Richard Armitage, infinite infatuation?

Yesterday’s new Armitage pictures preview. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com. Uch, the clothes. Seriously, what did I spend all this time on, writing about how you should pick clothes, if you’re just going to let people put badly fitting stuff on you anyway?? Mr. Armitage, I’m beginning to despair. (Just kidding. Put on whatever you like. I do.)

***

A slow week, posting here, but not in the blog backround, my “real life,” or in my Armitagemania case. Part of that was that I spent a lot of the last weekend preparing some interviews for fan showcases I’d planned to run over the summer and am still doing (and if you’re still in my interview queue, do not lose heart! I am going to work on them again this long holiday weekend!) and part of it was the inevitable time suck associated with a new campus, new students, getting twelve new logons for different systems, rerouting all my mail, etc., here, and getting into the meat of classes. I also got inspired by the pictures from Recognise Magazine that appeared yesterday (apparent ratio messup notwithstanding) and turned again to formulating my next post in the Armitage barbatus series, which got hijacked by my move, but which I will finish or bust! And part of it was that I spent most of my free time and an unreasonable amount of the hours I should have been sleeping over two entire days writing a fanfic. This frustrates me because it will never see the light of day, except perhaps in excerpts, but it seems part of the cost of doing business, in that I’m still infatuated, and I have to let it out. Yup, still suffering as badly as I ever was.

I’m not judging myself anymore, except in jest, but half a million hits (! — who’d ever have thought that would happen ??!?) still seems like an appropriate point at which to muse on this again. Still no answers, even if I’ve decided to go with radical acceptance — not only expressing myself involuntarily, as when I began writing here, or voluntarily, as it developed over the course of the first year, but now enthusiastically. I think the big symptom of this is the fanfic. I just write down whatever I think or daydream, trying to suspend my judgmentality as much as possible while writing. I love the daydreams. Charles Simic wrote a lame article on his reintroduction to boredom during Hurricane Irene, when his power went out. He rediscovered boredom — which I found embarrassing to read just because he’s one of my favorite poets and this admission makes me feel sorry for him. A poet is bored if he doesn’t have a computer? I have to say, if I my power went out for days, and I had food and running water, I’d snuggle right up and daydream about Richard Armitage and his characters till the lights went back on. I don’t have Internet service in my apartment yet, so that’s always an attractive option for when I go home.

Anyway, what strikes me today, as I think about it, is a weird boundary development issue that’s manifested itself in my Armitagemania. On the one hand, as certain things become more real, other things are becoming less so. As I said above, I’ve accepted that my own fantasy life is real and meaningful. No more saying that I’m crazy because I have certain fantasies, or that they don’t mean anything, or that they’re unacceptable, or that they distract me from “reality,” a territory from which they are somehow supposed to be distinct. No more shame that all of this is a timewaster that drags me away from important things. This surge of energy is the most important thing that’s happening to me right now, and it’s happening because of Armitagemania. So the question is, what happens to the part that I’ve always accepted as real, albeit in a relatively troublesome sense, i.e., the fangrrling? The fangrrling is on some level the real ethical obstacle to simply descending into fantasy, as its object is a real person. At least ostensibly. Or does the problem of fangrrrling really pose an ethical obstacle at all?

