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Do fans know best, Richard?

I started writing the text below as a response to the discussion we had HERE.

As it grew in size, I decided it would be interesting to separate the topic of ‘Is he doing enough to promote himself?’ from that of ‘Can fans really know what’s best for Richard?’.

 

This whole discussion about Richard’s approach to the media of late has made me realise that, as comfortable I am writing and analysing (and drooling over pictures of) his characters, delving into the matters of the man himself is quite a challenge.

On the one hand, there are barriers that you don’t want to cross – his privacy and the right to make his own decisions without being bullied by fans. On the other, there is a realisation that, no matter how hard we look, we will never really ‘see’ tha man. So the conclusions of our guessing work is faulty from the start.

There’s no telling.

As much as there’s a degree of separation with characters (I have a borderline unhealthy attachment to Lucas North’s bum), it gets super real super fast when we talk about Richard Armitage. I rarely write about the man himself, even if I do, I usually think of ‘RA’, not Richard Armitage – the living breathing entity.

 This, I have realised, is once again separating myself from the realness of an actual human being.

Of course we as fans would wish for regular interviews, new material to process and mull over. On face value we wish for the world to be wallpapered Armitage.

This is a dream that could have serious consequences if realised, though.

When I think about it, for the past few years, our fandom has been running on the cycle of bi-annual messages from Richard, the odd picture or interview, a quick mention here and there of the RArmy. The rest of the activities have been conducted on blogs, among fans and admirers. We have created a reality, with its unwritten rules.We have been processing information that, as it were, is second or third hand.

 Any conclusions we have drawn have simply been conjecture.

I think the last dry spell has brought out creativity in our little family. Due to the lack of any ‘shiny new objects’, we have resorted to going back to the old ones and looking at them in a new light. We’ve also had time to stop and ask: Why is this important? Why do I spend so much time concerning myself with this actor? With these particular parts he plays?

As I have stated, most of us know nothing about show business, nor how that huge machine operates. We can filter certain events and thought through our own experiences and methods of analysis, therefore reaching some conclusions (as I have done with wishing RA was more visible).

I don’t think this is a bad thing, and it certainly isn’t in any way harmful. I see it as musings on a topic and”like a puff of smoke – it changes with every wind“. (N&S)

I feel we would have to exercise more constraint in what we think and write if there was any chance that it could influence Richard Armitage or his career. I find more danger in a woman posting detailed descriptions of how she saw Richard Armitage jogging in a park close to his home, than someone posting a fantasy about him, or criticizing his choices in a post.

These should serve as a platform for discussion, as is their intended purpose.

My answer to the question ‘Do fans know best?’ is: Yes, we do!

We know what’s best for us as individual fans, what feels right to us, and what fulfills the needs we may have.

We wish for the absolute best for Richard Armitage.

We have no idea what Richard Armitage wants, there is just no telling.

He may make decisions that we don’t approve of, and we may discuss them between ourselves in a respectful manner, keeping in mind that people may hold other views. This serves no other purpose than another topic to muse upon between friends.

Ultimately, we want what’s best for Richard, and will admire him and support him, whatever he chooses to do.

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27 responses »

  1. Great post. Personally I differentiate between the RA that I oogle, spend too much time discussing, and reading about, etc, with the real person. I do not think that what I have made up in my mind about him is the absolute truth about him. I have just pieced together the info that is out there and watch him in action and voila, create a character portrait for myself. I don’t think any of us own him or know him any better than say his real family and friends. Therefore, I think we can support him as fans would and want for him what he wants for himself.

    Reply
    • Amen! Very well put Gracie! I think fangirling is a very intimate process, although conducted so publicly. We each get something else out of it. As long as we understand ‘It’s all about me, not Richard” I think we’ll be OK 🙂

      Reply
  2. A good question, but even asking it sort of assumes that fan opinion is more important than it probably is. I mean, does it matter if we know what’s best for him, or not? It won’t change anything in his life.

