The dorktastic past

Note posting and comments at Richard Armitage Fan Blog and RAFrenzy on new video footage of Richard Armitage that surfaced on youtube recently. I’m linking, but not posting it here; if you are interested in viewing it directly and for some reason haven’t visited those sites yet, please do! RAFrenzy has helpfully corrected the aspect ratio, which makes the visual evidence that it could be Mr. Armitage much more convincing than apparent at first view. The comments on the youtube page suggest that the person who posted the video is in a position to make credible his claim that this is Mr. Armitage. Moreover, the corrected screencaps RAFrenzy shows do seem to indicate that distinctive profile we associate with Armitage. I won’t say any more about this here because I already said everything I have to say on the topic at RAFrenzy’s place.

I’m also staying out of the debate about whether materials like this about Mr. Armitage should or should not appear in public, or should or should not go viral. They pop up from time to time. Here’s another example on Facebook [picture has been made private] of an alleged historic picture of Mr. Armitage dancing while at school, added to a fan page by someone from Coventry who calls him “Rich” in her caption. Every now and then in comments on newspaper articles about Armitage online, one reads a comment by someone who claims to know or remember him from dancing school, which is poignant, I think. It’s only normal that people who “knew him when” would try to connect themselves in this way; marking past relationships is a technique of centering the self. Given what seems to have been an early and intense involvement in theatrical endeavors of all types in Armitage’s life, it would be surprising if this sort of thing didn’t happen at all. Presumably if something really awful popped up, his publicists would step in to suppress it if they could. It’s much easier to do that in England, I believe, than elsewhere on the planet.

No, here at “me + richard armitage” we eschew data-gathering and the performance of facticity. Instead, we are all about the meta, and a few things pop into my mind on that score when I see this.

The first is the question of the meaning, for ourselves, of moments that persist from our pasts. This tendency is only accelerating; most of the evidence of the childhoods of people in my generation (I am two years older than Armitage) is preserved in photos and scrapbooks, with some decaying home film technology, but this video shows the extent to which we stood on the cusp, with the advent of affordable, easy-to-use video cameras and reproduction in the early to mid-1980s changing the terms of memory. The mediation of such moments for us by the lack of a record, or their preservation solely in still photography, has receded in an age in which everything can be on tape all the time. Nat calls this video dorktastic, in a teasing way, and I think that’s really appropriate as a designation for it. Adolescents, especially late adolescents, are typically striving for coolness much of the time,ย  in the context of identity development, which seems to be further and further delayed in our current atmosphere. A 20-year-old in 1991 was still a youth, even if Mr. Armitage had been working as an adult for several years at this point, and this video shows it. The clothing and hairstyles of the late 1980s and early 1990s were quite distinctive (I remember when men wore that particular style of jeans, and not only that, I remember when I thought it was quite alluring!), and hopefully we can look back with amusement at our younger selves, who cannot be remade in our imagination in the same way when the concrete evidence of them is constantly (potentially) before us. (I think facebook works the same way as a technology of making identity fast for my students, but I won’t go into that here.) I hope that, if this is Mr. Armitage, that he remembers the day he did this and his companions in the video with some pleasure or nostalgia, or at least without pain, that after the initial moment of embarrassment at having his younger self unmasked, he is able to accept that self as part of his history. This is hard; it would be hard even for me and I am not famous. I think celebrities, or people who become them inadvertently, have it hard in this regard. I remember thinking about Monica Lewinsky in 1998 that I had also done many questionable things out of what I thought was love when I was 23, but that I had had the mercy of not having them all investigated by a grand jury or broadcast on national television. I have a very hard time even now looking at pictures that document the relationship I was in when I was Lewinsky’s age.

Beyond the question of whether we are embarrassed by our past, second comes the issue of whether such a video is actually embarrassing in other meaningful senses apart from to the self. All of the fangrrls — me included — want to see Mr. Armitage dancing — I think this has a lot do with the difficulty in finding a man who admits he likes dancing, let alone can do it well. (In my case, it also has to do with not being allowed for religious reasons to dance as a teenagerย  — dancing or thinking about doing it carries an extra tinge of the forbidden for me; I often find watching a dancing man arousing in a way that I suspect others of my generation do not.) Mr. Armitage has flirted with sharing details about this in interviews, claiming his best dance is the tango, for example, that sexiest of all dances, or discussing the euphoria he experiences on the dance floor, and his own personal dancing style. In light of that, this video can hardly tarnish Armitage’s reputation. Assuming it is him, it can only feed the fan frenzy, letting everyone of a certain age imagine themselves dancing to these tunes of the ’90s and doing it with him! I also don’t think that this is really an embarrassing product — or at least not any more embarrassing than any other videotape of average everyday people floating around. It’s not going to make it onto one of those embarrassing home video shows, if they have those in the UK. It only shows us — see above — that smiling boy dancing with some friends for entertainment or something to do, and with apparent enjoyment.