I was tweeting last night with a fellow blogger, and the conversation turned to the intensity of fandom (apparently we were called cray cray yesterday) and the matter of how we and our fellow fans see ourselves in relationship to Mr. Armitage. In doing so, we identified a division in fans between those who feel themselves to be relating, apparently, to Richard Armitage himself, and those who claim or acknowledge that the intensity of their fascination relates to a fantasy of or about Richard Armitage. To restate: it’s a difference between acknowledging that one is adoring Richard Armitage, and acknowledging that one is adoring a fantasy of Richard Armitage — hope that’s clear. I thought this distinction was interesting, should it hold, because I think in essence that (a) both of these choices in fangrrling seem to be reasonable options because the publicity machine obviously blurs the reality / fantasy line on purpose — and indeed, that’s part of the power of the experience, thinking that something about the fantasy could be real makes it even more enticing, but that (b) all of us, on both sides of the distinction are actually involved in a fantasy about Richard Armitage. It’s just that one kind of fan is convinced that what she is experiencing is totally and utterly a fantasy, while others embrace a fantasy in which the appearance of reality is part of the charm and part of what makes the experience compelling. I don’t think the line is hard and fast for everyone. People move between the groups, both in the course of their attraction, and on a day to day basis. For what it’s worth, at the moment I’m mostly in the “Richard Armitage is only / completely a fantasy” group — probably 80% of the time, anyway. While that means that some moments of fandom play out differently for me than for others (hypothetically, for example, anger at him isn’t really a likelihood for me as long as he’s not real — since if he’s not an actual agent, he can’t be responsible for acting in ways that I don’t like — and I find myself relatively uninterested in the occasional tweet about whom he’s dining with in Wellington if it doesn’t enhance the fantasy), it doesn’t mitigate the intensity of my infatuation even one bit. I still wake up every morning thinking about the man and his work. I do think the other position is different, though. It’s a weird sort of effect to me that if I participate in the “Richard Armitage is real” version of the fantasy, it’s simultaneously more potent because of the emotional force of the Armitage permutation of the ontological argument (“The greatest thing in the world must exist! Existing makes him even better than a fantasy! Just think, I could meet him some day!”) but also more troublesome precisely because if he’s real, as someone who thinks of herself as an ethical person, I shouldn’t want to encounter him in the way that actually makes me want to meet him in the first place, i.e., as a person meeting a (fantasy) actor / person (“Since he’s a real person, I shouldn’t overwhelm him with my craziness, since a caring person wouldn’t do that!”).

Honestly, I don’t think I’m in any ethical danger yet, but I suppose thinking about all of it as fantasy makes it safer. Potentially I’m kidding myself, of course. I’m not sure I’m done on this journey; no doubt I’ll come to regard all of this stuff differently as time passes. It seems weird to me that as I accept the reality of the unreal (noted above), the unreality of the real seems to grow. As my fantasies grow stronger, the real Richard Armitage recedes and I acknowledge more and more that everything I write about him involves a fantasy or fantasies. The possibility that he would be real is, increasingly, too dangerous for words. Were I in love with someone real, then I’d want to meet him; were I to want to meet him in a meaningful way, I’d be crazy, liable to accusations that my fangrrling is out of control. Why worry about a hypothetical problem? It’s not like I’m going to meet the real Richard Armitage anyway, either from a distance on a red carpet or by speaking to him at length, which I still occasionally fantasize about. But even so, there are very real stakes here. At first Armitagemania kept me sane; though it still plays that role, thinking about the fantasy is now also clearly a source of energy and creativity. I don’t want it to go away, or perhaps I’m afraid of what will happen if it does. If Armitage does not have the potential to be real, will the fantasy persist? If I am not focused on the fantasy of Armitage, will I go back to suffering and emotional paralysis? Will I stop being able to write? Am I continuing to fangrrl and fantasize out of some kind of fear of relapsing into the unhappy period Before Armitage? What I ever have to do to keep the fantasy underway, I want to do it. That, in itself, sounds a bit desperate.

Potentially, but I don’t think I’m in a lot of danger of it going away. The other thing we were talking about that I found interesting was the question of sensation in response to the fantasy Armitage — and why it is that a glance can trigger such a wave of euphoria. I’ve had this experience, after a brief Armitage break, and so have sister bloggers. There’s a deceptive similarity between the infatuation of Armitagemania and the beginning of feelings of love, and I’ve experienced this confusion myself as Armitagemania has developed. I said in the twitter conversation that I thought that something in this fandom was comparable to never leaving the infatuation stage of a love affair, indeed never having the opportunity to do so because one is prohibited from it by having to acknowledge its fantasy nature all the time, and fellow blogger agreed. Obviously, it’s a truism to note that none of us will ever have the chance to fall out of love with Richard Armitage in the conventional sense, because we never fell in love with him in the conventional sense, either. We will never experience the common triggers for that effect as they occur in relationships with people we know. We’ll never find out about his dirty laundry, putatively self-revealing articles in which he divulges that he has some notwithstanding, have to brush our teeth in his messy bathroom on the potentially embarrassed morning after, or have the chance to discover that he’s a boring workaholic.