    As soon as people start talking about RA on a personal level, I quit reading (though I’ll occasionally make exception for what are obviously tongue-in-cheek posts). I don’t mean talking about his ass or other attributes. He’s put those on display, however brief (or sans briefs), so that’s fair game. But his mind is more guarded, which makes it even more fascinating when you get a peek at it (more so than the bum). Even lacking as we are in authentic interviews with him, I’m not interested in other fan’s attempts to put words and thoughts into his head. The man ain’t dead, and conjecture of that sort isn’t necessary. There is still plenty of time to discover what he thinks and feels in his own words (we just have to be patient for interviews).

    Believe me, I would not be opposed to more RA on display these past two years (when most of the visuals we have are only possible through Quick Time’s frame by frame capabilities, you know you’re in an RA drought!) But I think his avoidance of the limelight is either due to his humble nature (which he’s previously acknowledged to be at odds with his chosen profession, but which I think makes him more worthy of my devotion than anything else) or because whatever he has filmed or been photographed in is being edited out by Jackson or WB (to make sure we get the full impact of his character at the appropriate time).

    Just my two cents.

    Reply
    • Those are very wise two cents 🙂 I agree and try to stay away from analyzing the man. Don’t know him, will never meet him, nothing I say or do has any bearing on his life. We can sit here, in our little corner of the web, guessing, projecting, discussing and gushing over characters played by an actor. I think sometimes we mistake how RA influences our lives, with the expectation of it being reciprocated. I think it’s a wonderful community to be in, but it’s important to realise that what you see and think of Armitage is exactly that! It’s your own projections that bears little or no resemblence to the truth. I think by being an RA admirer, you learn much about yourself, but next to nothing about the actor.

      Reply
  3. I’ve been on record for a long time about the status of the subject I write about being basically my fantasy of Richard Armitage and what it does for me. My readers participate in that project by witnessing it (and via their reactions, whatever they are, including total revulsion). None of us engages with the real Richard Armitage. So anything I would have to say about what other people chose to write about him would essentially be a reflection of my own tastes about their fantasies and not a statement about their ethics (and I’m also on record as opposing fan policing of other fans. I don’t think there’s anything that shouldn’t be thought or written — only things that I choose not to write because of whatever boundary I have). I can say “I would rather not write that because” or even “I wish you wouldn’t write that,” but I don’t think anyone’s in a position to say either “You may not write that because” or “it’s not necessary to write that because”. The point is that in that particular interaction, the author is the coherent agent and Richard Armitage is the fantasy; the author determines which parts of the fantasy are necessary for him/her, and the reader decides whether s/he wants to participate in the author’s fantasy (which also involves the reader’s picture about the author as a writer — and since in my case, I’ve also only met two other Armitage fans among all my readers, that’s also necessarily a fantasy for almost everyone who reads my blog). Although pondering the problem can be useful as a thought experiment, I honestly don’t think there’s any real way to distinguish reliably between what he says about himself and what I understand about what he says about himself, which are theoretically two different things but in practice always conflated given the chain of evidence we are dealing with. This is where my blog operates: as a place where I can use my thoughts about Richard Armitage to think about myself, which occasionally masquerades as text about using my thoughts about myself to explain Richard Armitage. This kind of approximation is how reasoning works and by refining it we come to understand ourselves better. That there are some apparently measurably strong affinities that I see between myself and Richard Armitage that don’t apply in the case of other actors (and would make it impossible for me to write “me + michael fassbender”) doesn’t mitigate the fact that what I write involves a complete fantasy.

    That said: At the same time, seen from the stance of a practical epistemology, there is an actual person out there named Richard Armitage, an actor who plays these roles and participates in publicity related to them, a real man with hopes and dreams and his own fantasies and reactions. If there hadn’t been, there would be no artist there, and I wouldn’t be having this particular fantasy. I don’t make up everything about him in what I write. Some things about him seem to be independently observable. I am offered data in the press and I make sense of it, and there are more and less plausible readings of that data. Even so, again speaking from common sense, I don’t think it’s helpful to him or to me if I presume that he’s somehow impaired in his decisionmaking or that he knows less about himself than I do, when he lives with the real Richard Armitage and I just spend my time writing this extensive fantasy about him which is really a story about myself that others participate in as readers. If I were pursuing this approach, I’d say: he’s 40! He’s a man now and has been working in the industry for over two decades and can manage for himself and has demonstrably done so. Moreover, if he is not an autonomous, competent moral agent, everything I write about him is unethical as on that view, he’s essentially impaired or not responsible for his own actions.

