Richard Armitage: Two pictures, two fantasies. Fantasy 2. Armitage unaware?

Introduction and disclaimers here (Fantasy 1). Stressing again: this is only my reaction to the photo; your mileage may vary. I know with this picture there was a fair amount of chat about two or three themes in particular (for instance: at Jas Rangoon; at MorrighansMuse), but I haven’t read anywhere what I’m about to say.

***

Screen shot 2013-04-22 at 2.32.39 PM

***

This was the second photo that appeared last week to kick me in the stomach.

It was posted on Instagram and tweeted by Todd Snyder. Snyder is a New York clothing designer, a graduate of Iowa State (Architect [my first cousin] went there for her undergraduate, so yay! and yay! Midwest!). He’s been working for about two decades designing for various high profile American clothing labels; a few years ago he founded his own eponymous label, which is now carried by Barneys New York — a sort of mainstream bellwether emporium of luxury style in the U.S. (Barneys carries a number of the brands we’ve seen Richard Armitage in before.) Not edgy, but contemporary, recent style for those who can afford to realize the vision of Barneys buyers for themselves with their powerful wallets.

On Snyder’s “About” page, it says of his clothing line: “Inspired by Savile Row craftsmanship, military tailoring, and a distinct New York sensibility, the line has garnered wide critical and commercial praise in the US.” These are all elements that we might imagine would appeal to Armitage — clean lines, not the most “out there” style features, but still on trend / fashion forward, and recognizable as such, with the additional vibe of youthfulness. (The whole cardigan thing this fall struck me in that light; the way I’d been seeing that style out of the corner of my eye, it seemed classic, consciously stylish New York, and also likely to be worn by thirty-somethings.) Skip Brooks, since January 2013 the copywriter for Todd Snyder NY, elaborates Snyder’s philosophy of leather jacket wearing here. Given that, I think that this jacket is cut a little narrowly for Mr. Armitage, but he seems to have a slight preference for close-fitting clothing anyway. Then again, he was wearing it over a hoodie in the fall (Gosh, Armitage, I hope you bought your hoodie at Target and not at Barneys!) so maybe it is a bit looser than it looks in this photo.

Snyder was tweeting not only because because Armitage visited his showroom (presumably as a customer), but also because Armitage was wearing “his” leather jacket. He made the following tweet with the picture:

Screen shot 2013-04-22 at 3.19.24 PM

A date was not stated for the photo upload, but given the presence of the beard and the fact that filming for The Hobbit will resume shortly, we may assume it was recently or near recently. Later that day, Todd Snyder tweeted again, identifying this leather jacket with the one that Armitage was wearing around New York City in December, 2012:

Screen shot 2013-04-22 at 3.28.10 PM

That December 2012 image is pinned here.

***

No one who’s read this blog for long will be surprised that my first step, after going *ooof* (sorry for the petty intellectual property thievery, Guylty!) was to change the exposure on the photo so I could see more details. Doing so was important to me just because the camera perspective of the initial picture made Armitage’s stance appear so odd, making his thighs seem almost misshapen in comparison to what we’re used to seeing. As every student of pictures who’s seen Velazquez’s Las Meninas (1656) learns, when a mirror is conveniently placed in a picture, you use it to see what’s “outside” the picture. That explained some of the oddity — Armitage seems to be standing in a slight contraposto here, hyperextending the knee in his left leg. That’s a bit hard to see just looking at the picture frontally — he’s actually putting his weight on his left leg and thus leaning a bit towards Snyder.

But I still wanted to see more, so enter iPhoto and changes to exposure, contrast, definition, etc.

***

overexposed

***

The previous post in this series made me realize that there are always two waves of reaction to these photos — first, the dopamine rush. I was musing along — what’s on the clothes in the racks in the background? Was he trying that stuff on? Oh, he looks relaxed and happy! That always makes me feel good! Beard! Beard! Beard! But not totally shaggy beard — he’s definitely trimming pieces of the chin and mustache rails to give it definition, great Armitage beard aesthetics! Mmmm, chest hair, chest hair! To the clothes, jeans correctly close-fitting across thighs and rear — wouldn’t mind seeing him from the rear! — correct pant length for boots, a little long for these shoes, but oh do I love the sneaks! Leather jacket is starting to look broken in, there’s that little bit of too-long sleeve over the wrists that always makes me want to pet him! Oh, Richard, that shirt really needed to be ironed!

And then I realized what it was and got the second kick in the stomach — the moment of self-recognition. It was a fragment of information about Richard Armitage that I stumbled over very early on in Armitagemania — it would have been one of the first articles I ever read.

Penny Wark: “Did you know that you were recognized by a lustee at Waterloo Station and stalked for a few minutes? I was stalked at Waterloo Station? he asks incredulously. Well, stalked in a nice way. God, I’ve got to be really careful, haven’t I? Smelling of body odour, looking like …

from the same article: “I like my own space and once my door is closed I can turn into a bit of a monster. I’m really quite messy, I can stay at home and not wash and not shave and it’s hard to do that with somebody else.”

