me + annabel capper: or, the limits of Armitage fangrrling, almost a year in
A screencap of the ridiculously beautiful Richard Armitage, chosen because of its thoughtful mood, from “The Chase,” an extra from the Spooks 7 DVDs. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery
Others have been writing about the status of their interest in Armitage of late, and I still worry about my fascination for various reasons, most of which are probably obvious to you. The year anniversary of the trigger event for my Armitagemania is fast approaching with no signs that the symptoms are abating. It continues to relieve me that I’m not alone in dealing with this weird quandary. Many of you are in the same boat and I’m vitally grateful for your company. This post is provoked by a strong reaction I had recently to stuff that has surfaced lately in Armitageworld. I hated myself for being interested, but discovering it left me with a much-needed feeling of relief, albeit a bittersweet one. That’s what I’m exploring here.
Caveat lector. I thought about publishing this piece with comments closed, but that seemed unfair to fellow sufferers who might also need to unload on this topic. So I’m keeping comments open with a certain amount of trepidation. Known commentators can post without moderation; new commentators need their first post moderated by me; you may comment with “anonymous” as your tag, but I will have to approve the comment. The last time (of which I am aware) that elements of this topic surfaced in a reputable forum, by which I mean a moderated one, something approaching a bloodbath ensued. This took place after I was exposed to Armitage and before I was blogging, and I was a bit stunned to read some of those comments. It made me understand why the moderated discussion boards all include a proviso prohibiting discussion of Mr. Armitage’s personal life. If you comment, please remember the Golden Rule — thinking of “others” as both me and your fellow commenters and Mr. Armitage and Ms. Capper. It’s fine to disagree with what I say below or even the fact that I am articulating it for a general audience — I spent a lot of time wondering whether this post in itself violates the “do unto others” rule vis-à-vis either Armitage or Capper, and it took courage for me to hit “publish.” Just keep in mind that no one involved in this discussion or concerned with this topic is evil; no one — me included — seeks to do anyone harm. It might help to think of this as a discussion not about Mr. Armitage’s personal life per se, but about our reactions to aspects of it that we glimpse.
And so, finally, ad rem. No, still no answers.
John Bateman (Richard Armitage) and Maya Lahan (Leila Rouass) in Spooks 9.8. My cap. Love the way the shadows over Mr. Armitage’s shoulders draw dark lines through the photo that accentuate the architectural qualities of his upper body. As Frenz has noted, it’s not just a pretty physique; the man uses his shoulders to act, too. Here, in his attempt to convey a sense of security to an unsettled Maya, John also performs an act of self-reassurance by enveloping her body in his bare arms, almost as if she’s a transitional object that reassures him of the validity of his notion of his past.
I admit it: I’ve now rewatched Spooks 9.8 a few times. Not because I liked the plot or found the resolution of the Lucas North / John Bateman division any more successful than I did when I saw it the first time. I watched it to see those painful but oh so remarkable performances again. And because Mr. Armitage is so beautiful, even as the villain. I watch as I’ve been watching since January 4th: to elevate my mood via a combination of factors (beauty, artistry, charisma) that I still don’t completely understand. I watch because my eyes open wider, my nostrils flare, when I see him, but because my heart and mind open, too, in response to the figure on the screen. Who doesn’t always seem quite real to me. Frankly, it would be easier if he weren’t.
