Will the real Armitage please stand up, or: Will Richard Armitage don a flower crown tonight at the Saturn Awards?

Before someone inevitably accuses me of spoiling something, I want to stress that I have no opinion on whether Richard Armitage should wear a flower crown tonight or ever, although there are some cute photoshops of it. Generalizing overly broadly, it’s thing that fans who are younger than me tend to like, although I can imagine he’d be cute and I that I might enjoy the picture. I like most pictures of Richard Armitage that I’ve seen. But no, I really don’t care either way. He should do what he wants to do.

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Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, photoshopped with flowers by a fan. Source.

That said, it brings to a point something I’ve been writing a longer post about lately. Who knows, maybe I will publish it. But to me, the essential problem falls here. We said, when we got Armitage tweeting, we’d be seeing more of him “as he is,” or at least a version of that, and there would be consequences to that. The argument has been made that when Armitage tweets selfies, etc., we’re seeing a liberated Armitage who feels free to reveal his goofier moments. That may be.

I think the argument is just as good, however, that now that he has Twitter, he is using it to market, which means he will do what he thinks the market wants him to do, and he is going to avoid doing anything he thinks would put him in a bad light. Tweeted spelling mistakes or incomprehensible words or a selfie when he should have tweeted a Hannibal pic? He’ll fix that. More importantly: fans want selfies? He’ll give them that. Show about to be canceled? Wants to support the effort to save it? Tone of the show’s tweeps is a bit bawdy? He’ll tweet a photo in support. It’ll be a weird photo that is supposed to imply that it’s somehow risqué in its original form when it wouldn’t have been, but it will fit totally into the discourse of the director.If Twitter is there to create and support a market, then what he puts on Twitter will create and support that market.

So I ask you about tonight: flower crown? Armitage-native goofiness or pandering to the audience?

Remember that I’m not an either / or girl — and that I don’t necessarily think people do things only because they want to or because they are being pressured, that anyone makes any decisions out of a combination of motives that include incentives, values, the sense of humor, and even the moment one is in at that point. So I want to conclude two things:

First: It strikes me that I underrated the effect of the “marketing” aspect of Twitter before, and that it is just as possible to argue that Armitage tweets certain things because he thinks he has to / needs to, as it is to say that Twitter reflects only or primarily Armitage “as he is.” In other words, he may be tweeting a picture of his ass for reasons that include that he thinks someone else thinks he should. I don’t call that liberation.

Second: We really have no way of definitely interpreting that sort of tweet. If you think Armitage is just a goofy, bawdy guy, then he could be broadcasting his rear end because he’s funny. If you think Armitage does this kind of thing only because the marketing situation demands it, then he’s under compulsion. But since we don’t know who Armitage is — and his most recent lengthy statement reveals him to be the epitome of a people pleaser — I don’t know how we can decide. The upshot of that is: we might as well react the way we react, given that we have so little reliable information.

Enjoy the Saturn Awards tonight!

~ by Servetus on June 26, 2015.

20 Responses to “Will the real Armitage please stand up, or: Will Richard Armitage don a flower crown tonight at the Saturn Awards?”

  1. Maybe there will be lots of Armitages (via masks) filling the aisles and sporting flower crowns a la Slim Shady. Just kidding, I think.

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  2. Interesting post — makes me think that he is still as much a mystery as he was before twitter which is both frustrating and comforting because it essentially makes me feel that RA, as well as my perception of him, hasn’t changed all that much. I also believe he joined twitter mostly as a self promotion / marketing tool but I wonder how long he will want to keep up with it — I would find it exhausting coming up with stuff to tweet; but, then again, I don’t have that creative a mind.

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  3. “flower crown?…pandering to the audience?”

    How is that pandering when RA had nothing to do with any pics or talk regarding flower crowns? And when did he show his ass?

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    • If there were a clamor for a flower crown picture, and Armitage allowed one to be taken and disseminated, one possible reading of that would be that he was pandering to what the audience wanted. I don’t see how that is controversial.

      re: ass, he tweeted a picture of himself in Red Dragon makeup with the figure for the Red Dragon (or part of the usual way that China is written, depending on how you see it) covering his butt, the other night. Follow the link in the post.

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      • Okay, I admit that I read your blog post quickly and reacted quickly, which I should not have done. Yes, if Richard posted a pic of himself wearing a flower crown, that could be construed as pandering, but I promise you that he won’t be doing that.