***

vlcsnap-2013-03-02-10h09m44s137John Porter (Richard Armitage) in confrontation with Hugh Collinson (Andrew Lincoln) in a dusty structure in Afghanistan, in Strike Back 1.6. My cap.

***

It showed up again a few months after I started blogging, in the Strike Back publicity round, when Armitage noted that John Porter had been a very grimy character to play:

Source: I wish I could go more often without washing or making myself presentable.

And it showed up again in December 2012:

Are you a high- or low-maintenance guy?

When I’m getting ready to go down a red carpet I tend to be as minimal as possible. I like to throw some wax in my hair and maybe not even shave, but I will wash my armpits!

Which many of us read as winding the audience up a bit, but we guess he did in London — where he had a nice level of stubble, and someone reported that he was olfactorally more than satisfactory:

***

I’m not per se fascinated by his smell, whatever it might be. The self-recognition moment that got me in the Todd Snyder pic was the same thing that made me love the pics of Richard Armitage / Thorin with his Thorin Oakenshield Lego toy. Not so much their boyishness, but their sheer apparent level of grime. (The only problem with this pic for me was that his hands were so clean — I assume because he had prosthetics on them earlier and removed them.)

enhanced-buzz-wide-26059-1354661874-5

Or this:

the_hobbit_an_unexpected_journey_bonus_disc_t04-mkv_001752459A bushy beard, grime, AND (briefly) a shy smile? What more could Servetus ask for? Richard Armitage / Thorin Oakenshield thanks the cast and crew of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at the end of principal photography. From the feature on the Best Buy Blu-Ray edition of the film. There’s also an intriguing abrasion at the base of his neck. Damned hi-res images. Source: Heirs of Durin

***

It’s going to be hard to explain this, because I spend so much time commenting on specific features of Armitage’s clothing, and many people have assumed that in order to write about clothing in this way, I must be especially well-dressed or care a lot about dressing myself well, and that by extension, I would care about this in a crush. I really don’t. Also, what I want to talk about doesn’t let itself be labeled very neatly, even as it’s a part of the fantasy of self. It’s about how this picture pushes a very personal button for me, somewhere between neatness and cleanliness and self-unawareness and introversion. Well, let me give it a try, nonetheless.

Because OMG, DOES THAT PICTURE TURN. ME. ON. And it’s not only the beard and the chest hair.

And no, it’s not about the “masculine” qualities of sweat and dirt, although I grew up in that kind of household. All the soap in our bathrooms was the extra-strength, industrial kind, to get automotive grease or oil based paint or turpentine or ground-in dirt off the hands. We didn’t have any liquid soap except to wash the dishes with.

Admittedly, I also have an issue with a lot of scents around me. I’m very likely to sneeze when a student with a heavy soap or perfume smell walks into my space and there’s no ventilation. That may play a role.

And I do like the smell of a man without soap or scent on him, even a sweaty man a few days away from a shower. Though I’m also not shy to ask a partner to shower if his smell is bothering me. So yeah, I like “real” smell, and I’ve never dated guys who made big investment in their own scent.

But really, I think the turn-on is about the self-recognition.

When I first read that quote about how Armitage doesn’t like to wash and shave, back in 2010, my heart immediately started to hum happily, even as my critical detectors swung into action, wondering if it could be true. Are there really still men out there who haven’t been captured by that particular cultural trend? It’s a great defense mechanism in our day — not just actual mess on one’s person or in one’s house, but even the prospect of it. One of the big cleaning gurus of our day, The Flylady, talks about having CHAOS (can’t have anyone over syndrome). As a society we believe in cleanliness, we’re “cleaner” than ever before, and we want our partners to be clean and to shower every day and to smell good and be tidy. Don’t we?

***

British Actor Richard ArmitageRichard Armitage, with those slightly mannerist femurs, as photographed by Joe McGorty in 2010. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com. This was the photo that accompanied the interview discussed below.

***

We have a cultural value about the importance and attractiveness of cleanliness and neatness. One of my fellow bloggers articulated it very well back when an essay appeared in which Richard Armitage admitted that he was sometimes compelled to pick clothes off the floor to wear, and that he was guilty of “organized mess” in his house. While I realized that he was spinning out some hyperbole — winding us up again, Richard? and of course, now we know that there must have been materials regarding The Hobbit in his house — when he was discussing the need to kill a hypothetical cleaner who saw his scripts, I felt like important features of my life were captured perfectly in Armitage’s self-description. In contrast, Maria Grazia found herself horrified:

I wouldn’t be able to bear that mess, those eating habits, that life style. That’s one of my … defects(?), I can’t stand untidiness. You can call it organized mess, but it is just mess to me. I know I may sound a maniac but I’m not. Working, having so many interests and hobbies, having two lazy and untidy teenage sons and very little time, my house can’t be perfect but … I couldn’t stand living in a  mess. More than everything else,  I felt sorry for him… everything sounded so hard and sad and lonely. Did he want to stir our motherly sympathy? He succeeded. I can’t think of anything else in these days. Can a TV star’s life be less glamorous,  harder and more undesirable? Exaggerating? I don’t think so. I hope he got some rest and social life after finishing Spooks, because he deserved and needed both. Am I disappointed? Not at all. Only really worried, as if he were my son living alone. He can’t be my son, only my younger brother, but … it’s just the same. I go on thinking about … his phone ringing at 5 a.m., his driver banging on the door, his picking clothes from the floor and his empty drawers, his piles of books everywhere (those I like!), his forest of ivy on the roof, his porridge + fruit + scrambled eggs for breakfast (OMG!!!), his forgetting to do the washing, his refusing to have a cleaner, his furious-Guy-style temper (that I cannot believe!), his maniac worry for his scripts, his happily making the same dish over and over again till becoming sick of it, his iPhone & iPod, running and exercising … I’m still shaking my head now that I’m writing about it. I am convinced he desperately needs a woman, he wouldn’t have any difficulty at finding one but … will the poor very lucky lady resist that life-style, will she succeed in changing him a bit at least, will she be satisfied with his being totally devoted to his wonderful job?

It’s not mine, though. This essay did not make me want to move in and mother him. Armitage as filthy slob? Bring it on, Rich. I’d have no need to change you. I might be even worse. And I’ve never thought (apart from cleaning to prevent bacterial assemblage when my mother is immuno-suppressed) that even lax household cleanliness is more important than reading another book or daydreaming another daydream.

So when I read that first quote above, sometime in January 2010, I thought, me, too, Mr. Armitage. I shower when I can smell myself, or when I notice that I’m dirty at a level that makes me uncomfortable, or if I’m planning to have sex. And, oh, how I hate dressing “for” random other people, or for students, or colleagues, or really, for anyone who might be watching except possibly a lover. Possibly. Not all the time, that’s for sure. I remember a big knock-down drag-out fight with The Physicist after I put on an especially snazzy, close-fitting sweater one day, and he was unbelievably enthusiastic about it, but somehow we got into a fight (we fought a lot), and I said, accusingly, “You like me better naked than in clothing,” and he tactlessly admitted it, saying, “You don’t care to dress carefully and all of your sweater / t-shirt combinations are shapeless and boring.” In my defense I’ll say I was living on a grad student budget in a climate where everyone wore layered clothing for five-six months a year. But maybe I should have made more of an effort.

At the same time, I acknowledge that especially then (when I had a really marked figure feature I was always trying to hide), it was a defense mechanism. I am not someone who wants to be seen, or noticed, particularly, except when I am supposed to be. Possibly another trait I share with Richard Armitage?

So it’s not just dirt, or smells, or not caring about clothes, or (as I can imagine Jane might be thinking right now) the charm of a man who doesn’t care all that much about his clothes, or about the perceived need to be alone, and the habits that build up the necessary barriers to the presence of others. It’s all of those things together, what they all mean, taken together, that make me shake.

***

Screen shot 2013-04-22 at 2.32.39 PM

***

Back to the stream of consciousness that turns into a fantasy:

Oh, Mr. Armitage, that shirt might have needed to be ironed. And maybe you should have done up one more button … but oh, how I love that you’re obviously not looking, that in this moment you don’t care about propriety. There you are, chest unwaxed, shirt partially undone, completely untucked, shirttails peeking out from under leather jacket, casual, nondescript shoes, and you’re with an important designer, and you don’t take even a moment to look down and pull yourself straight. Todd Snyder says, “how ’bout a pic with me? In ‘my’ jacket?” and you smilingly oblige, not the broad smile for the camera, but the subtle one that shows you’re not exerting yourself, or you might even be able to say something, and you’re apparently not worrying your right index finger with your thumb as you do in some of these photos with broadcasters, just there in the picture, not quite unselfaware but more so than we often see you in this kind of photo.

You walked out of your apartment that morning in sneaks and jeans and exactly this top combination, maybe you ran a comb through your hair, but in general unworried about the weather or who might see you or anything else, to buy clothes, and you bought what you needed and when this picture is over, you’ll take your purchase back in bags, or have it delivered, and then you’ll walk out onto the street just like this and pull down the margin of your leather jacket over your hips and smile at the spring …

Do you, will you, whistle?

… and this is all happening in a world in which someone whose business it is to be watched, in fact someone whose every scheduled public move is starting to be watched by tens of thousands of eyes, and yet you go to the airport in your rattiest t-shirt, you walk around like it doesn’t matter, none of it, either you will succeed in flying under the radar, or you won’t, but if you’re caught, you’ll still stand and smile willingly, hesitantly opening your mouth in anticipation, as if the performance of the self doesn’t matter in the very least. Or you’ll walk off a plane with your shirt untucked and your jeans hem bunched up over your boots and shoulder your bag and walk on, apparently unburdened — at least to our eyes –by the heavy accoutrements of self that you have to put on for a red carpet, all the armor that make you into what you’re supposed to be for others, all the techniques and objects that facilitate that other kind of mostly silent performance.

