Stalking Armitage? (and weekly obsession update)

Halberstadt Cathedral, or: why my whole face is peeling

Wow, I wander around central Germany with a grad student and look what happens in the comments! 🙂 I come back sunburned AND edified, that’s what. As a few of those commentators wrote, the level of discourse in the comments is a really energizing thing about this blog. I always look forward to reading what you all have written. Your ideas cast light on my own musings and trigger new thoughts. You are a literate, thoughtful crowd, O readers.

And as usual, you were very helpful in your remarks on the previous post. I started responding individually and then thought I might as well make this a separate post since the main thing I took away from trying to reply was that some aspects of my theatrical fantasy were not entirely clear, even to me. What was bugging me enough to make it worth writing about? Your remarks helped me clarify this quite a bit, although I was surprised by the results. The other main theme in the discussion seemed to be the question of when fascination / obsession turns into stalking. I’m somewhat less clear on this point, but I’ve also discussed it below. I continue to maintain that I am not stalking Richard Armitage, but perhaps I’m wrong.

A brief detour: my musings on this topic are being substituted for the weekly obsession update. I won’t be writing one this week, because I had little free time and very little opportunity to consume Mr. Armitage’s work. The mentoring, while not ridiculously time consuming, ate up most of the space that I usually spend Armitaging, and fleeing the rather severe heat without aid of air conditioning except in the rare books reading room ate up the rest. So I was very fragmented — we’re talking snippets on youtube while the morning thought-gathering was happening. The LOTN package is here and sadly unopened. I guess that at least I can claim that I am not yet neglecting real world tasks in order to stare at pictures of Mr. Armitage on the computer screen. I am linking throughout to various past statements of my own and to comments that I am responding to from the previous post.

So: many thanks for the comments, ad quod respondeo:

I. The troublesome theatrical fantasy

The last post was muddled. It wasn’t clear why I’d find it ok to travel to London and watch a play in which Mr. Armitage plays a major role (I wouldn’t go over if he were playing Angus in MacBeth), perhaps repeatedly (justifiable, I think, if one makes an extremely long journey), but why, for me, sending flowers seems like it might be stepping over the line and why I’d cringe at even contemplating lurking at the stage door or trying to meet him in person. Of course, the decision to travel to see Armitage perform does not take place in a vacuum; my own decision can only be read in the contexts of such decisions made by all of Mr. Armitage’s fans past and present. Thus all of the perspectives are valuable to me as a new fan who hasn’t participated in the discussion boards and is unfamiliar with the larger narrative of how Mr. Armitage’s relationship to his admirers has developed.

Just as attitudes about how to interact with Armitage have changed over time, so my own position on what to blog here has developed. Early posts (in February and March 2010) drew more explicitly on the theme of dreams and fantasies and my curiosity about random intersections of moments in my life with those in that of Mr. Armitage. Though I still do that occasionally, especially on Sundays, my day of the week for placing and pondering the location of the important figures in my life, I largely drew back from it when, after only about two weeks of blogging, I got more readers after suddenly and kindly being included by Nat in the Fanstravaganza, and started to post more detailed and critical observations about Armitage’s work. I think the turn occurred partly because as an academic, I am trained as a heavily analytical thinker, but also because of the increased readership. At first, the limited number of commentators made me feel as if I were in conversation with a small group of people, admittedly people I didn’t know and will probably never meet, but as the hits soared I started to feel less intimate about what I was writing. At that point I also embraced a stance common among Mr. Armitage’s more thoughtful fans: that we should back off because his frustration with pressure from his fans or behavior he finds disturbing might push him away from acting. In light of that conclusion, although it’s turned out to be self-contradictory, I also thought writing more substantive posts would demonstrate that this blog wasn’t just a narcissistic way to out-fangrrrrrrrrrrrl my fellow fangrrrls. And, of course, as a poststructuralist manqué, I reveal a great deal of my own positions in the attempt to be self-reflexive, though a true poststructuralist would call writing about why a picture moves one as opposed to just posting a picture to drool over a dodge rather than a meaningful distinction.

I’m still working on resolving this issue, as I think discussing my fantasies more directly would be helpful. But I didn’t edge away from fantasy posts because I thought (or think) that it is inherently wrong either to have Armitage-related fantasies or to blog about mine. I do feel that I must identify them explicitly as belonging to me and take responsibility for them. I try to be as honest with myself as I can here (given the constraints of pseudonymous blogging in relationship to concerns about revealing my real world identity) and so if I write something that’s problematic, I need to face up to it and not excuse it on any grounds. I am writing what I think; not, for instance, what a story or character demands from me. The content of my fantasies is therapeutically significant to me; as I said at the very beginning of the blog, looking at Mr. Armitage and his work has become a lens for looking at my life. And as one commentator aptly noted, common sense and practicality are not the only standards for decision-making. Sometimes fulfilling a fantasy has the potential, if not to change one’s life, then at least to give one a great deal of life-influencing satisfaction. To fulfill a fantasy one must articulate it, even if the very act of writing it out is risky.

The contrast in this video by bccmee between the innocent Vicar of Dibley scenes and the frustrated obsessive love affair song effectively portrays one of Servetus’s central quandaries as blogger. Can affection ever be innocent? Is Geraldine stalking Harry? Love, love, love this video and the questions it raises. H/t RAFrenzy. Go to youtube and give bccmee some love.

Rhetorically, this essay now requires me to explain what exactly Armitage fantasy does for me. This question is really hard to answer; it’s the central question of this blog and so I can’t encapsulate it here, but a most poignant post from a new commentor gets at it quite well in its more general form. I won’t quote her on the surface here, in case she’s shy, but Mary Lou is absolutely right that there’s a way in which our fantasies help to make life tolerable or even beautiful; that they allow us to realize at least temporarily elements of life not achievable on the sodden ground most of us tread from day to day. They thus constitute central elements of our lives, and unsurprisingly, we invest a great deal in protecting them. I began watching Armitage at a particularly low point and some days in January and February, thinking about  North & South did allow me to creep from bed. The film both confirmed some of my deepest fantasies and lent me some new ones in a way that motivated me. It’s thus not surprising to me that someone could abruptly change course when a fantasy she had been cultivating — apparently one very problematic to its object — was demolished through exposure to the bright light of day. For many people, fantasy is just as important as, or more important than, reality. To me that explains why the theatrical fantasy presents such problems: it is hugely intoxicating, precisely because it masquerades under a patina of reality and suggests that fantasy could become real. This effect is similar to the lure of realfic — the possibility that one could know someone by writing him as a character. At the same time, however, it forces the two elements together in unpredictable ways. I hold heavy influence on my fantasies but little on my day-to-day experiences, especially as they involve the often incalculable actions of (gasp) other people.

Hence the danger. “Real life” fantasies, in which the person who writes Servetus and the real Armitage meet as ourselves, force the simultaneous experience of certain inescapable but perhaps irresolvable stances. At the hypothetical theatre, the actual Servetus stands at a stage door and the real Mr. Armitage exits one; my fantasy about Mr. Armitage as a person collides in that alley with his fantasies about the appropriate way for his admirers to treat and feel about him. Given the inherent problems this sort of thinking brings with it, in order for this style of fantasy to achieve the desired effect of elevation from the ordinary for me, a scenario requires a high level of believability, i.e., the meeting itself may be coincidental but it must be possible, and during the meeting, both of us need to act in ways we credibly would in a non-fantasy situation.

Thus I don’t have many of these, as any real-life meeting between 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 I’ll post it someday. There’s nothing really risqué about it, though, as (apparently) neither the real Armitage nor (definitely) the real Servetus have casual sex. Seriously, folks, even if the impossible circumstance occurred in which the real Richard Armitage were in the presence of the real me (who is several orders of magnitude less physically attractive than the real him) and expressed interest in having sex after having met only seconds earlier, I don’t think I could bring myself to do it. I’m not very virtuous; I am a fornicator (or serial monogamist, as the magazines call it these days); but my upbringing has stuck with me to the extent that I, like Mr. Armitage, don’t “put it about.” (I had to look up what that meant.) So no worries; this fantasy is not about me throwing myself at him, and presumably, if Mr. Armitage were in the habit of taking advantage of overeager fans, we’d have heard about it already. I find promiscuity hugely unattractive, probably unattractive enough for it to put me off blogging him. 

Andrew (Joe McFadden) takes the opportunity to ruin Carol’s (Sarah Smart) rather sober wedding to John (Richard Armitage) by informing her that Lisa Meg (Holliday Grainger) knows who her mother is in Sparkhouse 3. Obsessive? Source: Richard Armitage Net

So the theatrical fantasy is one of only a few I’ve had in which the real Servetus and the real Armitage as they are in real life could intersect — and assuming that Mr. Armitage does actually sign to do a stage play in London, it is the most realistic. He could be committed to appear on a stage where I could see him act regularly (assuming he weren’t ill or indisposed). I would be granted a certain kind of access to him for the price of a theatre ticket, so that no social contract would be broken. The great part for me would be observing him work at (relatively) close range, making all kinds of observations, testing them out at later performances, and then writing about it. Frankly, I have no qualms about that. It’s a ticketed event, and he’s paid to act in front of audiences — just as I am paid to lecture on various themes and episodes in the history of the West, and anyone can come to listen. I don’t see why it would be an issue that I went to more than one performance (since presumably the goal of a stage production is to sell tickets, and since I’ve watched other performances of his dozens of times on DVD), or that I wrote about it, as long as I were honest and professional. That’s what theatre reviewers do; they write about theatrical performances.

I can’t imagine that he’d recognize me even if he saw me at more than one performance. No picture of me appears on this blog. Fewer than ten pictures have been taken of me since 1995, none of which are connected with this alias. I’ve never visited a tv set he’s been on, and would be unlikely to unless I had some guarantee that I’d get to see him from afar, as I don’t find watching repetitive takes especially interesting. I don’t want my picture taken with him; as the remark above should indicate I don’t like having my picture taken, period. I have never sent him a gift nor written to him directly, and in the past, anyway, have expressed the opinion that I was unlikely to do so, precisely because it seemed to me, as I wrote at the time, that anything beyond the trivial, anything that makes me “me” in writing to him nullifies the point of the fan letterit makes it about me instead of about him — and that fan letters that do more than say “good job” create an uncomfortable level of obligation for the recipient. I have written some letters to him on this blog, but they, too, are more statements about me or performance reviews than really directed at him — at most, they ask questions of him that I assume he could not or would not answer, which makes them pointless as actual letters directed to him since they will never receive answers. I wouldn’t use my time in London to try to track him down away from the theatre. Those are all lines that I won’t cross, and that I don’t find in the least tempting. 

Lucas North (Richard Armitage), apparently unnoticed, as he stares in pain and longing at Elizaveta and her child from a distance in Spooks 7.2. Stalking? Source: Richard Armitage Net

It gets more complicated, though, when I think about either sending flowers before a performance or standing outside a stage door to request an autograph that he could give me. Those two things trouble me most about the possibility of going to London; they tempt and repel me in equal measure. Of course, if I were to go to the stage door, I certainly wouldn’t shout my blogging alias or wear a t-shirt with the name of the blog on it, and I wouldn’t try to give him anything in person. (He’d be foolish to accept it, and I’m a bit surprised when I read thanks for various food gifts in some of his early messages.) The money I’d have to spend does play a role, as well as the sheer craziness of such a decision, but the real problem is that potentially, anyway, I could come face to face with the object of my blogging attentions and personal preoccupations of the moment. It’s not so much that I fear that he would disappoint either in person (though who wouldn’t want to verify the frequent claim that he’s even more lovely in person than on screen?) or as a thespian — as many have noted, his professionalism shows up even when he’s essentially just an extra.

As usual, then, I think that the conflict I feel is not about Mr. Armitage, but that it’s somehow about me, and several problems arise. Thus, the question that I asked at the end of the last post was the wrong one: it’s not, Can the real Richard Armitage really live up to my fantasies about him? but rather, what do my concerns about the validity of my fantasies about him tell me about my own insecurities?

For instance, if I went there, if I did those things, then I would be a fangrrrl drooling for attention just like any other. As long as I sit here, pseudonymously, behind my computer screen, I can kid myself into thinking that I’m just analyzing things I see, that I’m not part of them. (Another common cognitive error, according to modern rhetorical analysis.) Even sitting in the front of the stage, watching the production, I can hide behind my doctorate and dignify what I’m doing as analysis and not fantasy. But giving in to the impulse even just of glimpsing Richard Armitage as Richard Armitage would make me: what? A member of the human race?

Or maybe it’s that we’re both just shy. The topos of Armitage’s lack of desire to be in public as himself (“Richard Armitage will never appear as Richard Armitage on tv“) is quite standard now, and part of his appeal. Perhaps as an actor, one has to learn quickly to divide between self and character, though Armitage has also reported having experienced difficulty with this line. I sympathize with him. As I got to this point of this post I became queasier and queasier. It’s because I realized that throughout the above materials I’ve been shifting perspectives between Dr. Servetus (“the real me”) and Servetus, the “me + richard armitage” blogger. I went back through to try to clarify, but I’m not sure I can.

