Why I don’t like these things

I feel like many times when I post a link to some poll in which Mr. Armitage can be voted for vs other actors, I end up with a sour taste in my mouth.

Case in point: Anglophenia poll, which I initially found amusing, but which has now suspended our capacity to see results until they sort out an IP address analysis of the votes.

I noted the poll on the blog, and my own indecision over the choice of Armitage vs Rickman. We had some fun talking about it. I voted for Armitage after all, since this IS an Armitage blog. Then I clicked back a few times to see how he was doing, discovered that I could only vote once — which was fine — and noted that things seemed neck and neck in either direction. What was curious is that 2-4 times as many votes were registered in this particular pairing as in any of the others. Naively, I attributed that discrepancy to greater interest in these actors than in the others, but the commentators note, and the blog administrators must obviously agree, that some kind of manipulation is going on. Charges are being hurled in both directions in the comments, as well as mentions of bots in China. Sigh. I don’t know what to think. As much as I love Mr. Armitage, surely simply on the face of it, many more people know who Rickman is after the Harry Potter films. I got a handful of requests to have readers here vote in the poll from email addresses unknown to me who’ve never left a comment before, and I didn’t post them because I figured we had already talked about it once and those who’d wanted to vote had the opportunity.

Alan Rickman at premiere party for the opening of his new play in New York City, January 15, 2011. Source.

I was reading today about how Alan Rickman’s fans feel about him, and here’s an eloquent statement of one fan’s reaction upon seeing Rickman on stage that moved me immensely:

“… I was five feet away from the man himself. The man who had made me feel loved and understood. The man who conveyed masked heartbreak better than I ever could explain. The man who taught me that it was okay to feel the way I did and who did not make me feel lonely any more. I had never met him, and there he was. … It was a powerful experience, as going to the theatre should be. In truth, that is what it comes down to, right? Actors want to take you to a new world, to take you on an emotional ride, and that is always what he has done for me. …  I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Gratitude for everything he had done for my life; that he had been with me through the ups and downs. I wish I could thank him, I really do, but he is a symbol and no amount of storytelling could convey how much he did for my life. … I walked away with a sense of completion. I had been near him, watched him perform with the utmost grace and sensitivity I always appreciated. The man has made me laugh, made me cry and made me love, and there will always be a special place in my heart for that.”

I found this statement moving because of its strong similarities to how I feel about Mr. Armitage, but also because it made me empathize so much with this (to me unknown) fan, because hearing how she wrote about Rickman made me recognize and understand a fundamental piece of myself and articulate the effect that Armitage has on me. Though I have my opinions, and I’ve expressed them at times, and even analyzed why I’ve come to those opinions, I don’t ever want to find myself in an argument anymore that has any other tone than a jovial one about who’s the better actor.

So in future, I suspect, I’m going to be maintaining my distance from polls that put Armitage in competition with other actors. They inspire reactions in me that I don’t like and behavior in others that troubles me. The point isn’t who’s the better performer, who’s more gifted, better looking, more talented. The point is what THIS actor does for me, how studying or following THIS actor has influenced my life for the better. Richard Armitage certainly doesn’t think he’s competing for fan allegiance; why should I write that on to him? Or make people think that I *need* people to think that he’s a better actor than Alan Rickman?

I’ve come out against prescription with regard to other fans’ behavior, and I stick with that. If you are so motivated to express your convictions about Armitage that you’ll hack a poll to do so, I trust that you must have some significant reason for coming to that conclusion, and I won’t tell you not to do it or try to burden your conscience. The people who do it must understand themselves why, or what they think is fun about it, or why anyone should care enough about a poll like this one to hack it.

But for me: yes, there are other actors; there may even be better actors. I love Alan Rickman’s work and he’s moved me deeply, particularly as Severus Snape, and made me laugh out loud, especially as Obadiah Slope. But Richard Armitage is my actor, the one who does it for me when I need it the most, and to whom I’ll always be grateful. In that sense, polls and their results are irrelevant. For me, he really has no competition.


Happy Birthday month Richard Armitage! In honor of this event, consider donating your time, energy, and thoughts / prayers to an effort that’s meaningful to you. If you need a suggestion, here’s a link to Mr. Armitage’s recommended charities at JustGiving, as well as a link to means of generating a charity contribution on his behalf at RichardArmitageOnline.com, and a link to Act!onAid, a child sponsorship organization for which he recorded a voiceover in December 2010. Donate to Christchurch Earthquake Appeal here.

~ by Servetus on August 14, 2011.