But we may always, or at least for a long time, have the infatuation. It’s the thing that keeps us poised on that unclear boundary between real and fantasy, it’s the thing that’s simultaneously deceptively real and obviously fake, it’s the frisson of possibility that makes every renewed encounter with even a picture of him an opportunity for an unparalleled wave of euphoria. Infatuation is real enough to entice, but never so real that it has to confront any difficulties. Therein lies its power and (I suppose) its inherent betrayal of the real. Right now, though, I’m embracing the power.

~ by Servetus on September 4, 2011.

53 Responses to “Richard Armitage, infinite infatuation?”

  1. It is difficult for me to accept that the “real” Richard Armitage recedes because the majority of us, you and myself included do not know the real Richard Armitage and therefore he cannot exist for us in the sense of knowing and relating to him. Everything we think of him is our opinion or fantasy.

    Regarding the fanfic…it is funny how sometimes it just has to be written and it will find its way into creation.

    Glad you’re writing, even if we never get to see it. Its a good sign.

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    • Thanks, but I don’t completely understand the thrust of your comment. You could be saying, “the real Armitage still exists and thus cannot recede, your perceptions about his fantasy nature notwithstanding,” or you could be saying “the real Armitage can’t recede for you because he doesn’t exist in a meaningful way beyond the fantastical.” In other words, I can’t tell exactly what your agreement or disagreement is πŸ™‚

      I suppose the real triumph of embracing the power would just be to put the fic out there and damn the torpedoes.

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  2. Sorry for the confusion S, it would be the latter of your choices… πŸ™‚ I like the damn the torpedoes philosophy it was the same one I had when I posted my first… πŸ™‚ (actually it might have been more like screw it…)

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    • I suppose the things we’re embarrassed by differ by person. I think there’s nothing troubling about your fic, but that mine is unbelievably embarrassing.

      Thanks for the clarification of your position. On the whole, I tend to agree that everything we experience is a fantasy. That said, there are definitely people who would disagree and even those who would say that treating Armitage solely as a fantasy object is ethically unacceptable. But there are also other troubling interfaces with reality. The question of donating money, for example, or encouraging others to do so.

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      • ok, “unbelievably embarrassing” is a strong phrase and I would then suggest not posting it for general public consumption. It probably has its therapeutic uses to you and might best remain private.

        I think suggesting people channel their fangrrl tendencies into charitable venues is most humane and kind. Far better to help a fan use their resources in such a way that the desired outcome, pleasing Mr. A., is obtained while also providing some good. An undesirable “Interface with reality” is Mr. A. trying to figure out what to do with a few thousand stuffed animals, bottles of cologne or heaven forbid, several pairs of underpants!

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        • it’s part of why I have a hard time commenting on a lot of fics I really like. I’m making a statement about my preferences. What if I say something specific about what i like about a particular sex scene, and then someone runs across that opinion? I want so badly to write about fan fic on this blog, I’ve drafted at least seven posts, and I end up not posting them because I feel that they open me up too much. Posting my own fic would creat similar problems.

          I’m not sure exactly how to put my response to the other issue. That is to say, I don’t know that it has to be either / or. I push the charity angle because it means a lot to me. But I also think there needs to be room for fun in fandom — everything about it can’t be serious. I can give to a charity in Armitage’s honor *and* collect Captain America trading cards, for instance. I assume he gives the stuffed animals to homeless shelters. But if it pleased the person who made the gift to pick it out and send it, who am I to criticize?

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          • I wasn’t criticizing those who may have sent stuffed animals in my earlier post. However, I am now, for pete’s sake ladies, get a grip! He’s a grown man!

            Regarding fanfic: a male friend I’ve had for YEARS thinks that reading my NC-17 fanfic has given him insight into me and that you “must like those sexual positions”. My statement that my preferences are irrelevant but that Marian and Guy liked them, fell on deaf ears. Sigh, now he thinks he “knows” me.

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            • well, he does “know” more about you — just not what he thinks he knows. He has a source critique problem πŸ™‚

              When I was a postadolescent I wrote a lot of poetry that offended my mother no end because she felt like what I was writing about was “false.” Not quite. I wonder if I’d have the courage to write that sort of thing again today and say “you don’t know quite what you think you know.”