The third matter is the question, referred to off and on in the press by Armitage himself and by his interviewers, of “Armitage as slow starter.” We might compare the Boon screencaps recently located by a meticulous researcher. Assuming these are both Armitage, what they suggest is someone who doesn’t yet quite have his entire body under the effortless control that we see today, someone who hasn’t yet completely grown into his height, or into the marked features of his face. The movements are still ungainly at times, the smile unsubtle, everything requires refinement. And yet the energy, and some of the fundamental gestures and stances, are easily noticeable. Today we get the Armitage who has been working in the performing arts and studying his craft for over two decades — and this video gives us a foretaste of where that person went.

Taken together, my points: In this case, the persistence of the past softens our already tender hearts. We remember our own style choices and preferences of the 1990s; we recall our own identity issues. We glimpse a very brief moment, probably only an afternoon, in the development of someone we admire. Having seen the man, we wish we had known the boy. We see the boy, and are even more moved by the man he has become.

~ by Servetus on April 26, 2010.

80 Responses to “The dorktastic past”

  1. I might be on my own on this one but neither do I care much (or want to dig into) his private life (as long as he’s happy, healthy and continues to work in whatever way he chooses) nor am I particularly interested to find out what he did in his youth. And as stated elsewhere, I bet he would love to make that fast-spreading vid disappear (whether it is actually him or not). If you put proof of your past follies on the net it’s your business and yours alone. If others dig up dirt (?) and spread it without probably even bothering to give you a heads-up it’s an ill service rendered. This is just the latest example of what I don’t like about the whole RA ‘frenzy’.. and it has made me draw my own conclusions.

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    • Thanks for your candor, Teena! My first reaction to seeing it was like yours, but after I had watched it a few times I started to form the view I articulated above. Maybe I shouldn’t have kept watching it. I am sure that the big sites will either not link this, or else reign in discussion on it. I just wanted to note that my own feelings about it different from comments that I felt were likely to occur. So I don’t think you are alone at all.

      I would have liked to have known him in his youth. But perhaps that is solely projection.

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  2. Dorktastic = dorky, yet fantastic. Just like cheestastic, I like to combine fantastic with other words. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I figured posting that vid on my blog may stir some controversy with people saying stuff like, “Hey- no fair to post something from RA’s past…” but so far everyone has taken it like me as something to smile at and nothing more. I also posted photos of RA in grade school here: http://armitagefanblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/cool-find.html and it’s the same mentality: as long as the glimpse of his past is fun and not threatening to his career in any way, then I don’t think it’s a problem. If people don’t want to look, they don’t have to and there are boundaries I won’t cross. I’m just curious by nature and like to find out about people’s pasts to know what helped shape who they are today.

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    • Thanks for popping in, Natalie! I think after the last controversy on your blog about the “taboo section,” perhaps the people who might be inclined to disagree feel like they have had their say?

      In general, I think there is a difference between being the original poster of something like this and disseminating it. My feeling has been that there’s no point in suppressing discussion of information that, for whatever reason, is in the public domain. It just guarantees that the least sensible people discuss it. My own purpose in writing this comment was just that: to comment on some themes that popped into my mind while watching it.

      Presumably all of the Armitage bloggers wish Mr. Armitage only the best.

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  3. I can see both sides of the debate on this one. But I do share Teena’s response to some degree. It is a harmless video, but it raises questions about what control we have over our image in the internet age. The internet did not exist (in the public realm) in 1991, so one did not think about whether a moment that was being captured on film would end up on the internet. Perhaps the poster of the video was naive as to the potential of the video to go viral. If it were me, I would have contacted RA first before posting the vid, as I think that would be the ethical/considerate thing to do (perhaps he did?), given his profile. If it were me in that video, I would be annoyed that it had been posted without my blessing.