39 Responses to “Why I don’t like these things”

  1. This contest has the left the same taste in my mouth. It started in a fun way but now the competition (with potential hacking) has become disturbing. The fact some take this so seriously is even more disturbing since the poll actually means nothing. It enhances and takes away from the actors not one iota and they wouldn’t even care. It’s turning into a bizarre competition between fans.

    We joked in chat about who I should ultimately vote for (I have two horses in the race) and my answer was greeted with much banter, but it’s very uncomfortable knowing others are there are taking this stuff seriously.

    The comparison between many of these actors are like apples and oranges with strengths and weaknesses that cannot be accurately quantified, different stages in their careers, and different public recognition. Who anybody votes for is personal preference; it doesn’t mean anybody is particularly better or worse. This is just a simple poll on an entertainment site. It’s sad that there always seem to be people out there who enjoy ruining the fun for others.


    • it seems like to some extent the dynamic is fostered by the anonymity of the voting. No one knows why Rickman suddenly got so many votes, but then people who themselves appear not to be hacking jump in to explain why he deserves them. The pro-Rickman squad is more fully represented in the comments there than the pro-Armitage side, but one could imagine it going the other way.


  2. It’s because of comments such as those posted on that poll (and others) that RA fans are many times called “obsessive”. I stopped reading the comments, and simply vote. Sometimes I even think that so many “fangladiators” will do more harm than good but, …. there’s nothing we can do, people are free to express their feelings and opinions, as I’m free to choose not to read them or engage in the discussion 🙂
    For the record: I found it very hard to choose between Alan and Richard …. Alan was the first “bad guy” I had a crush on when he played Hans Gruber in Die Hard and later, The Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood …. but Richard is Richard 🙂


    • Hans Gruber is really still memorable all of these years later. Rickman deserves a lot of respect for his oeuvre. I read the comments and did not read any where Armitage fans were running him down. There were more people saying “who is this Armitage?” which is more or less what I would have expected. But there are definitely claims there that seemed aimed at creating a flame war.


  3. I’ve been following this poll, and have been saddened by the behavior of some participants. Starting with the comments between the “fans” and now escalating to apparent vote manipulation, it just seems that a certain mean-spiritedness as developed. While I would love to see RA do well, the other contestants are fine actors as well and I don’t believe the creators of this poll intended for any of them (or their fan groups) to be criticized in any way. As for vote manipulation, I can only say “Seriously, people? Do you have nothing better to do in life?”


    • For someone like me, figuring out how to hack a poll would require a major effort, but perhaps there are computer experts who have software for this purpose already in place. I just can’t figure out why anyone would write software for this specific purpose. And if such activity were valuable, you’d assume, the representing agencies of the actors would get them some and use it 🙂


  4. TBH, I didn’t know there were comments below…I just voted and then checked the totals each day afterwards. When the total votes for the Rickman/Armitage contest doubled those of the other “contestant’s” totals, I smelled a rat. Today, upon checking totals (yes I DO have other things to do but curiosity got the best of me!) I saw there were no totals and saw the administrator’s comment which *finally* led me to the comments below. REALLY?!! What should have been a fun thing turned in to something really weird. I wonder if these people put as much energy into, oh I don’t know, feeding the homeless or perhaps finally getting the dust rhinos out from under the bed, what positive things could be done in real life? Just sayin’!

    PS Mr. Rickman had me in the palm of his hand portraying Col. Brandon years ago! What a gifted actor!! But, as Cristina said, “Richard is Richard.” 😉


    • I didn’t look at the comments till today either. Everyone needs some fun, and friendly rivals have nothing to condemn them, but it seems like a dynamic frequently appears in which the rivalry can’t be friendly.

      I don’t know what they can do about it — if they announce a redo, there’ll just be someone out there who’ll want to prove that they can hack any higher security barrier 🙂

      Richard is indeed Richard. The thing is that I was asking myself today when I first became aware of Rickman. It was probably “Die Hard,” but he didn’t really stick in my mind till much later. Armitage came along at a point in my life when he just filled some need perfectly. That may be arbitrary but that is how it is.

      I have dust rhinos under my bed. Well, actually at the moment I don’t have a bed. But when I have a bed there are definitely dust dinosaurs under it 🙂 But I have many other redeeming qualities 🙂


  5. ouch! No bed??!!! So is the choice of reclinement (is that a word?) the floor or the couch? Should we start a Save Serv’s Back Fund?!

    uhmmm, I’m off to solve world peace now in the form of dust rhino/dinosaur elimination. I feel guilty now. Thing is, I have 4 beds to patrol.