Thus, if put to the test, I’m not sure I can say who would be standing out back of the theatre in my fantasy, waiting for Mr. Armitage to exit. Would it be Dr. Servetus, who has no Armitage-related excesses on her conscience, who could just smile innocuously, claim credibly to be a nice history professor from Texas who admires Restoration drama, and then ask politely for an autograph? But Dr. Servetus has no real connection with Richard Armitage, no reason to fly thousands of miles to see him perform. She assigned that impulse to the blogger Servetus, who may be too ashamed to raise her head in the presence of her wish-object and who has repeatedly drawn a rather strict line at contacting her hero (even with flowers) or at actually getting to meet Mr. Armitage, which she has stated she will not do. Watching Armitage perform on stage is as close as Servetus the blogger can get without transgressing the boundaries of that persona. Which raises the next problem — which is so hard to admit. Of course Servetus the blogger is a mechanism that Dr. Servetus created to deal with her obsession. Servetus the blogger has been endowed by her creator with shame, but behind her stands Dr. Servetus with all of her even more frightening emotions. In thinking about a stage door visit, Dr. Servetus thus threatens to compromise the persona of Servetus the blogger.

So the real issue that makes a stage-door appearance a problem is that I still don’t understand the role that Mr. Armitage in all his guises plays as a fantasy for Dr. Servetus and whose meaning in my currently rather turmoil-ridden life the blogger Servetus is trying to clarify. Servetus the blogger has to work her magic and her essential stance–which Dr. Servetus defined in the first place–back onto Dr. Servetus, or we’ll both be sunk. Dr. Servetus can’t afford the possibility that the lens she discovered in his work for looking at her life might suddenly become blurry; Servetus the blogger has to try to enforce this boundary, even if Dr. Servetus still doesn’t understand it.

I hope I haven’t succeeded only in convincing you all and me that I am crazy.

It’s legitimate in closing this section to ask where all this contemplation leaves Mr. Armitage. Armitage naturally owes the Servetuses nothing and still enjoys the right to be who he is for himself and in his own life. I’m grateful for everything he does. But he as he really is has a limited relevance to me except as he supplies fodder for my perception of him. Who he is for me, the role he plays in my fantasies, has become so important that right now I need that mirror against which to measure myself. I can’t risk breaking it right now by actually meeting the man. 

In the best of all possible worlds, my problems would have no impact on him. I could admire him and he could be blissfully ignorant. And yet this blog, so necessary for my sanity, makes that impossible. It’s clear that Mr. Armitage cannot want what I am supplying here and that indeed he might feel pressured by it. He reports himself as hostile to being put on a pedestal: “‘I don’t think actors need to go on pedestals. I don’t buy it,’ he says. ‘I think it’s a weird thing. It’s like you become someone else, like stepping into another universe.'”

You are right, Mr. Armitage. As the object of fantasy, you exist in the universe of Dr. Servetus and Servetus the blogger, perhaps in slightly different guises, each of which has only tangentially to do with you as Richard Armitage. I can imagine that this circumstance makes you uneasy because you are not really as you are in my fantasies. But I’ll concede that I desperately need you to stay on that pedestal. I’ll do my best to keep you there by staying away from the actual you, so that I at least don’t remind you of the position you occupy in my life. And should the contents of this blog disturb you, consider the possibility that you are not really part of the intended audience, either for my fantasies, or for this blog, which is defined as fans of yours with an interest in my perspective on you.

Tracy (Vinette Robinson), after she approaches Paul Andrews (Richard Armitage) at his home in violation of her probation agreement, in Between the Sheets 1.2. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery

II. Stalking via blog?

Now that I’ve determined one personal line for myself above, and explained it, I’m naturally confronted with the general problem of this blog and the high level of scrutiny it directs at Mr. Armitage, his work, and his personal appearances, as well as the rather open stance I take about my own reactions to these things. This blog could certainly be described as a sort of obsessive person-watching. As the repository of the fantasy and admiration that Armitage finds so problematic, this blog both preserves a line between me and him, and challenges that line every day. So: Is writing this blog the equivalent of stalking?

First, I agree absolutely that stalking in any form is terrible — and that the stalkee is the one who defines when he or she is being stalked. In similar ways to those described by some commentors, my own very minor celebrity as a well-liked professor on a large campus occasionally creates situations with students who don’t understand boundaries and I dislike such experiences immensely even at such a tiny level. Though I don’t want to discuss it here at all, I will also state that I was sexually harrassed by a superior in AY 2007-8 in a situation that I felt powerless to influence, and that that experience has had pernicious effects on my life. If I got a verifiable msg from Mr. Armitage or one of his agents stating that he experienced this blog as harrassment or stalking and asking me to stop blogging, I would make the entire blog up to that point private and stew with my own thoughts immediately and indefinitely, though I might try to write something else about him that was more limited in scope. (Insofar as all posts are not like this one, I actually tend to think that anyone who provides intelligent coverage of his work and career does him a favor, but won’t exclude the possibility that I am deluding myself. It wouldn’t be the first time.)

Maybe it’s too fine of a distinction, but I see the writing I do here as intimately connected to the method of my own academic writing. Before I write about anything for work, I collect as many sources as I can, and I attempt an exhaustive survey of them in all their depth and breadth. I try to make sure I understand every work and every moment of each one. I think about parts in relationship to the whole, and about discernable patterns and motifs. I reassemble my thoughts and then write using the level of detail most important to the argument I will make. All of those academic activities are replicated here.

In order to be an academic, one must indeed be a bit obsessive about the topic of one’s research. Like Richard Armitage, that topic has to be interesting enough to drag one back to one’s desk every day. One might object that in academic writing one doesn’t typically write about one’s own feelings quite so much; I’d modify that by arguing that those elements are still there, but more hidden than they are on this blog. Thus our joking about the Royal Institute of Armitage Studies hides a grain of truth or at least a similarity between fascination with a topic and academic research. Because of the role Mr. Armitage plays in my fantasy life, because I’ve become transfixed, I’m responding with the only mechanism I know how to use: intense, detailed analysis. It’s true that most of my research subjects have been dead for half a millennium, but many historians write about people who are still alive. In other words I don’t think that close readings of Armitage in themselves constitute stalking. Indeed, by providing close readings of Armitage, I argue that his work is inherently worthy of academic analysis, that it is more than “mere” entertainment.

Even if you don’t buy this argument, I still don’t think I am stalking here, though I have been accused of it and when that happened I thought about it and journaled about it extensively. The primary final distinction is that I do not, nor have I ever, sought to use any of this material to create a personal relationship with Mr. Armitage. As stated above, I have not ever written Mr. Armitage a fan letter or contacted him in any way. I am not looking for any reaction, positive or negative, from him. And as long as the blurry boundary between Dr. Servetus and Servetus the blogger is unclear, I’m not going to be in a position to speak to him without jeopardizing the very things about the fantasy of him that are most important to me.

Indeed, I think that paradoxically it’s my very openness here that prevents this obsession from ever developing into true stalking behavior. I thought about this when I pushed “publish” on the last of the clothing posts. “Now,” I thought, “you’ll never be able to try to meet the man in person. Because even if he didn’t know that you were the author of all of that stuff, you would.”

It’s time to stop writing, before this all becomes even more convoluted. If you read all this, thanks for your patience. I promise the next posts will be more light-hearted.

This is where I’ll be till Friday morning … it’s supposed to be 35°C tomorrow.

~ by Servetus on July 14, 2010.

139 Responses to “Stalking Armitage? (and weekly obsession update)”

  1. I have worked two long days in a row and not slept well, either, so this may be on the muddled side. I’ve also pumped out an assortment of articles on everything from t-shirts being sold to raise money for the American Cancer Society to stray dogs running amok in the south end of the country, causing death and destruction. So a lot of stuff is swirling through my mind right now.

    I have never thought of myself as a stalker of RA; as you know from my own posts, I have experienced stalker-like behavior due to my position as a newspaper writer and would never want to do that to another human being.

    But I guess I am obsessed. I have honestly never, ever felt about any actor, musician or other celebrity type the way I do about Richard Armitage. I never grow tired of watching his performances, of listening to his narrations, of looking at his photos and reading/watching/listening to his interviews.

    He absolutely fascinates me on so many levels. And it’s obviously not just me, but an entire legion of women. I even looked for things to NOT like about him, in hopes of relieving myself of this ridiculous crush in mid-life. But I can’t.

    I like his personality; the shyness, the diffidence, his politeness and gentlemanly nature. His sense of humour. And, yes, the fact he doesn’t “put it about,” a trait I find most off-putting in men and women. I like his dedication to his profession, his determination to get it right. I like him; he is someone I believe I would be proud to claim as a friend.

    The amazing talent, the expressive face and physique that speak volumes without saying a word; that voice, that amazing, deep, warm, resonant voice that he uses with such finesse. There’s so much to admire there, even if he looked like an old boot.

    Which, of course, he doesn’t. He’s beautiful in the most masculine of ways. And that speaks to something deep within me, difficult for me, someone who has always had an affinity with the written word, quite difficult to express.

    And, no, I’ve never written or sent gifts or done anything, I think, to bring myself to his attention. I use pseudonyms for my fan fiction. But my real name is out there anyway.

    Google me and I will show up on the front page, because of my connection to our newspaper and the fact people I have written about have linked my stories with my byline to their sites.
    But that’s the professional me.

    Who is the real me, the one who writes fanciful and often steamy fan fiction featuring RA’s characters and thoughtful essays on his work – or the one who is the respectable, genteel, award-winning small-town journalist?
    I have just as many questions at times about my motives, too, servetus. I just know I enjoy this world of RA immensely.

    And if we were to ever actually meet, I hope his blue eyes would look into mine and recognize a kindred spirit. One he honestly needn’t fear.

    Oh, dear, I think I need a good night’s sleep. Actually, I need a vacation, but that will have to wait until late September . . .


    • This is such a beautiful comment. Your spirit has such a depth of feeling and such an energy to communicate!

      I hope he’d understand too. Although if legions of women did this it might test the understanding of a saint.


      • Ahhh, servetus, you are going to make me blush!
        Yes, bless Richard, as my husband often says, “I feel sorry for that guy sometimes with all you crazy women after him” *wink* Richard has to be made of some stern stuff to stay sane through it all, I suppose.


    • Angieklong, I couldn’t believe this when I read it, you are saying everything that I feel. Nobody else has ever moved me the way he does – and I can’t begin to explain why. It’s like he is so beautiful, and so talented, that he stirs something deep inside. He seems like the closest thing to perfection – and I can’t get enough of him.


      • @Geminileo,

        I have a gift for words but they still fail me at times when I want to express the way RA touches my heart and soul and mind. He’s just very unique, this combination of looks, talent and charisma, combined with a lovely sense of humor and what seems to be a very grounded personality. As far as I am concerned, the man is made of magic. (And it appears I can’t get enough of him, either, my dear.)


      • Welcome, GeminiLeo. I think you’ll find a lot of fellow feeling on this blog!


  2. I wonder if it would be possible to blog about Richard Armitage without feeling the need to subject him to academic analysis? Wearing two such different hats–obsessive fan grrrrl and highly skilled analyst–may lead to a feeling of disequilibrium at times, I’m guessing (but only guessing). I think it would be rather refreshing to see an academic throw things loose and just fangrrrl away without feeling that it’s in any way embarrassing or that there’s necessarily a contradiction involved, since from what I can gather you identify yourself as both academic and fangrrrl. More about juggling many different social roles below . . .

    But re: stalking: I don’t see this blog as stalking. You’re not sending it to RA, and it’s unlikely that a man as busy as he is has the time to read and reflect on all the message boards, fanfics, blogs, IMDB comments, etc., etc., about him. So this blog, I think, doesn’t threaten him or intrude on his privacy.

    If one of the men who stalked me had started a blog about me and obsessed about me, wonderful me, to his heart’s content I literally couldn’t be stalked by that blog unless I read it . . . in which case I’d probably feel very uncomfortable indeed, especially if he mentioned some of the plans he had for me that he liked to whisper over the phone in the seconds before I hung up. Maybe this blog is stalking if RA reads it, but that clearly isn’t the intent.

    It’s an interesting exercise in literature, when someone writes fiction in the first person, to think through how another important person in the story would tell the same story. There’s one other significant character in this blog: Richard Armitage, or the person you might believe Richard Armitage to be (even bearing in mind that we may not know much about the real Richard Armitage). Sometimes when you do this exercise it leads an analyst to realize how ridiculously partial or blind the first-person narrator is, or how wonderful and self-effacing, warm, and kind he is. What would it be like to read this blog not as Dr. S or S, but as Richard Armitage–whatever you believe him to be–would read it. (Yes, I’m aware that who he REALLY is is up for grabs.) Would Richard Armitage be made uncomfortable by reading it? Would he feel proud to have inspired such an intelligent fan to admire him? Would he finally get a decent tailor??? Who knows? But reading it AS IF one was Richard Armitage might be interesting. I don’t know what your conclusions on that would be, were you ever to do it, in part because I am obviously not Dr. S or S.

