F3, Day Five! One voice to thrill them all, and Armitage to bind them!
Welcome to Day Five of FanstRAvaganza 3, with nineteen new posts planned for you to enjoy!
Some posts are scheduled to appear automatically, while others will be posted manually. Keep in mind that not every link may be live until the end of the event day at 23:59, London time. Links to all FanstRA 3 posts appear here at the end of each day, too!
TGIF! F3, Day Five, in the tagteams:
In the Hobbit chain, Mrs. E.B. Darcy projects what our hero may do in TH: There and Back Again (spoilers!) • Ana Cris discusses a Maori ceremony Mr. Armitage witnessed in New Zealand’s mountains • In King Richard Armitage, fitzg guestposts at judiang‘s on non-Richard III roles for Armitage in a Richard III project • In fanfic, Jas Rangoon continues her modern N&S fic, “Maggie & John: A Modern Love Story” • Maria Grazia presents an interview with Cat Winchester and giveaway of her book, Northern Light • In freeform, fedoralady asks about our dream Armitage-narrated audiobooks • At his blog, John Thornton wonders if anyone else could play him • Agzy historicizes Heinz Kruger’s sartorial choices — and what’s underneath them! • In fandom, jazzbaby1 maps Armitage in the Tommyverse • Rose Gisborne paints a rainbow of Richards • Links to all FanstRA 3 posts appear here at the end of each day!
and in the core:
RAFrenzy on “Flying” • phoebe guests at Richard Armitage Fan Blog with advice for dealing with Armitage addiction • Traxy is inspired by Between the Sheets • Fanny interviews Wattpad author LadyBrandon23 • Jonia presents an Armitage soundtrack and collages • mulubinba discusses Armitage’s preparation to play Thorin Oakenshield • bccmee on “her first”: Harry Kennedy • and CDoart on Armitage in historical hairstyles • Links to all FanstRA 3 posts appear here at the end of each day!
Or, if you need a subtitle: “me + richard armitage online”!
Like most new fans, I ran across Richard Armitage Online very early on in Armitagemania. I was probably hitting that site thirty or forty times a day for the first week after I discovered it. So, when I got drawn into F1, the creator of the site — whom I didn’t know — was the sole candidate for “Richard Armitage fan I most admired.” Through diligent reading I discovered her name was Annette and she could be contacted through the webpage. So I wrote her, a fan of a whole month or so, and brazenly asked her for an interview on my mostly unvisited blog — of which she was already aware! When she said “no,” citing her desire to stay in the background, I was unsurprised. She’d obviously been a fan for a long time, and didn’t know me from Eve. I could turn out to be a jerk. I thought, I’ll ask her again later, if there is a later. Last year, for some reason, it didn’t occur to me to ask her for F2, but I had actually wanted to do all interviews for F3. Why didn’t I? A couple of planned ones fell through, and two of them didn’t mature in time and are still in progress. (So you have something to look forward to this spring.) But I still really wanted to interview Annette, so I wrote her and asked her again. I decided to change my approach — and proposed an interview that discussed only the website and asked nothing about her or her reaction to Mr. Armitage. She again said “no.” She thought about it, but she still really wants to stay in the background. Well, okay, I can understand that. Fair enough: there are things I’m not saying about myself here, as well, and things I want not to happen as a consequence of blogging.
But damn, I love this website! So interview or no interview, today I’m writing about what I love about Richard Armitage Online! Annette doesn’t know I’m doing this. I didn’t ask for permission. I’m sure I’m embarrassing her, but I am taking the risk, since I’m not discussing her, but rather the website. Her “about” page stresses that it’s a collaborative effort in many ways, and notes her affection for the C19ers, of whom she is an active member. It occurs to me I should also add the unnecessary disclaimer that my extreme like for this page does not imply dislike for any other Armitage fan pages. I link to all y’all regularly, after all! And since I eventually write about everything, probably I’ll eventually gush about the other sites, too. There are things I like about all of them.