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  3. I think that part of the constant feeling of falling in love is that with new people constantly cycling into the fandom we’re constatnly reexperiencing that first Hot Boy hit. Expect an email soonish, BTW.

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  4. Had to stop and consider where I fit in your scenario and how I view him. He is both real to me (as real as he ever be to a stranger) AND his work is a source of fantasy. I don’t see an either/or situation. While in London, I was okay with the possibility of meeting at the theater, or not, probably because I have no interest in any personal interaction aside from possibly paying a compliment and fortuitously getting an autograph. Or I could live without any of that. My infatuation doesn’t extend far I suppose.

    The problem with reality vs infatuation are fangurls who don’t understand they are living in a fantasy but are convinced they are reality based. That is dangerous. I believe fans need to understand they live on both sides of the equation and be comfortable with that. It’s not good to concentrate on one without the other in an infatuation; otherwise a fan is simply kidding herself and opening herself up to unhealthy thinking. I’ve had a post brewing for months about this very thing, but wonder if it’s a bit too controversial.

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    • I read this a couple of times before posting, and I’m not sure I’m expressing the separation clearly. It’s not between Armitage as fantasy and Armitage as real, but rather between Armitage as fantasy and nothing more, and Armitage as fantasy with decided real features. The former is problematic because you can end up in your own universe, and I think we’re in agreement about that mostly; the latter is problematic because it’s precisely the thing that makes the fantasy that’s so potent that creates the conceptual dangers. I.e., you’re saying, don’t forget that there’s a reality factor — I’m saying, it’s precisely the reality factor that opens one up to a dangerous sort of thinking.

      I think you are less infatuated than the average Armitage fan I know (this is neither saying much, nor a bad thing), but I can only encourage you to post what you’re thinking. Controversy is good as long as it’s not flaming.

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      • Yeah, I know I’m a jaded ole biddy; it affords me the luxury of sitting back annoyingly Yoda like. πŸ˜‰

        I understand you’re saying in the throes of deeper infatuation, looking too much at the reality can cause one to 1) become disillusioned thus killing the infatuation or 2) take the infatuation on a dangerous plane with the crush.

        Do you think that the degree of infatuation blurs the sense of perspective? Is it part and parcel of the phenomenon or something more like personality, place in life etc? I’m trying to remember back to when I was the most enthused by a crush, and I suppose I was far to pragmatic? bloody minded? to find reality threatening.

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        • That’s interesting, and it raises the possibility that the real division to be made is between different degrees of infatuation. However, almost everyone I know (I can think of you and two other people to whom this doesn’t apply) is just as infatuated, or more infatuated, than I.

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  5. So I’m not the only one who looked at the middle pic and thought “Whoa! What’s wrong here?!!! His hands are as large as his head!” Or am I totally loosing it?

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    • No, they messed up. Makes me worried for the rest of the spread.

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    • let’s just hope that they don’t also suppress the pink shirts.

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      • What possible reason could a “professional” magazine have for messing a photo up to that degree? That’s what bugs me. Do they not realize they’re fiddling around with genetics at its best?! *rolls eyes* Ok just kidding. A little bit.

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        • Maybe they are keeping the best shots for their magazine, NB! I’m living in hope that they’ll all be of the caliber of the one on the left – including the “hot pink shirt” one/ones!! πŸ˜€ Presuming they used those of course! πŸ˜‰

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  6. This is ‘fellow blogger’, consenting to be identified and admitting to persistent infatuation πŸ™‚

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  7. Servetus, you once again exactly hit the point where I was still analyzing and trying to come to terms with. I was wondering, why I had not been interested in the Wellington tweet and tried to find out, if my fandom was waning. But with daily needed treats via pictures and fan-work, that could not really be the case. So I was still wondering.
    Your explanation makes complete sense for me. The tweet did not add to my fantasy of Mr. Armitage.
    I seem clearly on the fantasy side ;o) The reality factor gives the fantasy possibility, but only merely, as I do not believe to ever get the chance to come anywhere near the real RA, it only gives the fantasy some kind of believability to make the fantasy work.
    Thank you for your explanation. I on my own had not been able to find the reasons, why I am not really interested in what RA is doing in Wellington.