    But, to veer wildly away from that idea, life gets very complicated when we realize that we all play a variety of roles (and I don’t mean that in any pejorative way). Sometimes I’m teacher, sometimes I’m Mom, I’m a scholar at times, frequently I am simultaneously a wife and mother, I was a daughter once, and if I’m standing in a check-out counter, to the person at the register I’m none of those things–I’m a customer and nothing more, even if I’m standing there thinking of myself as Magnificent Scholar and Teacher. Standing at that stage door you might be Dr. S or S or the three year old who got really nervous and hid behind her mother’s skirt when encountering strangers, or a fangrrrrl, or all four at once (as well as being a tourist). Would you be stalking him in any of the multiple roles you’d be inhabiting at that moment? Unless you plan to hand him a picture of yourself stark naked with your cell phone number on it and “For a good time call Dr.,” I think you’re in the clear on that score.


    • Some of the posts are not so analytical. I can’t write about him from a solely emotional or even a solely aesthetic point of view. Part of the problem with the solely emotional stance is that I still feel that we really don’t know much about him. Seriously, I know more about Guy of Gisborne than about Mr. Armitage, although that statement involves a rather loose employment of the word “know.” I have deep feelings about Guy. About Armitage, it’s harder to say.

      But I think I am going to start writing more openly about my feelings. The summer is wearing on, and who knows what will happen in the fall. I’m in pretty good personal equilibrium now, but the academic year always puts that severely to the test.

      I am bookmarking the comment about “what if RA were reading” because that is worthy of a post or posts. Right now I will admit that I have thought about it a lot as a consequence of the rhetorical problems arising from fan letters — a fan letter is ostensibly written to compliment the reader but is a way of advertising the status of the writer. Right now I hope he is not reading. I really, really hope he is not reading. Could I send him a postcard that says “whatever you do, do not read this blog?” Maybe he could put parental controls on his internet browser? Would that make it explicit enough? I need to keep writing, but not to expose this all to him. Basically, right now, I need you guys as readers and armchair spectators of the process. But there have been phases where I hoped he was. I kind of would have liked him to have read the posts on medieval status issues. But there I was analyzing and not fangrrrling.

      Got to get back to those RH posts. So much to write, so little time.

      Part of the Armitage fascination, though, is the way that he inhabits particular roles. For someone who’s trying to figure out which of her more burdensome roles she can safely get rid of, it’s hugely instructive.


    • Another great post, @aaa. We all do play many roles in life. And sometimes all those facets of our personalities, our characters – what makes us, us – can seemingly contradict each other. And do we ever completely know another person, I wonder . . .
      part of my fascination with RA is the fact he seems to have so many layers. What Servetus is doing here I definitely would not liken to stalking, because she is not forcing herself into RA’s life. (Nor is she likely to present him with the photo of herself stalkers and her phone number, I suspect.)

      I think it could be quite liberating for a lot of us who are reserved, thoughtful types who also happen to have fangirl crushes on RA to, indeed, be able to simply go and enjoy seeing him on stage, to laugh and applaud and admire and get starry-eyed and swoony. Because in the immortal words of Cyndi Lauper, “Girls just want to have fun.” And what I am growing to realize more and more is the fact we may be middle-aged, we may be retirees, respectable, responsible, perhaps a little staid – but the wide-eyed girl is still lurking around in there. We need to give her breathing room from time to time . . . ( -;


      • I think part of what scares me is how intense that girl is. I’ve been (with a few minor exceptions) a good girl all my life. I am a bit afraid of the fangrrrrl Servetus.


        • You’re talking to the former nominee for DAR Good Citizenship Girl and the one who garnered the most votes for “Sweetest” in her senior class, so suffice it to say, I’ve pretty much always been known as a good girl, too. So – has the polite and gentlemanly Mr. Armitage somehow unleashed my inner bad girl?


  3. If you go and see multiple performances–or if you go and see just one–please, please don’t feel like you must be Dr. Servetus, forced to analyze, taking notes during the performance so that you can analyze it afterward in more detail for us or for yourself. Why be glancing at a notebook for moments when you could be staring at the stage and Mr. Armitage on it?? Why be a hyper-analyst when you could allow yourself simply to be caught up in the emotion and excitement? It seems to me that analyzing things sometimes prevents full engagement in the experience of a performance. Let rip and just be a fangrrrl who enjoys Restoration drama–just enjoys the experience, rather than trying to engage in the experience at a critical distance. Later, afterward, the critical muscles can come into play, once RA is offstage and you can “recollect in tranquility,” as Wordsworth put it (that was his way of writing poems–after things that were significant happened to him, he’d recollect and analyze his experiences later, in a relaxed state).

    Sorry to seem like a bully. But being the critic / analyst of a good play or good performance is much, much less enjoyable than being an eager, absorbed spectator of the same good play, and if you make this trip it would be a shame to lose one moment of being wrapped up in the performance and performances.


    • This is a good comment. I really have a hard time letting go of the analyst, or rather, analysis is a defense mechanism. It’s precisely the feeling of getting wrapped up in something, carried away, that causes me to start applying the critical filters. (No, this is no fun, though I am used to it — it is harder on other people in certain situations where one is supposed to go with the feelings … )

      One reason to make sure to go multiple times would be to allow space for both sorts of experiences.


  4. @Servetus,

    So my pragmatic side wants to know if all of this means you will try to see him on stage or not? If it’s the former, I’m game. 😀


    • If all the stars align, I think I just might go. I certainly want to be included in any developing plans for such a trip if y’all go.

      Still don’t think I can do the stage door. Still think I might not be able to stay away from the stage door. However, if Dr. Servetus saw him in RL once, I’m pretty sure Servetus the blogger would have to keep her away from him for the rest of her life.


  5. I wouldn’t feel like a stalker even if I watched several of Richard’s performances in a row and even if I asked for an autograph, especially when coming from abroad to watch it. No way.

    Hmmmm – is this the Old Vic stage door?


  6. servetus, I’m going to tell you what it is I love and admire about your blog.

    a) What I perceive as your honest attempts at getting to grips with your fascination for Richard Armitage and his work. As an academic you could have presented us with a cut-and -dried analysis, ready for digestion, as it were, but you choose to let us accompany you on your intricate meanderings in the puzzling landscape of “fangirl” territory. Like Angie and yourself, I have never been swayed by a well-known person as I have been by Richard, and it’s not anything I can explain to myself in any rational way. I haven’t even attempted to explain it to anyone in RL, for fear of seeming ridiculous, though OH is aware of it, but not of the extent!

    b) Because you’re an academic, your thoughts are also couched in terms that give us food for thought. Not everything is expressed in obvious terms and I sometimes feel I have to work at understanding, which is good.

    c) You’re amusing and allow room for “phwoar” moments, to which, as you know, I’m very attached!

    d) You attract an incredible number of quality posters, who also write thought-provoking posts, plus sharing in the “phwoar” at times!

    Thanks for a eventful journey so far and you’re still underway in what is uncharted territory for most of us!


    • OK, c) is a really intriguing comment. I’m bookmarking for myself that I want to come back to my feelings about the relationship between “phwoar” and the academic approach …


  7. Typos will be the death of me, one day, but I assume you get the gist.

    I left out the last point

    e) You have always responded to posts and created a dialogue or open communication with those who post. As another anonymous poster said a few weeks ago, this might be something you want to consider as it takes a lot of time and energy, especially as the number of posters has increased so radically, but it’s been much appreciated so far.

    PS. Don’t feel you have to apologise for responding to the call of RL. It’s refreshing to realise there’s a world out there and nice to return to RA-land!


    • MillyMe, you always say just the right thing when I want to tear my hair out!

      I’m grateful if writing all this down is helpful to others. The sort of ragged quality of the prose at the end probably indicated my frustration with myself.

      Think I will go watch some beautiful N&S in order to calm down … 🙂


    • Millyme,
      I second your comment about appreciating Servetus’s responses to posts here and understanding if the good doctor won’t always have the time and energy to do so. And, as usual, you made some excellent points about why this is such a really special and enjoyable blog for the discerning RA fan. (You make quite the cheerleader, my girl *grin*)


  8. If it’s any comfort, this is not the first actor “crush” I’ve had. Even the long “association” (in my imagination) with Sean Connery was purely the physical attraction to him. Not be taken that seriously. Admittedly, it probably goes a bit deeper with Mr. Armitage, 1) because he is a consummate actor, or at least on the way to being that, 2) because of the Internet, and the opportunity to express reactions on a blog like this one.

    A blog such as this also stimulates my not logical, and not academicaly disciplined mind, to at least try to express thoughts coherently. For which many thanks, servetus.

    It’s one thing for me to joke about a St. Crispin medal, but such a gift would be so much better from someone who knows him: his Mama, a girlfriend, or an fellow-actor.

    Aaa, good comment about just sitting in the moment and enjoying a performance, and analysing it after. We don’t all have a career calling us to be theatricl reviewers! Just enjoy, and think later!


    • I think it’s also fun to think about gifts we’d give people that we’d never end of giving. It’s a way to be creative.

      I have a hard time shutting off my brain. Part of watching Armitage for me is that it can have that effect, even if the brain does eventually kick in because I get so fascinated. But trust me, if I go, I won’t spend every second of every performance taking notes!!


  9. I think going to the stagedoor once is perfectly fine, what is tricky is going repeatedly and making the actor recognize one. As someone else said, if he recognizes you, you have gone to far. But as long as it is a manageable setting and nice for both sides, it is still nothing wrong with it. Signing autographs at the stagedoor is part and parcel of appearing on stage and not the same as bothering an ordinary person when they leave their workplace. Following him to his home or hotel would be something entirely different.

    However, I would not do it. There is no way I could interact with Mr. Armitage or any other actor outside the fan/actor relationship and as I don’t believe in putting actors on a pedestal either, I won’t participate in something that automatically puts the actor on a pedestal. There is a line between fan and actor that can never be crossed, no matter how friendly he chats with the fan.

    It would be different if I could meet him professionally, if I were a make-up artist or journalist or actress for example. In that case I would be on par with him even if it is still strictly professional.

    But what I would like best is meeting him in a parallel universe where Richard Armitage had not become a reasonably famous actor but an architect (he said a few times that would have been his second choice), an ordinary person with an ordinary job. Then I would like to find out if he is really even more lovely and more handsome in the flesh and there would be nothing wrong with it because we both would be ordinary people and not one of us admiring the other. It does not have lead to anything romantic or erotic, I would be happy to meet architect RA accompanied by wife and kids once.


    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment, jane. I sometimes think I’d have liked to have met him when he was packing boxes in that warehouse, before the RSC.


      • I, too, would have loved to have met him back in his earlier days. Actually, this probably sounds odd, but I would have loved to have taught him back in what would have been the equivalent of his high school days. I think he would have been a pleasure to have in class – bright, creative and quick-witted.


        • Really? This is interesting. Marking this for a blog post, as it’s something I’ve wondered about.


          • I guess I remember how much I enjoyed the exchanges with some of my more clever students – those sharp minds, the laughter we shared and rather deep discussions, too. Perhaps I have missed that and find I’ve recaptured a bit of it here at your blog? I am fortunate to have bright, well-read and often hysterically funny co-workers at the newspaper, too, but I do miss that teacher-pupil connection at times.


            • I have a RL friend who has been calling this blog a seminar on Richard Armitage. 🙂 I have to say that y’all are much cleverer and more engaged than many of my students (though in general I like my students).

              I just suspect that Mr. Armitage would have been a rather erratic student. Clever and quick-witted, yes. At times.


              • Oh, I suspect Mr. A would have frustrated me at times as a pupil – some of my favorite ones certainly did – but I think it would have been worth it. I definitely don’t think he would have ended up in the “Former Students Who Could Fall Off the Face of the Earth And I Wouldn’t Care” Group, anyway. And I would have loved to hear him put that honeyed tongue around the French language.


  10. An article about a different British “thinking woman’s celebrity crush” that offers some parallels to the discussions here:

    The comments are interesting too.


    • indeed, beyond interesting. it’s actually comforting to me to learn that Armitagemania is not an outlier. I’ve never seen House, but I know people rave about it.


      • DO NOT go near House. I tell you this for your own good. LOL!


      • I love House, but admit after seeing Hugh as Bertie and the idiot prince in Blackadder, I, an American, was rather gobsmacked to see him play this brilliant but rather misanthropic doctor with a painkiller addiction. He’s great in the role. I sometimes wish Richard could find an equally compelling character to play in a US series . . .


