My Richard Armitage fan blogging year 2014

You probably guessed from the collected link posts that I’ve been trying to catch up with my notifications! I’m finally getting somewhere, I hope. No more procrastination, though. One more evaluative post for 2014 (this one) and then the post with the theme for 2015.

Thinking about 2014, I think it ended well. This was my most recent Free Will Astrology horoscope:

Screen shot 2015-01-03 at 6.15.21 PM

And Richard Armitage’s encouraged him to try something he doesn’t quite feel ready for, which I thought was interesting.

In my “real” life, 2014 offered a big improvement on 2013, to put it bluntly. No one in my closer family became so ill as to require a bedside vigil, or died, and after I established what I really wanted from my life at the moment and then finally found the peace to make a step I’d contemplated for years, to leave my chosen career, I found a fulfilling job in a related field that I couldn’t have imagined working in a year ago, relatively quickly. I won’t say it was an easy year, what with the months at home, two moves, and the fact that I have earned less this year than in any since I received my Ph.D. (elective downward mobility has had its “interesting” moments), but it was empty of the kind of event that made 2013 one of the worst years of my life. I think the horoscope is right. This is a life that I have always wanted to try and now I am. It will also have its downfalls, I’m sure. And that development probably deserves some more reflection than it’s going to get in this post, but I will probably come back to it later this year.

And in my fan life? Though I have always experienced things about fandom that I haven’t discussed on blog, 2014 was the first year that I felt that my fan life and my blogger life ended up being two radically different experiences. The blog had a banner year. While numbers aren’t everything, they aren’t meaningless, either. I posted more than ever; as Richard Armitage’s career gained velocity, more people than ever came here. Richard Armitage had the Pinter / Proust reading, the Urban shoot, Into the Storm and associated promo, Hamlet, the Sleepwalker shoot, The Crucible and stage door, and the final Hobbit installment, so there was plenty to talk about. @RCArmitage also started tweeting. Four of my five statistically “biggest” months (from the perspective of the limited info I look at) and the five “biggest” days in the blog’s history all happened in 2014. Some of that “extra” traffic was driven by anger at me (see below), but I am not kidding myself that that development has much to do with me. Rather, more people than ever sought information, commentary and discussion about Richard Armitage. It’s hard to imagine that happening again, frankly, unless Armitage joins another popular movie franchise or starts another project that makes him regularly visible in ways that generate an observable social media wave, like that of the Crucible stage door. What Guylty has called “the Summer of Love” and my presence at the screen for most of it — indeed, a growing fascination with events around The Crucible that led to a near-inability to leave it — had a big effect here on that aspect of the traffic of the blog.

But as I mentioned briefly earlier, information about which posts were most visited diverged strongly from my own sense of what became most significant for me. “me + richard armitage” had a year like none before and probably none after; Servetus the fan as writer was troubled for much of it.

What made 2014 different from every other year? The two things that probably made the most difference to my trajectory as a fan in 2014 involved matters I could not discuss on blog when they were happening.

First — a serious watershed: me outing myself on blog in early February 2014. After some thought about the turning points in what was almost a year of journalling in a note book about the events that led there, and the discussions I had with the small group of fan friends whom I became even closer to this year (you know who you are — and thank you so much for being there, especially in February), which took a big piece of my fandom journey off of the blog, I’ve decided to reaffirm my decision not to talk in detail about what happened, because the point of this post isn’t events so much as how I felt about them. If you were there, you know what happened, and if you’re a new fan, you’re possibly better off not knowing.

There were two weird immediate consequences to that decision. First, although by early 2014 a lot of people in my real life knew about the blog, because of what happened, there were still people close to me who had to be informed ahead of time, in case they could think of factors that hadn’t occurred to me. Consequently I got a crash exposure to the reactions of my department chair, Pesky (who had suspected what was going on but hadn’t figured out the details), my father, and my brother, to the information not only that I write a relatively popular, or at least notorious, fan blog about Richard Armitage, but that I (and through me, others) was being threatened with real-life consequences on account of what I wrote. The second was that within hours of my post, I saw Google search results in my WP status with my real name in them, referencing events in my professional life from 2009. I guess people who didn’t know the story were still curious, even five years later, although I never blogged much about the details here, simply about the consequences. Variations of that query are still a regular search string that ends here.