Objectification? Oh boy, do I ever worry about it. Precisely because the guy seems like such a mensch on top of all of his talent. If he didn’t seem so real, I wouldn’t be worried about treating him as if he weren’t; if he were a jerk, or talentless, I could just ogle him and be done with it, but then again, if he was a jerk, or untalented, I wouldn’t be fascinated. I’ve been thinking of objectification mostly in terms of its sexual connotations and worried primarily about that — the treating of a person, and specifically his body, as if he primarily exists to fuel my sexual pleasure. That really does bother me. After I realized the extent to which I had slid, during a late summer in which I had lacked time for more careful thinking, from a relatively analytical discussion of his clothing choices at formal occasions into a level of detailed discussion of Mr. Armitage’s body that bugged me — including closeups of particularly enticing body parts — I’ve written relatively little in that direction here since the fall semester started. I wrote a little bit about the problem of beauty as an aspect of criticisms of his career trajectory, and tried to point out that it’s not his fault that he’s beautiful or that directors try to show us that, and that our reactions to his beauty are about us rather than him. Blaming him for anything about our own lack of restraint in thought, word, or deed is the practical equivalent to me of blaming rape victims for dressing provocatively. We need to take responsibility. So since the Fall I’ve been avoiding the discussion of Armitage’s body as if it were a thing, and mostly been calling him beautiful as opposed to sexy. Mostly. I still slip. So if you’ve been missing the PHWOAR here, don’t worry. I still feel it. In spades. It has a good shot at making a comeback.
Carol Bolton (Sarah Smart) helps John Standring (Richard Armitage) disrobe before attending to his injuries in episode 3 of Sparkhouse. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery
But calling Armitage beautiful instead of sexy seems like a dodge. Just like you can’t act without your body, so that it’s an obfuscation to say that we admire someone for his acting, not for his body, when acting is inter alia the successful rhetorical or poetical instrumentalization of one’s own body, beauty and sexiness are both aesthetic perceptions, both uses of and perceptions of the body. It’s just that beauty is considered more elevated than sexiness. Though the elevating aspect of beauty is something I desperately need right now. And perhaps particularly his beauty, which speaks to me well beyond the level of physical arousal. Because while I get a sexual thrill from looking at some of these pictures, that’s not all I get. They’re not just a better sort of pornography for the educated woman. And like the cap above, some of the pictures I love most are not all that pretty. Somehow the pictures symbolize something else: hard work, thoughtfulness, and struggle as values; the attainment of art; the presence of someone who is often described in ways that suggests he tries to do the right thing, of someone who’s got scruples. Most of all an inspiring, enveloping energy. A comfort at low points, a reminder of a sort of secular or quotidian redemption that results from the evaluation a job well done or a perception of light breaking through the darkness — the two most common reactions I experience in response to Armitage’s work.
I suppose one potential aspect of objectification is that you can make the object of your gaze into whatever you like without protest from him, that you can love who you want to love in whatever way you wish for whatever reason, without the disturbing wrinkles that might make someone unlovable under any other circumstance. But there’s a way here in which Armitage’s physical beauty seems to function as a placeholder for a spiritual quality, a way of being in the world that I’m trying hard to understand and, I admit, imitate even as I perhaps construct myself the thing that I admire. I know that sounds a bit inchoate. This theme is something that deserves more time, so I mark it here with plans to discuss it down the road. It’s not the point today. The point instead is that the aspects of sexiness and beauty that are oh so enticing are still central to my fascination. Noting this would be unproblematic except that lately — in light of events — I’ve sensed a surge in my perhaps faulty perception that Mr. Armitage is real. And (as Anselm of Canterbury knew of G-d) the potential that something that exists in the imagination could also exist in reality is intoxicating. In the particular case at hand here, that possibility amplifies my desire and admiration. (As well as my embarrassment about the former.)
Datum: My post on the Old Vic Gala is currently the seventh most hit post on this blog. The post says nothing; I didn’t attend; I intended solely to bookmark some links I wanted to go back to. I assume that the comments are attracting the attention, as one commenter went to the gala and attended the dress rehearsal. If you look at that post and feel moved to comment on what she wrote, please be aware that I have the utmost respect for her decisions. I don’t want to put her on the spot, but the fact that she said it on my blog made me think. Am I objectifying Mr. Armitage in ways that hadn’t yet occurred to me? Is the very fact of this blog an objectification? Martha Nussbaum would apparently say yes — as here, I’ve explicitly turned Mr. Armitage into a thing that I make use of for my own purposes. On the other hand, all analysis does that — it seeks to resolve complexity for the purposes of explanation. No rationalizations about whom an analysis might be for can impede those imperatives. Analysis involves an I-it relationship. One defines an object of study and then studies it. And though I have written quite extensive posts on the techniques of Mr. Armitage’s acting, in the end I can’t study acting solely as an activity that occurs without a body or a spirit behind it. These things are all connected and they do at least a little to explain the desire to meet the man who stirs us so unbelievably.