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    • Hmm. There was no publicly accessible internet in 1991, but by that point most people had VHS players at home, and indeed the purpose of filming something like that is to be able to look at it again later. So I don’t know that the divergence is as stark as you suggest. I also don’t know that the poster had any obligation to contact Mr. Armitage. Presumably the poster also has personality rights in equal measure to those of Armitage. It would have been considerate, I agree. But perhaps he did or tried to. We don’t know, right?

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      • I think that this vid, and the discussion that has followed, symbolises to me that we are yet to come to a consensus on internet “etiquette” in relation to what is ok in terms of publishing of images/film of other people.
        The net is still new, and we’re still figuring out what’s cool and what’s not cool. Facebook is one place in particular where this issue is being played out. When someone takes a photo of me, in agreeing to pose for that photo, have I also agreed by default to the photo being posted on the internet? I would say no, but others would assume yes. So I tend to avoid cameras these days (unless its in a circumstance in which it would be appropriate for the photo to be published, like from an event or festival). What this really all boils down to is consent.

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    • I think it’s interesting that you say ‘given his profile’, you feel he deserved (and maybe received) the ethical/considerate ‘Heads-up’. I have to ask *and be damned*, does his profile entitle him to such consideration? Would any layperson receive the same? We’re not talking about a high profile, *insert a suitable subject*, whose confidentiality sways the political agenda of a country? Does the step into the limelight entitle the actor/actress an automatic gagging order with which to restrain information that hasn’t first been vetted by a hoard of PA’s? Do you think if I attended RA’s school, was in his class and decided to post a year photograph on the W.W.W that I would ask his permission or tell him that it was about to be published? Nu-hu. He has chosen to be a celebrity and with that, as far as I’m concerned, he has accepted that fan/atics, through the spectrum of ‘quietly enjoying his performance’ to ‘sending him soiled underwear’, want to know every tiny detail. If the video showed him scaling a burning inferno to save a baby, then the poster would have been applauded for heightening his profile. As it is, a lighthearted performance in his younger years; the content is harmless. It hardly portrays him in any other light than which he proffesses to be…a performer.

      In answer, and a ‘heads-up’ after reading your follow-up post, if you pose for a photograph/video in the UK, if the law of journalistic and artistic rights have not changed overnight, then you have given consent. The owner of such media is entitled and well within their rights to post the content where ever they damn well please. You would have to prove an infringment of the Data protection act or an invasion of your privacy.

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      • These are important questions, but please no damnation on this blog, anybody. I’m teaching about theories of that all the time and this is supposed to be a break. Many thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

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        • My sincerest apologies.

          You are right, though provocation of thought go hand in hand with emotion. I will curtail my basest of upbringings =0*

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          • well, you know, having a new thought always means taking a risk. I just think it’s easier to take a risk in a friendly atmosphere. I hope there’s no dogma on this blog, or at least none that can’t be questioned.

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  4. No-one in the public eye can really control what surfaces from their past as they are bound to have encountered countless others on their way. Perhaps, as you say Servetus, the original posting of the vid might be about fame by association.

    I sometimes cringe at pictures of my younger self as I have worn glasses since the age of twelve. My face disappears behind several monstrous versions! As with Richard, I can be said to have grown into my looks as an adult.

    This vid in question had me in stitches, but that has to do with the fashion of the time. These are kids larking about and, although Richard might cringe if he knew, it’s rather cute and harmless!

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    • If you look at the rest of the videos on that channel, you see a combination of nostalgia stuff, and some professional things. The poster seems to be someone who has had a minor professional career in performing arts.

      When I was a teenager I was on an academic quiz team and we appeared on a locally produced tv show. A high school friend of mine who was on the team posted some pictures on facebook last year, and I admit that initially I was shocked. But indeed, the comments made were all kind ones and I ended up not bothered by it. It probably helped that the pictures were from the mid-1980s, and growing up where I did styles were behind the times, so we were all still wearing the fairly “preppy” styles of the early 1980s rather than the extreme colors and cuts of the mid to late 1980s.

      So I do think that the essentially harmless nature of this — nothing worse than embarrassment potential here — plays a role in my evaluation.

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  5. Sully, for me,you have said it best. My first reaction was exactly that of Teena’s. Consideration of your points have influenced that view.

    Especially confirming the identity, AND requesting approval to post. Mr. Armitage’s agents’ address is on various sites and blogs….

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  6. Sorry!! Skully. Proofing malfunction…

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  7. […] For a less cursory treatment of dork as it applies to RA, check out servetus’ post Dorktastic Past. […]

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  8. Given the way Natalie has presented it, I think it’s sweet ,and I’m not offended by anything I’ve read or seen about it on any site. My thinking on it is if it were something that would be embarrassing, that would be different. This is far from that, and really we don’t even know if it’s him. It does look like him, and the poster on YouTube makes it strongly seem that it is him, but we don’t know for sure at all.