All in all, being identifiable, even if not conspicuously identifiable, has been much less trouble than I would have guessed before making myself so. I am not, by the way, encouraging everyone in the fandom who functions via pseudonym to come out; on the contrary. There can be good reasons to embrace pseudonymity. I am simply noting that a lot of the negativity that I anticipated has not come to pass in the almost year since then, and that being “out” in real life has brought me many positive moments as well. That’s something I want to write more about this spring because it has implications for understanding how our fandom works internally vs. externally. (And, oh yeah, this post is still there. When this blog is over, it might be the most visited ever. Funny to re-read it now.)

Second — in some ways, an even bigger watershed: seeing Richard Armitage on stage in The Crucible, which I did after planning absolutely not to go. My journal from that ten weeks between deciding not to go and going is actually surprisingly interesting, but it begins with me having noted that every single fan friend I talked about it with advised me expressly not to mention that I was wavering, or what would eventually happen, on blog for fear that someone would try to start a storm over it not simply in the virtual world, but possibly at the theater as well. The other stuff that was going on with dad, and the house, my finances and the possibility of the job offer that I ended up taking, was just baggage on top of all of that. I am still planning to edit that material and publish it retroactively, and I hope that it is interesting to those who were wondering, but I will admit that it burned not to be able to put it on blog as I was experiencing it. (And yes, in case you’re wondering, I still need to finish up a bunch of posts from when I did start writing about it. As you can see, I have no shortage of material to put on the blog, still.) That night when I saw Richard Armitage at work in the flesh for the first time was a highlight of my entire life, not just of my fandom. It felt like a self-betrayal not to document it as it happened.

I wish I could have written about the journey, and the fact that I felt unable to do so pointed to larger a problem, which was that although I continued to have stuff available to write about (despite the flood of news this summer I was publishing several substantive content posts per week), I was staying away from troublesome topics. This was not happening out of fear of who would know about them — when I published my name, I hid a total of three posts, and none of the ones that generated the most anger — but simply because I had been so exhausted by the spring drama, and the obvious signs that some fellow fans still hadn’t had enough and were very ready to continue it even afterwards. Someone perspicacious to whom it had been obvious that I’d been self-censoring put it intelligently and kindly to me off blog: “You seemed to be operating from a place where you were confident within [the fandom], you seemed to know what/where the boundaries were, and didn’t let that hinder your freedom to move around within and stay on task to the goals you had set for yourself.”

Yeah, and  / but I wasn’t saying anything much. I’d start posts that I were sincere but which I knew would anger someone or other and then shelve them out of paranoia or exhaustion. Which frequently made me query the point of blogging, a question that had come to a head by the end of October. I’d thrown my voice behind a fan initiative primarily out of a desire to keep space for fan action open from the fan police, and then someone said something that horrified me so much it took my breath away, and I ended up mostly paralyzed or lackadaisical for a month. I published fewer posts in October 2014 than I had since the month my mother died. If the dynamic of the fandom had changed, and it had — mere statements of disagreement about things that one could do or say or post, and even statements about taste, were now the matters of regular extensive, brutal fan battles, so that what used to happen every six months was now happening every ten days — still my reasons for blogging had not changed. I had to get back to my openness and honesty about various things, or quit. Ongoing, to some extent deafening, demands for positivity by @RCArmitage or anyone else accomplish nothing in an atmosphere where anything that might cause any controversy is defined as “not being positive” or “not keeping it light” or “not being fun.” (The arguments this weekend over the Idaho ski photo are a case in point.) We don’t all experience those things in the same way.

So as I look back over 2014 and pick a theme, I’ve been wavering between the contentedness implied by my horoscope (I am now living a variation of a life I wanted to live, why not enjoy it, or at least spend six months catching my breath) and the at times brutal reality of the assessment I’ve written above. There isn’t really an Armitage community anymore, if there every was one. What we have are simply varying nodes of interaction around the theme of Richard Armitage, involving different social media cultures and different written and unwritten rules. Fandom is more and more like reality. And my name is known.