Where is that self in this picture? As paradoxical as it seems to be observing this about a posed candid, it still manages to remain unburdened, uncaught, to keep itself hidden, somewhere in this complex of sloppiness and undone buttons and untucked shirttails and developing beard and nonchalance and organized mess and not shaving and not washing and grime and body odour and not going out and being happy at home where the need to be something for someone is not articulated in such visually violent ways … When you’re marginally unpresentable (in your case, a relative term), your self remains unpresenting and unpresented. And yet — it’s still you. A man who realizes that he can — and will — get away without a shave.

Seeing you like this in my fantasy, Mr. Armitage: In ways I can’t fully explain, it gives me hope.

***

Wow, this got long, and I’m not totally sure I even said what I wanted to. I want to mention briefly that elements of this same theme appear to have struck a similar element in one other someone I don’t know.

~ by Servetus on April 23, 2013.

47 Responses to “Richard Armitage: Two pictures, two fantasies. Fantasy 2. Armitage unaware?”

  1. I am right there with you for a lot of the same reasons! Oh, and CHAOS – have you been peeking in my windows 😉

    Like

  2. Gosh. You articulate things that I don’t even think about. Although once you’ve said them, oh, yes. Absolutely. Yep. lol

    (I do have to admit, the first thing I did when I saw this photo, after checking out his grin, was look in the mirror. But it wasn’t for curiosity about his stance; I just wanted to marvel at the supple perfection of his bum. Am Basic Sort Of Girl.) 😉

    Like

  3. Dude. You worked The FlyLady into an Armitage post. I bow to your pop culture reference-fu.

    Like

    • I find the whole FlyLady discourse fascinating. I have at least two friends who are serious devotees. I myself occasionally engage in the 27-Fling Boogie. I think her fundamental insight — that people put off housekeeping because of perfectionism and fear of boredom — is right on target.

      Like

  4. Tonight while in class our teacher had us close our eyes, relax, deep breath a few times to take away the stress, then read to us about our minds eye to get us ready to give our presentations in 2 weeks. So I am to see myself doing a great job and calm ready to give the presentation, it’s not there. I see this picture and the other one that we 1st saw last Sunday in my head, what is it saying to me. I don’t know but it still was good to “look” at.
    This picture makes him more real, so he don’t care about his “off” time dress and he shouldn’t have to. He still has better style than my BIL who don’t care what he wears even at an event where he should dress up a little bit, but no camo pants, holey t-shirt and tennis shoes do just fine.
    I still like this picture he still looks so good, beard (really I surprise myself) the chest and that I think he is just being himself.
    As for a neat house, I have clean and some order, I have to its comes from my childhood where clean was not a word used much as in house cleaning, I did that when I was about 11. I could not handle the mess. I don’t live in a show house either not with 4 boys, but we all clean house together, now if I could get them to stop putting stuff on flat surfaces.

    Like

    • yeah, I was thinking (w/no offense to Northern WI), anyone who thinks he looks sloppy in this pic has not been to northern WI 🙂

      I totally get cleaning in order to control one’s atmosphere (although it’s not a response I’ve ever had — I did other things as a child to try to exercise control). Although — I need to point out — that is cleaning at least partially for another purpose (just as many professors I know clean their offices when they have pressing paper deadlines) and it is to some extent justifiable precisely because cleanliness is one of our values.

      Like

  5. RA has said he would prefer not to give away too much about his private life, as we are more likely to believe in characters when he is a blank canvas. I’m betting he also knows we can more easily fantasise about him as our perfect man that way! Personal hygiene is one of those deal breakers – for it has deep triggers for many of us. As much as you, Servetus, remember with distaste the carbolic soap smell of your childhood, i remember growing up in a filthy household. Not a house where everyone was too engaged in living and loving and laughing to clean but a dysfunctional mess with anger and blame at the heart. I’m a clean, tidy adult and i hope i would have the good sense not to ever become involved with a man who wears dirty clothes off the floor and would prefer not to shower, even if he is as beautiful as RA.

    Myself – i never look at RA and think he might smell. Even when disheveled, he looks clean. In my mind (a.k.a fantasy) statements about personal hygiene are musings about an alternative universe he would never really inhabit. My bet is that RA has been clean since the day he was born – that Mr and Mrs A instilled cleanliness along with those other values such as kindness, generosity and good manners and as much as RA might casually wonder about going feral, he really couldn’t do it.

