From the Spooks Fan Blog: “A caveat from Beatlemania”

When Skully deleted her blog, she gave me permission to archive it and repost some of the more important things here, especially those that had marked some particular point in my fan development. I have set these posts, as they will appear, to their original date of publication on Skully’s blog. Note that reposting does not indicate endorsement of the position, simply that think about or responding to that post was important to me at the time. [This post in particular was something that I became ambivalent about relatively quickly.] I am posting them without the original images or the comments. You are welcome to comment now with the reminder that these posts all appeared in very different contexts in the fandom originally. Skully writes Australian English.

Originally published: March 20, 2010. Date of republication: July 27, 2015

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A Caveat from Beatlemania for Richard Armitage Fans

A ‘caveat’ is a warning; in this post I draw from lessons of the past to issue one to the present future. (Please note – this piece ought not to be misinterpreted as criticism, but rather as one person’s observations; a footnote to the otherwise wonderful phenomenon of RA enthusiasm).

When I was 15 years old I went to see Lenny Kravitz perform at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia (I was young, don’t judge). Well, what a waste of time that turned out to be. It was virtually impossible to hear dear Lenny amidst all the screaming going on. Unlike my fellow audience members, I had actually gone to the show to hear the music, not to whip myself up into a high pitched hysteria. While comparisons between this scene and The Beatles’ early concerts might be a stretch, at the time I did wonder if this was what Beatlemania must have been like, albeit on a milder scale. This experience provided me with some insight and sympathy for The Beatles’ decision to stop playing live. If no one can hear you and your performance is effectively reduced to the status of a pantomime – what is the point?

Which brings me to Richard Armitage and the amazing phenomenon of his enthusiastic fan base. What parallels, might you ask, can be drawn between the Beatles and this humble actor? Just bear with me, as I attempt to flesh this one out.

When I read online discussions about this man, it nearly always centers on his exterior qualities; his appearance and voice. Although I admit I am not a connoisseur of RA fan blogs and forums, when I have ventured into this world, it is a rare treat to see a genuine comment or appraisal of his intrinsic qualities and talent. When a seldom utterance of this type is encountered, it is often presented within the context of his physical appeal (I know there are plenty of examples that contradict this – there are definitely thoughtful RA fan commentaries out there, but I can only speak to my own overall observations – and I acknowledge that the Spooks Fan Blog has dabbled heavily in this territory as well).

I am sure it is not necessary to point out to readers of this blog that this bloke is a bloody fine actor, and although RA fans know this too, for some, it seems to be completely overshadowed by their interest in his other, quite frankly, less interesting features. The guy is ridiculously handsome, no doubt, and while I am sure his appeal to fans goes beyond this, in my experience it is rarely reflected in the internet chatter I have seen; why? Sometimes I wonder if his abilities as an actor are merely incidental to some quarters of the RA fan community – and thus his appearances on TV are little more than opportunities to gawk and perv (I’ve seen numerous fans report that when watching DVDs of shows featuring RA, they always fast forward to the parts when he is on screen).

Consider this – how might online discussions of RA be viewed if the genders were reversed; if he was a woman and his fans were mostly men. Entertain that thought for a moment and it all starts to look a bit murky, perhaps a bit unsavory, and certainly not very PC. Imagine if it was your physical appearance, more than any other aspect of yourself, that garnered all the attention? It might be flattering at first, but ultimately (as I am sure RA himself could testify), it is not all that gratifying. This is a situation with which many women can identify, and one that some have fought hard to over turn – to be recognised as a person of character with qualities and abilities, not just a piece of totty.

I am not saying that fans’ appreciation of RA is restricted to his physical appearance, to his status as television totty, or that they should not discuss his splendid looks. What I am pointing out, however, is that the pendulum seems to have swung too far in this direction, and his talent and intelligence as a performer is being sorely overlooked (one need only watch Spooks 8.4 to see one example of that talent on brilliant display).

One could argue that Brad Pitt has suffered somewhat from this kind of predicament. His image as a Hollywood heart throb (through no fault of his own) has undoubtedly obscured recognition of his acting ability. Brad Pitt has been able to temper this image, to some degree, by his wise choice of roles and directors who can see past the glitz – but in the public sphere, the name Brad Pitt is more synonymous with being Hollywood “hot stuff” than with being a fine Hollywood performer.

It would be a shame to see RA suffer a similar fate. Or even worse, the superficial aspects of fan fervor went so far as to influence RA to prematurely decide to move from in front of the camera to behind it – something that he has expressed a strong desire to do. The Beatles saw no point in performing if they could only be seen and not heard. One gets the impression that some fans see RA on screen but aren’t really seeing the performance. This is their loss. I honestly hope it does not become, for quite different reasons, our loss too.

~ by Servetus on March 20, 2010.

3 Responses to “From the Spooks Fan Blog: “A caveat from Beatlemania””

  1. […] you are following the Fanstravaganza, though, you will already have noticed this really smart post [link updated after Skully deleted her blog] and plea for temperance by Skully at the Spooks Fan […]

    Like

  2. I miss Skully and am glad you’re archiving her.

    Like

    • I miss her, too, and am delighted she gave me permission. It’s only going to be highlights, though (I think right now).

      Like

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