    • Ah Hugh Laurie. I can’t be the only Brit surely, who finds it bizarre in the extreme that Prince George from Blackadder 3 has become a sex symbol in the US. Hugh Laurie has been a part of the British comedy scene since the early 1980s and I still can’t get used to him acting in a non-comedy role.


      • I find it extremely bizarre, from Bertie Wooster and Blackadder’s absurd humour to House and at quite an “advanced” age. There must be hope for RA, too!


  11. Need to process this post. It may take days, weeks, or years. You hit a nerve in me. Thank you for your brutal honesty, truly, I appreciate it.

    The Salon article was cute and spot on too. Thanks for posting AAA.


    • No injury intended, Rob. ((Rob.))


      • No injuires, at all what so ever. Your post forced me to think about my own thoughts and behaviors in a new way, a better way. It was like having someone peel back a layer and say,”Look inside.”


      • No injury, at all what so ever. You post was like peeling back a layer and saying,”Look inside.”


  12. Just pointing out that Holliday Grainger’s character in Sparkhouse was called Lisa; her character in RH3 e9 was Meg.


  13. Work has caught up with me this week so I am just now catching up here.

    You know, reading your blog and all the comments, it just occurred to me that I think I’m just as fascinated by RA’s fanbase and the people who comprise it as I am about his work. I’m interested in what people have to say, I really admire the wonderful written expression, the extent of knowledge of so many (which puts me a little to shame), and the humour. I visit the forums regularly in part to catch up with any news concerning RA but also to read the reactions to that news. There are naysayers and there are those who get terrifically excited about any new snippet about his work. I don’t enjoy vitriolic, finger pointing disagreements that spring up from time to time (flame wars) on the forums, but on the positive side, I have been bowled over by some of the kind, thoughtful and generous comments and gestures I have personally experienced. The dynamics are so interesting.

    What makes me feel least comfortable are the stories of “real life” encounters with RA. I am horrifically shy for a start so I think for me personally asking for a photo or autograph is just way out of my comfort zone. Perhaps as a result I get disquieted when I read about fans actually having the courage to manage an encounter? In part I am envious of that courage, but perhaps in part, it is just that I like to distinguish between the characters Mr A plays and the real Mr A (whoever that might be). I want to forget that the man I see onscreen is RA (a person) and involve myself in the characters he plays. Therefore seeing him in real life would change that for me. I also have to “steel” myself to read an interview in the print media – there are facts I like to know about the parts he plays and how he prepares for roles, but facts about him personally that I don’t think are necessary for me to know.

    I’ve watched a lot of RAs work a number of times now and if truth be told, I don’t think I could sit through a third viewing of Strike Back or even a fourth viewing of N&S. Most exciting for me is to watch some new work of his. It is however, the interaction between the fans that I think attracts me most, especially when downtime is needed – RA is the catalyst for all these interesting discussions and I’m grateful for that as I can escape RL for a bit and immerse myself in the whole social scene. I think blogs like yours and others have introduced a whole new dimension to RA’s fanbase as it enables us to really ponder some of the more important aspects about what we are actually doing. Are we obsessive? Are we stalking? Or are we all just in search of like minded people we can interact with, which in turn helps to counteract loneliness, boredom or stress? Is the actor who is Richard Armitage therefore merely a facilitator for our dialogue with one another?


    • PS: My grammar is appalling!! Blame it on fatigue … 🙂


    • Nice and thoughtful comment @mulubinba, but I am a bit shocked that you have only watched North and South 3 times!

      I love the interaction with other fans personally. I can’t imagine sitting in a vacuum just watching his work and keeping my thoughts and feelings to myself. Even lurking would be better than that.


    • As someone who’s not an obsessive rewatcher, Mulubinba, you may be an outlier on this blog. I’m with you on the RL encounters issue, at least at present, though.

      I’m starting to think that Armitage’s oeuvre up till now has been unusually coherent (and that even stuff that doesn’t fit well, like SB, he shapes to fit a particular pattern. This could mean that his fans end up being unusually likeminded (despite the occasional disagreements), as they might be people who are looking for certain things in popular drama. I will have to think more about this question.

      Great comment.


  14. Mulubbinba,

    You bring up some interesting points. I have to say I have made some really wonderful friends through the RA fandom, people with whom I would never have likely come in contact with were it not for this shared interest in Richard Armitage. Knowing these witty, creative, bright ladies has enhanced my life.
    And I agree with all comments above about what a find this blog is and how much I have enjoyed it, since OML pointed me in this direction. I’ve been given lots of points to ponder. Long ago, a high school English teacher told me I was a “deep thinker,” and I suppose this venue allows me to do some of that thinking on a subject I find most intriguing. Yet we move beyond that, too. It’s a good thing for my brain and my spirit, I think.


  15. As a journalist in RL, I would dearly love to be able to sit down with Mr. A and do an interview, to probe his mind about the creative process, his habit of writing bios for his characters, which actors he considers icons, how costumes affect the way a character is played . . . and some playful questions along the way, such as if Guy of Gisborne had an iPod, what are the top songs on his playlist? (I would also love to ask him if he’s ever wanted to roll his eyes when yet another interviewer rolls out the old “he ran away to join the circus” chestnut, but he’d probably be much too polite to say how weary he was of it). Oh,there are tons of questions I would like to ask . . .

    As you said, servetus, the man himself is a bit of an enigma. Will the real Richard Armitage please stand up?

    And as someone who interviews people for her work and also enjoys reading a good mystery yarn, part of me longs to discover more about what lies beneath the beautiful and charismatic surface. To put the pieces of the puzzle together . . .
    Also, if I met him in a professional capacity, I really do think I could hold it together and not turn into a drooling, thudding mess. Perhaps that is just wishful thinking. But I am good at the RL stuff, so . . .


    • I’d love to interview him, too. I have a list of questions. If you ever get an interview with him I’ll share with you.


      • It would be my dream interview, without a doubt. And if it ever happens, I would be glad to add questions from the good Dr. S and others.


  16. This probably isn’t the place to mention it–it should be attached to a post about whether blogging / reading blogs / participating in boards cures obsession, but here goes all the same: Participating in a celebrity’s boards or having a blog about him can be very seductive for someone who posts a lot and gets a lot of positive responses. Here’s why: feedback on a blog or message board can be almost instant and is often gratifying. My experiences are with message boards, and by using “you” here I don’t mean Dr. S: I mean “anybody who uses a message board or blog,” but I just don’t want to be formal and use phrases like “if one participates . . . ” again and again.

    If people think you have good or intelligent or interesting things to say and the board is active, you can post your brilliant ideas, walk away for 15 minutes or half an hour, and come back to find people have written extended versions of “Good point!” and so on–the sorts of comments that often come up on this blog, that is.

    That propels you into writing responses to those posts, and it can all snowball into a long, long thread which it’s tempting to go back to again and again. And that can happen an infinite number of times on an infinite number of topics.

    Having other people think that at least some of your posts are valid or interesting can be a real boost when life isn’t going well and RL isn’t passing out lots of happiness or good feedback. It’s also seductive when you’re bored: “Okay, back from my coffee break, I’ll get to those figures I need to look at later, I’ll just dip into the thread for a second to see if anyone’s written anything . . . . Wow! That’s an interesting question X raised . . . ” and soon you’re typing a comment in response to X on company time, hoping the boss doesn’t walk in, and on it goes. Or you find yourself writing during what should be family time, or during what might have been a really great bike ride. Being a presence on a board or having a blog can involve serious tradeoffs, and that’s not at all obvious when you start.

    It’s not so tempting to be so active on such boards if the celebrity isn’t doing much, or if life is going really well and you don’t need infusions of people saying good things about your ideas. But particularly when things are going badly, if you can rely on a message board or blog to provide interesting discussions and at least occasional ego boosts, it’s hard to break away . . . which means that far from curing an obsession with a star, the obsession may intensify exponentially. It can be scary when you can’t break away. I think it’s unlikely to lead to a cure. But do fans want a cure?


    • A cure for what? 😉


    • One reason I write on this theme so much is that I worry about the issues you raise. On balance the benefits to me are still greater than the disadvantages, but I do think about it a lot.

      Key for me is that Armitagemania has facilitated writing about anything. Before I knew anything at all about his fandom, his creativity sparked mine. I’ll be forever grateful even if the conflictedness gets worse and I have to stop writing here.


  17. Creeping Armitagemania, of course!


  18. Galloping Armitagemania, more likely! 😀 But it is a good point, Aaa. Pity it’s fun…


  19. Truth be told, I don’t want to be cured. I’m having way too much fun. And yes, @AAA, if I am having a really stressful day at work, or finding the physical pain of the FMS overwhelming me, or just feeling a bit down in general, getting good feedback on comments here or on my fan fic or my essays can really brighten things up for me. A cheap form of therapy, really.


  20. aaa, given your comments I am starting to wonder what exactly the relationship is between Armitagemania and more general internet addiction. Is Armitage just the vector? Or is he essential? Necessary, or sufficient?


  21. Richard Armitage is the vector, and sufficient rather than necessary, to cause some viewers and listeners internet addiction. For others, Hugh Laurie or Tea Party politics or stamp collecting or deer hunting or having a serious disease can be the vector, I think. But if a person starts with one vector leading her into internet addiction, she may find herself adding others: if someone has just been diagnosed with cancer, she may start by looking up all the information she can find about it and joining a message board or listserv for other patients, and she may spend a lot of time gaining information and support by doing so (and that’s pretty understandable and often a good thing). Then if a month later she sees North & South, she may find herself completely wrapped up in it–hoorah! Cancer wasn’t at the forefront of her mind!–and seek out information about the star. And so on, possibly following up any number of interests. I suspect that many people who visit here and are (obviously) interested in Richard Armitage pursue other interests online, and some of us may spend so much time online that we miss out on other aspects of life.


    • Do you think that an addiction to the internet is worse than other addictions?

      I am an obsessive reader. If I am not reading on the internet I am reading books. This weekend, with no convenient internet access, i thought I’d just daydream about Gisborne all weekend, which is what happened the last time I was cut off from the net. I ended up reading, though. This surprised me a little, as since December I haven’t had the attention to devote to a book. It was really gratifying. I read David Mitchell’s latest, the Hilary Mantel book that won the Booker Prize, and Jane Smiley’s latest. All great reads. But if I’d had internet access I’d have spent it reading (and writing about Armitage).


      • I’ve been a bookworm for as long as I can remember. My two older sisters read to me when I was small and my parents enrolled me in a preschool book club. I’ve been accused of always having my nose in a book; the people at Amazon love me, and I have the equivalent of a small and quite eclectic library here. When spouse was in the AF, movers hated me. Books are heavy, after all. I am always reading something, sometimes fiction, often non-fiction (English Society in the 18th Century right now), magazines, newspapers. So I have to admit to being a reading addict.
        Glad you got in some good reads, Dr. S. while being cut off from the Net. ( :


      • In both cases, I don’t think we’re writing about real “addiction,” of course. But an “addiction” or strong preference for losing oneself in a substance or activity is a bad thing when it gets in the way of getting work done and/or having meaningful social interactions away from the computer. (I’ve known some fans to become genuine friends, but if the real glue that sticks the relationship together is being fans of an actor, are two internet buddies “real” friends who can discuss a lot of RL situations and get meaningful emotional support or help? Not usually, I think.)

        Reading too much or spending too much RA time on the computer / in front of a screen / with a earphones on are problems if they frequently get in the way of work–making a person late because she’s been up to 4:00 squeeing about some show that’s just appeared or reading a novel she can’t put down. Watching youtube when she knows she really should be working or trying to do both–imagining it’s possible to do good cognitive work when one’s attention is divided; well, cognitively, I don’t think it’s possible. Too much of the former kind of thing is obviously a problem; too much of the latter can lead to inattention and sloppy performances of tasks.

        Presumably few of us tend to read a book while we’re doing other things that involve our cognition, but it’s possible to rationalize having N & S on “in the background” while attempting to think, write, or calculate. If a person isn’t able to work without such stimulus, I think there are real problems to be addressed, because she’s either paying attention to one or the other, and zipping back and forth does nobody any favors if she’s doing something that requires concentrating on thinking. Concentration isn’t possible if it keeps drifting off and that drift seems fine to the worker.

        I can easily knit or cook a recipe I’m very familiar with while listening to an audiobook; I can knead bread as John Thornton proposes. Those activities are so familiar to me that I don’t have to think as I do them. But I can’t THINK about other things when that’s going on. I could read while knitting or kneading bread, too.

        I can pull weeds while listening to RA on my Ipod, but not watch youtube; I can’t take a bike ride with a friend while doing either. And I also can’t read while I’m doing either of those things. If what I need to do is take a bike ride with a friend or catch up on work and a preference for being on the internet or reading is getting in my way, that’s problematic.