~ by Servetus on January 5, 2015.

19 Responses to “My Richard Armitage fan blogging year 2014”

  1. Idaho? Dann hat jemand die Gegend erkannt? deufz Ich kriege nie was mit … gg

    Drei kleine Anmerkungen:

    1. Ich halte deine Entscheidung, nicht näher öffentlich auf die Geschehnisse im Fandom Anfang 2014 einzugehen, für richtig. Ich habe (zumindest nachträglich) mitbekommen, was da ablief, und ich denke, dass jeder andere auch genug Hinweise finden kann. Kein Grund also, die Schlammschlacht nochmals auszubreiten.
    2. Deine Entscheidung, nicht mitzuteilen, dass du TC sehen würdest, war ebenfalls richtig. Ich hatte bisher gar nicht weiter gedacht als bis zu “Serv hatte persönliche Gründe, nicht darüber zu sprechen” – aber natürlich war es auch in Hinsicht auf die Schlammschlacht die einzige richtige Entscheidung.

    3. “Armitage community”: Ich glaube nicht, dass es die jemals gab. Es gab immer nur die schweigende Mehrheit einerseits und andererseits die aktiven Fans in kleinen Gruppen von Leuten, die sich mehr oder weniger gut verstanden. Je kleiner die Menge der aktiven Fans, desto einfacher ist es natürlich, mit den jeweils “passenden” Personen zusammenzutreffen und die “nicht so passenden” zu tolerieren. Wenn die Anzahl der Fans größer wird, wächst auch die Gefahr, dass sich die “nicht so passenden Personen” zu einer aggressiven Gruppe zusammenschließen, wenn eine Person oder eine kleine Gruppe genug Aggression und Boshaftigkeit aufbringt, im Hintergrund zu manipulieren.
      Und natürlich gibt es auch genug neue Fans, die – ganz ohne Aggression – einfach nicht “passen”, weil sie ihr Fan-Sein ganz anders sehen.

    Oh, noch ein vierter Punkt:
    4. Ich habe nie verstanden, dass jemand Richards Aussagen bezüglich “Spaß haben” und “sich vertragen” so auslegt, dass er gegen Diskussion ist. Wie soll man eine Meinung überdenken, wenn nie jemand widerspricht und auf mögliche Denkfehler hinweist? Glaubt irgendwer wirklich, dass Richard niemals auf Widerspruch stößt? Dass ihm seine Familie oder seine Freunde nie widersprechen? Dass er nie zugeben muss, sich geirrt oder etwas nicht genug durchdacht zu haben? Und heißt das im Umkehrschluss dann, dass er sich mit seiner Familie und seinen Freunden nicht versteht, weil diese nicht “positiv” genug sind? Wer ernsthaft glaubt, dass RA prinzipiell dagegen ist, gegensätzliche Meinungen zu diskutieren (oder überhaupt auch nur zu haben), der … hat die Sache wohl nicht durchdacht. 😉

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    • “deufz”??? LOL Warum sind s und d auch nebeneinander auf der Tastatur? 😀

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    • deufz is cute. Apparently the original tweet included the location of the tweeter, and some fans presume that is why the tweet was deleted. I found it amusing b/c the New Years Eve photo made me think “Colorado.”

      re: maybe there never was a community — I think that’s probably right. Part of the problem, though, was Armitage’s statement a few years ago in a Christmas message about “our community of friends.”

      totally agreement about point 4. But people will do a lot in service of their own notions of “positivity,” I think.

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      • LOL, Tücken der Technik. Twitter will gelernt sein. 😀

        Ähem! … in service of their own notions … Hmmm … “What would Richard do?” (Weiß jemand, wo man diesen böse grinsenden Teufels-Smilie findet?)