    Arbitrary works for me! 🙂


    • it’s a bit like asking why you love someone, I think 🙂

      I didn’t move my apartment furnishings here because the cost would have been appalling. I’ve actually spent a lot of time sleeping on floors over the years, and when I have a bed, it has one of those extra-super-firm-like a concrete slab mattresses anyway. I will probably get a futon after Sept 1, mostly because the bugs here are really big 🙂


  6. Jumping Jehosaphats!!!! I have a sudden urge to scratch. Sounds like you need to make friends with a friendly unattached exterminator! 😉

    Well, I guess if “they” don’t/can’t do another poll, it’s not like they’ll trash the trophy? Not sure what the point was anyway, other than fun and that’s gone.


    • I’ll schedule an appointment. Worked with the optometrist 🙂

      Good luck with world peace. That’s on my list, too 🙂


      • A friend of mine had a Murphy bed in every studio apartment she rented. That’s the only time I’ve actually seen them in real life (as opposed to in cartoons when someone inevitably got shut up in the wall). Oh, and the optometrist…did he get up to see you?


        • Unfortunately, the optometrist’s family visit missed my departure for the new job by about a week, so we won’t get to meet up this summer 😦


      • You got the obtusive exterminator/optomitrist equation! 🙂

        @jazz, a friend of mine has 2 gorgeous Murphy beds, both antique and equal to 4 pieces of furniture…not a bed=storage drawers, mirrors, shelves…a bed=well, a bed.


  7. I thought it was supposed to be a light-hearted thing so I did of course vote for Richard. Really glad now that I didn’t look at any of the comments as I think it might have made me sorry that I participated. Very sad to hear what has been happening. SO unnecessary.

    The quote regarding what Alan Rickman’s fan said was truly moving and fairly accurately articulated what my feelings are toward Richard. I thought it lovely that his fans are as loyal to him as we are to Mr A. and why shouldn’t they be. We don’t all feel the same towards another person in RL so why should we think otherwise when it comes to actors?


    • I think that by a certain point (which has been reached in this poll) they’re all strong candidates and it is a matter of taste and familiarity.


  8. On another note… When ever I think of Obadiah Slope, I remember that his name was pronounced with a definite hiss. MISSSTER Slope. Thank you for reminding me of the first time I saw Alan Rickman. Have loved him ever since. Of course, he doesn’t occupy the same place in my heart as Mister Armitage!


    • you must have been a very early fan — that was 1982 and his “breakthrough” performance. It’s really delightful; I just saw it this last year.


  9. Yeah, now I am embarrassed about commenting on that poll page and even more so for making a post about it. I thought it was something for fun, (although I really did want RA to win!). So I went camping for the weekend and come back to see all this mess about vote-bots? And now we can’t see who is in the lead! *sigh!* Oh well, so much for that! Why do I even care? *mutter, mutter*! I hate it when someone (or something) spoils my fun. 😦


    • I don’t think you need to be embarrassed for an honest outpouring of effusiveness, phylly3. You had no way to know about all the crap around the poll.

      I share that feeling that I want Armitage to win. Maybe less so now given Rickman’s popularity than in the first round, when he was up against Matthew McFadyen. But not enough to try to circumventthe rules, which does, as you note, spoil the fun.


  10. Like judiang said in the first comment here, it’s a poll that means NOTHING. To think people take it so seriously? I just see it as a bit of fun. Of course, I’d like to see RA win over AR, but realistically, AR has been around for a lot longer and has a much wider fan-base.

    Thing is, I think it’s only been because we the fans publicise the poll on blogs and Twitter to get people voting that we have this seemingly great battle between two great actors. We as RA fans are trying to get the underdog to win, and the Rickmaniacs have answered with the same fan fervour, but for THEIR favourite actor.

    To include bots on ANY side is just ridiculous. It’s not a presidential election, it’s not an Oscar nomination, it’s a friggin’ BLOG POLL that the winner is never even likely to hear of, let alone care. Sure, I’d love to see RA win for the principle of the thing, but really? What does it matter if he does or doesn’t?


    • I agree — because we mention it, the temperature of the whole thing rises. When I post these things I’ve never said, “this is important,” but I can’t control the conclusions that people draw from what I write. So I won’t be posting these in future, I think. I may change my mind but right now that seems paramount.


  11. I’ve long decided not to participate with polls like these, because at the end of the day it usually boils down to a popularity contest between fans, not the actor in question. As in, who is or has the better fan? Whatever that may mean in their eyes.

    And it’s the fanatical behaviour I have seen around the web over mere simple polls, among other things, that can give any fandom a really bad name. Twitter does not help to dispel that image either.

    Yes, it would be nice if he won, but if he doesn’t, so what?!