    Like

    • Hi, bolly —

      I want to clarify that I wasn’t saying my perfect man had no personal hygiene; I was saying that he doesn’t have to shower or dress neatly every day. Also, w/r/t my childhood, it’s not the smell or presence of soap that bothered me — my father and brother needed that kind of soap to wash off dirt that they accumulated. (Minor prejudice of lower middle class girl growing up in dairy farm country — I was relieved that we didn’t smell of cow dip at school as the kids who did morning farm chores did.) I was simply trying to say that I don’t expect especially subtle scent of any kind on a man because the way I grew up, Irish Spring was probably the best anyone would do.

      Finally — I understand wanting to clean as a way of controlling one’s environment (or signaling that). I developed defense mechanisms as a child, too. I just don’t think — in most of the people I observe it in, which doesn’t include you, as we’ve never met — that it’s primarily about cleanliness as much as it is about other things for which cleanliness stands in because it is so unalloyedly positive to most people. The post was not a broad argument for squalor, nor a specific one directed at readers.

      Like

  6. If this picture did provoke the impression that he just picked up clothes from the floor and truly doesn’t care how he looks and if he’s tidy and the clothes fit properly, I would be delighted. However, my reaction was that the overly tight clothes are intentional to show off his body and possibly the shirt was opened intentionally to show off the chest and chest hair and I really didn’t liked that. If it is unintentional because he’s wearing only the undershirt that goes with the Thorin costume, fine, but deliberately showing chest hair (combined with a leather jacked that is too tight when closed) looks tacky and is a no-go. The careless combo of jeans, plaid shirt and leather jacked would be fine if the clothes had a loose fit but this looks intentional in a bad way. Maybe it wasn’t and he simply bought the clothes when he had less muscle (after all, he must be working out for the Hobbit). As to personal hygiene, a shower in the morning is essential to become a human being. Falling out of bed and not showering – yuck! A man should smell clean and nothing else, not of sweat and unwashed clothes and not of some kind of perfume or after shave either.

    Like

    • I’m not sure I agree about needing a shower in the am to feel human. I, on the contrary, cannot stand to go to bed dirty and always shower/bathe at night. And having lived in Russia without access to modern US style washing machines, I am a fine connoisseur of saving “street” clothes for wearing more than once. Perhaps he feels the same? Maybe “sleeping next to an elephant” gave him a different perspective. Kidding aside, I think a lot of what he is reported to have said should be taken with a grain of salt. And I think he probably has a really hard time finding clothes that fit him correctly, especially off the rack. I can sympathize with that, especially if you’re not good at judging potential shrinkage and/or like to wear clothes for years because they’re really comfortable. He does seem to have a problem with shirts that are too short. I also wonder if he knows how to sew a lost button back onto a shirt…

      Like

      • his waist curves differently than the waists in most of the shirts we see him wearing.

        Like

    • Jane, to me having to have a shower in the morning would potentially trigger a panic attack unless I had 3-4 hours to talk myself into it. It wouldn’t make me human — it would make me collapse.

      Like

    • I don’t honestly see how someone who knew he was going to a clothing designer’s showroom would dress this way in order to be intentionally anything (titillating?). Most people who care about how men dress will not find this look conventionally attractive. We’ve known for a while that Armitage likes casual clothes a little tighter than the norm.

      Like

  7. I share your reaction, Servetus. Every time I read or watch a new interview, Richard gives exactly or nearly exactly the answer I myself am contemplating in response to the interviewers’ questions. We share so many traits, so many preferences, so many odd quirks. Fantasy of a fangirl or no, I feel like we’d be very comfortable friends if we were ever to meet. I’ve observed online an interesting reaction to him as though he is at the same time some kind of precious puppy and an über-masculine enigma, and I confess I see him neither way (because it would mean seeing myself that way, and no.) To me he is wonderfully, reassuringly familiar — a version of myself if I were a tall, handsome man who had chosen to go into acting. An alternate evolution of what I could have been, if you will.

    And so when I see unstudied, candid shots like this one, I don’t feel like I’m looking at a celebrity being caught out without his stylist. I feel like I’m seeing a friend and I’d like to hang out with him.

    Like

    • Thank you for putting this so well, alyssabethancourt, and for getting what i wanted to express.

      Like

  8. I am on the same page with Maria Grazia. An organized mess is still a mess to me. A messy house would drive me nuts. As far as picking clothes off the floor what is up with that? Dropping clothes you wear all day on the floor instead of putting them in a hamper ?. I certainly would not want to live with a “felix Unger” either, but dirty clothes on the floor and not bathing daily would gross me out. Cleanliness is not negotiable for me when it comes to a relationship. I don’t care if a man wears cologne or not, but I do like the smell of musk on a man. I have been unemployed now for 4 months but I still get up in the morning and bathe every day. I also live alone so no one would smell me if I didn’t bathe daily. I just can’t do it though. I can smell the stink on a person very easily too. Thank goodness that doesn’t happen often. 🙂

    I think Guy is very sexy, but he is not one of my favorite RA character’s because to me he is usually looking like a hot sweaty mess.