    By the way, I love your excellent, excellent post, servetus!

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  9. I want to say one thing about the internet age. The internet did exist in 1991. In fact, I was on the internet as early as 1985. Perhaps Richard Armitage wasn’t fully aware of it then. Most 20 year olds weren’t. But it was around and lots of information was already being passed.

    What makes this video okay for us to see IMO is that it is not capturing an intimate moment but rather one of performance, which by it’s very nature suggests broadcast. If it were an intimate moment or even something leaning toward an intimate moment, then I would not want to see it spread around. Someone might think I’m rationalizing about this, but hey, that’s what makes life interesting. We’re not all going to agree about everything.

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    • I had my first email account in 1988, I think. My point was that it wasn’t a mass activity in 1991. If you wanted to trade information, you had to be linked in (I had a university computer account because I was a lab support person in a computer lab) and you had to know where to look. It was different, I think, than now when anyone who wants to can easily google. At the same time, though, (as I said above) I agree that it wasn’t the dark ages.

      As an academic, I am all for disagreement! Keep it coming!

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  10. If it had been an intimate moment, it would have been off limits to me.

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    • Absolutely agreed. This gets to the question of the boundaries of a blog. I blog rather than participating in a discussion board because I want to create the rules for my own discourse as opposed to having them created by others — with no offense intended to the people who keep the discussion boards going. I think they are important locations of fandom, much more important to Mr. Armitage’s career than a single author blog, frankly, because they allow potential employers the perception of a focused group of spectators. I am really just writing commentary. But I do want to decide what commentary I am writing.

      So when you get to the question of “what if a sex tape emerged” that would raise the question of “where are the boundaries for commentary for me as blogger” or “would I comment or link to material that is in bad taste?” The answer to that question for me is pretty firm: no. I have had a lot of thoughts on this topic since seeing Spooks 8.4 and 8.5 and Between the Sheets. Hopefully I will get to publish them soon.

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    • Please?!?
      I’m sure, for the benefit of the people here, some that know you personally, some for whose opinion you give a rats ass, intimate moments are off limits.
      It’s that facade thing again…
      But in a quiet moment, without anyone looking over your shoulder…knowing what you’re up to…you soooooo would look.

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      • It’s interesting to me to revisit this now. It’s become much clearer to me now — in the wake of the SB and Spooks 9 publicity, which caused me to watch both those works illegally although I had planned not to — that I’d have a difficult time not looking at a sex tape myself. And that in turn would make it harder for me not to write about. It is really hard to know what you’ll do in a hypothetical situation.

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        • I like to think of myself as ethical. I imagine in a given situation, that I could rely on my stout Catholic upbringing and a sense of decency imparted by my parents, to steer me on the right path. But as you say, in a hypothetical situation, the playing field is level and unchanging. You can predict what you imagine you will do from past experience but ultimately the reality of the situation is very different. How many times have you passed a car wreck on the motorway, felt a harrowing pain at the thought of someone being hurt and yet turned, when passing, to view the carnage? Curiosity is an overwhelming force at times. I know in my soul that watching someone’s private moments is morally wrong, that I shouldn’t be there, that I don’t have their consent. However it doesn’t stop me from wanting to see it. I believe more than anything in honesty and I know honestly, that if an RA sex tape surfaced, I would watch.

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          • Carol, Your post is a great help to me. I’ve been sitting on a particular post for at least two months. I was hesitant to post it because, well, it’s not that fun, but now, I think I’ll do it, and no, I’m not being snarky. I’m very sincere.

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            • Snarky or not, I believe in my heart that you are entitled to your opinion. I was disappointed to hear that Servetus had received vindictive emails with regards to her thoughts and I am glad that you have been pushed off the fence *so to speak*

              I look forward to reading it
              Sincerely
              Carol

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              • I look forward to reading it, too ๐Ÿ™‚ as I get a lot of my best writing mileage out of commenting on RAFrenzy’s posts.

                I’ve been surprised how many messages I get off blog — so I suppose it’s not surprising that some are negative. I think people now realize I have a flock of defenders and they don’t want fans of Servetus jumping on them. Some of those opinions are rational and well articulated and I learn a lot from reading of them. Sadly, some are just mean.