The perceived desire to meet the target of our admiration has an inherent tendency to be objectifying, I think; I assume that our desires to meet Mr. Armitage have nothing to do with him. This perception raises the problem of whether one can ever have a non-objectifying relationship with someone one’s never met. Martin Buber says you can have an I-thou relationship even with a total stranger to whom you never speak. I-thou is the sort of relationship that moves artistic inspiration, for example, or engagement with the work of another thinker. I hope Buber is right. I’m trying, anyway. But in order for that to happen the blog has to move beyond analysis to talk about how I perceive my self to be in dialogue with Armitage’s work. How does the most elevated perception of his “thou” move mine? Laying aside that we can at best guess what Armitage perceives to be the point in his work when he was most in touch with his spirit — and that we maybe haven’t seen it! maybe it’s not on youtube! — that’s a really hard kind of writing to do, but it’s what has to come next, the challenge for this blog as my Armitagemania moves into its second year.
Datum: That commentator essentially realized my theatrical fantasy, the sixth most hit post on this blog, and even went a bit beyond. And I can’t help but mention in this context that my reaction to the comments on the theatrical fantasy, Stalking Armitage?, an attempt to sort out my (non-)relationship to Mr. Armitage, is the second most hit post here. So the desire for close encounters with Mr. Armitage in real life somehow, either as fantasy or reality, is on the table and has been for some time. It — and concern over it — may flare periodically in the wake of actual encounters.
Datum: Another widely reported fan encounter at the aforementioned gala, in which Mr. Armitage is reported to be — after proving on stage that he is incredibly talented and incredibly willing not to take himself too seriously — not only incredibly good-looking but also incredibly normal and incredibly charming.
Datum: A scan of the program for the Old Vic Gala confirms Mr. Armitage’s courtesy and makes me, if you think this possible (cough), respect him even more as a man who hasn’t forgotten where he came from and isn’t afraid to admit it in public. That assessment may be especially attractive to me because academia is so full of insecure men, so after two decades in this milieu my meters for normal male behavior are skewed hopelessly. But yeah, I’m still asking myself whether he can possibly be for real. I keep looking for a turnoff that I am not finding. Maybe I’m willfully ignoring his recent revelation about his temper. I and a different commentator speculated on the potential reasons for that disclosure and about why we read little negative response to that information. At any rate, for whatever reason, I don’t feel it. [Interestingly, while I was composing this, an amusing discussion emerged in the comments to a previous post under the question of “what could you find out about Richard Armitage that would turn you off?” Just more proof that “me + richard armitage” readers are often very intuitive thinkers who grasp the direction of my thoughts before I can put them down on the screen.]
“I just met a wonderful new man. He’s fictional, but you can’t have everything.” Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels) breaks through the fourth wall to comfort Cecelia (Mia Farrow) in one of Woody Allen’s best pictures.
Datum: A post by mulubinba (since removed) about experiences close to home regarding obsession with celebrities, which referenced a forum for sufferers of depression, with some incredibly revealing comments. Do you see yourself there? Do I? Well, this is not a serial activity for me. Armitagemania is the only syndrome like this I’ve ever experienced. And maybe I am lying to myself, but I don’t think I’m obsessive in the technical sense of the term; reading about and looking at pictures of Richard Armitage does not bring me relief from anxiety or fear about vague or specific dangers, and I do not engage in it to ward off bad or irrational feelings about my interest in Armitage himself. Without too much trouble I can stop consuming Armitage product when I have to, as on religious holidays, and I am not doing this against my own rational will. If for some reason against my own inclination I became suddenly allergic to all things Armitage I’d be sad but I’d survive.