        So I don’t think that a strong tendency to spend time online or reading is in itself a bad thing. But if either one takes me away from being able to work or play effectively, with real concentration and my whole mind, then yes, either of them could be a problem.


        • Re internet friends versus RL friends: Actually, I have become friends with a fellow fan in Seattle who coincidentally shares the same health issue I do, FMS, so it has been good to have someone who understands where I am coming from in a way people who don’t suffer from this just can’t.

          I have a handful of people I have gotten to know through the fandom that yes, I do consider true friends and we share the ups and downs of everyday life along with our appreciation for Mr. Armitage. I think we have enough in common we would be friends in RL; however, considering some live on other side of the country or in a completely different hemisphere, it’s unlikely I would have ever encountered them without the RA connection.

          No, I certainly don’t consider every fellow fan I come across to be “best buddy” material and I prize my real life friends and my extended family, but it has been quite lovely to make these long-distance friendships, too.

          Slightly off-topic, but I work in a open office where there are no walls between editorial and (loud-voiced)sales people, where phones (landline and cells) are constantly ringing, customers coming in and out, people chattering, and I am still expected to write my daily articles, type-set submissions, load to the wbsite, and so forth.

          I do it pretty well because I have trained my brain to filter out the distractions reasonably well, but I admit, there are times when 5 p.m. rolls around, the front door is locked and most everyone is gone, and I luxuriate in peace and quiet and the opportunity to write without all the distractions.

          Fortunately, I can also write at home when need be and often do work on longer, more feature-type articles on weekends or nights so I can better control my environment. Sometimes I just carry my laptop into a conference room and ask that any calls be sent to my voice mail so I can get a little peace.

          (Actually I have to confess I really hate cell phones and would like to chunk most of them in a deep ravine. They strike me as another modern addiction and for me, a major annoyance. Some people can’t seem to bear to be without theirs, almost as if surgically attached. And don’t get me started on rude behavior re cell phone use . . .)

          Back to topic, yes, if as a former English teacher of mine said, “my child can be crying and food burning in the stove and I am totally oblivious when I get caught up in a good book,” then, whatever the thing is distracting you from RL duties and obligations, you do have a problem.


  22. I’m not sure that all Armitage fans want similar things out of drama; I think that it’s more that fans long for particular qualities in a man and tend to idealize a man who has those qualities. RA brings the same physical qualities to his roles, so fans are united in admiring his face, body, running, and so on; but most fans probably have favorites amongst his roles. Many women like to fantasize about a strong, capable man who has never really fallen in love but who falls for them and turns into a manly puddle of goo, he’s so in love, a man so in love that he’ll strive to protect her or her family or do the right thing, even if she has rejected him. John Thornton, Mr. Darcy, and Rochester may really appeal to such viewers, provided they like the package he comes in; all of them are transformed into different and better men by love. Some women like to dream of a strong, commanding man who’s shy but who comes out of his shell and turns into a sensitive, deeply attached lover: John Standring? Some women like to dream of a bad boy who is redeemed by the depth of his love: Guy of Gisborne has potential here. Some women like to fantasize about a strong, commanding man at one time and a sensitive man or a redeemable bad man at others, and take their pick of fantasy man according to their mood.

    It’s clearly not just the physical package that draws fans to Richard Armitage, though: he’s played some characters with very negative personalities such as Lifeguard Lee and Marie Lloyd’s husband, Percy, and despite the fact that the latter engages in sex on screen I don’t think I’ve ever seen fanfic about the lech or the wifebeater. We need more than Mr. Armitage’s body to hang our fantasies on.

    I think where trouble for the RL Richard Armitage has the potential to come into fangurlllitude is when a fan confuses him with his most appealing character(s). It’s true, we really DON’T know much about him, but–as someone else who is really interested in the fandom, perhaps more so than in RA–I think most fans WANT him to have qualities they admire, whether they’re physical or emotional or social. Fans don’t want him to have a bald spot, say. Fair enough. On a message board I’ve seen posts from fans who genuinely seem distressed at the thought that RA may have chest hair, for instance; or, for another instance, there’s a photo of him taking a break from filming and smoking a cigarette, and that caused a lot of discussion and concern for him, but eventually most people seemed to decide that he might have smoked once, but as a runner he can’t smoke any more.

    For many fans RA gets confused with his characters and idealized, in short.

    In fact, we know he has chest hair, and for all we know he’s a chain smoker who does lines of cocaine all weekend, has a stack of pornographic magazines, as many single men do, and–as I think he’s said in some early, unguarded interviews–doesn’t like to wash on days off and has the hobby of picking his nose. (He was clearly kidding about the last trait.)

    There was a lot of flap a few years ago when the Daily Mail ran an article in which he was uncharacteristically open or got tricked into being indiscreet by a lying journalist who said “Let’s talk off the record” and printed what she learned. He said he’d lost his virginity at 16 on a school camping trip with a girl he didn’t even much fancy, and she went around telling everybody the next morning. He said he didn’t get the impression that he was a particularly skilled lover. (Well, who is, at 16?) He also said that he felt that though he wanted to have a monogamous relationship, men are programmed to be unfaithful.

    Oh my goodness, what a to-do on the message boards. Some people were quite shocked–none of it, including talking so indiscreetly about it, fit the idealized version of Richard Armitage they’d built up; among other things, grubby fumbling sex with a willing partner instead of love didn’t fit. It was clear that RA read the message boards at that point and noted fans’ reactions; he real Richard Armitage then wrote a message to his fans apologizing for the indiscreet things he’d said. They weren’t much worse than anybody with brothers hears talk of, but of course it wasn’t ideal to have them in the paper. But again, the real Richard Armitage didn’t seem to match up to the idealized Richard Armitage some fans had.

    I’ve gone on too long, but just to circle around: I think that idealizing RA or any actor can do him harm if it means that fans will write angry posts or letters when he behaves in ways that don’t fit their idealized version of him. I think that idealizing him also can do him harm if fans assume that he has certain qualities such as kindness and openness to fans and intrude on his privacy. You’d think being idealized would be great, but it sucks, really. You’re disappointing or angering somebody every time you make a human mistake or veer away from the traits they think you have.


    • This comment is chock full of good stuff, so I’ll only respond to some of it, and some of the more trivial points:

      One reason for those “what can we know about Richard Armitage” posts was my frustration with the naivete I was reading in a lot of places — what seemed an extreme willingness to equate perception with reality. Every man I’ve ever met and known well enough to see his naked chest in person has at least some chest hair, for crying out loud; it’s a secondary sex characteristic. Is it possible that Mr. Armitage has extremely little? Possibly. But none at all? Seems unrealistic.

      The smoking discussion (insofar as I ran across it, which I did in an extremely limited way) also annoyed me no end, precisely as a function of the question of the extent to which we can know stuff about people about whom we know nothing. That is: everyone applies their own prejudices about smoking when they see a picture like that, without knowing anything about the context. (If “smoking” to you means “unrestrained, uncontrollable addictive chain smoking,” it’s coded bad, for example, especially in the U.S.; but there are other sorts of smoking practices and cultures in which smoking is coded “sociable” or “occasional” or “pleasurable” or even “in order to pep myself up a bit.”)

      As your post points out with bravura, to some extent the perception and evaluation of alleged smoking on Mr. Armitage’s part relies on the same sort of cognitive processes that the perception and evaluation of romantic fantasy about him. One picks up a sign, puts it in one’s own context, and then runs with the idea wherever it goes in one’s own mind.

      I think it would be fine to idealize Mr. Armitage if the fans didn’t insist on their fantasies also being real. I think that was where I had gotten at the end of this post in my own thinking process: I need the fantasy of Mr. Armitage. I acknowledge that it is a fantasy. I will do everything to keep up my side of that — including not meeting the real Mr. Armitage in order not to have the fantasy destroyed.

      (And nice point about the pornography. An almost-39-year-old single male who didn’t make use of pornography would be astoundingly anomalous in the world we live in.)

      Always feel free to make long comments. I enjoy reading them.


      • The more I think about people getting all bent out of shape about the chest hair issue, I mean, really. The man has a considerable amount of hair on his forearms, as glimpsed in scenes from N&S. He has significant beard growth. That would lead me to believe there would be a pretty good chance he’s got a least a little chest hair.

        He wouldn’t be the first actor to wax or shave his chest for certain roles, and for fans to become unglued when it starts sprouting out between roles or when playing a character like John Porter (who doesn’t strike one as particularly metrosexual) – well, it seems rather naive and silly. Yes, if you want to fantasize that he’s got a naturally smooth and hairless chest, or has never touched tobacco (which clearly he has in the several roles where he has smoked) or had awkward teenage sex or what have you, fine. Fantasize away. But let him be who he is in real life and not expect the real RA to conform to all your little fantasies.


        • In the crucifixion scene in one of the later episodes of “Strike Back,” it’s clear he’s got chest hair–not a huge amount by any means, and mainly over his breastbone, but it’s there. I don’t think it was earlier in the series–odd, that. But I’m glad that for once they let him look like a grown man.


  23. @aaa – on the subject of the dangers of idealising actors (really anybody, I’m thinking) –

    I remember a lady who went to our church when I was younger. She thought I was wonderful. And she went on and on about it until it made me want to cringe. According to her, I was so talented and lovely and brilliant and magnificent there was no comparison.

    Well, OK, I am intelligent and talented and, back then especially, didn’t hurt one’s eyes and I’m a nice person in general, but she took it all too far. She gushethed too much, methinks. What if I had done something really foolish and human? What would she have thought of me then? Not to mention she’d never seen me first thing in the morning with my hair standing on end and looking less than lovely.

    So I can see where the real Richard Armitage would feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable sometimes by having throngs of people idealising him ad infinitum.

    My pet theory is this: some fans of Richrd’s fall into what I like to call the Victorian Prude Brigade. They love envisioning him and idealising him as The Romantic Hero a la North and South – a sort of Ken doll in a cravat. So the thought of him having sex with a teenage classmate or having chest hair or farting or getting drunk or whatever is enough to set them off spewing righteous indignation. People, he’s human! Subject to the same faults and foibles and temptations as the rest of us.

    I freely confess I love RA as an actor and like very much what I do know of him as a person, that I am inspired by his performances – but I never forget he is a fellow human being. None of us should.

    And by the way, the “lying journalist” is exactly the reason so many people distrust the media, of which I happen to be a part.
    I detest people like that. “Off the record” is off the bloody record.


    • You know that song by “The Pierces”: “Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead.” OTR discussions are essential to reporting and I am glad that some people are willing to have them, and I also am impressed off my socks every time I read of a journalist going to jail in order to keep the source of confidential information safe. On the other hand, especially in discussions like this one, the interviewee also has an obligation to think a little bit about what can or cannot be said. I actually think that interview (as I have said many times) makes him look good because it is apparently *so* candid.

      One would think (I would think) that knowing that a hero is a real person would make him even more attractive because he would seem more human.


      • Richard seems to be blessedly free of the bullsh*t that spews from some celebrity mouths, and I think particularly before he became better known and learned he had to be more on guard, he was so disarmingly open and honest. I think he is still honest, but has had to be more careful in his words to avoid certain fans getting bent out of shape.

        I am very fond of everyday heroes, I have encountered quite a few in the course of my work, and they are all great folks but none of them perfect. I agree, a hero who is a real person is much more appealing.


  24. When I was young I looked like a very sweet person too, and sometimes I even was one. (Now I look invisible, like most women over 40.) According to a male friend at my university, he was once walking to the dining commons with a friend who didn’t know me at all well but had a massive crush on me. I was walking with two or three of my friends on the path a little way in front of them. The guy who had the crush was telling my friend that I wasn’t like the rest of the girls in our college, I wasn’t strident and loud and obnoxious like all the feminists around . . . at which point, my friend told me, I stopped, loudly said “F***! I’ve forgotten my damn dining pass!” and steamed off to get it, walking straight between them.

    My friend said that his friend was . . . surprised. He also told me that the crush somehow survived. Go figure.

    I wasn’t really alarmed about the incident–I thought it was funny when I heard about it much later, and my friend never told me the name of the man who had the crush. But I was being stalked at the time by another man, and the incident kind of bothered me, all the same. I had an odd feeling of oppression–it is strange and uncomfortable to know that you have no control over the kinds of fantasies other people are having about you. Someone like that, even someone with a benign fantasy about you being a good person or being more ladylike than the local feminists, can have a whole AU version of you in his mind or fantasies. That can be really chilling, somehow. But it is profoundly alarming to know that someone who is stalking you has sexual fantasies that repulse and disgust you. I’m sorry to shout, but when you know people fantasize about you, it feels like YOU have no control over YOU–the version of you that appears in their fantasies, and that they think IS you.

    This is why I feel that it might be at least unsettling and perhaps greatly disturbing for a celebrity to read steamy or romantic fanfic about his characters; it’s not just the characters the writer and the readers drooled and phwoarhed over . . . it’s him. It’s his body. It’s the character’s personality traits that they’re assuming he has. He would have no control over the hundreds or thousands of AU versions of himself that pop up in fanfics and personal fantasies. To me, that would be scary.