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              • Thank you, Carol, and you too, Servetus. I wasn’t kidding when I said the post is not fun. Even I hate it, but somehow I can’t move on until I post it. Plus, my damned honesty demands that I post it eventually.

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                • Frenz: one reason I feel akin to you as a blogger is my feeling (projection?) that we both began the blogging journey out of the need to write honestly about things Armitage even when they were not comfortable, or they potentially cast a poor light on us. I’ve so appreciated your support in that regard. Pactum serva.

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      • Oh, the angst. LOL!

        Since I wasn’t referring to an intimate moment but rather posting in the public domain, my statement still stands. Do unto others comes to mind. Well, that and so far I haven’t posted or exposed (in any way) someone’s intimate moments whether they’re friends or otherwise. The thought of that is icky. Now if it were not in the public domain, I’m not sure what I would do. Bark off the tree: I might look, and I might not. But one thing I do know, someone who is faceless (even if not completely nameless) cannot be sure what I would do. However, if it pleases you to speculate, go ahead and have a good time. ๐Ÿ˜€

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        • You said ‘had it been an intimate moment it would have been off limits’ I do enjoy speculating. I draw on my experiences as a female and knowing a fair few of them..I’ll still gamble my life’s earnings that you would look. Though of course you will publicly deny *grins*

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          • Yes, for posting. That was the subject. ๐Ÿ˜€ I never said I would not look. I’m not sure what I would do. ๐Ÿ˜€

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            • This is fun. At the beginning of the whole post I think the majority felt it beneath them to admit such obsession with an actor to delve into his personal life…sex tape or such like. But my point is that the knee-jerk reaction in saying how abhorent the mere thought was isn’t so bad if A.N.Other does it.

              I’m going to speculate wildly here on the information I have to hand….your moniker includes the initials RA. Does it reveal your belief that you are in some way more connected to him than most? *shrugs* The word frenzy *scratches head* An odd word associated with loss of logical thought…

              Yup, I’m gonna go for, yes you would look and have a bucket of popcorn in your hand as you did so =0)

              Sorry I’m being flippant. Fandom and the members therin intruigue me.

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  11. Regarding Spooks 8.5 and 8.5 and BTS, I’ve already made it plain I’m struggling with objectification. I’ll have to come to grips with it before I ever talk about those shows.

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  12. What wasn’t around in 1991 was the World Wide Web, but make no mistake that plenty of stuff was flying around even in 1985. But again, the thing that keeps this video from being forbidden is its intent. At the end of the day, it’s a performance and one which RA subjected himself to. Now he may not have thought it would ever been seen, but you know, I think Richard Armitage is a pretty sharp guy, so I doubt he actually thought that. C’mon, he was already in show business then. He’s not that stupid to think something like this could never be seen by the general public. So I think some being quick to take up offense on his behalf might be premature. That’s no aspersion on those who’ve done that. I appreciate that they respect him utterly and don’t even want to get close to anything disrespectful. This isn’t disrepsectul at all. Again, that’s my opinion. Plus, a nicer person than Nat could not have put this up on her blog.

    As for the guy who put it on his YouTube account, I’m not sure exactly what I think. If it were the only video like it, then I might think he was trying to ride some coattails. But I’m not so sure. So much of that stuff on his channel just looks like reminiscing about performances. Hey, there’s that ‘p’ word again. LOL!

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  13. Oh, I should have made it plain again that we’re not even sure it’s him. I don’t want to forget that in this discussion, and bloggers who have put this up seem to have made it plain that they DO NOT know it’s him. If they had put it up and led people astray about that, then I would have a big time problem. They haven’t. If someone has done that, I haven’t seen it.

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  14. One more post! My anal-retentive side demands it. The WWW was around in 1991 but was just getting started.

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    • Yes. I think that the “just getting started” is important, though. Whenever a technology emerges there’s an initial stage when only the elite are using it; then it becomes widely available to broader social segments and a lot of people use it without being aware of the implications; then it becomes even more widespread and people become alert to the things they need to beware of in using it.

