Talk about Mona Lisa Armitage: Richard Armitage at Union Station, Toronto, December 3, 2012, to promote The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com
I wrote one of these posts almost a year ago to the day — and it’s kind of depressing to read it now, given just how many things I haven’t written in the last year. Although I’ve posted more than once per day … Well, both the summer and the year were really derailed, the summer by my parents’ illnesses, the year by the Erebor quest. Oh, and then there was the premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which took up weeks and weeks of energy to react to. (Somebody — I don’t remember who — wrote me rather perspicaciously that she felt like the flood of stuff from the premiere was affecting the blogosphere because we were essentially losing status versus Armitage — as information crashed over us, we were losing the capacity to write with authority about a subject that was changing as we spoke; we were falling more into the position of admirers and out of the position of critics. I thought that plausible. And if that’s true, I hope that we’ve recovered now. Because we’ve got a lot to chew on.)
I guess it’s good to have a list of things I still want to write about. And there are a few more topics, now. And I have Guylty inspiring me onward. I remember that when I thought I was going to be unemployed, back in 2011, a colleague said to me, well, it’s not like you’ll run out of stuff to write. You can do a scene by scene analysis of everything Richard Armitage has ever done.
That certainly still awaits!
The pictures of Armitage, as Guylty has been documenting for us, are increasingly present and improving drastically in quality. Many of them are positively transfixing (see above). And it’s so easy to use those pictures and the related fantasies to get through the day.
I was thinking recently, however, that when I became an Armitage fan, pictures of Richard Armitage played a much smaller role in my fan life than did watching his actual work. Well, at the time I was basically immobilized in every sense except physically, especially for the first three weeks of it. All I did for that three weeks was go to work, come home, watch North & South, over and over and over again, and sleep. But the record of my early Armitagemania, which I cataloged under a rubric called “Obsession Update” for most of 2010, reveals that I was spending dozens of hours every week watching Mr. Armitage on DVD and on my computer. It was taking up a ridiculous amount of time, actually. At some point it waned slightly and also bothered me less, so I stopped documenting the watching and rewatching.
I’m not watching Armitage’s work with that single-minded devotion now and I sometimes read in the evenings again (!) — but I am still watching fairly continuously, if not as repetitively. I’m watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey over and over again as well. And so I really want to get back to the acting, for a few reasons.
One is that unlike in 2010, when I had practically every scene Richard Armitage had been in on DVD memorized, I now have the experience — if I haven’t watched a particular production for a certain amount of time — of watching it with new eyes. And frankly, when I turned Strike Back on again a few days ago after a couple of months off, it was like a kick in the stomach. Armitage still does it for me and to me, and I want to know why. There’s more to understand, stuff I haven’t explored even on top of the lists of themes I’ve targeted. I want to get to the “beyond.”
Second, on the whole question of Armitage’s emotionality as an attractive model for me, that’s something else I need to tap into, both on the level of understanding how he puts it together consciously or unconsciously, and also on the level of figuring it out for me. This ties into the question of fantasy — both as fanfic and on other levels, which I’ve been using a lot to make it through the days. (A03, what did I do before your writers learned about Armitage?) The fantasy is a manifestation of things I (and other people) see in Armitage’s roles and acting (and identity, but that’s a slightly different issue — and I need to get the next chapter of the “My Richard Armitage” interpretive biography ready to go as well. That really did get sidetracked by the premiere of The Hobbit — but it’s held up surprisingly well, Armitage’s inability to remember exactly when he was on stage in the Birmingham production notwithstanding).
Third — and I just figured this out a few days ago — I’m feeling more calm on the whole beauty – talent relationship than I have in a while. I’ve always said it was a false dilemma, even as I conceded that at that decisive moment of Armitagemania onset, the beauty was necessary for me. However, I’ve been finding some of the other actors who play dwarves interesting lately — especially Graham McTavish, Dean O’Gorman, and Adam Brown (in that order) and maybe a little bit of Jed Brophy. Frankly, I see a picture of Dean O’Gorman on my computer screen and I grin and my hips jerk of their own volition. How can someone be that gorgeous and live? With McTavish and Brown it’s a little bit more complex than that — I’m responding to different things in McTavish and Brown is more cute than heartthrob material — and Brophy is more of an occasional pleasure. But that’s it. It’s all limited to pictures and occasional news reports. As with my sort of momentary puzzlement over Tom Hiddleston last summer, I haven’t explored it any further. No hunting through Netflix, ordering of obscure DVDs, or watching of violent productions in genres I’d never touch in my ordinary life.
And I was wondering — okay, you have that reaction to Armitage as well at times, the instinctive drawing of breath when you see a beautiful picture of him. And you love documenting his career — the footnoting, the excavating the sources, the linking, the writing. So why don’t you start a blog about these auxiliary dwarves if you like them so well?
And then I thought, well, it would essentially just be a kind of scrapbook. A sort of tumblr. I don’t want to say anything about any of them. They’re beautiful, but they don’t make me want to speak. I don’t care where the pictures came from or how they were made or why their acting looks the way it does. I just want to smile at them and imagine them smiling back.
That’s it: Unlike Richard Armitage, they don’t make me want to speak. They don’t inspire me to engage in the production of knowledge about them. They don’t make me want — when I’m feeling blocked or uncreative — to get unblocked or creative again. They don’t pull me onward on any journey.
So yeah — I need to get back to the pieces of Armitage that make me want to speak, and I need to do that speaking.
Weird how this blog just goes on and on and on and on and on …