    Magnify my discomfort about even the man who had the rather sweet crush on the person he thought I was by thousands of women and . . . well, it must be very strange if a celebrity pauses to think about the number of fantasies he’s starring in, whether or not he wants to . . .


    • Hmmm. I’m in sympathy with much of this, but at the same time, I’d argue that in life we are the constant object of each other’s fantasies, that is, I play the role of daughter, but my parents each have his/her own fantasies of who I am, and that to me seems a standard of being a human. As a teacher, I have the same issue. Now, those fantasies are not sexual, but on some level all of our interactions involve a certain enhancement of perception. I agree that it’s uncomfortable to think that each of my many students may have a particular version of me in his or her mind, but is that at all avoidable?

      The difference, of course, is that they are (mostly) not writing those fantasies down on the internet. But the second that I tread into contact with them, I have to give up my ability to control what they think of me.


  25. Well, as a writer of fan fic, and what I like to think is well-written stuff, which I have never forced anyone to read nor would I, I don’t think I am doing Mr. Armitage or his characters a disservice. That’s just my personal view.

    It could be argued that a professional actor, male or female, by definition should expect a certain amount of fantasizing by their audience to take place regarding certain roles in particular. That doesn’t mean they deserve to be stalked or harassed, of course.

    Plays, movies, TV. It’s not real life. They are playing pretend. Richard is just awfully good at making it seem real.

    I admire his physical beauty, yes. Am I wrong for that? It’s innate in humans to respond to beauty. Is it wrong for my husband to leaf through Maxim every month? Does it mean either of us love each other any less?

    He doesn’t look like RA and I sure as hell don’t look like Angelina Jolie, but we still like looking at each other, being with each other. We know what’s real and what’s important.

    Some fan fic seems to be little more than the writer’s excuse to insert themselves into a sexual fantasy with whomever they ship, and I don’t care for those.

    Some of us actually do create story arcs and plot lines and have character development and even create new characters as part of the story. My personal goal is to write novels with my own original characters and plots; fan fiction has been a way to strengthen my fiction writing muscles and spur on my creativity and I am grateful to RA’s talent (because frankly, good looks and a nice body alone wouldn’t have done it for me; I demand a lot more than that) for being the impetus.

    If I sound defensive, well, I guess I am. My week has been an emotional roller coaster, so pardon me if I have stood on the soap box too long.


    • On the fantasy issue, I tend to agree with you insofar as it seems naive to think that one could be a successful actor in romantic lead roles and not generate some fantasies and admiration from fans. Maybe not if you are a character actor (Steve Buschemi, for example, or William H Macy), but given the sort of roles Armitage has had? But I read that comment in light of his statements about feeling manipulated (“still the gimp”) within his role as actor.

      I actually think that it’s totally ok to write and publish a fanfic that is nothing but a personal Mary Sue sexual fantasy. Some of those are very interesting. But I agree that the ones with story arcs (like yours) and character development are better — not least because they make us think a bit more. I confess that at the middle of “Truce” I didn’t like how you were treating Diane. But that made me think a lot about that character in the series. And, as my doctoral student told me last week, caring enough about something to disagree about it means that it really matters. Otherwise one would just move on / ignore it / blow it off.

      And Angie: you could TOTALLY write novels. If that’s your dream, you should pursue it because the pieces are all there: the creativity with plot, the sympathetic characters, the detailed shadings of emotions and perspectives, the facility with language. I find your current sentence style a bit too “newspapery” for novels, but that’s something that can easily be changed as you shift your focus toward the longer paragraphs of prose narratives.


      • Well, thank you, Servetus. I feel more and more compelled to undertake the novel route.

        A friend and fellow RA fan sent me a link to a website called “I write like” this past week. You can copy and paste portions of your own work and have their bot analyze your writing style and use of words and phrases to tell you which famous authors your work is most like. Nothing scientific, of course, but fun.

        I kept trying snippets of everything from
        Truce” to “Lovelace,” “Lost & Found” and “The Adventures of Guy and Rebecca” along with some of my RL feature articles and an essay on my father just to see what the analysis said.

        My period pieces came back as most like Charles Dickens, followed by James Fenimore Cooper (scratched my head a little over that one) and Margaret Atwood; Truce and my feature articles were most like David Foster Wallace (an innovative and edgy author and college professor who, sadly, killed himself a couple of years ago after a long battle with depression. I found that discovery a tad depressing myself). My essay on Daddy, which is actually quite sweet and poignant and can be found on LJ, was likened to Stephen King, but I can only assume that was due to the reference of him being run over by a tractor and the blood-soaked towels . . .

        So I guess I am fairly versatile. *grin* Yes, given what I do on a daily basis, particularly working for a man who thinks a long article is 500 words, I am accustomed to “writing tight,” shall we say.


        • I think you would be great at genre fiction given your mastery of a number of conventions in both plot and vocabulary. I’m not surprised at all that you come back as like Dickens or Atwood in places.

          I got David Foster Wallace. Now I *have* to read Infinite Jest, I guess 🙂


          • I’ve read both Dickens and Atwood, but I have never dipped into Cooper (although some of his work we had in our classic books collection when I was growing up) so I almost feel as if I need to check him out, too. I also need to read Infinite Jest. We can compare notes. I also think I need to think of saving up for a Kindle, as my spouse has been dropping hints I have a few too many books. I don’t think I could ever give up regular books entirely, though.


      • Oh, and a thought just popped into my head about your reference to character actors like Buschemi and Macy (both great actors, by the way) not likely to to inspire sexy fan fic fantasies.

        What does one make of the fact there are apparently sexy slash fan fics about the three guys from “Top Gear?” I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love the Hamster, Captain Slow and Politically Incorrect Jeremy and even wrote a very humorous version of the three in lively conversation into one period fic, but – slash?? Really??

        I guess it just goes to show there’s something for everyone out there. So, who knows – there may even be steamy Steve and William stuff somewhere, as unlikely as it seems to you and me. ( ;

        And I also meant to add that if you can make someone stop and think or ponder a bit over a character through your writing, even if it’s something they don’t necessarily agree with, yes, I think it is a good thing.


        • I would totally find Steve Buschemi attractive IRL, I think.


          • Steve is a very interesting guy. He’s been the best thing in some movies I’ve seen, IMHO.

            Someone else who has caught my fancy is James Frain, a Brit actor who was Cromwell in the Tudors but is now a sociopathic private detective vampire in True Blood. Not conventionally handsome, but oh, my, he manages to exude charisma and a rather endearing quality as crazy Franklin.


  26. I am very sorry. I can see that I’ve been offensive, and I truly regret it.

    I think a lot of what I wrote about in my last post was purely personal, and I was projecting my own feelings of being uncomfortable and, when it came to hearing a stalker whisper obscene sexual suggestions on the phone, terrified. (I only listened for about 10 seconds once, but the calls continued, and those 10 seconds gave me enough of a sense of my stalker’s fantasies to terrify me.) But that was my experience, not RA’s, and I should have realized that the experience of being stalked influences my thinking about fans and fandom and probably influences it unrealistically, as well as much more than it should. Overall, it’s clear that RA is gracious to fans he meets, not terrified and running scared. You’re quite right, the fanfic doesn’t harm him, I think.

    For all I know, RA and many other celebrities are totally unconcerned about fans’ fantasies; they’re actors, after all, and can ultimately separate themselves from the roles they play, so I trust that if they ever actually do see fanfic it doesn’t disturb them.

    I too tend not to like Mary Sue fanfics with endless sex, enough so that I stop reading quickly. I don’t mind sex, but I do mind walking into a world in which sex is the bulk of what goes on, so that the only thing a reader tends to be looking for is the next hot sex act, not the story, not changes in the characters that grow out of or drive the story. They can reveal things about a stranger that are deeply personal in ways that make me feel uncomfortable. That’s a matter of personal taste, obviously; thousands of comments confirm that there are plenty of other people who love just that kind of fanfic.

    A piece of fiction in which characters develop, there’s an engaging plot that doesn’t simply involve sex, sex, sex–that can be a very different matter for me. I’m sorry to have seemed to lump all fanfiction together. Some of it is genuinely masterful, so much so that it’s a shame that more of its authors don’t reach a wider, paying market for fiction.

    I truly am sorry. And the truth is, I doubt that many actors look at much of their fanfic–it’s fiction by fans, presumably read by fans. (I might feel rather different if it was written about RA or one of his characters and sent to him in hopes he’d read it, of course. Especially if it was a sex sex sex one, if you know what I mean) If fanfic is by fans and for fans, it’s harmless to the actor and may help his popularity, just as message boards and blogs about him by admiring fans tend to stir up and spread the buzz. Or maybe “phwoards” is my accurate.


    • If I had to weigh in on this, I’d write that I suspect that a sensible person in Mr. Armitage’s position would stay away from reading fanfic. As with this blog, he’s not the audience. He presumably doesn’t fantasize about having sex with himself, or with Guy of Gisborne or John Porter or whoever. At the same time, fanfic writers are not stalkers — and certainly not those who write the further adventures of his characters. I suspect that reading that sort of thing could become troublesome, though, for an actor. Mr. Armitage’s acting style requires that he keep his mind on the backstory he’s created for his characters — not that created by others.

      At the same time, however, fanfic is really important to me, especially when the canon narrative is so lame or when the fanfic builds on a strong canon narrative. I find it hugely gratifying to read, often because the basic impulses of the authors are laid so bare — they are writing what they want to write, what they want to be real, and not asking themselves so many pesking questions about marketing. It’s a way of joining other people’s fantasies that I find hugely captivating.

      Love the description of fanfic as “phwoards.”


      • Yes, I thought about what you said with the backstory when watching RA’s interviews on the extras on the SB DVDs. I have changed several things in my version of JP’s backstory compared with Richard’s . . . and I imagine that would be irritating to the Creator. And the last paragraph, “writing what they want to write, what they want to be real, and not asking themselves so many pesky questions about marketing . . .” well, that’s it, isn’t it? If TPTB don’t give me the payoff I want in a series, or they kill off a beloved character (Guy is so NOT dead) or do other things with which I simply don’t agree, then as a fan fic writer, I can “right the wrongs.”


      • I’d never read any fanfic until I stumbled into RA-land, and I was greatly surprised by what strikes me as a warm and kind-hearted attitude: it seems to me that it’s very, very rare for anyone to offer anything but praise. I was surprised about this, because all the fanfic was not equal. What I gathered, eventually, is that readers who don’t enjoy a particular piece of fanfic simply say nothing, which is infinitely kinder than pointing out flaws.

        I realized this after I someone was indiscreet about a fanfic that had been heavily praised and got raked over the coals for it. As it turned out, lots of people had sent PMs to say they agreed with her assessment, but no one had wanted to say anything negative about it on a public thread. The fanfic had received a huge number of positive comments, but there were apparently also a significant number of people in the RA community who got in touch to say “Thank goodness someone has said what an awful MESS it is and what a tart she’s turned the main male character into!” or some such.

        My own feeling is that the stories which emphasize sex over emotion and involve one or more sex acts per chapter on the one hand get a huge amount of very enthusiastic praise, but they also put off the kind of reader who is more interested in romance and in character development that doesn’t necessarily simply serve as an excuse for more sex. Turning canonical characters on their heads also annoys some readers: John Thornton as a man who ravished Margaret in frustration, say. If you came to see John Thornton, that may be too much of an AU John Thornton.

        For myself–well, it’s a long time since I stuck my head into the world of fanfic, but my own feeling is that what I saw of the sex struck me as unrepresentative of actual RL men; I’ve had good lovers and lousy ones, but over a certain age pornutopia–sex acts following each other after a remarkably short male refractory period–is the result of taking chemicals and in any case can lead to a really awful case of cystitis. Also, there are more than two positions, sex on the ground is usually uncomfortable for one of the partners, the foreplay often seems to go on nearly forever–oh, get on with it!, orgasms are almost invariably vaginal and simultaneous, I for one don’t mew upon orgasm, or alternatively scream in ecstasy–the neighbors would have something to say about that–and saying each others’ names at the point of orgasm is kind of rare in my experience, if it’s ever happened. I realize that these kinds of conventions are clearly appealing to many readers, which is why they get repeated, but if often seemed to me that in their sex scenes writers were using a bunch of conventions about sex rather than reflecting what they’ve learned from RL sexual encounters, which can be sublime.
        Of course, I’d never say that about anybody’s fanfic; but when I used to see heavily sexualized stories in which the characters go through the routine moves during sex (which for some reason tended always to have Guy of Gisborne looking at Marian as she stood in her near transparent shift . . . transparent??? Not a property of wool, linen, or medieval cotton, so where’d that come from? But lots of people picked up on it and used it)–well, at any rate, I felt that sometimes some writers of highly sexualized fanfic are well praised but don’t necessarily know that it leaves some readers cold. Maybe that’s just as well; if you don’t like it don’t read . . . so I don’t, mostly.