    Well, even with RA’s sloppy ways in his personal life I am still a devoted fan. Now that RA has made it big he can pay for a cleaner and have someone do his laundry.

    Like

    • I don’t agree that not showering everyday=not being clean. This is a US stereotype. It’s fine to have it and embrace it, but it’s a cultural standard, not an absolute one.

      Like

  9. As someone who is a neat/clean freak (and by freak I mean the kind of person who cannot leave the house without beds made and you will often find me scrubbing the floor at 10pm) then a messy/dirty/unwashed/ grimy Richard and Richard’s apartment gives me butterflies of excitement! What a challenge it would be! OHHHH i just want to clean him, his clothes, his house! My idea of heaven 😉

    Like

  10. What a post, Serv, well worth waiting for. I have a myriad of reactions swirling through my brain right now – to the image, the quotes, and your own reaction. But to comment always means also to give away something about yourself, and this is a topic, as is already apparent in the comments, that evokes rather strong responses. For once I hail the virtuality of this – should I fall below the standards of anyone’s measures of cleanliness, at least you don’t have to smell me 😉
    Let me start out by saying that “mess” or “clean” are already relative terms. What someone describes as mess may be someone else’s mild disorganisation. And clean does not necessarily mean smelly, even when not squeaky clean. I would describe myself as a self-confessed slob – cleaning has never been my priority. Likewise, I am not too pushed about daily showers. (Probably consistent with a slightly less strict attitude towards personal cleanliness in Europe as compared to the US… yes, I know your prejudices against us Smelly-Olde-Worlders *hehe*) Having said that, I do have a thing about BO, personal hygiene and clean clothes. But if someone prefers to wash rather than shower, that is sufficient, in my book. Nonetheless, when I read that “low maintenance” comment by RA, I gasped out loud. Not because I find it hugely reassuring that he has a relaxed attitude and thus find another thing I might have in common with him, but because I felt it was *so brave* to publicly admit that!!! As you said, Serv, cleanliness has become a benchmark nowadays – and for a public figure to say that they can happily do without daily showers… well, that opens him up to criticism and judgment, so: well done for being honest, Mr A.
    Personally, I think the obsession with cleanliness in modern society is a manifestation of the alienation modern humans feel towards their bodies, the bodily functions and the natural characteristics that express themselves through them. Smell is part of the human make-up. We all have a distinct smell – which more often than other sensory impressions trigger feelings, memories and reactions. I am glad to see that RA is not afraid to be himself in that way. Personally, I have found the natural scent of a man quite a turn-on. (Little wave hello to Angie at this point, whose Porter fic included the memorable scene of Layla happily sniffing Porter’s armpits… yum :-D) But that obviously only applies to *some* individuals. There are others that turn me off with their rancid smell. It’s highly individualistic.
    As for the dishevelled look that Mr A ocasionally sports: Again, I find that quite cute and brave at the same time. It is nice to think that Armitage does *not* always live the media-aware celebrity life. It makes him a mortal, “one of us”, and that I really like about him. It shows his firm grounding in reality – he is not a Hollywood demi-god, and he is comfortable with that and like that.
    (Sorry for being so wordy. And for cross-posting the *ooof*.)

    Like

    • He was not exactly spotted at a supermarket like mere mortals. But visited a designer who sells very expensive clothing and was welcomed by the designer himself. That is very much what celebrities do and how celebrities get treated. And if he doesn’t care about clothing, why visiting a designer anyway? Though I think leather jackets may be a personal thing.

      Like

      • I think that puts it even more in relief than a visit to the corner shop. I would probably dress really carefully if I went to a design shop (I certainly do when I work on a fashion shoot – without much success *muhahaha*) because I would assume that they will scrutinize my look even more than non-fashion people…
        Is Snyder a really well-known brand in the US? I have never heard of him (but I am fashion immune, I guess.)

        Like

        • Snyder is probably well known to only a fairly limited, but well heeled, demographic if Barney’s and an NYC studio are his retail outlets 🙂

          Like

          • also Nordstrom. I would say not edgy, in the sense of not something only the fashion cognoscenti wear, but also pretty exclusive. One wonders about the influence of Ilaria Urbinati.

            Like

    • np on xposting — I posted this really late.

      Like

    • I’ll never forget being in Basel for a fortnight to use the archives and subletting a room in a Studentenwohnheim of some sort. The people in the place were engaged in their annual spring clean. They managed to find parts of their stove to clean that I didn’t even know existed — they practically disassembled it piece by piece.

      What counts as “clean” in one place isn’t even always internally consistent. In Erlangen, I rented an apartment once where if you didn’t scrub the floor of your landing at least every weekend, someone complained about you being dirty to the house management. At the same time, it was in Germany that I learned it was okay to wear the same clothing two days in a row.