    On the whole, if we assume there’s a Richard Armitage who is not a fantasy, it’s reasonable to attribute to him a competent agency. In fact, I believe he’s an adult and not a stupid one. I also don’t think that what fans say or don’t say impinges on his decisions (or shouldn’t any more, if it ever has, especially if we believe his statements that he is no longer reading press about him, in which case, good for him). Whether he’s reading what we say or not, given the fact that he’s a morally independent adult in charge of himself, I think it’s fine for fans to disagree or agree about his career choices and to do so publicly. I just don’t think that fans know best about his publicity decisions because we live with a fantasy of him that we’ve created. I think he does. And I hope he operates on that basis, always. Because if he is a real person, and not just my fantasy, he has to live with himself — and not with the demands my fantasies make on him.

    So I’m going to go on assuming that (a) he’s an adult (b) he has more information than we do about his career choices (c) he knows best what he’s doing and (d) when he makes mistakes, he’s capable of taking his own responsibility for him. Of course, that may also be my fantasy. I think that’s where my next post on this topic is going. I wasn’t going to write any more about this in the short term, but I am now. You provoked it 🙂

    Reply
    • Best get the dictionary out 🙂

      I started writing a response, but felt like I was repeating myself from before (and it wasn’t all that interesting or well argumented the first time around). Just so you know, I agree with your points and we have a similar point of view on this topic, although, you said it better 🙂
      I’m going to go a different route, if I may. It was inspired by a wave of: “I’ll be so embarassed if Richard Armitage ever reads what I post here!” on Tumblr the other day.

      And I’m just playing devil’s advocate for the sake of a discussion. If you feel at all uncomfortable with what I write, I’ll drop it 🙂

      My blog is a speck. It gets a certain number or clicks a day. Many are people interested in my non RA posts, and these are usually just passing through. Even in the RA community, my blog is one of many, I presume many others have a wider appeal and get more hits. I can see my site stats shoot up when you mention a post of mine, which means that people who wouldn’t ordinarily visit me do, based on your recommendation.

      My blog will never pop up first in any search engine, and you really have to search to find your way here. The chances that Richard Armitage or anybody else from his circle wanders here are slim to none, minus the slim. Therefore, I feel a wonderful sense of freedom. Even if I write or post something that will be frowned upon, the worst thing that can happen is someone doesn’t come back. I feel a responsibility to my regular readers to make posts as interesting as I can, however it doesn’t dictate what I shall be posting. Because I fly low under the radar, and feel less visible, I really do feel like there’s less of a worry to offened anyone, or cross a line.

      There’s no two ways about it, your blog is a “gateway” to our RA community. You were the first place I came after my N&S viewing last July. It was one of the first places to appear when I conducted my Armitage search. It’s become a bit of a beacon for RA fans.
      I think you’re someone who has natural leadership abilities, and people flock to you in admiration and with respect (I know because I do too). This may cause jealousy in some, but I don’t think these people are worth discussing, and people with their low self-esteem is not something I want to waste any time on.
      The chances are that, if he does at all, your blog will be one of the first he’ll visit. That’s common sense and, also, google says so 🙂
      My question is, does the fact that your blog is so popular, and registers so high in any search engine, influence what you write about?
      Should it?
      Can it?
      Just some thoughts I had regarding writing a blog about RA, the man vs. the fantasy 🙂

      Reply
      • I don’t discount the question but all I can say is: I’ll think about it.The question of Servetus and her responsibilities has been replaced elsewhere, and I’m not all enthused about writing about it, frankly. Everything I say about it runs the risk of sounding defensive, and I decided about a year ago that I needed to stop writing defensively.

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        • sorry, not replaced: raised.

