What should Mr. Armitage say about his fans?

As someone very new to this fandom, but with certain concerns about fan behavior and attitudes, I can imagine that this quote from the Mirror Online may set a cat among some pigeons:

Your fans call themselves Armitage’s Army. What are they like?
RA:
Over the years they’ve sent me presents and turned up at film sets, but lately I’ve kind of left them alone. I got a bit too involved and there’s an expectation from them that goes along with that.

I’d been thinking for some time that it was time to help Mr. Armitage out with some things to say when he keeps getting asked the same stupid questions about his fans, but I thought he was doing a lot better in the Strike Back publicity crunch, with his often tongue-in-cheek answers that indicated positivity but refusal to descend to the level of the interviewer. (A clue: that is what I think is the right ethos for answering that question — when asked if he likes being a sex symbol, or what he thinks of his fans, the same attitude should inform his answer as usually does for questions about his family — positive, but deflect the question.) I thought his answer to the question in the interview in the Sunday Express was exactly right (h/t Richard Armitage Net), and so I decided to shelve this particular topic. But the Mirror interview above made me thoughtful and consider that we could just tell him what we’d like to hear him say about us.

(Of course, in the same interview, he says he’s stopped reading the internet news about himself, which is a very wise decision, and I hope he can sustain it! So of course he won’t see any of our answers or suggestions.)

My answer (if I were him) would be something along the lines of: “my fans are great and I’ve always appreciated the work they’ve done from very early days in supporting my career. Of course, I don’t see what it is they’re so excited about. I’m just a normal bloke. What I really want to know is: What do you think of YOUR fans?” I.e., I think he should combine an honest statement of appreciation for his fans, some self-deprecation, and hunor / sarcasm / deflection.

If you were Mr. Armitage how would you answer this question?

~ by Servetus on May 30, 2010.

47 Responses to “What should Mr. Armitage say about his fans?”

  1. All I know at this point is I’m tired of reading about us. Very boring, and I hope he does take your idea for a come back. Maybe the interviewers will get the hint.

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  2. I have written about this or better expressed my disappointment at seeing Richard forced to answer for the thousandth time the same fastidious questions about his fans and I blamed the interviewers. But, anyway, seeing Richard losing a good chance to gratify his supporters … disappointed me more. It is so clear this is the part of his job he likes the least, a nuisance, a bore, a bother ?But why should he think differently? If this is what he really thinks, amen, I’ve always respected other people’s opinions. But why , instead, should he be wiser and not give that away? Because, unfortunately, it is a basic part of his job, just like correcting and assessing or parents’ meetings ( what bothers, nuisances , bore!!!) are the worst part of ours. But they are basic tasks in our professions. One must learn to cope with them . So, you see, I’m still a bit angry at remembering those answers but ready to forgiveness. I’m good at forgiveness though it is not my job but Geraldine Granger’s! I totally agree with you, he must learn to cope with those silly questions, smile and …accept the fact of being an interest for many a woman. There are worse things for an actor, I think. Being ignored and forgotten? What is strange in all this is that I perfectly understand what makes him so defensive, as if I were inside his mind. And I even manage to sympathize with his anger , I can feel it and share it…only that I’m on the wrong side… I’m one of those who may provoke that mood in him. So true that I always say -joking with one of my friends who is a huge RA fan- that if I met him by chance anywhere, I would pretend not to know him or recognize him and, above all, NEVER, for any reason, reveal I am one of his fans. She usually answers: “You wouldn’t succeed, you are not an actress. It’d be impossible. He would realize”
    In conlusion, I just totally and utterly agree with you.

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    • I want to respond to this at greater length later, but I will say that one of my two fantasies about potentially meeting Mr. Armitage involves me being seated next to him on an airplane from a major hub in the U.S. to Heathrow, and me deciding not to speak to him in order to spare him the embarrassment of having to sit next to me for eight or nine hours. So it is kind of an anti-fantasy.