I was thinking just now about why I like the site so much, and I conclude that it’s because of my professional training. To me, this is the most clearly “historical” of the fan sites, and indeed, Nat once called it the “RA Library.” Richard Armitage Online pleases me because it salves over a lot of the ambivalence I feel about the form and documentary aspect of my fangirling. In my professional life, one of the most important things I do is identifying, collating, preserving, and analyzing sources for the topic I study. It’s important that I be exact, correct, scrupulous, comprehensive — and most of all, timely. There’s no point in my work if it simply recapitulates someone else’s. Unfortunately, all of that stuff takes a lot of time. When I started writing this blog I swore I wasn’t simply going to relive work — I wasn’t going to document everything, or get tense if I didn’t scoop people — I was only going to write about what I enjoyed writing about. “me + richard armitage” thus documents the life and career of a fan of Richard Armitage — not the life and career of Richard Armitage himself. I don’t apologize for this emphasis and I enjoy the feeling of freedom that comes from not having to discuss topics that don’t carry any particular interest for me. At the same time, however, I can’t just stop being Professor Servetus, at least not completely, and so I have a need for a particular kind of information about Richard Armitage — without wanting to create it myself. In other words: Richard Armitage Online makes Servetus the Armitage blogger possible. I think I was relatively aware of this aspect of my fan-on-fan love pretty quickly after starting to blog.
But now it’s two years later, and blogging for that time has given me an inkling of what it must be like to maintain that huge site, with all the potential link rot, all the copyright issues, the new information popping up — and the new technologies that the webmaster has to learn about and exploit or reject while maintaining the most useful legacy material intact. So now I admire not only the documentary facet of the site — but also the dedication and self-discipline that’s required to maintain all of that. Go, Annette!
[Oh, wait. I wasn’t going to praise or embarrass Annette. Oops. This may be your own fault for deleting your guestbook, you know. This whole website is a sustained exercise in blaming the victim, after all. Why should you be an exception?]
So here, in no particular order, are just a few things I love about Richard Armitage Online.
The “theatre” section. Richard Armitage Online is the best of the fan sites for information about Armitage’s theater career. Two reasons I love this section: first, we’re talking about the younger Armitage — the one whose career was not yet made — and it’s fun to read these sections and think about Armitage the young man, moving from a background in dance and musical theatre to LAMDA and the RSC. More details as to earlier roles for which little documentation has yet been produced can be found on the site’s biography page. Here we get a brief glimpse at someone who was scraping out his living in the background of the theatrical world before he moved on to drama school and then made the key decision to seek more television roles. Favorite detail: he played Uriah Heep! The second reason I enjoy this section of the site is that Armitage studied classical theater and apparently sought to be a stage actor first. In other words, here are the roots of an entirely different career that he might have had. It’s thought-provoking to think about it, what might have happened if he’d gotten larger classical roles more quickly, and whether I’d have even encountered him. And then there’s also the work that went into researching and locating the images on these pages, which can’t have been easy.
A screen-shot of materials from Armitage’s early days in theater, in The Four Alice Bakers with Sophia Myles, from Richard Armitage Online. Important early documentation of that cowlick, too.
The career chronology pages. (There’s one in each section of the site. Here, for example, is the TV page.) This is where I go whenever I’m writing an analytical piece that requires a statement as to what was happening when (an important job in the work of a historian is establishing a solid chronology at the beginning — something that is a lot harder than you might think, given conflicting information and the notorious sloppiness and inaccuracy of news outlets). A lot of the information archived here has simply disappeared in the interval since it was actual, and thus in some cases I’d simply be speculating about the course of Armitage’s career if I didn’t have access to these pages.
The authoritative language, concise introductions, and pithy judgments in the descriptions of the roles / productions Armitage has appeared in. I admit that I take well-written materials more seriously; concise use of language suggests to me a more acute mind, and attention to detail suggests to me a care for the product that can be a first step toward convincing me of the value of an indexing source. But my appreciation of the site goes beyond its effective, well-organized prose. When I started, the judgments on the page were invaluable to me — particularly as an outsider to UK television. For Armitage’s initial audiences in the UK, I’m sure, the valences associated with roles in series like “Doctors” or “Casualty” were entirely clear. They weren’t for me. The site’s contextual introductions to the series and roles were influential on the development of my understanding of Armitage’s career. At the beginning, too, they facilitated my decisions about which pieces to look at and which to buy vs. rent or snaffle somehow. I probably wouldn’t have purchased Sparkhouse if the site hadn’t been so enthusiastic — but I could believe that enthusiasm because the site content is not just cheerleading. These texts manage to be uniformly positive about the place of certain roles in Armitage’s career while still giving the reader a sense of which roles are more (or less) worthwhile to invest time in watching — or which roles are appropriate for which audiences. After knowing more I didn’t always agree — but if I hadn’t had these introductions, I might not have even have gone to examine some of these roles in the first place. In short: this kind of index creates and shapes the scholar. Also, as I asked myself if it wasn’t silly to be writing a blog about Armitage from the perspective of an academic, this site, in its precision, sharpness, and meticulousness, encouraged me to think it wasn’t completely ridiculous to take a “frivolous” topic seriously.