      There’s a big scandal going on right now in my profession around the historian Orlando Figes, who has been found writing scathing amazon reviews of his colleagues’ works and highly laudatory ones of his own via a sock puppet. Apart from the hugely distasteful aspects of such behavior on the part of someone whose profession is supposed to involve discerning the truth, it strikes me that he really was convinced he could be anonymous as an amazon reviewer, which in this day and age is laughable. I’d agree that in 1991 the average person who was not hooked in to technology didn’t think about something like youtube. At the same time, however, and here I am in agreement, this is a performance (!) and even in 1991 people were alert to the scandal potential of videotape. “Sex, Lies and Videotape” came out in 1989, which suggests that videotape scandals were occurring much earlier (don’t feel like researching this but I am sure there were some). Presumably as an ambitious young man with hopes for a career he wouldn’t have let himself be videotaped doing something in questionable taste.

      So I also agree that it’s not inherently disrespectful to comment respectfully on this videotape. It’s hard to know what to think about the poster without more information. There are several “summer fun” posts with different dancers in them on that channel, for example.

      And yes, the dancer in the video may not be him. This made me hesitant about the last two paragraphs of my original post. The evidentiary basis for all of this is fairly weak. I still stand by the idea that he’s been growing into his body, and that you can see this even in works definitely attributable to him, but I may be going out on a limb here.

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      • I think it’s him. If it is him, then we have a very big clue as to why he didn’t turn out to be the womanizing attention addict so many of his peers are. He was a cute boy, but social standing in school is far more about dominance than cuteness. The young man in the video does not project dominance, but instead a sort of goofy joie de vivre. The girl in the video is the star, and he seems happy to let her be.

        I’m quite sure that the growth spurt he had as a young teen set the progression of his budding confidence back a number of years. Height is desirable in a man, but only when it is commanding. Sudden increase in height means the boy is being commanded by his own body, not vice versa. Those middle school years when you are putting a toe in the water with the opposite sex – an important part of your self image is put in cement then. I would guess that he was gawky looking, all arms and legs, and that his nose seemed much larger in his thin, changing face. And that despite having grown into that years ago, that’s the image at least part of his mind expects to see when he looks in the mirror. I know that’s the way it is for me. I was not a social outcast, but plenty of girls outranked me in school with the boys (and girls) and I never got to the point where I felt that male attention was owed me, even when I grew out of that awkward phase where my nose didn’t fit and my body felt weird, and I had to figure out how to dress right. Feeling that way myself I know it would have seemed strange to have suddenly gotten tons of attention from men seemingly out of the blue at age 33 (I was also born in 1971).

        There are actors who act because they crave the spotlight and actors who act because it’s a creative release and enjoyable besides, and actors who want both of these. I suspect the glare of the spotlight on him makes RA more self conscious about his creativity and probably dims the fun. But I could be wildly extrapolating here. I would not be surprised if his teenage school years were a lengthy lesson in humility and that is why he conveys humiliation so well on screen and hasn’t yet turned into, say, Jude Law (who was probably hot stuff from day one and never had to grow into his looks).

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        • Thanks for this and welcome. I’ve been meaning to comment on one of your blog posts about RH for a few days now. More soon.

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      • Thanks, servetus for the welcome. I had no idea you had been to my blog before. Looking forward to your thoughts on my thoughts on RH. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  15. Just to clarify.. I did specify that the internet was not around in the *public* realm in 1991, I was not suggesting there was no internet before then! I had my first email account and website in 1995 – things were so different back then!

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  16. @skully,

    There’s no question that media and its use and implied use are in an upheaval. In a few years, copyright is probably going to look nothing like we know it today not to mention how our privacy is being tested. In the meantime, it’s wise to protect yourself. I don’t blame you about having your picture taken.

    But as I weighed whether or not to post the video, it was the very strong emphasis on performance that made it acceptable. If it had been anything else, I’m having a hard time imagining I would have posted.

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    • I don’t mean to imply that I think the video should not have been posted or re-posted, because after all, it is just a bit of harmless fun! So I am certainly not being critical of anyone who does. But I think there is a gray area. I’m very interested in the issue of consent in relation to posting images/film on the internet, so the emergence of the vid resonates with things I’ve been thinking about for a while.

      Ethics, essentially, is about harm. RA is not harmed by this video, except perhaps by his own embarrassment! But even this, within a strict application of ethics, may still qualify as harm. Herein lies the gray area I speak of.

      I wonder, in this instance, if there a such a clear distinction between performance and a private moment? Perhaps it is a private performance? (Sorry, I can’t help but play devils advocate!)