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  3. I’m a newbie, too, but I’m not sure I’m offended by his answer. One of the reasons I like Richard is not only his self-deprecating humour, intelligence and perceived kindness in real life, but also his willingness to be honest in what can be a rather dishonest branch. In the early days he sometimes revealed thoughts and feelings that people have thought unwise on the one hand, whilst on the other they feel that he should reveal even more of his private life.

    I don’t read any disrespect of his fans here, rather a description of his early behaviour which he can no longer sustain as he has perhaps discovered to his cost that he’ll never be able to please all those who consider themselves his admirers all of the time. He’s become incredibly busy with the years and has to prioritise in a different way than when he first became known after North and South.

    I don’t think that this means that he doesn’t appreciate his admirers. Perhaps a glib statement on this subject would do the trick, but I think I would start to feel that he was turning in a polished PR-vehicle and not this natural Leicestershire lad who still breaks out into genuine laughter in interviews!

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    • That’s his dilemma, though: if is honest, he runs big risks; if he is dishonest, he dulls his attractiveness …

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  4. I don’t see anything offensive in this, certainly it is less so than “..and there’s another pair of pants hitting the window.” This is, as MillyMe said, just a flat description of the situation. I don’t blame him at all for disengaging. The only thing he owes his fans are great performances, anything past that was a bene. The fact that he has been so connected with his fans in the past has been a fortunate gift, but it is burden he is not obligated to bear and given his schedule not surprising he would move one from it. Were I in his shoes, the answer I would give is, “They’re a wonderful bunch and I appreciate their support, but I have answered this question a hundred times already. Why don’t we move onto discussing something new, like what I am working on right now?” It slyly points out the journalist’s lack of originality while being nice about his fans and moving the interview forward to topics that are actually of interest not only to his fans, but to the casual reader. I have seen raw footage of a Harrison Ford interview in which is physically waves on personal quesitons with, “Too personal, next question.” Just completely shutting that line fo questioning down. Armitage does not have to be that blunt, but he can put his foot down. It is his interview after all.

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    • Welcome, KiplingKat. I agree, he doesn’t have to answer anything he doesn’t want to. I wonder if there isn’t a cultural dynamic at work here, though — an American celebrity like Ford might feel totally comfortable saying that, but a British one might not?

      The professor who has the office next to mine is ex-Cambridge (he’s in that group of distinguished people who immigrate to the US for a last decade of work when the British pension scheme forces them to retire), and he says the thing he always enjoys most about returning to England is that suddenly everyone is prefacing their questions with “I’m sorry” again. According to him, the British are much more polite.

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      • There could be different culture/customs/expectations in the respective PR/media worlds.

        Australian’s probably do that a little too (“I’m sorry”). But not to the extent of the Brits. I think the difference is that the British are less endowed with that sense of entitlement and/or confidence that many US folk seem to have. So they don’t feel the need to apologise for speaking!

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  5. This is a lovely interview! Don’t you think so?
    http://www.mirror.co.uk/celebs/celebs-on-sunday/2010/05/30/richard-armitage-i-was-a-beanpole-with-a-nose-i-hadn-t-grown-into-115875-22287795/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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  6. I don’t think anyone should be offended by RA’s comment, but appreciate that the reality of being on the receiving end of fandom is more odd than you could imagine, it is a very tricky thing to negotiate. If you offer too much, some will take advantage of that and it becomes unsustainable. In some sense it is better to withdraw because the expectations that accompany being ‘involved’ can cause problems. The fact is that some fans are not content with being fans, they want more… this might be want RA is referring to in terms of expectations.

    In regards to fan letters…years ago I met a guy who by some twist of fate ended up with a massive amount of unread fan mail to the band Nirvana. No one had the heart to destroy them, but no one wanted them either.

    I would like RA to just come out and devastate the delusional minority of the fan base and say: “I am lucky to have such supportive fans, but I would never date one!” Kill the dream, I say!

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  7. It has been interesting (as a fan for a whole six months”!), to see, from interviews, a growth in ease and a little sophistication in handling all questions.