But Armitagemania as coping mechanism for distracting me from current problems? Oh yeah. That’s been there from the very beginning. I know I’m not alone, either. Can we say “Purple Rose of Cairo“? Do you ever find yourself wishing that Mr. Armitage would just step through the screen?
I get a lot of messages off blog — sometimes one a day. Fewer lately, which is fine, as I have a hard time keeping up with comments. Anyway, I’ve been getting about one mail off blog per month asking for help in abating the severe recurrence of persistent thoughts of Mr. Armitage. Toward the end of August I asked for reader help on one request. A discussion of levels of Armitagemania ensued that was interesting, in which Skully raised the point of whether we have an obligation to mindfulness toward those who are really suffering. We agreed that we do, but also that we don’t know what the answer is, other than seeking support from friends, getting professional help, or going absolutely cold turkey and/or turning off the Internet. In case you were thinking of writing to me: though I am way behind at the moment, I eventually do answer all messages, but I really don’t know the answer to this question. As should have been apparent for some time.
Datum: A tweet surfaces suggesting that Mr. Armitage will manage somehow to squeeze “The Rover” into his performance schedule for 2011. The theatrical fantasy again becomes acute in my life. Mulubinba ponders her response to the potential of seeing Mr. Armitage perform in person. She’d go if he were playing in her city but not to the stage door. If “The Rover” happens, what will Servetus do? Luckily, it seems, an actual announcement is still some way off.
Datum (taking deep breath): Pictures of Annabel Capper at the Old Vic Gala in the company of Mr. Armitage surface in a link posted in a thread on C19, as well as a cell phone video of him standing in line to get on the bus to the after party. RAFrenzy writes about the latter, and, as so often, describes exactly how I felt. Like her, I worried about my hypocrisy. When the video popped up on youtube, I first eagerly looked it and favorited it so I wouldn’t lose it, then felt unbelievably sorry for the poor guy, that he has to consider the possibility that he could be captured on video while walking the twenty feet from the door to the bus, and ashamed of myself for being such a voyeur, and an eager one at that. Then, I watched it again. Three of those over those more than two thousand viewings were mine. I was disturbed. So. Since Frenz admitted to her reaction to the video, I am going to write, tangentially, about the pictures of Ms. Capper. Because I had all the reactions about them I describe above — and yet another. Relief.
I stress, not for the last time, that I know next to nothing about her. The rest of the post is about my feelings about what I know about her as a way of describing my feelings about my Armitagemania. Meta enough for you? I think if I’m objectifying anyone today, it’s her. I apologize for this confession, Ms. Capper, in case you are offended by it, but you really did me a huge favor this week.
As the point of this post is not to generate gossip, but it may inevitably do so, I feel obligated to remind everyone that we have no idea who Annabel Capper is to Richard Armitage. Thinking quickly as I write this, I am aware of only five pieces of neutrally verifiable information that put them together: that they were in the cast of a play together in 2002 in a venue that supports the work of emerging playwrights; that they attended the Children’s BAFTAs ceremony in each other’s company in 2006 (they are pictured together at left); that a doodle for charity purposes that he attributed to himself in 2007 incorporated her name; that they were photographed together at the Carrie’s War premiere in the summer of 2009; and that they appeared together at the London gala premiere of Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai show in January 2010 (that videolink is dead, but you can now watch it here — worthwhile because she’s not dolled up to the teeth in designer clothes but rather sensibly dressed and manages a nice smile but looks quite overwhelmed by all the flashes going off — the video made me think that she was mustering her professionality but possibly dislikes the red carpet experience as much as he has reported he does). Everything else we may believe about his relationship to her is, as far as I am aware, hearsay and not confirmed with independent evidence. He’s stated repeatedly since the summer that he’s got no current romantic interest; he’s also remarked that it’s increasingly difficult for him to meet new people to go out with and that he sometimes resorts to an ex when he needs a date.