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      • This line interests me because I bar my students from reproducing what happens in class, specifically my performance, on audio or video. I give them a license to produce notes as a derivative work, but that’s all. I tell them this is because eventually I will publish a book on the topic of the lectures and I need to preserve my copyright. However, my reasl concern is basically the issue of taking things I say out of context — I am on occasion slightly out there in class and don’t want to be the next viral video of the crazy professor. My own feeling is that the classroom is a performance that I put on only for them, or that we put on only for each other. Disseminating video of it destroys the intimacy of understanding that makes it possible. (One could also put sex in this category, I think.) However, presumably Mr. Armitage knew that he was being filmed in this instance.

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        • ‘This line interests me because I bar my students from reproducing what happens in class, specifically my performance, on audio or video.’

          You are well within your rights, in the UK, and I would have to delve into some serious legalities for other countries, to prevent reproduction of your performance on private property…including educational institutes. But a word to the very wise, don’t speak in a public place and expect the same immunity =0/

          I love your blog btw and sincerest apologies for not making that known earlier. It is an absolute breath of fresh air to have someone such as yourself speak so eloquently on matters of fandom. Your thoughts are provoking, fascinating, indeed a celebration to all that is democratic in this world. Bravo Servetus, Bravo!

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          • Our university lawyer has advised us that we can say this in our syllabus, but that it may not be legally enforceable. Everything is in such flux now.

            There’s a great song by the Pierces about secrets, with the refrain, “Two can keep a secret when one of them is dead.” I think it’s really true — there’s a sense in which sex is already something that it’s hard to keep private because you can neer completely control the other person. And as for public statements, certainly. One can’t really control their dissemination.

            Thanks for your kind words, Carol. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  17. Fascinating stuff about the historian, Servetus! I must ask the history post-grads I know if they have heard of this. I actually refer to Amazon reviews of books associated with the subject of my PhD my area in my dissertation. Some advocacy groups have targeted books that propose theories or refer to works they do not like – even books that are fair and balanced in their approach. Some think there is now a “culture of fear” associated with this subject and some scholars are now hesitant to publish for fear of the backlash. Bloody internet!

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  18. It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again. What’s been marvellous about becoming an RA-admirer is being privy to all the interesting discussions on the blogs dedicated to him and learning so much from his intelligent and witty devotees.

    And of course being allowed to drool muchly on occasion!

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  19. Skully, yeah — people are definitely not following the Michael Jackson school of publicity on amazon (“any publicity is good publicity”)

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  20. @Grerp, excellent assessment and wild extrapolations are the order of the day here and elsewhere. ๐Ÿ˜€

    I so want to talk about this, and I will return. But real life is calling. Oh, and welcome!

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  21. So I’m back.

    @grerp,

    In my kinda, sorta day job, I sit in a comfortable room listening to people talk about their problems. This affords me plenty of time to psychoanalyze the dog out of them, and it should be that I don’t want to do that with anyone else when I leave the room. But that’s not the case. RAFrenzy, my alter-ego, has chosen not to go there, but the real me has already been there and come back several times with regard to RA. I agree with your assessment, and of course we could both be wrong, but I don’t think so. LOL! I have a lot of other “stuff” I think about RA and his psyche, but I wonder if I should keep to the schtick I’ve chosen.

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    • It is really hard to know where to draw the line, RAFrenzy. Since he is both a very good actor and quite tight-lipped about his personal life, it could be that everything I’ve ever speculated about him personally is a load of bunk. I mean, if I were him and able to control my reactions and didn’t enjoy a spotlight on my personal life, I would make up an alternate RA and be him in all interviews and appearances. He would certainly be capable of it, and I doubt anyone would be the wiser. But the early interviews seem to have caught him a bit unawares and his ill at ease demeanor feels real.

      I would say he has this in common with Robert Pattinson who is nowhere in his league acting wise – having sort of lucked into instead of worked into his success – but is nonetheless quite inadvertently entertaining in his appearances early on in the Twilight frenzy. More entertaining than he is on screen, actually: funny, self-deprecating, self-protective in his posture, physically clumsy and very puzzled (and more than a bit freaked out) by his sudden success with women after an adolescence in which he was ignored by them. Both of them transmit a vibe that is gentle, observant, wry, modest, and unthreatening and they seem to attract an older, more bookish female fanbase. I would speculate that Gen X is cynical about celebrities in general; we grew up after the media began ravaging stars’ personal lives like wolves and exposing the rotting innards that so many powerful people have due to being constantly fawned over, praised, and sucked up to. It is now a romantic fantasy in an of itself that someone beautiful, talented and sought after could possibly – only possibly – not be a complete egomaniacal dickhead in real life.