    Deflection and humour are invaluable here. However much we analyse Mr. A’s interviews, there is a very specific British humour, which need not be taken at face value, but in some instances, a “deflection” technique, and/or a sense of the absurd.

    RA owes a bit of success to the fan explosion. A BIT. He does not owe his talent and acting development to his fans. From the more recent interviews, I feel he’s handling the “fan” issue pretty well.

    (Which doesn’t stop us having fun being fans! Using cyberspace venues to communicate, play with visual art techniques, discuss reading material (Jill’s Gymkhana to Crime and Punishment!) It’s fun! (It’s the superficial interviewers at fault here, IMO)

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    • Agree that the interviewers are doing a poor job. They should have jumped on what he said about getting lost in the character of John Porter and asked six followup questions about that. It would have been a more interesting interview, and he’d be able to talk about something of potentially greater interest to himself AND his fans.

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  8. I like the standard answer for the fan question, Servitus. This media attention has been going on for years however and I think the fanbase has only itself to blame for some of it. I’ve been around for a few years now and observed some happenings that might evoke in RA this desire to separate himself entirely.

    As Scully above states, I don’t believe any offence should be taken but my concern is that the “delusional minority” of fans don’t seem to take the hint or learn any lessons from what is said. I actually was a bit alarmed at how much of his personal situation he revealed in the Mirror interview – particularly that he is not in a relationship. How ill advised is that!!? Maybe he should say “I’m lucky to have such supportive fans and they are part of my working life, but I prefer to keep my personal life completely separate” or words to that effect 🙂

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    • I agree that saying he wasn’t in a relationship was foolhardy on his part given his other statements that he doesn’t like to have a spotlight shined on his life or be put on a pedestal. Or maybe he was trying to get the spotlight off of Annabel Capper after her appearances with him in the fall and winter.

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      • Er, I meant my reply below to refer to this post – sorry!

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        • Got it and well-put. That other speculation is one that I won’t be discussing on this blog, but I absolutely agree with your analysis. “Reset” is a good description.

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  9. I don’t think there’ll ever be a correct answer, even the most ‘politically correct’ answer could be seen as such and disappoint those used to the previous “techniques”, for example I’ve read his answers over the years and while I’ve never read any response to take offense from, others fans have. So when I see that question and read the answer he has given this time (you have to give him credit, he doesn’t answer it the same way everytime) I don’t take it that seriously, if *I am* bored with the question he must be too! I can’t blame him if some sound better than others.

    If I had to give a suggestion, I’d tell him to say something like ‘They’re very supportive of my work and I appreciate that’ and stick to that answer. If he repeats the same sentence as an answer all the time, the interviewers might get the hint.

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    • Absolutely agree. If he shows clearly that they are never going to get any more information, they will shut up. Another possibility: “my fans know how much I appreciate their support, and that isn’t going to change.” Cryptic but definitive.

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      • That might be why he said it, if that speculation troubled him, or troubles her. There is another speculation about his love life I have also read. This statement and the one about not dating other actors effectively kills those speculations and performs a ‘reset’.

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  10. I don’t take offense to anything he has said and I welcome hearing or reading absolutely anything he wishes to share with us. I do think he might need some advice on handling interviewers but I like the fact that he is so fresh and off-the-cuff!
    I am sorry if he feels burdened by the whole fan thing, but I agree with Maria Grazia that it really does come with the job — especially with the success!

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    • I think he knows that. I suspect he has been somewhat blindsided by his success and is still figuring out how to balance his public and private personae.

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  11. I’m not offended at all either. I would HATE to be in his shoes. Yes, it goes with the territory, but I’m curious about the teachers who have to deal with parents. Have you ever learned to like that? I rest my case. LOL!