Silences, lack of any further verifiable information that puts them together, and recent denials of romance on his part notwithstanding (she’s never been quoted as herself in an interview about him, and as far as I know, I’ve only ever read one piece of “friends say” information about him), “Annabel Capper” is a frequent search term that brings readers to this blog. How frequent? It’s number 20 — and thirteen of the top ten are variations on the name of this blog or generic search terms for Mr. Armitage — i.e., more than half of the top twenty are requests for the same two things. So in terms of unique requests it’s in the top ten, though not as popular as the more generic “richard armitage girlfriend.” (Incidentally, “sopa de lima” and “wallace and gromit” are in the top twenty as well.)
When I started blogging I had planned to keep her name out of it to prevent those searchers from landing here, since I wasn’t going to provide any additional information about her, and because she mostly works on stage, it seems, her appearances (as well as those in other media) are not stored in places that make it easy for me to catch or comment on them. But that didn’t stop me from being curious about her on my own behalf. Eventually I began to think that it was hypocritical for me to be interested in her but not admit it — like saying I had (hypothetically) an illness but not conceding how severe it was. So though I didn’t ever write about her, I did mention her name, for example, in picture captions, or in the comments, which is why one can now find one’s way here using that search term. The fact that I am now writing a post about my feelings about her means that even more people who search her name will end up here. But the data above and my reaction to it sort of compel me, and I’m not ashamed any more, though perhaps I should be. Because I like Annabel Capper, or more accurately, it’s that I like the idea of her, and I have ever since I learned the little bit about her that’s available for consumption on the web — really little more than the contours of a professional life, and not dissimilar to the sort of information (mutatis mutandis) that you could find out about me if you knew my real name. Yup: like Hermione Norris, Annabel Capper has become a collateral attraction.
First, and most obvious based on the means I have for learning about her, her body appeals to me. She’s tall and not slight. If her Spotlight CV is accurate, she carries not an ounce of extra weight on a strong 5’8″ frame. Her shoulders are wide enough that it looks like she could protect herself in a fight. But it’s more than an actual physicality; her pictures suggest an energy that says “don’t tread on me.” I admire “strong,” and Ms. Capper’s arresting gaze and marked features expand on the boundaries of conventional attractiveness. Striking, I’d call her, with those intense green eyes and a heavily structured brow that gives them extra broadcast potential and magnetic power. Capable of force, an actor’s reel of her work demonstrates — and copes with a range of accents in an “assured” quality of voice. Confident! Second, though she’s not a classic lead, her CV suggests, she’s apparently talented enough to work regularly in British theatre, including in shows with very minimal casts where one suspects she must contribute a great deal of the energy of the ensemble herself. Cast at an early stage in her career in a prestigious Shakespeare audio project as Helen in Troilus and Cressida. Has not hesitated to be involved in various projects of artistic and political interest. Associates herself with creating meaningful spaces and structures for others to perform in. Has played Lincoln Center in a Sara Ruhl play, which has to have been hard work. Works repeatedly in supporting roles with the same directors, including the respected Mark Wing-Davey, which suggests that she’s a team player and a reliable artist who takes direction well. Works hard — CV suggests at least three different roles in 2010. Said to have a “haunting voice” and “vivid intelligence,” and G-d knows, Servetus loves smart — which is my third reaction. I found her listed among the visiting faculty in the 2010 and 2011 prospectuses for the University of London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, where she is described as teaching writing, another activity dear to my heart (both writing, and teaching it) — and one that demands a particular sort of intelligence that moves beyond “smart.” She gives of her talent to others who’ve been less able to identify or capitalize on their strengths, a final point of attraction for me to Ms. Capper, as demonstrated by an entry from a humanitarian project to visit prisoners and do workshop Shakespeare with them.