        Soapbox time over. I think I ought to change my name to “Miss Wet Blanket,” I’m so contrary on this blog.


        • As someone who is at present studying for a masters in creative non-fiction, where the giving and receiving of feedback is an essential part of the writing process, I feel called upon to respond to what you deem as the overpraising of fanfic.

          I think that you’ve partly hit the nail on the head when you say that because it is a public forum, people are not really going to give constructive criticism in any meaningful way. Fanfic is in a different category for most of us. Most people read it to get a fix on a character they have liked. I’m new to the genre and if I start reading something I find repetitive or boring or which doesn’t comply with my reasons for seeking out the fic, I’ll stop reading and I certainly won’t comment. But isn’t this what we do with books? I’m a bookworm, but there are stacks of books which I’ve started and put aside. Sometimes it’s to do with the mood you’re in, other times it’s the time aspect or the topic.

          Another aspect of assessing a work is that there is always something positive you can say about someones’writing and disparaging the work that someone has taken the time and effort to create in their spare time for others’ pleasure feels quite unnecessary for most. I’m actually not averse to any of the sex conventions you mentioned above as long as the rest of the fic is well-written. Writing good sex scenes is something that even professional writers have difficulty with. There has even been an award for the most cringeworthy sex scene in a novel, and many worthy and weighty writers have been nominated.

          If I were to offer constructive criticism, it would probably be because I saw myself sticking with this person’s writing. Their work would have to give me so much that I’d be willing to invest in spending the time and effort that giving good feedback requires.


          • And I have appreciated your constructive criticism with “Truce” and I do believe our collaboration is making it a better-written story in terms of some of those details the Creator would prize so much – proper use of British lingo, class distinctions, and so on. And your analytical comments are such a pleasure for me as a writer to read and most helpful, whether you are commenting on the fiction or some of my real life stuff.

            As for me, I take the same view when reading other fan fic writers’ work. I know they are like me, unpaid and doing it for their love of the characters, and if I like it, I will make comments; if not, I politely keep my mouth shut and move on to something else.
            Frankly, it takes a certain amount of guts to put your work out there where just anyone can read it and it can be a little scary, even for someone like me who had been writing professionally for more than eight years when I started with the fan fics.


        • I’m curious about which fic this was!

          But I agree, I’ve been surprised that the commenting is SO positive and would tend to explain it in the way that you have. On the other hand, I try really hard here to be as positive in responding as I can — if you do me the favor of taking time to write me a comment, I am darn well going to take you seriously. So maybe I share those sentiments. I don’t comment much even on fanfic I love because I comment on student writing for a living. I figure people don’t want to be graded, and also that it’s hard for me to praise without making suggestions for improvement that may or may not be welcome.

          I agree that penetrating anachronism in fanfic totally turns me off — but I figure that’s a function of being a historian. Whereas pornutopia sex doesn’t, even as I acknowledge its irreality. I’ll have to think about that some more. My main concern about sex conventions in writing as in porn is the troping of desire for people who have not yet had sex.

          Now, not to be a contrarian, but you’re not really a contrarian. You don’t just say “you’re wrong!” You have a viewpoint and concerns that you substantiate. I’m looking for that kind of contribution. I’ll admit that I don’t want to read “you’re a jerk.”


          • I always make an effort to reply when anyone comments on my stuff, simply because I do appreciate them taking the time to do so. And it seems like good manners, which my mama did try to instill in me.

            And there is a definite difference in people who take a stance and explain why they have it, and those who simply jump on comment sites and start telling everyone else they are wrong, stupid, idiots and so on. There is waaaaaay too much of that out there (we see it at our newspaper’s site all too often).

            It’s as if people look upon the internet as a license to be rude, crude and socially unacceptable. And that’s a shame.


  27. Uh-oh. That should be “more accurate.”


  28. Finally getting back to respond. I’ve been busy making headway with my latest fic chapter (with only one fairly brief and very tasteful sex scene, I should add) and taking time out to catch the first part of the series finale of Doctor Who (Matt Smith has most definitely grown on me as the new Doctor).

    There is a lot of fan fic out there. And some of it, quite frankly, is crap. Poorly edited, with major grammatical errors, misspellings and typos (as a newspaper reporter, this naturally drives me nuts).

    One-dimensional characters saddled with stilted, wooden dialogue and sentences that go on so long your eyes are worn out before you finish (also maddening for me).

    And sex scenes that seem purely gratuitous, tiresomely mechanical, even clinical in nature, or as if the writer couldn’t really think of anything else to do with the characters, so, hey, let’s throw them into bed together!

    So I totally agree that one shouldn’t waste time and energies with some of it. And I’d be embarrassed as part of the fandom for Richard to read some of that stuff.

    But as you say, some is masterful and I believe RA wouldn’t be scared off, but impressed by the level of talent and ingenuity in such selections. And, dare I say, flattered his performances inspired such writings.

    One reader has commented that what she likes about my fics, even the ones more serious in tone, is that the humour shines through, along with the humanity.

    Richard’s gift as an actor includes the ability to take characters and give them depth and layers and let us see the good in the baddie, and the less sterling qualities in the goodie. Just like real human beings.

    And that is what I try to capture in my fan fic. Not total realism, you understand, but interesting, fully fleshed – out characters, with a storyline the reader will be interested in following.

    Sometimes I leave a chapter ending as a cliffhanger – just to make the reader eager to find out what happens next. I’m told the characters, and not just RA’s, leap off the page to engage the reader.

    One of my favorite relationships I am writing right now is John and Alex’s as they rebuild what they once had as father and daughter, all those awkward, tearful, angsty, silly, sweet moments.

    Yes, I do write sex scenes (and from the feedback, I write exceptionally effective ones) but the sex is woven into the story and we get glimpses of the characters’ thoughts and emotions along the way.

    I think you have to try to balance things out as a fiction writer: humour with seriousness, action with contemplation, leavened with the right amount of sexy time as a natural part of the story. I do take pride in what I do and aim all the time to make my writing better.

    I know everyone isn’t going to, or doesn’t, like my style of writing, and that’s OK. I don’t like everyone else’s, either. There are best-selling authors whom I can’t abide, and little-known ones whose work I adore.

    Appreciation of the arts seems more subjective than objective. I remain amazed there are people who think RA is not a good actor. But to each his own, I remind myself.

    And the rotten things we’ve experienced in life – my three roommates and I in college were once held hostage by fear for several weeks by an obscene phone caller before he was finally caught – can certainly colour our views and perceptions on things. My sympathies for what you have gone through, @AAA.

    I have gone through periods of great anxiety over circumstances – a gnawing fear my Air Force officer husband was going to die in a crash of the Looking Glass plane, for example – and finally realised I had to let go of all those fears for the sake of my sanity and his. I was only going to drive my very best friend away with all my nervous, anxious, obsessive behavior.

    Well, I’ve really gotten off-subject here, but then again, maybe not.
    Irrational feelings and actions sort of fall under obsessional behaviour, stalking and such, don’t they? Life is so complicated at times . . .


    • Well, I am on record as loving your sex scenes, angieklong!


      • *giggle* Well, I do have fun writing them, Dr. S. And the research for said scenes is rather enjoyable, too.


        • Where do we find your fan fic @AngieKlong?


          • @Rob,
            I am at both Live Journal ( and Dreamer Fiction as fedoralady; the latter you have to have membership in by referral to access, so I am more easily accessed at LJ. Thanks for inquiring.


            • This will only continue to feed the flames of my addiction. I feel as though I am crossing a threshold and there is no return. I look forward to reading your work.


              • @Rob,

                I fear all is lost for me as well concerning my RA addiction. It hit me mid-2008 and has only grown, especially since I started writing the fan fic.

                As I am sure you are aware by now, I do write explicit sex scenes and have even, rather amazingly, ventured into slash, albeit NOT the hate sex/rape/brutal S&M type. Just not interested in going there.

                At any rate, I hope you will enjoy and it does make one feel quite chuffed to get the seal of approval of Dr. S . . .


                • Been a member of the Richard Armitage Fan Club since 2005.


                  • I didn’t discover him until they aired RH here on BBCA, and even then the RA-Itis didn’t really hit until S2, when I said, “holey moley, this guy (no pun intended) is really astonishingly good!!”


            • Someone else mentioned dreamer fiction to me. Need to get on that.


              • Dreamer Fiction has a large selection of fan fic on several of RA’s characters . . . and it’s easier to navigate than LJ. They do require a referral since they are trying to prevent under-age readers from joining (due to the adult content of some stories), but I would be happy to vouch for you, Servetus, if you need it (Milly is a member, too).


      • I see a select few continue to play around with certain topics while the rest of us move on to the new posts on your blog, servetus. Well, I’ve decided to join you!

        I, too, love Angie’s sex scenes. She’s the mistress of sexy time in the fanfic universe in my opinion!


  29. Wow…

    Just wow. In a good way.

    I stumbled across this blog via a google search looking for some information regarding Lucas North’s and Elizaveta’s history. Just this once, I am grateful for my clumsiness as this post is thought provoking and original. It has taken me near an hour to read this entry and all the comments in their entirety and to mull over my own thoughts.

    1. This comment is not going to be nearly as eloquent nor thought provoking as the previous comments and thoughts have been. While I like to consider myself a fairly decent writer, I am in no way a match to what I have read so far.

    2. I came across Richard Armitage only very recently and am a bit sad that it has taken me so long to discover this talented man. As a writer, I find it easier to create the thoughts, actions and feelings of my characters if I have a picture of someone similar to the way I have described said character. (That sentence really made no sense but can not think of a better way to write it!) Mr. Armitage fit the description of one my characters almost identically that it scared me a bit at first. I have since pushed that fear aside and have very much enjoyed seeing the different roles Richard has played.

    3. And now, after that lengthy introduction I shall begin my thoughts. If I have bored you to death by this time, I shall say thank you very much for reading and good day!

    I find there have been so many good issues addressed here(stalking by blogging, fantasies, fanfiction and sex scenes!) that I can not possibly comment on them all in a just manner. But maybe I don’t need to.

    Maybe all I need to say is:

    1. I don’t believe blogging in this way is stalking, in fact I think it far from it. This is a well written, well thought out essay and equally well written and thought out replies.

    2. I think that when we find someone we admire, whether it be because of their appearance, personality or work, some sort of fantasy about that person creeps into our minds consciously or sub consciously. I think it to be human nature, we can not help it. It is when we act upon that fantasy, when it becomes an obsession that the time comes for us to perhaps rethink our thoughts, or to look at our victim(for lack of a better word) in a different way. Fantasies are a part of us, they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but we ourselves have the power to control just where and how those fantasies will effect us… or is it affect. I always have a hard time with those types of words.

    3. Fanfiction and sex scenes. I shudder slightly because I have, unfortunately, come across far too many ill written, nauseously detailed and overly explicate fanfics. I find that type of writing somewhat disgusting and quite degrading to the characters and actors who portray them. Yet there are those who read such fics FOR the explicate scenes, caring not about the plot (if there is any in such a story).

    I am running out of internet time and therefore am leaving this reply very much uncompleted. If my words really don’t make sense and are just a heap of rubbish please disregard them and tell me to flee while I still have some shreds of dignity left. In any case, I very much enjoyed reading YOUR words, Servetus, and those of your repliers. May your words flow beautiful and easy and if they don’t, a little Armitage should cure you right quick. 😀


    • Thanks for your sweet and well-thought out words, rgangel, and welcome! I hope you’ll come back. I think we’ll have to take up the fanfiction topic again separately, as there’s a lot of fodder there. I take it you were looking for Lucas / Elizabeta backstory for a fic?

      I’m intrigued that you’d have written a character and then discovered that Richard Armitage was like him — I think it must usually be the other way around. If you’re a fic author, can you point us to some of your fics?

      I also appreciate the good wishes. In the words of Tracy Chapman, “words don’t [always] come easily.” Hope your writing goes well, too.


  30. @MillyMe,

    Funny how a nice, quiet southern belle sort of middle-aged lady from a conservative background, a former teacher, now a well-respected local journalist, can end up as your “mistress of sexy time in the fanfic universe,” isn’t it? *grin* Life never ceases to amaze and amuse me. Forrest Gump was right.


  31. Good grief – I’ve just returned to this particular post, after spending self-alloted time on some of the other Me + post subjects, and am amazed at the way it’s developed!

    @servetus, I really, really consider this site to be non-pareil among the RA blogs. (That is not a disparagement of others – some are very funny and witty, and visually artistic, and interesting). Here, the range of topics and the expressiveness of all whom it attracts, fascinate.

    @angieklong, I haven’t been a fan of fanfic – I think a brief foray on the Net which threw up some truly awful, ungrammatical etc Guy and Marian things was off-putting. I’ll look for yours. And just Go Girl, Go! Keep writing!