      I totally agree with the perception that it takes a lot of courage to say something like that (even if he was kidding). (Witness this discussion.) Although I also wondered (as stated in the post) if making statements like that isn’t a defense mechanism. I also wondered if anyone would ever call themselves “a monster,” if that wasn’t something he’d heard about himself at some point and then repeated for the sake of convenience. Saying, “I’m a slob, it’s hard to live with me” is a convenient way of explaining a solitary existence without further ado.

      Like

  11. I admire all kinds of perfectionists but am little afraid of them. I felt tenderness and slight amusment during staring at this photo. I like him more and more, I can’t help it!
    PS: I must to think for a moment about ..smells, Servetus :).. wonder why my hubby always smells so very well?

    Like

  12. This whole smell/cleanliness conversation is fascinating. I think that those of us who are children of Western Europeon industrialization which put cheap soap into the hands of the masses for the first time, have rather different opinions on what constitutes cleanliness than much of the world. Then add in religios/social mores that “cleanliness is next to godliness” and you’ve got powerful incentive toward super cleanliness. I’ve talked about this with students in the context of cultural expectations since Americans are especially obsessed with scent (don’t think do so? Take a look at the air freshner and deodorant aisles at the supermarket or Target). I’m not a proponent of wallowing in one’s own filth, but neither do I necessarily think less of people who admit that they might not shower everyday. I seriously doubt that even a nicely rumpled Richard Armitage is more than a day from a bath in any case, but as long as I can’t smell him before I can see him… *shrug*

    Like

    • move South is all I can say — the fact that the weather is so much warmer means people pile on the deodorant and scent.

      another thing that I think of is the way that certain kinds of 24-hour convenience stores typically smell of really strong disenfectant. It’s not so much about the status of their cleanliness, but what they signal by having a smell oh so penetrating that you can smell it on the food you buy there when you open it.

      None of us are smelling Armitage, presumably. 🙂

      Like

  13. I think he’s being a bit facetious about his hygiene. I do think disheveled is part of his persona, but apart from hanging out alone and skipping a shower for a day, I highly doubt he is regularly unwashed. My husband is like this–can dress like a total slob but hits the shower as soon as he gets done running or working out. Even after the shower, he might grab clothes off the floor, but he is showered nevertheless.
    I think disheveled can be charming, and the airport photos of RA still carry an *OOMPH* for me, but, my apologies to you Servetus, this photo made me cringe. Slightly too tight clothes are fine for RA’s build, but I really hope the button popped open as he put his arm around Snyder or he didn’t immediately realize he left his t-shirt in the dressing room. Otherwise, the too-open shirt makes him look like a lost member of the Village People–the Sexy Lumberjack Motorcyclist. All he’s missing is one of those terrible necklaces he used to be fond of wearing. Sorry, but despite my admiration for that glorious chest, the aggressive unbuttoning is a deal breaker for me on this one.

    Like

    • MT pointed out last week that Hiddleston was wearing a very similar shirt, similarly unbuttoned…maybe it’s a new trend :). I wondered about it too since it doesn’t seem to be his usual style…perhaps he was trying on some clothes and missed it? Who knows…it is a bit Village for the Flatiron district 🙂

      Like

  14. I have to teach and grade all day today, so it’s going to be hours before I can get to make any responses — but having been engaged in such intensive grading for so long, a hypermoralistic exercise par excellence, I want to ask now what I should have asked at the end of the post: for commentators to refrain from any moralistic comments about cleanliness / tidiness. These are cultural and personal and contextual, rather than moral, values.

    And let me stress again — this post was about recognizing myself in a fantasy picture of Richard Armitage. While i think that he’s sexy here, my point was to underline how the fact that I find him attractive here relies on a fantasy of him that is also a fantasy of self. If that’s not your fantasy, fine — you could ask yourself why it isn’t — but please don’t harsh on mine. It’s the end of the semester, and I’m very, very tired. Please don’t make me regret that I posted this.

    Like

    • Fair point. I think we all veered off on the wrong tangent here. I didn’t take any opinions that differ from mine as a judgment on my or Armitage’s supposed state of cleanliness but as mere statements of personal preference. Dirty/grimy RA is a potent fantasy. And as we all know, sometimes we conjure up things in fantasy that we do not really like/want/condone in RL. All good, I think.

      Like

    • I think it’s a lovely fantasy! And good on you for posting it. I sort of imagined him like that when I heard that he’s a DIYer, and dreamed of installing hardwood floors on my second floor with him…I still have the knee protectors from doing the downstairs! Mmmm…I love the smell of sawdust and not-pristine man in the morning. But seriously, I think it’s not really fantasy if we don’t project a bit of ourselves into the image we create in our heads when we do fantasize. I also love to fantasize about playing certain pieces with him on cello and me on flute, even though he might be absolute pants at the cello nowadays. Resin and spit make their own particular sort of griminess that is also very appealing to me.