I’ve never met her in person and every one of us has flaws. From my perspective here, thousands of miles away from London and gathering information on the internet, however, Annabel Capper seems: striking, attractive, energetic, strong, artistically adventurous, smart, informed and aware, (multi-)talented, get-along-withable, industrious, generous. All this I can conclude reasonably without her having put any personal information out there about herself other than her resumé. So she’s probably also modest — and as we know, she’s discreet. The kind of person you’d want as a friend. Worthy of respect. Worthy of trust. Worthy of … love.
I’m not a very frequent C19 reader — not out of any problem with C19 but because my own Armitagemania is so prolix that it doesn’t fit well into that format — but when the reports came in about the Old Vic gala I started looking over there for more commentary and up to the minute news. (I’m grateful that people post it and in return, I’d have been happy to discuss this reaction there, but the topic is prohibited, as noted above.) And I wasn’t disappointed; it was gratifying to read that stuff. I’m just as curious about information on the “real” Armitage as the next fangrrrl. I jumped right over to the dorktastic video when it appeared and I wrote about it; comments on that post eventually moved in the direction of how far we would go in watching “private” information and disseminating or talking about it. If you look at the comments you’ll see that I was much less solid in October about what I’d discuss or not discuss on this blog than I had been in April. And then I saw a link in the C19 thread with the provocative question “Isn’t that Annabel Capper?” My heart caught in my throat. My finger hovered over the mouse. Of course I was going to click — how could I ever stop myself? I want to know everything about him! — but I was already feeling dirty about it.
While the finger was twitching, I was already starting to hate myself. The dialogue of the warring Servetuses begins: “Can’t leave this topic alone, can you?” I asked myself. “So what if it’s Annabel Capper?” The reply: “But what if it isn’t? Don’t you want to know that, too?” Servetus: “Can’t the man spend a night alone and enjoy his success with the people who appreciate him without you googling in to observe him? Come on, take the high ground. Refuse to look.” Servetus: “Oh, come on, ignoring information doesn’t erase it. If the data there could contribute to your picture of him then you need to look at it. Plus, maybe it will be something so nasty that you’ll be shocked out of your preoccupations; wouldn’t it be positive then?” Servetus: “Oh come on, you even don’t believe that yourself. This is not about information gathering, it is unadulterated prurience. You’re just going to feel dirty and hypocritical after you see it. There’ll be one moment of excitement and then you’ll feel like dreck.” Servetus: “Oh yeah? Well you can’t stop me.” (It was fatal for me to say that to myself, since I have a very oppositional personality.) The defiant finger fell — whether it was Servetus, or Servetus, who propelled it: who can say?
Yeah. And it was her, in two very dimly lit, grainy photographs. Annabel Capper! Standing next to Richard Armitage at the bar of the restaurant, and then next to him while they were talking to a third person! And there was one moment of huge thrill, but I was wrong about the consequences. All of the conflict disappeared, and I felt an overwhelming, dizzying wave of relief, and no conflict at all. My knee-jerk reaction: “Oh, how wonderful that they’re there together. How great for him. How great for her.” I had wondered whether, for example, his parents or his brother might have been in the audience to witness his first steps onto a live stage in quite some time, and I was just so happy that someone who really cared about him was there for him after such a nerve-wracking reentry. My cheeks blushed and I had a physical sensation of warmth all over. Glee!