        Tja, Community of friends im gleichen Sinne wie bei den Bewohnern eines kleinen Orts oder wie bei deiner Uni? Kein Wunder, wenn es sich dann mehr und mehr wie die Realität anfühlt. 😉 Da hilft wohl nur: Das eigene Plätzchen in der Community so gemütlich wie möglich machen – und vor allem die Community nicht als Pflicht ansehen.

        deufz 😉 Ich war, bevor mich RA erwischt hat, in einer anderen Online-Community ziemlich aktiv (kein Fandom). Ich war dort nicht mehr glücklich. Keine Extrem-Erlebnisse, kein Mobbing, aber Leute, die ich mochte, hatten sich zurückgezogen, und andere Leute, mit denen ich eigentlich nichts zu tun haben wollte, fielen viel mehr auf. Und es kamen zu wenige Neue hinzu, um das auszubalancieren. Ignorieren? Das geht für eine Weile, aber irgendwann wird es anstrengend, und Anstrengung …? – Nicht in meiner Freizeit, wenn ich entspannen will.
        Tja, ich bin nicht ganz aus der alten Community raus, aber nur noch sehr selten dort. Das hat sich nach und nach von selbst ergeben, über viele Monate hinweg.

        Falls es ein Trost ist: Es ist normal, wehmütig an “frühere Zeiten” zu denken. Es ist auch normal, Enttäuschung zu empfinden, wenn eine Gemeinschaft, in der man sich wohlgefühlt hat, sich in eine Richtung entwickelt, in der man sich nicht mehr wohlfühlt. Es ist noch normaler, wenn du nur noch mit Erschöpfung reagierst, wenn wieder einmal irgendeine Äußerung, ein Gedankengang von dir zu persönlichen Angriffen führt.

        Mein Rat? Mach das, was du seit Monaten machst: Weitermachen und abwarten, wie es sich entwickelt. Entweder bekommst du neue angenehme Kontakte, die dich das Fandom als einen freundlichen Ort erleben lassen, oder es macht irgendwann “Klick”, und du wirst wissen, was dein neuer Weg ist.

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        • I’m wondering, based on this experience, actually, if there isn’t some kind of natural trajectory of small fandom to big fandom whereby certain kinds of freedom are lost as a fandom gets bigger. Or maybe one problem we have is that we’re not as big as the Cumberbatch fandom — so that people with splinter interests have a hard time finding community elsewhere in the way that they do in that group?

          exhaustion: yeah, I think it’s natural although I don’t know, I still have lots of energy. But I watch stuff now that I would have tried to steer in better directions in the past and just shake my head. One of those things is the way that anonymous questions stir up people on tumblr. Turn off your anonymous asks and all of those problems go away! So I conclude that people who leave their anonymous asks on are willing to be confronted with that problem in a way that I decided years ago that I am not.

          And there are definitely new fans who are great. I am really jazzed about all of the new blogs since the end of summer!

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  2. I have been reading your blog (on and off) for a while now, even before I decided to go for this blogging thing myself. I never really knew what issues you were talking about with this whole ‘fandom’ mess and frankly, although somewhat curious, I didn’t want and don’t want to know, I have other stuff to worry about. Besides, I could guess the tone of it anyhow. I have witnessed these kinds of situations before where people turned against each other and where differences of opinion got blown out of proportion or misunderstood (long ago I was in an e-mail group of about 7 or 8 people who had transferred to e-mail from a public parenting forum – it’s petered out to just being 3 of us now and we remain the best of friends). One thing I have learned from situations such as that, is that a point will always come when it’s best to agree to disagree and try to move on. Sometimes, however, feelings will have been hurt so much, you break contact. Being on a public forum like this will always alienate some people. I am expecting that in my blogging future as well and wonder how I will deal with that if it should happen. One thing I am determined, however, is to not have it stop me from being me and if necessary I will try to cut toxic things out of my life. I find that as I get older I get better at that. Don’t mean to make this about me, just want to say I understand to a degree how hard this whole ‘fandom’ thing must have been for you and I am so sorry for it! I hope you can stand back and take the good and leave the bad behind. I commend you for standing up for yourself in the storms of the past year(s?) and hope to be able to read your blogs for a long time to come!

    (P.S. I use the term ‘fandom’ in parentheses as I don’t like the word very much. I agree with Hedgehogess above, that there isn’t really one fan community, there are many, and many ways of being a fan and the bigger it gets the less of a single community there is.)