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        • I understand and was wondering if it’s something I should ask. Perhaps a topic for a future post? I didn’t think about your “responsibilities” towards our community. I think you do a great job co-ordinating us, but I don’t think you are in any way obligated to do so. You’re not a politician or a public figure, therefore you’re obligations may only be towards doing what’s right for you and whatever process you’re undergoing.
          I was wondering more in connection to our topic of RA- the real person, who might google himself and that whole mental grenade that comes with it.
          So, something light and fluffy fo mid-week 😉

          Reply
          • As you say, “me + richard” is a blog about process and overcoming my personal obstacles in a difficult situation, as well as being an exploration of what I should be doing next in my life, that is expressed through writing about this particular magnificent obsession that I’ve been experiencing. Although charges have been made to the contrary, I do think very carefully about everything I publish there, as the damage to me from anything I say could potentially be worse than to Richard Armitage, who I continue to believe is only benefited professionally by the fact that so many creative, intelligent, articulate women dream, think, write and make art about him and his work. I think some readers make the mistake of thinking that because I try to be as transparent as possible, and above all, not to lie to myself in what I publish, that I publish everything that comes to mind. This is far from the case, and in fact there are topics that I don’t ever publish about for various reasons, although I think and occasionally write about them.

            I am, in fact, not a politician (if you only knew how much of a politician I am not!), and although I do have leadership qualities (and organizational skill) any coordinating role I have developed in this setting was mainly accidental and very far from my own intent. I realize now that by taking the lead on F3, which was mostly about me trying to be a servant leader in creating the kind of event I wanted to participate in as a fan, myself, I inadvertently fostered a misinterpretation of how I saw myself in relationship to the community, one that disappointed or angered some people when I wrote things that they felt were not congruent with that role, and I am extremely sorry for that, in retrospect (again, if you had any idea how sorry!). All I can say to any would-be leader in this fan community is that s/he should go for it. The audience is growing, and there’s always room for great writing. You will find readers. And the big fansites rely on collaboration and coordination, so there are important group projects people can help out with and take the lead on.

            As I’ve been around since February of 2010, now, I assume that if Richard Armitage googles himself regularly and actually reads or has read my blog — while I can’t exclude that this happens, there is absolutely no really firm evidence to suggest he does, by the way; this is simply another really potent fan fantasy in my opinion — he has realized that he’s not in the audience for it unless what he wants to read about is me, and I can’t imagine why he would. (Whether someone, either a publicist or a friend, reads for him and makes him generally aware of what is said about him on the Internet remains an open question and a more realistic possibility, I think.) If he’s an adult, however, he has the same responsibility to close windows with things in them that he doesn’t want to or can’t bear to read as any other adult has. If he were so disturbed by what I wrote that he couldn’t accept it being available publicly, it would be easy for his agent to contact me and ask me to stop, or in fact, try to prevent me legally from writing. (It would not be in his interest to do so — see above regarding the utility to him of articulate fans — but he could.) He hasn’t. That suggests to me that he is either unaware, doesn’t care, or accepts that he can’t control everything that is written about him and has made his peace with his relationship with fans and his strategies for dealing with what we think of him — something that is all to the good.

          • I stared writing a response, but it’s been a long day, I’ve saved it and shall return to it tomorrow. Don’t expect any fireworks, mind, but there were a few thought I wanted to throw into the mix, but it’s all jumbled at this hour. So Servetus (and Richard Armitage, if you’ve just googled yourself LOL), I would gladly return to the topic tomorrow.
            Look out for me. I’ll be standing under your window screaming: Mrs. Servetus, can Michaela come out and play? 😉

          • It will depend on whether I’ve done my chores or not …

  4. Świetny post IWatToBeAPinUp!:)
    Bardzo cenię towarzystwo fanów RA z całego świata,tylu przemiłych twórczych ludzi.
    W przeciągu 4 lat spotkałam może 2 osoby których unikam. Najbardziej martwią mnie(obawiam się) ludzi którzy próbują mnie pouczać albo twierdzą że nie zasługuję na miano prawdziwej fanki.;) Nie znam Ryśka i nie chciałabym poznać bliżej…to pewnie obawa że okazałby się całkiem inny niż moje o nim wyobrażenie:) Całusy ślę:*