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    • Thanks, CDoart. I was thinking after reading this that the issue is that the fantasy wants more of the story. I may write about this more in a minute.

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  8. “I don’t suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it.” ~Author Unknown

    Well, this is a meme that has been running through RA fandom for ages. Hasn’t it? What is “crazy” fan behavior? Where are the lines? What is appropriate? Does Mr. Armitage need a paladin? Who is the crazy fan? Who is the sane fan?

    Yadda, yadda, yadda … I don’t know the answer to these questions.

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    • it’s a place I go a lot, because of what a storm this has been in my life. I don’t know the answers, either, but I’m one of those people who thinks if we just keep talking about it we will learn a lot more even if we can’t answer the question.

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      • Yes, asking the questions is what makes your blog so interesting to read. For me, even engaging in a fan site, seems a bit kookie. So I have already crossed a personal line. It woudl be interesting to do one of your charts — charting fan behavior. Not sure what the base line would be.

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        • Exactly! It’s one of the reasons I was drawn here. It’s fine to squee a bit but it’s good to have something meaty to discuss as a balance.

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        • engaging in one is kookie? (cough, hides head).

          If you’d ever have said, you’ll write a fansite that people tune in to regularly I’d have offered to bet you a million dollars that you were wrong …

          a lot of the Armitage bloggers are interested in this whole fan behavior index. Maybe we can get together on it at some point. Unfortunately, my education did not include anything about the writing of questionnaires.

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  9. @ Sev that is ONE ill fitting shirt! Isn’t it? But the beard does distract from it. Doesn’t it? Poor Mr. Armitage, most men have ONE woman to please, and he has an entire “Army.” Poor guy. πŸ™‚

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    • I could have said that I like the color of the jacket. πŸ™‚

      If he wants to please one woman, he should get himself one woman to please πŸ™‚

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      • That blue really really works on him. I much prefer it to the greys or tans. WHen he is in black or the dark navy blues those colors really work on him. The greys and tans no so much.

        And what a lucky lady she’d be. That “one” woman!!! A

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        • I think plenty of women would line up. πŸ™‚ He’d have to spend a year choosing πŸ™‚

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          • you know i could add my name to the list, i have only been w/ hubs for 11 yrs, we only have one kid and run a biz together so i am not that attached. i could ditch him in a NY minute for the armitage.

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            • my parents have this agreement that they are each allowed to have one person whom, if that person ever expressed any interest in them, they’d be allowed to ditch their marriage (50 years in April) to fulfill the interest, and there’d be no hard feelings. My mom’s person is Michael Douglas and my dad’s is Angie Dickinson. My mom is worried that she may have to pick someone new soon. Maybe you could have an arrangement like that with your husband.

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            • i kid of course, it would take me at least ten minutes. πŸ™‚

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        • Obviously, given the existence of a sign up list, I’d probably put myself on, though I assume I’d be eliminated immediately as I do not wish to have biological children.

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          • i like this agreement, must bring it up to hubs. i think he’d pick zoey dasechanel atho he won’t own it or any girl with a good pixie voice and a guitar. yeah, i am happy to put my ovaries on ice, but for RA i could be convinced.

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          • What! You wouldn’t make an allowance for RA? And you call yourself a fangurl. πŸ˜‰

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            • nope, not even for Armitage would I attempt to reproduce. That’s where I draw the line πŸ™‚

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            • Although I do suppose that he could be really persuasive in person. But that would assume a relationship that began from the other end, not one arranged by questionnaire and sign up list.

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  10. It would be interesting to discuss projection.

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  11. The power of the Internet and social media, to keep the fires burning!

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  12. […] metaphorically, when we extrapolate too heavily from our own experiences as we seek to understand. Ann Marie has referred to this problem before in a specific form that troubles me a great deal: the possibility that readers of a fanfic […]

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  13. […] [Even though I still wonder if I'll die with his name on my lips. I told a fellow blogger recently that I'll have to will her the password to the dashboard of this blog upon my demise. And then someone can ghostwrite Servetus. That could be amusing!] […]

    Like

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