    • This is an interesting problem, because I have really mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it seems like many early Armitage fans really stressed that they didn’t want the fandom to be like other fandoms (the “no conversations about his personal life rule” is a good example, remnant of this period). On the whole my reaction has typically been that refusal to discuss something generally leads to the extremes controlling the conversation, which in my opinion has not been good. So I’ve pushed the idea on this blog that it’s ok for Armitage fans to be like other fans. On the other hand, of course, it’s clearly the case that not all fan behaviors are equally tasteful, even if I have tried very hard to stick to the “don’t prescribe behavior for others” rule. I still struggle with that (as is obvious from this post).


      • Just because it is ok for Armitage fans to act like other fans, does not mean you have to. 😉 It does not mean you and I have to participate.

        So sure, if ‘you’ really want him to win some random poll online, go ahead. But don’t expect me to tag along. Fandom isn’t mandatory and I choose to opt out with certain aspects. This includes to “His personal life is OFF LIMITS!!!”-rule even when he has left that door ajar at times.

        And your post says just that. “Hey, if you want to do that, by all means. I on the other hand choose not to.”

        Remember, this is your blog. Do what feels right.


        • Oh, for sure, it’s my blog, and this is my first fandom, so I’m still learning how to be a fan. It’s just that I do plenty of things here that other (longer-term) fans might consider distasteful or unethical (blogging about Annabel Capper is probably chief on that list). There’s also the issue that saying, “do this if you want, but *I* don’t want to” is essentially a passive aggressive way of saying “don’t do this,” isn’t it? 🙂


          • LOL It certainly would be if you made a public “announcement” of your actions in regards to what others are doing/saying.

            For me it’s definitely an internal conversation on that front. Then again, I usually label myself as a “bad fan,” since I just skim fandom, remain critical about my favourite artist no matter what and don’t tend to play along. 😉


            • I go in waves on the “critical” part. I’d have a hard time saying something really negative about Richard Armitage here, even if I thought it, and I wonder if I am capable of thinking it any more.


  12. In agreement with cc and the tenor of comments. I did participate in one poll last year, which placed Mr. A against several other actors; however, it transpired that people were urged (and were permitted) to vote as many times as wished. And elements of the fan base promoted that. Very distasteful. No more actor vs. actor polls! Especially one against one. Apples and oranges – and sound and fury signifying 0…


    • there’s a weird dynamic in that if you’ve voted once, you’re drawn back to the site to vote again and see what’s happening. I’m sure a lot of this agitation is driven by attempts to count clicks — advertising.


  13. I’m not defending ‘fans’ in both sides but it occured to me that maybe this manipulators could be just flame-makers/trolls. This people that are not really fans, they just enjoy making fights between people in a forum. I’ve been in another fandom for a long time (longer than here anyways, I’m here almost 3 years) and out 2 out of 3 ‘fights’ the user making all the fuzz and heating the discussion was a troll recognized by the moderator as logged with different names and same IP.

    I know there are some very enthusiastic even a bit obssesive fans out there and maybe they *are* making this taking-all-the-fun-out comments but sometimes I wonder if it all is some ‘real fans’ fault, it could be just my experience.

    OML 🙂


    • I honestly don’t think that anyone I “know” is involved either in flaming or in creating vote bots (our technical skills are way under that level, for one thing). They may be voting more than once but the site didn’t inform that that wasn’t allowed, either. Of course, now, if they were, they wouldn’t tell me for fear of incurring my opprobrium, I’m sure. On the other hand it’s also obvious that many, many, many more people read this blog than comment or approach me to get to know me a little more personally. Which was why I wrote the post — not really for the people I “know,” but for those I don’t. As the fandom gets bigger and bigger (and particularly, as it spreads to cultures with different dynamics and customs that are unfamiliar to those of us living in the post-industrial West), stuff like this will happen more and more often, I imagine.


      • I know you don’t ‘know’ them, I was trying to say that sometimes is not worth getting bothered with it just walk off because there are unknows (not even fans of RA nor AR) that their sole objective is to spoil the fun.

        In the other hand I do understand that it is annoying that it happens.


  14. […] of the BBC Anglophenia ‘Favourite Man of 2011′, I heard via Servetus’ blog that there was apparently some controversy regarding some potential tampering of poll results. And […]


  15. […] assume that the storm of “likes” from dubious gravatar identities relates to my criticism of poll hacking here. Whatever. I’ve turned the button off. Real people seldom used it anyway. I stand by what I […]


  16. […] be at The Crucible, or when I learned that Armitage was to be in the new Alice movie. It was also a Rickman / Armitage faceoff that caused me to articulate why I don’t like fan internet polls (in case you’re new and have wondered why I don’t really cover those things), and […]


  17. […] explanation of why people like Chris Pine. Which reminded me of this post I wrote from ages ago. Comparisons are odious. At least about stuff like this. […]


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