    The only thing RA does owe his fans, and I’m think primarily of a few fan sites is thanks for serving as a PR machine for free. At least I think it’s for free. Good on those people who spend their time and yes their money to keep us up on what he’s doing. Thank you, thank you, thank you, ladies for doing that. I would not know Jack about Richard Armitage if you hadn’t, and yes, there are more sane fans who wouldn’t know Jack about him either if not for you. If not for you, there probably would be no videos on YouTube. So thanks again. Don’t know if those ladies even read any of these blogs, but I had to get that off my chest.

    Now back to RA. I think he’s a smart boy. I mean how could I obsess over a clod? No, it’s not happening. He’s a smart boy, and he’s going to figure this stuff out. I have all confidence in him. 😀

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    • I’ll say that dealing with my students’ parents is a very odd thing, and no, about 90% of the time I absolutely hate it. That has partially to do with the increasing proliferation of the helicopter parent in the U.S. and the unpleasant consequences of that (NB all parents: Federal law prohibits me from discussing your child’s grades with you without the child’s written consent!), but even parents who are kind, friendly, thankful, etc., are a bit awkward to deal with. The exception is when there’s a student with whom I really do have a personal relationship — have had in classes, or worked with over years in a student organization, or have advised research for, or have helped through a personal crisis — and the parental contact comes at graduation. Then I often feel like I already have some kind of connection with the parent, and though I will stay in touch with the student perhaps, the contact with the parent is a brief encounter. Though it’s still awkward when they want to take me out for dinner and pay. Of course, until recently my students’ parents have all been older than me. I am just now getting to the age where my students are the same age as my own non-existent children could reasonably have been, so I am not discounting the possibility that this will change in future.

      The point about the people who supported his career by creating these historicist sites that catalogue every possible piece of information from him is right on. They have really done him a favor, I think.

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  12. […] was reading Servetus blog about what he should say about his fans, and it came to me like a lightning bolt. I would say epiphany, but hey, I’m only using that […]

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  13. I would say that I respect and appreciate the support my fans give, without fans I would not be where I am today. (Fans buy his work, an actor without fans and without sales does not go very far)

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  14. @Skully, Americans say “excuse me” a whole lot. So it’s partially a question of understanding idiom, I suppose.

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  15. […] was reading Servetus’ blog about what he should say about his fans, and it came to me like a lightning bolt. I would say epiphany, but hey, I’m only using that […]

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  16. Trying to look at this objectively. Is the reason that Mr A gets asked about his fans repeatedly, because he has previously commented on them, which is because he has been previously asked about them (repeatedly)? If this is the case then we can probably trace the origin back to one of the articles in the immediate wake of the first N&S screening in the UK. Or is the reason because there is something special or different or remarkable about Mr A’s fans. (ie us). Something that is different to the usual kind of fan adoration. Whilst I would love it to be the latter (who doesn’t want to be special) I rather suspect it is just the former. Not being a member of any other fandom makes it hard for me to tell for sure but common sense says surely there is a similar level of fan fevour and loyalty in other fandoms whether they be about an actor, singer, tv show, sport, whatever.. Even if you just consider other actors, then can it be truthfully said there is something different about RA’s fans.

    Or perhaps it’s just the name – Armitage Army….quite memorable I suppose.

    Just a question to put out there. I ask I suppose because I think that what Richard should say about his fans depends on the answer to it.

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  17. @The Gruffalo: Good question, of course, we like to think we’re “special”. I really don’t know the answer.

    My personal interest dates to catching RH one evening (must have been a really dim night on TV, or I’d just finished reading the last murder mystery in the bag). That was strictly a physical reaction – the screen presence, the nose, the VOICE!

    Surfing the Net for some information, came across the Vulpis Libris interview. And concurrently, realising that this was the actor a friend had been eulogising for N&S. The rest is history…

    A constant stock response to the fandom thing is definitely due. And the suggestions on this site are all excellent. Just opt for the bland response, Mr. A!

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  18. @The Gruffalo,

    I’ve wondered those same things and like you I have no reference point since this is my only fandom.