    Really was laughing over the reports of that unethical, “off the record” interview causing some fans to get their knickers in a twist. Richard smoking!! Richard losing his virginity, and TALKING about it!! Chest hair!! The world obviously stopped on its axis…

    Somehow, it’s unlikely the actor is a chain-smoker. Trust me. I still smoke, and my mezzo-soprano voice has acquired a faintly husky tone, I can’t really reach the higher mezzo notes in song, and breath control is not what it used to be. Mea culpa. There is no way that Mr. Armitage could deliver the rapid speech signature of the Spooks cast, or deliver the audio book performances, without producers, etc. becoming seriously annoyed with re-takes.

    Everyone here seems to have a good grasp of Real Life, and to pose no threat to Mr. Armitage as stalkers. There’s a respect for this actor, notwithstanding the attraction to him we share, which underlies – or is evident in posts and comments.


    • @fitzg,

      Thanks! I am addicted to writing, I fear. I’ve actually been ill the last few days, finally broke down and went to the doctor this afternoon, and I’ve still managed to write both for work and for play, So never fear, girlfriend is gonna keep on keepin’ on. *grin*

      You know, I think one of the reasons I started writing fan fic was reading some of the not-so-good examples and thinking to myself, “You know, I could do better than that . . .” And being impressed by other authors’ work was also an encouragement to give it a try. And I haven’t regretted a single moment.

      And I agree with your assessment about Richard being a chain smoker. I don’t think he could possibly do all those audio books along with his film work if he had a pack-a-day habit. How in the world would he have been able to put himself through the grueling regime to prepare for Strike Back??

      And he seems to have such a strong work ethic, a true sense of professionalism, I just don’t see him doing something that would seriously hinder him being able to give the best to his work.

      Servetus has indeed created a special place here for RA admirers (and I don’t just say that because she’s a fan of my fic, either). It is rather unique, much like the man himself. And you’re right, I sense respect, admiration and affection for Mr. Armitage here. Nothing wrong with that.


    • I’m always astounded when I hear of performers smoking. In my own life, no one in my family smoked, and then I grew up in the Reagan years (“Just say no”), but in music lessons we were taught how to breathe correctly for maximum effect, and repeatedly exhorted not to smoke because it would ruin our stamina. I have to say now as a lecturer I need all my breath and so I’m glad I didn’t ever even try it. But I don’t judge those who did/do. I have my own addictions. When I lived in México I was introduced to the postprandial smoke: after dinner, one of the kids of the family I lived with was dispatched to the corner to buy a packet of cigarettes. Everyone smoked one and that was it until the next dinner. I didn’t ever try it, but I got the sense of a family ritual, and it taught me to look to see why someone is smoking rather than to judge first and ask questions later.

      I agree this post has really taken on a life of its own!


  32. angie, I hope you are feeling better. It’s FMS, yes? I haven’t had health issues myself; but my father was a heart patient. So was my husband, from his late ’30s. And the means by which individuals work around issues (including pain), to focus on their talents and interests, has been, for me, a source of awe and admiration.

    For you – writing is one focus? Bravo! (As Hugo said, in VoD – except, I do know what Bravo means. 🙂


    • Thank you, @fitzg.
      This time it isn’t directly the FMS, but something that has plagued me even longer (my entire almost-50 years): sinuses and allergies. As I told Millyme, one of my most vivid early memories is the scent of Vicks Vapo-Rub and the sound of the vaporizer hissing by my bed. I missed a lot of school when I was young, but fortunately was bright enough to keep up anyway.
      I’ve had two sinus surgeries (so far). If there was such a thing as a sinus replacement, I swear I would sign up.

      Writing has helped me through so many difficult times in my life. We’ve lost five family members over the past ten years: my parents, my in-laws, and our 22-year-old handicapped nephew. We went through a long period of unemployment for my husband, and then concerns when the US auto industry was in such trouble (he’s the finance manager for a local Chevy dealership), and then this pesky FMS for the past 15 years on top of it all. So instead of Calgon, I just say, “Laptop, take me away!!” *grin* Richard Armitage is a dandy way to cheer one up, too, I’ve found. He makes me feel young and frisky and healthy and full of possibilities, bless his sweet heart.

      My dad had a hard life in so many ways but his motto was “a little laughter in life,” and that is mine, too. Laughter, writing, music, art, my pets and my family: they all help me keep my sanity (well, more or less . . .) I am zapping myself with a Z-pac and am hitting the road again to the southern part of the county tomorrow as the news keeps on happening.

      The nice thing about newspaper work is no two days are exactly the same.
      That, I like.


      • You have an amazing attitude, angieklong!

        My SIL has FMS. She’s still learning to cope.


        • FMS is a challenge. There’s no one proven treatment that works for everyone; exercising (the right kind) is beneficial, but sometimes the fatigue and pain can make the idea of extra exertion very unappealing. Meds that help one person don’t do a thing for another.

          My best wishes to your SIL. There is a newsletter from the Fibromyalgia Network that has a lot of helpful information on research, new meds and treatments. You can subscribe online.

          One of the toughest aspects can be the fact it is an invisible illness; people can look at an FMS patient and since they aren’t in a wheelchair or on crutches or have limbs twisted by arthritis, it’s assumed they are “perfectly fine.” I find it interesting that the rise in research into FMS came about after several male physicians came down with it. Suddenly it was no longer that silly complaint that was all in women’s minds.

          I don’t know that I am amazing, but I just try to remember, as my dear young friend with an old soul says, “It could always be worse.”


          • Yeah, I think she doesn’t get a lot of sympathy or understanding, particularly from my mother (her MIL).

            Totally agree with “if men suffered it, it would already be cured” statement (within reason of course).


            • Well, I lost my reply somehow; trying to respond while the lads in the editorial meeting discussed the football magazine . . . my mom, bless her heart, could never quite remember what my condition was called, so she referred to it as “Angie’s problem.” This had me chuckling, because I could imagine people thinking, “Just what is her problem? Does she drink?? Kleptomania??”

              (Actually, I do have an unsteady gait at times, referred to by some witty fellow patient as “The Fibromyalgia Waltz.”)

              But I have been blessed to have family who are very understanding of what I go through. My late MIL also had it, and we were able to commiserate together.

              And my wonderful husband, who could probably pull off masquerading as a doctor if he so desired (he has been asked by doctors and nurses in the various hospitals we’ve been in with family members if he was a doctor due to his obvious medical knowledge about procedures and medications) has been enormously supportive. Makes a tremendous amount of difference, let me tell you.

              Undoubtedly, having those male physicians take “a walk in our shoes” has helped research and education move along better than it would have otherwise. Sad to say it, but it’s so true.

              I have to say dealing with this for a good chunk of my life has made me so much more empathetic to others dealing with similar issues. What does not kill you, makes you stronger – a better person, perhaps?


  33. The issue of “invisible” illness/disability requires extensive public education. My husband did not look like a heart patient – he was the long, lean type, not your overweight, choleric-complexioned stereotype. So, there could be raised eyebrows regarding parking in disbled designated spots.

    FMS is even more requiring of education. It appears to be only gradually being medically, let alone publicly recognised.

    Just heard a programme on CBC, in which “disabled” people spoke of social acceptance. One visibly-impaired woman spoke of a job interview during which she was questioned regarding how she would work with her “disability”. She responded that she assumed this interview was about her ABILITIES. She got the job.

    Not to put a fine point on it, that seems to be your attitude, Angie. And it works.


    • I try not to reference my FMS at work too often. Unfortunately, I have had to miss work more than I would like due to it; I always run through all my six days of sick leave and end up borrowing from the next year and using some of my vacation. Ultimately, as an hourly wage slave, I end up losing pay. But hey, I have a job, which is more than I can say for several of my friends.

      I know my boss is one of those males who likely thinks it’s “all in the mind;” if he had to spend a single day in my body, feeling the aches, pains, brain fog, fatigue and other symptoms, I am pretty sure he’d change his mind.

      I would far rather focus on my talents and abilities than my shortcomings. My older sister is visually impaired and has been since birth. But she has never felt sorry for herself or let that stand in the way of getting an education and having a career. Due to some other health issues, she had to take early retirement from her job as a rehab counselor for the deaf and blind, but I know on more than one occasion, she was chosen as case worker of the year while she was active. She has served as a great role model for me. It doesn’t hurt she also thinks her “baby” sister is the greatest thing since sliced bread, either (:


  34. The issue of “invisible” illness/disability requires extensive public education. My husband did not look like a heart patient – he was the long, lean type, not your overweight, choleric-complexioned stereotype. So, there could be raised eyebrows regarding parking in disabled designated spots.

    FMS is even more requiring of education. It appears to be only gradually being medically, let alone publicly recognised.

    Just heard a programme on CBC, in which “disabled” people spoke of social acceptance. One visibly-impaired woman spoke of a job interview during which she was questioned regarding how she would work with her “disability”. She responded that she assumed this interview was about her ABILITIES. She got the job.

    Not to put a fine point on it, that seems to be your attitude, Angie. And it works.


    • And not all fat people have heart problems. Imagine that!

      We really need to look at each other and accept each other for who we are. Life could be so much easier …


      • It really would, servetus. It’s such a shame when we prejudge people and make assumptions without really knowing the whole story.
        A bit off-topic, but I was visiting with the older citizens at the senior center in the small town to our south . . . I looked at them, with their white hair and bald spots, their bifocals, their creased and lined faces; hands work-worn and dotted with age spots and uncooperative knees, and, yes, I saw senior citizens.

        But here’s what I heard: laughter, joking, ribbing one another as only dear friends can do. Looking closer, I caught the lively glimmer in those faded eyes, the mischief in their smiles, and realized all they had been – the child, the teen, the young adult, the mid-lifer – was still in there, waiting to be acknowledged, too. I’ve gotten to interview several people in their 90s and 100s and it’s always been a revelation.
        We shouldn’t put people in boxes and stick labels on them. We are missing out on so much if we do.


  35. Sorry about the duplication: there was a time-out notice, and it appears the gremlins repeated it.


  36. […] last but not least: the sex. We’ve had some discussion on this blog about the relative attractiveness of cliched sex scenes. Natalie did not like the sex, and I should add that my mom didn’t really like it either. I, […]


  37. […] continued to be augmented to my qualms about how doing this affects him, a problem I documented in a lengthy, angsty post that chewed at my nerves as I wrote it. “This can’t be sane,” I thought, and […]


  38. […] the other hand, this is my blog, and this summer I was able, finally, to establish for myself that the real Mr. Armitage is not part of its target audience. As I said at the beginning, he’s a text that I interpret to understand my […]


  39. […] of whether this blog or anything said on it or any other blog might be an attempt to coerce you, or whether it constitutes some kind of stalking, something that I worried about a lot last summer, in the end I have ever lesser interest in any […]


  40. […] her comment suggested to me is that the potential for such an experience is a reason that, despite my convoluted reservations, the theatrical fantasy exercises such amazing force in my life: Richard Armitage has talked about […]


  41. […] Richard Armitage has never been in danger of being stalked by me, though well-meaning and hostile readers alike often made me worry about whether that was my actual problem and whether I was lying to myself about it by refusing to acknowledge it. Moreover, the intensity of the feelings I’ve had made me wonder if there was something sick about them. And I’m ethically bound to try not to hurt Mr. Armitage, as the muse who saved me, and so I have taken people’s worries seriously and written about them. […]


  42. […] Up till now, while I’ve discussed my desire to see Richard Armitage on stage, I’ve wrestled with my discomfort about the whole stage door / meet and greet situation (repeatedly). Last November’s Hobbit fan event is something I might have done if I’d […]


  43. […] fallout because of my ongoing reluctance to meet Armitage in person (something I wrote about here but need to readdress because I think it’s deepened in the context of the last week or […]


  44. […] if he did so, I’d try to see it as often as I could, circumstances permitting: “He could be committed to appear on a stage where I could see him […]


  45. […] it was interesting to me to reread my first, lengthy ruminations over that, in which I argued that that Armitage the person might unacceptably interfere with my conception of Armitage the fantasy. I think I’ve moved on from there — that is, I have fully accepted that fantasy […]


  46. […] Serv, get a f****** grip. I still don’t understand my own behavior sometimes. Then again, I didn’t think I would stand at a stage door and I did that. […]


  47. […] of a play on the horizon what I would do. (I explored it further, and we talked about it more, here.) Two things strike me upon revisiting those posts now. First, I was knocked over by Armitagemania […]


  48. […] A few years ago I jokingly thought about bidding on a charity auction for a dinner with Brendan Coyle. Even Armitage were an option, I somehow can’t see myself bidding on this one. A bit weird given what I’ve spent on two trips to London to see him on stage. I’ve always been torn over the split between seeing him work and meeting him personally (from the very beginning). […]


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