Servetus: Sold on Sparkhouse by Richard Armitage Online. John Standring (Richard Armitage) goes to the local police to try to track down in Carol in episode 2 of Sparkhouse. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com
The source critique and reliability. Richard Armitage Online doesn’t document every piece of information about Armitage — and it doesn’t always include every novelty immediately — but you know when you find information on the site, it will be accurate. You will also know where it comes from, because the page includes footnotes! (These are particularly valuable for sources that have evaporated from the web in the meantime — if you ever want to track things down in paper copy or other archives, you have a way to do so.) I also particularly like the notes in the “Articles” section that explain how one particular “canned” press interview makes it into the different strands of the UK print and web media. Knowing where a statement comes from and in what context it might have been made initially is essential information for the historian, and this site makes it easy to know that information.
The “Misc” section. What I particularly appreciate here are the documentations not only of pictures from events at which Armitage has appeared or other noteworthy recognition from his career, but the summary statements about them, often collated from press coverage that devotes only a line or two to Armitage and thus doesn’t really merit inclusion in the “Articles” section. I also think it’s just neat that Armitage read in a Christmas “celebration” at St Paul’s in 2007. I love knowing that detail. And obviously not because I’m a Christian. I’d just love to hear him reading from the KJV / AV. Even the begats — the biblical equivalent of the phone book. I wonder what he’d do with Job.
The easily navigable design, transparency, and loadability of the site. A reader can see immediately, from the top of the site, everything that’s available in it. It loads quickly, and it doesn’t include a lot of scripts that play havoc with my browser. This means I always consult it first when I’m trying to recall a detail, because I can tell right away whether it will be archived here and where (or whether I need to go someplace else for my citation). Also, because I frequently write from a slow wireless connection, the fact that it’s so easy to load (and that I know in advance where slower-loading graphics might be hiding) means that it’s an obvious source to consult. Its easiness to load probably makes it a desirable destination for countries plagued by different degress of the digital divide — more and more of whose residents will become aware of Armitage in a few months.
The ongoing charitable emphasis. Need I say more?
And as a final note: I think Annette and I may have a similar Armitage aesthetic. She picked all photos I love for her opening slide show, and the image incorporated into her site banner is just perfect for the site, I think: an Armitage who looks curious and investigative and serious, but also cheeky and seductive at the sametime. In short: one image that conveys a lot of what Richard Armitage is for me.
If I ever had a chance to get an interview, I’m sure I’ve just set fire to it in a spectacular manner. Please forgive me, Annette. I do so love your website, though. I just couldn’t keep it in any longer.
My favorite of the charities Richard Armitage has raised money for on JustGiving is Childline. If you liked this post or appreciate Armitage’s work, please consider making a donation of yourself. Demand for the service in most of the UK is up, and in some places only a portion of calls can be answered. As always, many worthy causes deserve our support, but this week I’m blogging to draw attention to this one. Thanks for listening.
Continuing your Friday F3 reading: In the Hobbit chain, Mrs. E.B. Darcy projects what our hero may do in TH: There and Back Again (spoilers!) • Ana Cris discusses a Maori ceremony Mr. Armitage witnessed in New Zealand’s mountains • In King Richard Armitage, fitzg guestposts at judiang‘s on non-Richard III roles for Armitage in a Richard III project • In fanfic, Jas Rangoon continues her modern N&S fic, “Maggie & John: A Modern Love Story” • Maria Grazia presents an interview with Cat Winchester and giveaway of her book, Northern Light • In freeform, fedoralady asks about our dream Armitage-narrated audiobooks • At his blog, John Thornton wonders if anyone else could play him • Agzy historicizes Heinz Kruger’s sartorial choices — and what’s underneath them! • In fandom, jazzbaby1 maps Armitage in the Tommyverse • Rose Gisborne paints a rainbow of Richards • Links to all FanstRA 3 posts appear here at the end of each day!