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  19. I’ve wondered if there wouldn’t be a slightly more sophisticated way for interviewers to put the question that would place the burden of the answer on the problem of whether he thinks his fans are unique — as opposed to what he thinks about them and whether/what he knows about them. Something related to technology. Say, “we’ve been doing some research that suggests that your fans are one first groups of single-celebrity fans whose activities were facilitated by the tech boom. Is that your perception, too, and what do you think it says about the nature of your work?” Of course, he might not be able to answer that question. But I’ve found myself wondering whether if it’s true that his fans track female and well-educated, that means they also track tech-savvy.

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  20. About a year ago in C19, I was wondering the very same thing. I’m fascinated with this, but I think it’s too much to process. He’s got so much to process anyway, that I’m not sure this would really be something he’d want to think about. But again, I find it utterly fascinating.

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  21. I agree=don’t give him any more work! The man works enough. But if the question were asked that way, he could agree that he thought they were tech-savvy, which would maybe bug him less.

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  22. I’m not tech-savvy. :(((

    Oh dear.

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  23. I have been in another fandom, I think we were as dedicated -or pretty close- as this fandom. If I remember correctly the actor was asked once about fans or maybe twice but we never were a topic on interviews. (And just so you know we were/are pretty normal fans, not the throwing-underwear type :P)
    So I don’t think it has to do with the followers per se or how dedicated they are. I know music groups, singers or other big name actors have large groups of fans and IMO they don’t are asked in 8 out of 10 interviews about them, and some of those fans (especially if your talking music) might be very …extrovert in showing their admiration.

    I remember back when I had just discovered RA, I read and saw a few interviews, by the 4th I knew who the AA was and by the 7th I unconsciously got used/expected to find ‘the’ question in the interviews I found. What I’m trying to say is that I suspect the fact that we have *a name* has played a big role in this. In early interviews the questions were something like: ‘You have a large group of fans, is it true they call themselves the AA?’ or ‘You have very dedicated fans, the AA right?’ and in the last years is more like ‘The AA, how you feel about them? or ‘RA has an army of fans…’.

    Maybe the fact that a man came up with the name, means something to the male interviewer (just by memory, I think the straight question about it, instead of just mention it, comes from men? Am I mistaken?) that makes him envious/amused/curious about his fans (us), I ‘m sure some of those journalist had interviews with other celebs as liked as RA, they can’t be *that* surprised to ask *over and over* again…

    Sorry for ‘the essay’

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    • I like the “essay.” Keep it coming. I like the confirmation about the fans question being unique to Mr. Armitage, that is very interesting.

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  24. Women interviewers have referenced the AA as well, so I don’t think it’s just a man’s thing.

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  25. […] we know that Mr. Armitage is filming spooks in London, so chance of any fulfillment of my Armitage anti-fantasy even though I am going through the right […]

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  26. […] trip ended up being ORD –> PHL –> FRA, so the anti-fantasy could not become operative. This was also too bad because TXL is one of my favorite airports in the […]

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  27. […] us is so improbable; no chance, for example, that I’d run into him on the tube. One is an anti-fantasy in which I meet him on an airplane and decide not to speak to him. The second is more detailed, but even less probable and really rather boring. Perhaps […]

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  28. […] constant questions about his fans in interviews (and our responses to his answers — did anyone like being called motherly or protective? Thankfully he stopped saying that by […]

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  29. […] sent my fantasies into overdrive. Brown-haired boy-next-door in spades. There’s also my old airport / airplane anti-fantasy (which I went into detail about in the comments on someone else’s blog — remind me […]

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  30. Oh no, sorry to hear that he’s no longer w/ his gf (Annabel Capper), the theater actress. It’s tough out there in dating world for actors, or any ppl who have to travel often for jobs. Laura Linney didn’t marry young, and she mentioned that she was worried she’s EVER find anybody.

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    • I think we have to emphasize that we don’t know who he’s with. He’s never said. That they were together romantically at some point was an inference drawn by fans. They may never have been; or they may still be. We just don’t know.

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