        Regarding the Red Dragon pic, there is no part of his ass showing under the red symbol. In fact, if you look closely, you will see some black that seems to indicate he is wearing the black shorts that he wore in that recently released, brief clip of Francis Dolarhyde crawling across the floor. Please look at the photo again. And even if a tiny part of his ass had been showing in the pic that he posted, that’s not that same thing as “tweeting a picture of his ass.”

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        • Like I said, I don’t care whether he is pictured in the flower crown or not. Read the post.

          re: the Red Dragon pic — an ass is an ass, whether it’s wearing underwear or not (or anything else, for that matter). It is also clear he wanted to draw attention to that by putting the character over the top of it. In other words, he wanted us to look at what was under the character. What was under the character? His ass. It was a sort of passive aggressive petty bourgeois movie, but it’s his butt under that character. And Fuller followed it up by saying “I have the unblurred picture,” i.e., Fuller was also drawing on the prurience of the reader. I think the trope he was using was pretty clear, actually. It’s just how we interpret it.

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  4. I think yes, all for promotion and marketing. He is like this. Can be funny

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  5. […] Richard Armitage  once refused a silly crown What about tonight?  Will Richard Armitage wear a flower crown for all to see? (discussion here) […]

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  6. I think the real Richard Armitage is a man of many facets, just like we all are. Yes, I definitely see his Twitter as his own marketing portal. But I think he also tries to have fun with it, putting his own goofiness in there as well. So, for me, RA is both marketing machine and goofball and I don’t really mind which one tweets.

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    • I tend to agree with you on that one.

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    • Why he tweets what is not a question of universal importance, particularly in terms of fan enjoyment, but it bears centrally on the matter of whether, as is now being argued, Armitage is more liberated than he used to be. The problem for me isn’t whether we should care or enjoy the tweets, it’s an identity problem.

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      • When you say ‘identity problem’ – I’m not sure I quite understand what you mean by that.
        As for the liberated issue… I have been following Richard Armitage’s career for 9 years now and the man over the years seems to have become more… self-assured, I think is the word I’d use. We all develop and grow with age, as does he, and I know I am more self-assured than I was 10 years ago as well. But I don’t know if anyone can say he is more liberated than he was before. I don’t know what he was before because before there wasn’t so much direct communication from him like there is now. We saw and heard much less of him then than we do now. In honesty, I don’t think he is that much different now from what he was before. I don’t get a very different vibe from him as a person now as compared to some years ago, but with the succes he’s had these past few years his life has changed and that is bound to influence what he and how he communicates as well.

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        • I think I put the problem I’m assessing pretty clearly in the post. Is the fact that his communication has more elements that could be classified as “unrestrained” an indication that Armitage feels freer now than he has before, or is he doing what he’s done all along, i.e., engage in people pleasing? This question is acute since the Cybersmile interviews, which are a paean to people-pleasing as a life strategy, and that is why I am asking it. Most people seem to be arguing that the less restrained approach is a symptom that Armitage feels freer to let a little bit more hang out; I am arguing that the evidence is just as good that he broadcasts this message because he thinks it is what people want (or what he should broadcast).

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          • Hmm… well, I guess again I’d argue it may be a bit of both. He is I think more self-assured than he used to be and may be more comfortable just to throw things out there but he is definitely also selling himself and doing what he thinks may be the popular thing to do for marketing purposes. If he really is the people pleaser he seems to be, I can see how he is easily swayed to do this stuff and honestly, I don’t really see the harm. I know I have done that too – have gone along with (online) fads in my enthusiasm when in hindsight the smartness of that may be doubtful.

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            • I’m not disagreeing that motivation is complex (see paragraph about this in the original post). I’m just asking the question about liberation in light of the problem of people-pleasing, which IMO, is a problem for an artist.

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              • People-pleasing is a real obstacle, I think, if you want to write or act or paint or dance or any creative endeavor. And I speak from being both a people-pleaser and a creative person. I have moved past it to some extent but not as much as I need to.

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  7. This blog has veered from analysis of Richard’s work to questioning the motivation behind his every word and photo on multiple platforms. In my opinion, this tangent is rather silly. Richard uses Twitter to promote his work, to communicate with other artists and his fans, and to have fun. What is sinister about that?! I accept that he keeps his personal life private, and reject the idea that we can “know” him intimately. In fact, having such a need to be so emotionally invested in his life to the point of picking apart his every word or phrase seems creepy to me.

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    • Patricia, no one said anything was sinister; no one said we can know him intimately; calling me “creepy” is ad hominem. As the comment policy states, you may not tell me what to write or not to write or criticize the blog as too involved. Hence, you are blocked.

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