    Reply
    • Hello Ms Ania 🙂 Ludzie są w większości bardzo mili, ale zawsze mowię że takie środowisko przeciąga świrusków. Każda ma jakieś tam myśli w głowie i wyobrażenie o nim, ale na tym się kończy. To tylko nasz obraz i dlatego dla mnie jest idealnym facetem. W realu może nie zmienia skarpetek przez tydzień, ale nie chcę o tym wiedzieć 🙂
      A tak nawiasem, to jeśli kiedykolwiek Rysiek by pracował w Polsce z np. Polańskim, to od razy uprzejmie zaklepiam sobie rolę jego osobistego tłumacza, żeby póżniej nie było jakiś nieporozumień z innymi Polskimi fankami tego Pana! 😉 ściskam i bardzo się cieszę że jest tyle moich rodaczek z wyśmienitym gustem!

      Reply
      • A…cudnie!…p.Polański!…to ja odpadam w przedbiegach , po pierwsze mój angielski to tragedia a po drugie dawno..dawno temu skończyłam 15 lat.;)

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        • Hahahaha, teraz wyszło że Rysiek gustuje w 15 latkach hahahaha!
          Polański utalentowany, ale ja też o kilka dekad za stara 😉 Ale takiego Ryśka to bym mogła pooprowadzać. A to Starówka z pamiątkową ciupagą, a to pomnik żołnierza i lody bambino, a to deser ze śmietaną w Hortexie. Może nawet jakaś wycieczka do pewexu, jakby miał dewizy hehehe. Zafundowałabym mu wycieczkę po Warszawie rodem z 1986 roku, tak że mu brytyjskie buty by z nóg pospadały.

          Reply
  5. Hahaha…pamiętam taką wycieczkę do Warszawy!:D…lody ze smietaną w Horteksie(mniam!)..Pałac Kultury i Nauki..Łazienki …Starówkę i niezapomnianego p.Łomnickiego który cierpliwie rozdawał autografy rozradowanym nastolatkom (O Boze patrzcie to Pan Wołodyjowski!!!). Wiochmeny z nas były jak się patrzy i jeszcze przez parę miesięcy cała moja klasa wspominał jak to MURZYN skasował Bogusiowi bilet autobusowy!(najważniejsze wydarzenie z podróży do stolicy.:D

    Reply
    • Hahahaha! Wiedziałam! Wszyscy mają takie wspomnienia. Teraz to są wycieczki na lotnisko Chopina, McDonald i Centrum Kopernika. Rozpieszczone bachory 😉 Ja z W-wy, więc u nas były wycieczki do teatru, na nieodpowiednie sztuki, zdecydowanie nie dla dzieci, filcowe zakurzone papucie w Muzeum Mickiewicza na Starówce i serce Chopina w kościele na pl. Trzech Krzyży. Ile razy musiałam słuchać jak Frydka siostra wywiozła to serce pod kiecką z Paryża! Jesteśmy straconym pokoleniem 😉

      Reply
  6. I wasn’t going to respond to this particular issue, but it’s been buzzing around for a while, so might as well tackle it.

    I find the whole concept of censorship a disturbing one. I think it’s because I come from a post-communistic country. We learn the value of the freedom of speech. The hard way!

    It’s a strange thing, this writing a blog malarkey . On the one hand, we’ve created a space, beyond our real life and real identity, which doesn’t exhibit the usual constraints we may feel in our every day life. We can share as much, or as little, about ourselves as we choose. In essence, we can create an image of the person we’d want to be. It offers a degree of separation, and freedom of expression that most don’t feel in RL.

    But… Blogs can be very personal. Most of your readers would pass you on the street having no idea you’re Servetus. That doesn’t change the fact that they are privy (and, if I may add, fortunate) to have the possibility to follow and, to a certain degree, partake, through comments, in an extremely personal journey you have embarked on. It is this question of how much readers can influence what it is someone writes in their blog that I’ve been thinking about of late.

    What you wrote actually saddened me, although I know that wasn’t your intention. What would be the point of writing strictly what readers expect of you? If the blog is intended to be an account of a personal journey, isn’t censoring your thought defeating the whole purpose? Where do you draw the line? Who dictates where the line should be drawn? In a situation where the readers dictate what you write, wouldn’t it be better to just turn the blog commercial, stick a few ads on, and actually make some money from it, if nothing else? But then, as I understand, that hasn’t been the fundamental aim.

    I know it’s easy to say: To hell with what people say, if they don’t like what they read, they have the option of not visiting the blog, and that way expressing their displeasure with you. We’re actually a part of quite a small and close-knit community. When someone reacts negatively to a post, it’s always personal, and it must hurt. In that regard, there’s no separating the’me’ from RL and the one that exists in cyber space. It’s the same person, with feeling hurt, a fear of being criticized or rejected.

    I remember that a majority of voices didn’t discuss whether some of your posting decisions were right or wrong. They understood that it was your individual perspective and decision, one that they could participate in, or not agree with. The thing that was most upsetting was the reaction of some people. No matter what you think, and of course we have the right to disagree with something, but this objection should be conducted in a respectful manner. Strangely, it stopped being a discussion of: Oh no, she didn’t! How dare she, blablabla… and became an issue how to express your objection to something you strongly disagree with. It became a discussion of manners, of the way you treat another human being.

    Regarding people feeling that you had ‘let them down’ by writing something they didn’t approve of, isn’t there always someone? You can’t please everyone, nor should you, especially in a place like a blog. I remember reading once (forgive me, I forget if it was a post or comment) that you have felt, at certain times, that people react negatively to your intellect, accomplishments etc. I believe it’s not who you are and what you do that they negate. It’s how they fare when they compare themselves to you. It may be that they feel inadequate and don’t know how to cope with this emotion. The easiest way is to take it to a negative place and put you down. After all, actually striving to better yourself it a lot harder than just cutting someone down. That begs the question what it actually has to with you. You can’t dumb down to sooth a wounded ego, you can’t magically take away their inadequacies.

    I’ll just conclude with a thought I’ve been trying hard to hold on to in my adult life:

    Sometimes, from the 100 positive things said about us, we focus on the one or two that were negative. By doing that, we take away all the joy of life, and give people who need to exist in a negative place way too much power. I must underline that it’s US that give them the power over us, over our moods and feelings. It may be my inner Pollyanna talking now, but by pushing these people to the foreground, we do these people no service, and it certainly doesn’t benefit us.

    Reply
  7. This is a very perceptive comment, esp. the point about certain kinds of negative reactions being particularly painful to bear when they come from people whom you “know” within the context of a particular, small community. No one rational publishes anything with the goal of alienating all her friends. While I started blogging out of a feeling of helplessness, I’ve come to think that it was a tool that was given to me to explore a series of issues that bedevil me in other contexts, a sort of sandbox for play therapy that eventually allows me to work out how I’m going to deal with certain problems in more serious contexts in my life. One of the major lessons I learned this year is that how I react to anything is my responsibility — and vice versa, for people who are angry at me. Not that I hadn’t had that insight before, but it was made particularly clear to me this spring. So if I’m particularly troubled by a small minority of people who are so angry that they will make negative comments or worse — that is *my* issue. You’re right that I don’t have to own their negative feelings. (Something that Richard Armitage has also had to learn, apparently, and which makes me sympathize with him.) I can only reiterate — no one should feel inadequate because of me. Maybe one reason I react so allergically to this is that the idea that I would make anyone feel inadequate is so laughable! 🙂 The number of things great and small that I fail at regularly exceeds drastically the number things I do successfully, and that is not false modesty.

    re: censorship — I’ve often wondered how much of what I perceive as the distinctive quality of discourse in Polish politics (or what’s reported about them in the languages I can read!) comes from the fact not only of Poland’s recent Communist past but also of the role of censorship in that history: that certain things are tolerated to be said in Poland because reversion to the alternative is too horrible to contemplate. Kaczynski’s comments about the fairness of proportional representation in EU voting in the summer of 2007 come to mind as an example.

    re: self-censorship: it’s a balancing act. Saying “my boundaries are not the same as yours” doesn’t mean either “I have no boundaries” or “I censor everything I write.” Blogging for me is definitely about shedding light on things I am ashamed of (there are a lot of them) and trying to integrate them into the matters I am willing to admit about myself. There are two pieces to that — being aware of something; and then being willing to admit it to other people. Publishing about something for me is often an act of integration in that I say publicly, this is part of me, and I have a chance to practice it before I take it live. (In this sense pseudonymity is really different from anonymity — a point that several critics of mine have been confused about. If I were anonymous, I would not be obligated to be coherent, but as “Servetus,” I have an obligation to figure out how all the pieces fit together.) It would be incorrect to say that I never think about my audience and what it would like to read; it would be incorrect to say that I only think about them in what I publish. Although I follow some good practices for making a blog visible (writing every day, tagging with categories, linking, leaving comments), I’m not all about upping the hits, or I wouldn’t publish five thousand word posts with against-the-grain readings of tv series that aired eight years ago; and I don’t publish ads both because I think the effort would exceed the benefit (I wouldn’t earn that much, and it would be another tax issue to contend with) and also because I think that would jinx the effort of integration at the heart of the blog– it would be bad karma for me to try to profit from my personal explorations. The profit I get — the opportunity to think about something in public in a hypothetical atmosphere and the mostly helpful comments of fellow fans — is more than I would get from ads. I’ve also been watching the statements of a notorious blogger in the U.S., Heather Armstrong, who turned her life and her perspectives on it into her livelihood, and how she struggles with negative reactions to her personal life — which she acknowledges she turned into her cash cow and thus profits from. I am no Heather Armstrong, and I don’t think writing about Richard Armitage really has the purchase to become something I could life off of — but I also would never want to be in that position (akin to Richard Armitage’s statement that he wouldn’t want to appear on a tv show as Richard Armitage). In the end the blogging is going to end up having been a phase in my life from which I learned new things. I hope. So aggravation is part of what I have to accept as a consequence of wanting to learn the lessons available from this activity.

    I think sometimes people are inclined to think that the decision to write about all of my stuff in the context of a Richard Armitage fanblog is a sort of parasitism, but I honestly did undertake this project in the context of a severe experience of being overwhelmed by him and his work. So he’s part of the story just as I am part of the story, and I think part of the reason the blog works is that it’s my story about Richard Armitage. People who don’t want any fan’s story about him, who just want data or pictures, can go to one of the fansites, which exist to aggregate that material. I’m really grateful to the people who put that material together — what I write would be impossible without them — and I wish those fans well. And I am not all about me all the time — I also post funny things or observations or news with my own reaction to it. But I do think people who read my blog are interested in my story and perhaps in comparing their own story to mine. It’s just when they conflate their stories with mine and something pops up that troubles them, or mistakenly self-identify with me, that we run into problems. A consistent theme in my life has involved my struggles with others’ expectations and my inability to be, despite strong efforts, what others wished me to be, and the prices I’ve paid for that inability. So in learning to be independent on the blog I am learning to set boundaries on external expectations, and learning to legitimate my own self. As I say sometimes in comments to people who insist that I am reading something incorrectly: this is my story. I’ve learned in my own blog reading that people with whom I identify strongly at one point occasionally take different turns — but that’s their story. I hope that by writing mine down, I learn better how to live it in practice.

    Writing is really a journey, and to some extent, my audience is on it with me; they don’t control it, but neither are they entirely irrelevant to it. Yes, I could write nothing but scandalous things and probably attract readership that way, but I don’t (yet?) have a personality that intentionally seeks to attract aggravation — even if avoiding aggravation is not often a concern of mine in deciding what to write or not. There are two things I don’t publish about on purpose: one of them because of concerns it could harm Mr. Armitage (see? I do have morals!); the second, because there’s no way to write about it that doesn’t put both of us in a bad light. I write about them both for myself, not least to try to figure a way around the obstacles. Who knows. As I understand the blog better as a tool for writing, perhaps I’ll publish on both of those things. If you’d have asked me before if I’d be publishing some of the stuff I have recently I’d have denied it. There’s a third theme that I think I’m ready to talk about but most of my readers are not. As I start to write around it, perhaps I will find that they are braver than I am — that experience has been just as common as the opprobrium I experienced this spring.