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  22. I think you’ve hit on the thing that really makes me wonder about RA. He really does seem genuine and really doesn’t seem like he could be a dickhead. I like to think I have a good bs detector, and my bs detector barely registers anything with him. Oh, it’s registered some things when he’s being facetious or mildly tongue-in-cheek. But for the most part, he seems so sincere, that I’m wondering if I’m not being played big time.

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  23. […] you are not subscribed to that discussion you might want to look at some recent comments on “The dorktastic past” by RAFrenzy and grerp that get to the question raised by RAFrenzy on the extent of the […]

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  24. […] offer will be accepted, and is perhaps embarrassed for having so quickly betrayed his eagerness. Grerp notes how well Armitage plays humiliation, and if you watch this entire scene very slowly, you see it lurking in the background of his […]

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  25. […] but I assume this is the video. He’d have been 22, so this is two years (approximately) after the dorktastic video, assuming that’s him, as […]

    Like

  26. […] 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 […]

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  27. This thread may be dead, but I just saw this video, finally. It popped up on something else I was reading. It looks like him, but does it match with his reported growth spurt to 6’2″ when he was 14? I guess the kids look middle school age (11-14). So..that would make him maybe 12 or 13 in the video…? Does that match with the music? It’s a cute video, the kind of thing most kids do at that age. It was probably the girl’s idea, since she’s the star, and his peers probably thought it was fabulous. He clearly loves dancing and is a good dancer, whoever he is.

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  28. If you’re looking at the original, the aspect ratio is so skewed that he looks much shorter than he is. The corrected video shows him with the right stature, and looks so much more like him.

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  29. OK, I saw the adjusted screencaps (thanks rafrenzy!), but I’m still a bit confused. People have mentioned 1991 –is that date on the video somewhere? I think the song came out summer of 1988 when Richard Armitage was 16, almost 17. The background looks like summer and the clothes look reasonable for 1988. But the kids look just a bit younger than that to me. If it was made in 1991, on the other hand, that would make him almost 20, right? I have a hard time believing the kid in the video is 20. But I agree about the hands and face. The hair color is wrong, as someone said. I assume the reddish brown of “Between the Sheets” is his natural color?? And the kid in the video doesn’t look 6’2 to me, even with the adjusted ratio, although maybe the baggy jeans are distorting his proportions. As rafrenzy said on her blog, it’s a bit like analyzing the JFK assassination film…and I’m a year behind the rest of you.

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  30. Haha, I โค Armitage. He seems like a nice guy (albeit, a little dorky, which is my opinion after seeing some of his interviews.) But so what? He can turn it off for his roles. He's an actor, after all. He's not god's gift to the world with a cherry on top. Hot people aren't immediately smooth because they're uber attractive. What pressure.

    That video isn't worth having taken down. It would be kind of ridiculous that he'd have to defend something that innocent, especially since he made it years ago. If he did at all. Armitage FTW.

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  31. […] to his artistic talent and physical control, that’s not quite what I mean, either. Not the impromptu dancing with friends from his late adolescence, either. (And: For those who think I’m dreaming of seeing him doing a strip tease, get your […]

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  32. […] in 48 fps, reading experiences, audience enjoyment, Tolkien’s view of his life history, nostalgia, ongoing self-fashioning and telling the story of one’s development and how one sees it: this […]

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  33. […] photo joins a sequence of data for me, beginning with the 1990-91 photo, with the dorktastic dance video, to which my reaction was also immediate and highly emotional, and the apparent glimpses of him in […]

    Like

  34. […] who leaked a candid photo or video of him from twenty years ago (who also, in my opinion, does that as a piece of an identity construction — “I am someone who remembers a past shared, however briefly, with Richard […]

    Like

  35. […] service man wore combat boots; the farmer wore work boots. If a dancing man makes me hot, a man in combat boots or work boots makes me trust that he will do what he says he will do and not […]

    Like

  36. […] work experiences. One of his friends from the dance era had posted a dance video from 1991 in 2010 and then made it private until 2014; and it was interesting that the fall that Armitage joined […]

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  37. […] for me anyway, watching this doesn’t make me feel implicated in a betrayal (compare my mixed reaction to the dorktastic dance video, years ago). That reaction has something to do with the relatively everyday, non-embarrassing content of this […]

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  38. […] doesn’t imply he’s also out of touch or regularly behaves ridiculously. That was fine when he was still almost a teenager; it doesn’t suit my needs as an adult. I prefer to think of him as playful, geeky, a joyful […]

    Like

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