you find not just adoration for a lovable goof who made Encino Man (almost) worth watching. You find that rare slice of the internet where everything’s not terrible all of the time.
About six years ago, Mellish noticed that the Bren-heads of the world didn’t have a dedicated space to gather on Facebook, so she decided to do something about it. “I wanted to start a fan page for Brendan, primarily because he doesn’t have any official accounts on social media himself,” Mellish says. “I feel like a lot more attention would and should be drawn to his work through a larger online presence.”
That feeling panned out. Less than a year after the group’s 2011 inception, BrendanFraser1968 hit 2,000 members. Another year or so after that, the member count shot up to a hearty 14,000. Against even Mellish’s wildest predictions, the Brendan stans keep flooding in.
Despite the explosive growth (and a persistent problem of people thinking they’re on the real, official page of Brendan James Frasier), the page has remained true to its core values. Then, as now, members predominantly use the space to talk freely about their favorite Brendan Fraser movies (The Mummy, usually), their favorite Brendan Fraser characters (George of the Jungle gets a surprising amount of play), and their favorite Brendan Fraser photographs (all of them).
Fraser photographs, in fact, make up the bulk of the posts, especially during slow news months/years. Photos of Brendan Fraser in his prime. Photos of a more current, puffier Brendan Fraser. Photos of Brendan Fraser smiling. Photos of Brendan Fraser frowning. Photos of Brendan Fraser looking slightly to the left. More photos of Brendan James Fraser than you could have possibly known existed.
And when some genuine, starring role, non-cameo Brendan Fraser news finally does surface—as it did when Fraser scored a role in the upcoming FX series Trust, or even this year’s little-seen Behind the Curtain of the Night—the members of BrendanFraser1968 tend to lose their shit.
Actors attract legions of obsessive fans all the time. But Brendan Fraser, even in his prime, never held the same sort of esteem other A-listers might—so why him?
Fraser’s looks captured Mellish’s attention initially, after she saw The Mummy in theaters. But then she got to know the real Brendan. “As I matured, I appreciated his acting talent, which is still woefully underrated, and the kind of person he is,” Mellish says. “I always heard nice things about him from people who had met him and from people who had worked with him on films. For me to be a fan of someone, they have to be a good human being.”
That belief in basic decency permeates every single post in the community Mellish created. Unlike basically anywhere else on the internet, BrendanFraser1968 participants practice unfailing, aggressive positivity—even when taking the occasional swipe at pretenders to Fraser’s throne.
In fact, Fraser fans reserve their animus almost entirely for impediments to The Brenaissance. As one might expect, the reboot of The Mummy franchise has proved particularly fraught. A Mummy movie could bring well-deserved attention back to the B-man, sure. But for real, Tom Cruise can die.
The group has weathered other hardships as well. The “Sad Brendan” controversy, in which Fraser came across as confused, timid, and otherwise mildly depressed in a December interview with AOL, created a rare moment of friction. Particularly when Mellish made the unilateral decision to ban it.
“I would have felt irresponsible as the owner of the page if I allowed hateful posts to be shared,” Mellish explained over email. “Quite a few people had been posting it before I had to wade in, and polite requests from myself to cease posting the video had seemingly fallen on deaf ears. So I had to take a tougher stance. I did get some negative feedback because of that, but I felt like I was justifiably protecting the credibility and quality of the page.”
In most corners of the internet, especially in community-driven places like Reddit, any move by a moderator to ban certain types of content usually incites major resentment and infighting. Not so at BrendanFraser1968. Here, most everyone appears to agree: Slights against Brendan Fraser will not be tolerated.
Just look at the comments when the blanket ban on Sad Brendan kicked in. One user asked, “Why do they hate our lovable Brendan?” Four minutes later, another added: “I’ve watched Blast from the Past 5 times this week!! I LOVE IT!!. Man, Airheads, The Mummy, Bedazzled. Brendan Fraser is a genius!!”
In fact, it turns out that Mellish maintains that sense of upbeat, earnest enthusiasm in part through actively pruning the commentariat. But unlike most online forums, her problem cases typically aren’t trolls. They’re people who love Brendan Fraser too much.
“A couple of times, members that are less knowledgeable (but no less enthusiastic for it) about the intricacies of Brendan and his career have come under fire from other members that believe themselves to be ‘better’ fans than them, which I do not tolerate in the slightest,” she said. “A warning to cease the bullying behavior is issued, but if this is not followed, I have no choice but to block the account from posting again. The last thing I want is for any member to feel set upon or segregated.”
Like any good garden, pruning occasional weeds allows the rest to flourish. Maintaining such an idyllic online space requires sacrifices, and maybe a dash of authoritarianism. Besides, it’s all in the greater service of loving on Brendan Fraser.
Then, of course and as with all good things, there is the fan art.
Skill levels may vary, but each one serves as just as loving a tribute to the big guy as the next. And BrendanFraser1968 denizens bestow every single one with outpourings of support and affection.
Surely, though, Fraser must have done something to disappoint his many fans at some point in his career? No relationship is perfect. According to Mellish, though, his only (sort of) crime amounts to not giving his fans the Brendan access they crave: “As far as I know, there is nothing that Brendan has done that many (if any) would disagree with. I think the only thing that kind of would be appreciated amongst the fans would be more interaction between Brendan and them. Brendan is known to be a highly private person, however, so we respect his choice so far to remain off social media.”
It’s possible Brendan Fraser simply doesn’t know his fans are out there in quantity; his representatives have thus far declined to return our request for comment. But either way, it’s fine. You just can’t stay mad at All Around Good Guy, Brendan James Fraser. At least, his most loyal fans certainly can’t.