Richard Armitage confesses his nervousness about the Twenty-Four Hour Plays to a BBC reporter. Source: Richard Armitage Net
I am not describing this reaction to paint myself as an altruist or to suggest that my Armitagemania is innocent in any way. It’s not. All kinds of potential unpleasantness that I just may not be able to admit to consciously could lie behind that reaction. Maybe it stemmed from relief that it wasn’t someone whose picture I hadn’t seen, so that I wasn’t going to get dragged against my ability to stop it into hours of pointless fangrrlish speculation. Or relief that it was Ms. Capper, because I don’t believe that she’s his current romantic partner, and so he’s still single and notionally available to me in my daydreams, without too much disturbing data from reality like a committed lover. (I’ve sort of filed her in my mind under the surmised label of “potential ex,” and wondered whether her days at LAMDA coincided enough with his that she could be the drama school love interest who he “never felt … was the one,” in which case my respect for her grows exponentially, since I wouldn’t be able to hang out with someone who said something like that about me, even if he didn’t intend it to be published. But then Servetus has the unfortunate personality trait of holding grudges.) And the historian evaluating evidence I was trained to be also forces me to point out that her presence there proves nothing: nothing about the pictures says anything about their relationship to him or why she was there. Pictures at an after party don’t even prove she was at the performance. She could be his partner, or his ex, or just a very good friend — one must add, a very good friend indeed to put up with and draw upon herself the growing circus around him, to which I am admittedly now making a six-thousand-word contribution — or she could have been there accidentally. And yet other less probable possibilities could explain her presence that probably aren’t worth elaborating upon this late in such a long post.
But what this reaction showed me is that there is a limit to the insanity of Armitagemania. I may spend a ridiculous amount of time writing on this blog, which is in turn only a fraction of the time I spend thinking about him and his work, but I still haven’t become so much of a fangrrl that I can’t tolerate the thought of the actual Mr. Armitage in the arms of a partner in real life or that I would be happy to learn that he’d been dumped and was single again. My excesses aside, at base I am at least capable of fulfilling the laudable self-description of another commenter here of herself the Armitage fan as “a friend he’s just never met,” of being happy that he has people in his life, no matter his relationship to them, that have stable contacts with him that stretch over long periods — that he has friends and potentially romantic partners towards whom I have no consciousness of jealous feelings. In short Armitagemania is not making me betray my own convictions; maybe I am letting myself off the hook too easily, but Ms. Capper’s recorded presence at this event provided the welcome news that I am not at stage 3 or even close.
What a relief.
Ms. Capper, I hope that Richard Armitage loves you somehow — as a lover, as a dear friend — because in the absence of any more personal information about you than I am ever likely to have, you seem like you are worthy of any or all of that, and you are also lucky enough to know him personally, a status that tens of thousands of women envy you no matter how things stand. (I also hope that in private he’s the person he appears to be in public — ethical, thoughtful, sweet, loyal, modest — and that if you are his ex, it’s not because he has some severe personality flaw, or acted a bit of a monster to you, or that he lost his temper irretrievably or did something else that hurt you terribly. Yeah: if you’re his ex, I hope you dumped him. Is that mean of me? Or am I only loyal to my gender?) But even if he doesn’t love you, or if he’s much less nice in real life than his press suggests, I want to thank you for going to that after party weekend before last. Your presence there did that extra little bit for me that makes him real and reminds me that he isn’t just beauty or artistry, a concept that I observe and turn over in my mind to make myself feel better in bad moments — that he is a real person with real relationships, with entanglements that he also may not handle satisfactorily in every regard but that root him in a particular context. That’s bittersweet, because (as Anselm demonstrated about G-d, see above) the fact that he exists in reality and not just in the imagination makes Richard Armitage better — even as, at best, I might manage to see him live on stage. In reality, I will only ever know him in my imagination. And that’s powerful — particularly on days when my nerves are sore and my soul is exhausted. But it’s not the imagination of him, the concept of him, that really powers the energy that comes from his roles, or at least not all by itself.
You appear to be the kind of woman that I want someone who’s the kind of man Richard Armitage appears to be to fall in love with. So you, too, have become part of the fantasy — perhaps unfairly, since you didn’t sign up for it, any more than he did and indeed much less so.
But for better or for worse, you made him real, Ms. Capper, in a quiet way. It would be easier for all of us fans if he weren’t. But if he weren’t real, then he wouldn’t be half so powerful as a fantasy, either.