    (P.P.S. Seeing The Crucible has been an absolute highlight for me as well!)

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    • The experience that I had during those events was really a fascinating one and it would be worth talking about for various reasons, but it’s just not worth the tsuris at the moment. Maybe in a few years 🙂 In any case I certainly learned a lot.

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  3. 2014 was an interesting year, even as an observer on your blog – for you as a fan, for you as a blogger, for you as you. And I mean “interesting” in that slightly ironic sense – there was lots and lots of good and great, but unfortunately balanced out by that smaller (but smellier) bit of crap. Some of the events of 2014 have left scars – and without sounding soppy or self-pityingly or overestimating myself, they have also left scars on those who did not bear the brunt of the “controversy”. It worked as a bit of a “wake-up call” for me. And yes, I think you are spot on when you say that fandom is more and more like reality. Maybe “THE community” is no more. I am not sure if it has been replaced with mere “nodes” (I’d sentimentally hope for a bit more than that), but maybe with a number of communities. Imo that was inevitable as soon as RA’s popularity increased and his number of fans rose. However, things change, they always do, and we merely adapt and find a new comfort zone within the parameters that have been set, much as I hope you yourself find that comfort zone within the blogging community, within the fandom, and in your professional and private life.
    This blog, and that is clear to me as a reader, is not about the fandom, is tangentially about the eponymous Armitage, but really about YOU. That is what is attractive about this blog; it’s a two-for-one deal, if you want, because there is enough tangential Armitage in this to satisfy fangirl-demands, too. But I come here to read your thoughts on whatever issue you have decided to write about, not for latest news about or sweetest response to RA. There may be other blogs that fulfill those needs, and I am grateful to read them. They are no better and no worse than me+r. But I am equally grateful that you remain yourself and continue to trumpet your voice. Otherwise we might as well just close all blogs and merely observe RA blowing his own trumpet.

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    • No, I think that’s right; bystanders are affected by these things as well, and it’s not soppy to point that out because it is upsetting. Every time we have one of these cataclysmic moments, there’s a group of people around us who are so (justly) horrified that they leave the vocal part of the fandom forever or at least fall silent for a time. There was a similar effect in April 2012 — people who’d been regular participants disappeared without a trace — and the lines that were drawn then still influence how people in the blogging community at that time see each other’s words and actions now. I am a decent forgiver but I am a horrible forgetter, myself.

      Thanks for the kind words. I remain concerned, esp after this last spate in December, that we really do need to make sure that there are spin-free spaces (insofar as that’s possible in a situation where what we are experiencing is very largely spin-influenced).

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    • Not surprisingly, I agree with Guylty. What attracts me to your blog are your thoughts and the glimpses of your life you give us. Of course, I am also enamored of your essays on ears, eyes or thumbs. In fact, they can inspire me to wax poetic from time to time. But I find your reflections on family, writing, work, whatever topic you choose, often lead me to look at my life a little closer or from a different point of view. Your blog has such a wide range,from the death of a parent to the work or looks of a certain actor. The writing is meticulously thorough. It explains where you are coming from, what makes an impact on your life and why. Your blog reveals a lot about you, but also a lot about ourselves, if we care to look.

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    • Ahhahaha! ermmm…sorry,Guylty! 🙂 but you know me, I’m just that one stiupid fangirl who can’t stop laughing at “RA blowing his own trumpet”
      I like your comment ( wole comment!) very much!

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  4. I hope 2015 brings good things for you. Thanks for the link to the Leo horoscope. Looks like I really need to get over the fear of that math test. I seem to do well in the classes I take so I just need to do it. American Government this semester and I am looking forward to the class. I had the teacher last semester and really liked how he taught. Next Monday we start back.

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    • Katie70 — take the math test!!! The worst thing that can happen is you have to take more math, i.e., you have to learn something else. And then you won’t be dreading it any more.

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  5. […] going with the former, because I don’t think it belongs to him, but rather to fans, even if I no longer believe in a “we.” I reached some kind of turning point last December, without realizing it immediately, or really […]

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