    Reply
    • Sorry I didn’t write back sooner. I had a really tough weekend at college, and I needed to cocoon myself a tad 😉 I don’t want to be the type of person who receives a long text or email and responds: OK!

      If some accuse you of using RA as a parasite, then we are all guilty. I think we’re smart enough to know that there’s something deeper that draws us to him, not just the cute bottom. If that were the case, we’d be shifting from actor to actor every time someone new appeared, and yet we remain loyal. I think the depth of analysis you have exhibit in your posts may have been unheard of before, but from what I can tell, you have inspired many other bloggers to dig deeper, to go below the surface. I can’t imagine in what context that can be seen as a negative (unless people purposely sought out to make it so).

      I found it interesting how the issue of the post you published (in Dibley it would have been known as The Big Bad Post of 2012) shifted from its initial one. There were people who may or may not have agreed with the need to write it down and publish it, but understood, based on what they had learned about ‘Servetus’ that is was an aspect you felt compelled to explore. Then there was a group of people who simply didn’t agree with your choice, and it’s a shame they didn’t have the opportunity to explore and voice their point. It wasn’t a question of a personal attack. They just disagreed with what you had done, for one reason or another. They couldn’t share their thought because of group nr. 3. I hate to say this, but to me it seemed like some people were lurking in the shadows, waiting for a chance to pounce you. The topic didn’t matter. If they trolled at any other point, they would have been ignored. But there’s nothing like a mob to bring out the nasty in people. I can’t really see what you could have done to protect yourself, and yet give people a respectful environment to discuss the issue.

      It doesn’t matter how intently you choose the topics, how you censor certain thought (and, by the way, I can’t see how any reader can accuse you of not thoroughly researching your posts and you clearly give them plenty of thought), it has very little to do with you. You’re the educated intellectual with the bullseye sign on your back. You’re the means by which someone makes themselves feel better. If it weren’t you, it’d be someone else. That’s the sad truth. It makes it easier because your posts are very personal, therefore the tools to bring you down are easily accessible. If you filter what you write about through what these people think, you’ll be wreck.

      I really hope you trust your instincts about where you can go in your posts. I think that when you’re ready, so will your readers be. I guess what I’m saying is that you should trust your readers. Those who support you, who have an understanding ( as much as they can) of what it is you are trying to achieve, will be with you for as long as you let them. Those who, for one reason or another, can’t or don’t want to participate in your journey, will no doubt ‘leave you to it’.

      Perhaps what you learned about yourself, and other people, during the aftermath of the ‘controversial post’ was more important than exploring a taboo. I can only be sorry that it was so painful for you, but then sometimes the experience that hurts the most, also benefits us the most. Remember that everyone who ‘thinks outside the box’, who doesn’t abide by the rules and the norm (whatever the heck that is), can be seen as a threat. It takes courage to do something ‘controversial’, not because it will cause a stir, but despite the fact it will do so!

      Believe me when I tell you, you will always find support in your endeavours 🙂

      Reply
      • I read that you had gone away for the weekend. 🙂

        I agree that there were people — one person in particular — who was already angry and had been angry for two years. I also think people (including me) don’t always see the immediate consequences of their allegiances to certain ideas. The charge of parasitism comes from a perception that by representing Armitage from my position, my writing misrepresents Armitage (and endangers him). Presumably such people would prefer to read straight reporting. In which case I refer them to the big fan sites.

        It will be interesting to see what happens to my blog this summer. In about a week my life is very likely to upend itself yet another time — and Armitage’s life is also about to undergo some potentially overwhelming changes. Life is full of … interesting opportunities.

        This has been a great conversation.

        Reply
        • It’s been a pleasure, and please remember that you are supported. Not because something is expected of you, but becacuse people are fond of you, and reading your blog has become part of their daily routine. I can’t wait to see where your journey takes you 🙂

          Reply
  8. Pingback: Armitage stands in the back, or: Tropes Armitage fans live by « Me + Richard Armitage

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