      Like

  15. oh, and for the record: this morning I dressed for work in a dress that I picked up off the floor.

    Like

  16. A friend of mine sent me the link to your blog. She found it amazing that you could go on for what looks like 2,500 words or more because you found a candid photo of Richard looking rumpled. You do appear to be a bit obsessed when it comes to RA. If I put all those words down I’d want to be paid for them instead of throwing out sexual fantasies to whoever wanders by on the internet.

    Having seen the picture and dismissing it as a “bad clothes” day I can’t imagine having gone to the trouble of changing the exposure or contrast…or to having peered at what little you can see of his rear in the mirror. You take things he says in interviews and distort them to suit your purpose. God forbid the man should say anything at all because whatever he says will come back to haunt him on pages like this. No wonder we get so little from him when he’s interviewed. And no wonder he stays off the net. This sort of treating the man like an object instead of a human being approaches a stalker level of obsession.

    Richard was the only one of the actors who mentioned (repeatedly) how bad they smelled during filming. He is a clean person and the funk of working in the summer under a ton of prosthetics really bothered him, the others…not so much. Don’t try to make him something he isn’t just because of a few words in an old interview. He deserves better than that.

    Like

    • Thanks for taking the time to make a comment. I know where you come from, and who your “friends” are, and there are a lot of things I could say in response, but I’ll stick to “honi soit qui mal y pense.”

      Beyond that, this post is ad hominem. It makes a personal attack on me. For that reason, you are being warned. A second comment that attacks me or others personally will lead to your being blocked from from commenting further on the blog.

      Like

  17. Dear all,

    Thanks to *everyone* for their comments. In rereading them, I realize that most were not as judgmental they seemed when I first read them. I am sorry for misunderstandings that I committed and beg your pardon. It was also my fault for posting this last night. I should have anticipated that the cultural value ‘cleanliness=good’ was a touchier issue than I had realized for others, and that my own reaction to criticisms of my position on it (and the fact that I have thought variations on what I wrote for three years and not written about it also means something about it) was equally visceral. I should have waited a few weeks until I was calmer, I suppose. I’m going to make a few responses and then close comments on this post — I just don’t have the energy for certain things this week.

    However, I’d like to point out a few things that it was apparently assumed I was saying in this post that in fact, I did not say.

    -I did not say that Richard Armitage was dirty, unclean, etc., etc. The structure of the post was to note my reaction to a particular photo and the thoughts it provoked in me, to connect them to a few things that he had said or was quoted as saying in the past, and then to talk about how those statements had provoked a particular fantasy in my mind when I read them that was triggered again when I saw the photo referenced.

    -However, had I said that, as must have been clear from my ruminations on the role of cleanliness in my own life, had i said that, it would not have been a criticism. So no need to defend Armitage against me.

    -I also did not say that everything Armitage said about himself was literally true. In fact, throughout the post, I say, can this be true? and point to situations in which he is possibly or clearly teasing readers.

    -Finally, I did not say that notions of cleanliness are absolute or that my fantasy of what mess means to him is necessarily corresponding to his own description — it may be the case that Armitage’s dirty is my clean or vice versa or whatever. I didn’t think that I’d have to say this in so many words, given the amount of time I talk about perspectival problems in perception this blog, but I apologize for not making that clear.

    OK, deep breaths and I’m going to try to think of something fun / funny to post yet tonight.

    Like

  18. […] based on photos of Richard Armitage that refer to your youth and feelings of being carefree, and to pressures on the self for cleanliness and order that in turn link to other fantasies about the joys of dressing badly and everything you can do […]

    Like

  19. […] of news and pictures, segments of material recorded that week trickled out in subsequent weeks. A candid photo of Armitage was tweeted from Todd Snyder’s studio on April 17, but he remained (to my knowledge) unsighted apart from that. So his scheduled appearance in Sydney […]

    Like

  20. […] This probably comes close to my original rational reaction. Yeah, I have that fantasy, too, unpopular as it turned out to be. […]

    Like

  21. […] I’ve always tried to write here sincerely and straightly about my perspective on Richard Armitage, but that perspective is not always in line with the mood of the blog’s friendly readers, let alone its hostile audience. I’ve thus been the object of intensive APM several times, particularly recently; sometimes in my comments and sometimes in places where I imagine the casual fan doesn’t see it. APM sometimes appears in response to jokes I make, but it tends to appear in particular when I make a personal identification that questions some tabu or cultural prejudice that we in the West relate to “goodness” in a person (for instance, two big issues I’ve broached here are my responses to Richard Armitage’s personal history of smoking and/or smoking on screen, and my responses to sources in which he mentioned that he was a slob). […]

    Like

  22. […] Richard Armitage: Two pictures, two fantasies. Fantasy 2. Armitage unaware? April 23, 2013. My fantasies about Armitage the moderate male slob and the meaning of failure to […]

    Like

Comments are closed.

 
%d bloggers like this: