2015 continued (part 3): me + richard armitage + Cybersmile

Continued from here. Again, I’m just picking pretty pictures to break up the text.

Richard Armitage at work on the Hamlet audiobook, 2014.

Richard Armitage at work on the Hamlet audiobook, 2014.

me + my richard armitage fantasy

My frustration about the outcome of the Marlise Boland incident was not (as Richard Armitage said) about favoritism in the first place — it was about professionalism — and then in the second place, it was about the whole question of how anyone, and in this case my crush, who as a tulpa is a sort of alternate self that one builds, might potentially be responding to criticism or disagreement. I was cultivating the idea of Armitage as a strong person who had the capacity to resist clamor. Fans, I think, are going to clamor, and part of the enjoyment of fandom is confronting different opinions. If we all have to agree about everything, what would be the point of any fandom exchange at all?

As I mentioned, I had recognized the ways in which the fantasy Armitage that I and other fans build relates ultimately to our own needs, and had identified (at the time I wrote that post) my own need for Armitage to be happy with his life choices and to keep working. I had built an idea of an Armitage in my mind who was capable of withstanding pressure about most things, because this is a feature of being an adult (making a decision or a statement and sticking to it, formulating a vision of what one wants to do and being faithful to it, being able to live with the possibility that not everyone is going to love everything one writes). I found enough supporting evidence to build this feature into my Armitage fantasy — the long path the dancer took to become an actor, the many years of struggle and certain behaviors (like the extended phase of casual dress in press photos) that indicated a reluctance to conform to outside expectations. For more detail on this matter, you can see my catalog of some of those assumptions from last summer, although I never found the courage to write the successor post. In general, Armitage’s interviews revealed a greater level of verbal and physical self-confidence after the first round of Hobbit publicity, and then, of course, the interviews that started to be published in summer, 2014, as he was performing The Crucible, indicated — as I thought — an increased awareness of his own vision and independence of mind.

Richard Armitage, talking about The Crucible at the Old Vic, September 2014.

Richard Armitage, talking about The Crucible at the Old Vic, September 2014.

Moreover, I had always felt that Armitage must have had to develop some distance from the opinions and attitudes of his fans, certainly in the wake of some of the context of fan messages in the Guy of Gisborne era. It seemed to me that a great level of immediate exposure to these opinions on Twitter would demand the development of ever greater fortitude over against the demands and opinions of fans, and I also thought this was present.  In early 2015, for instance, I could have added to this the decision to play Francis Dolarhyde in Hannibal, which was the kind of step that Armitage was certainly aware would be difficult for some, indeed many, fans to follow.

Admittedly, I built that idea out of my own needs. As I have seen after a good half year of reflection, I did that because it’s been my perception that at least twice in the past, at crucial points I stopped writing or stopped being creative or productive because I could not stand firm against the opposition or disagreement I was receiving — when I started publishing my writing, from my mother, and then again as an academic. In each case, the outcome (a gradual withering away of the creative impulse altogether) was so personally and emotionally damaging that when my first encounters with Armitage’s work gave those impulses back to me, it felt like a final chance to figure out how to resolve this conflict and continue working productively and, I hoped, creatively. “Here’s someone who doesn’t always confirm to what other people want, who hasn’t given in when he saw obstacles in his way,” was my thinking, “and look at how strong his art is — and it is getting better and better.”

[All of that, I hope, is relatively unobjectionable (if perhaps silly). Brace for objectionability. I’ll also take one last opportunity to whine about how difficult this has been to write. OK, end of whining.]

I’m reluctant to revisit all the negative emotion of last summer, but here goes.

me + richard armitage + Cybersmile

RICHARD-ARMITAGEHere’s my discussion (our discussion) as it played out on blog. That Armitage planned some connection to Cybersmile was evident from the premiere of his Twitter account, because he followed it right away; a retweet in April made that connection concrete. My original discussion of how disturbing I found that choice is recorded here and here. Cybersmile announced Armitage as its ambassador on June 3. His initial Cybersmile piece is preserved here, and my initial response is here. After a week of uproar, Armitage took another opportunity to response to criticisms, which is here. My response to that post is here, and here’s a guest post by Judiang that articulated additional concerns I endorse(d). At that point, Cybersmile appears to have dropped mostly from my references — in part because I got more involved in documenting and responding to my viewing of Hannibal, and my reading of the Hannibal press.

These critiques were focused primarily on principled issues — in essence, I felt (and feel) that Armitage was treading into territory that he hadn’t thought about in detail beyond a general feeling that bullying was bad, based, as we learned in the second post, on his own experience of being bullied. He wanted to do something to influence such behaviors (a story similar to one that we had already heard during the Battle of the Five Armies press run, where his response to a question about why he had joined Twitter referred to wanting to end “vicious” competition among fans). At the time, Cybersmile’s website was vague as to what it was challenging and what it did, Armitage’s discussion of potential disagreements with his prescriptions was vague, it was unclear who his audience was or what behavior exactly he wanted to discourage, and his discussion of some of the key questions that typically arise in discussions like this was so jumbled that it wasn’t always clear what he meant to be saying. For instance, he seemed to be offering a fairly stringent critique of humor at one point. He suggested that people use their real names on the Internet. And so on. One could (and did) poke dozens of holes in his argumentation. It’s not my intent to raise these issues again here.

Richard Armitage

Richard Armitage, on the set of The Hobbit.

Throughout that round of critique, I tried to stick to fairly concrete themes. My own experiences as a fan in the Armitage fandom played into my responses, as they did for other people. I also expressed clearly my anger at being lectured or preached to about personal and public behavior from someone about whose personal life I know nothing and whom I had never proposed to accept as a moral exemplar. Those discussions are all recorded in the links above and the related discussions.

I’d known for a long time (as impossibly controversial as it has ended up being to write about it — there’s an apparent problem with saying that one doesn’t think the man’s either learned or intellectually inclined) that Richard Armitage is a feeler, not a thinker and that there are consequences to this recognition for anyone who is a thinker and crushed on him. When he said, in one of the Strike Back extras, that Jodhi May brought something cerebral to her role as Leila, I don’t think it was a compliment. Hey Richie, smart girls know when we’re being dissed. On the whole, I didn’t feel that this was horrible, since it’s not like I was going to date the guy, and I have occasionally been guilty of hiding my feelings from myself by means of thinking. In essence, I’d prefer to be more in touch with my feelings rather than less.


Richard Armitage, doing an interview for the Hannibal 3 pre-publicity, spring 2015.

So — full disclosure — here’s how I felt / feel — which I didn’t record on blog because I couldn’t have handled the backlash at the time.

I was disappointed and horrified by these pieces. To tears.

[A reaction that demonstrates just why you can’t gauge what you say only by a prediction how others will react to it, because it’s fairly clear that many times even people in one’s target audience — I am directly in Richard Armitage’s target audience for those posts — won’t understand what you meant in the sense in which you potentially meant it.]

I’d been building this brave Richard Armitage tulpa who was willing and able to resist the criticisms of others. Who had learned to ignore the noise around him and do and say his own thing. Who had inspired me to be as open as I could in writing, to explore things that were incredibly painful at times, to open myself up to my feelings and exploit the resulting creativity. I think it seemed obvious to many of us, long before Armitage said it, that he’d been bullied at some point, or else had an experience of deep humiliation — because these are the strongest moments of his acting, when he shows shame or abasement. A series on how he used this move with Porter starts here; or here’s a discussion of Thorin in one scene from An Unexpected Journey; I’ve written about it with regard to Mr. Thornton and Guy of Gisborne as well. But I, at least, had assumed that this was something he’d managed to process and exploit, that he understood why constant giving in is not a life strategy. Not least because it was something his work has taught me.


Richard Armitage upon arrival in Beijing, January 2015.

And instead, from these posts, I got a Richard Armitage — and I say this now in full awareness of how offensive it may be to some readers, because this is how I felt — whose prescriptions about manners epitomize the views of a Spießer; in English, literally, lower middle class, or more descriptively, perhaps, a conventional prig. One of the folks who keep the aspidistra flying. If you can’t say something nice considering shutting up.

Paraphrasing Armitage: Preserve your reputation. Only say things you can say to a child or your mother or a loved one. If it might hurt someone, don’t say it. Be “decent.” Let how others may receive what you will say be your primary concern. Silence is braver than speech. Debate is ultimately irrelevant because the outcome doesn’t matter (“everything is valid”) and after all everyone has an opinion and they are all equal. Concentrate on taking care of others’ feelings. Only speak online if your motive is a praiseworthy one. Pull back what you’ve written. Remove it if you change your mind about it. Those who choose not to make these maxims their watchwords are finally equated with people who claim they have the right to bully as a function of free speech.

Although there are some fallacies in that list of sentiments, I suppose that any of them might be a useful maxim if taken in a particular context. But taken together as the prescriptions of someone who apparently seeks to be a role model, they build a picture of man who is much less than courageous, who would rather be silent than speak since everything is valid and nothing is important enough to really disagree over, and the most important thing of all is that people be decent and that no one’s feelings ever get hurt and no one’s sentiments get offended.


Richard Armitage, Brazil phase of the Battle of the Five Armies press tour, December 2014.

It’s not the problem, on the level of my feelings that I disagreed with any of that (although I did, and I articulated those disagreements on the intellectual level). It’s that they paint the picture of a coward who is afraid to disagree with anyone for fear their feelings might be hurt or that they might get a picture of him as someone less than a person with a perfect reputation who never, ever gossips. He comes across as a person who is more concerned about how he looks to others than how he really is put together inside. They suggest a man who doesn’t think any topic people might discuss on social media is worthwhile enough to disagree about, indeed that the things that everyday people think and disagree about are entirely equal in value. They suggest someone who’d rather hide behind his white curtains than risk a kind of art that might possibly offend (as self-contradictory as that was for someone who was playing the most superficially offensive role of his career at the time he said it). Someone who has raised “what other people think” to the level of a household god.

I was stunned that my fantasy of Richard Armitage (which I’d spent years building, poring over interviews and articles and statements, watching performances, comparing notes with others) was so drastically off target from who the man apparently really is. I thought I was crushed on someone who was struggling to be courageous. Instead, I found myself in an echo chamber with someone whose prescriptions for behavior were drastically more conventional — and significantly more pusillanimous — even than the ones I grew up with.

[So, 2100 words, and probably time to stop. I have a bit more to say about the significance of this recognition, but I’ll stop for now. I will, in the next section, answer the “so why did you even stay a fan” question, since I know that will be some readers’ first question. First sleep, though.]

~ by Servetus on March 22, 2016.

116 Responses to “2015 continued (part 3): me + richard armitage + Cybersmile”

  1. Starker Tobak zum Frühstück! Ja, der Verdacht des Spießertums ist ein ganz Böser. Schoss aber auch schon das eine oder andere Mal durchs Hirn.
    Deine Ausführungen kommen mir vor, wie eine Operation am offenen Herzen. Hoffentlich überlebt der Patient. Nicht dass es dann heißt: Operation gelungen, Patient tot. 😉

    • It kind of sounds that way, no? That particular tulpa is definitely dead now.

      • Keine Ahnung warum, aber mir kommt gerade der Begriff Crash-Test-Dummie in den Sinn…..

        • Nur kurz zur Auflockerung – mir fällt bei “Spießer” immer dieser legendäre LBS-Werbespot ein:”… Wenn ich groß bin, will ich auch mal Spießer werden!” 😉

          • Du meinst den, richtig? 😀 http://youtu.be/2pcE9nLqE2Y
            Elanor, ich fürchte, wir sind hier nicht mit der nötigen Ernsthaftigkeit dabei 😁 Aber Serv ist ja Kummer aus meiner Ecke gewohnt…..

            • Ganz genau den meine ich! Ist er nicht herzallerliebst? 🙂
              “Nicht alles Spießige ist von Übel.”, würde Gandalf jetzt sagen. Vielleicht heitert diese Art Kummer Servetus in ihrem Kummer etwas auf. Ein Mensch kann zur Spießigkeit neigen, aber das muss durchaus nicht für alle Lebensbereiche gelten.

          • I’d forgotten that but yeah, that was hilarious!

            And I agree about the upsides of Spießigkeit (?) Spießertum (?). One reason Germany is such a clean place …

  2. “Hiding behind..white curtains..” Think you hit upon something there, Serv. He said as much himself, in an interview about The Hobbit. I believe he was asked if he was as brave as Thorin. And his reply was that, while he’d like to think he would, he’d rather be a Hobbit, staying in his nice, warm Hobbit-hole.

    • even Thorin was compelled to do what he did — might not have chosen what happened, I suppose.

  3. The feeling of frustration is palpable in your post. But are you frustrated with Richard Armitage who you’ve ascribed to being a conventional prig (or, Canadian in other words; the value statements you take issue with are values we hold dearly here).

    Or, are you disappointed with yourself for a creating a tulpa that turned out to be hollow? As you’ve said before: adults take responsibility for their action.

    I’m new to the Richard Armitage fandom – probably a couple months in. I have enjoyed your posts immensely. But you also seem to hold him (or, is it your tulpa of him) to some higher standard where your criticism tends to become personal.

    I have not seen such personal identification with the object of fannish adoration in the fandoms I’ve previously been in (mainly Merlin, footballer RPF and Pride & Prejudice).

    Or, maybe it’s Richard – he has the ability to be anything you want him to be without giving away anything of himself.

    Even his statements on violence from the Hannibal dvd extras make me wonder: “is that really Richard, or is it Richard playing the part of the actor who wants more roles like Dolarhyde.”

    Is there any part of him that is personal that is out there for us to consume? The selfies don’t count because they are fan service. I don’t know whether he’s brave or not. He’s shown the drive and ambition to get where he is. But that may not be bravery.

    But I don’t think any parts of the real Richard are out there for display.

    I’m like “Dude, your hometown team is going to win the League, and you’ve said nothing about it.” That’s the stuff I want to know. That’s the stuff he will never share because it’s not connected to his work.

    • Thanks for the comment and welcome.

      Of course there is a personal identification here. It starts with the title. No apologies. All of the analytical posts trace that personal identification with Armitage and with the roles he plays (for instance, my identification with N&S relates to the work/vocation issues in the piece and not to the romantic ones — something I spent a lot of time detailing because it was gamechanging for me). If there were no personal identification I don’t think I’d have been writing in this way for six years about one person’s career.

      This blog proceeds from the assumption that there is no right or wrong way to be a fan except for behaviors that are illegal. I’ve never been a fan of anything else in this way so I can’t compare; however, the manifestations of other fandoms I have seen are pretty similar to things I see in the Armitage fandom. I doubt we’re all that different, all other things being equal. At the same time, I have never claimed to be representative or typical of Richard Armitage’s fans. I speak for myself when I write posts like this. Most of the fandom (80%) that I could see loved what Richard Armitage said on Cybersmile.

      I know a lot of Canadians both from childhood days and due to professional contacts, so I’m going to beg to differ on what he said in these posts holding a strong correspondence to “values Canadians hold dearly.” Most Canadians I know are pretty principled when it comes to standing up (for example, against injustice) or saying flat out when something is wrong. They don’t hide their opinions when it’s about something important and they tend to be more humanely principled than Americans, I find, particularly when it comes to politics. Of course, I don’t know all Canadians; I probably know only about fifty and my sample may be skewed, it being primarily based on Thunder Bay, Alberta and Ontario. We have “Wisconsin nice,” too, but I don’t think that was what he was speaking about here. Or if he was, he was saying that that should be the standard for speech, which even people here would disagree about.

      I think I say pretty clearly in this post who’s responsible — me. The whole first segment is about my act of fantasy and deduction and the statements about what he said relate to all the ways in which my fantasy was wrong and my deductions false. But again, see title of blog; the identification is a personal one. Insofar as whether criticism is personal — well, the piece he wrote purports to state something about his personal ethics and beliefs. I recounted what he said, stated how I perceived it, and said that I don’t like the picture of him that he drew of himself and that it interfered with my fantasy. Again, that’s my problem. I don’t believe I ever said it was his.

      But the location of the line is part of the general rhetorical problem of the fan, insofar as all observers in our situation do not know Armitage personally, most believe that they can know some things about him, and thus all create a particular image of him that suits them based on available information. I’ve seen this over and over again from the beginning of my fandom, and we can learn a lot from observing it (for instance, lately, I’ve been observing a trend in a certain segment of fans to say, anytime that anyone disagrees with something Armitage tweets, that fans are “not allowing Richard to speak” and so they have to intervene because “Richard can’t defend himself.” To me, that kind of statement says something about the perceived speech situation of the fan. Defending Armitage in that sense becomes a defense of the self that they can’t defend with the same vehemence for whatever reason — in essence, what I long ago termed an “identity battle”: https://meandrichard.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/me-milk-and-cheese-richard-armitage-fandom-identity-battles-part-2/) There are certain pieces of fantasy about him that I can sustain in clear opposition to what I believe to be the truth and it doesn’t bother me (see my remark about the whole question of whether he would admire smart women — I don’t think he would, and I drew that conclusion years ago, but that hasn’t been an issue for me, probably because my intellect is not something I feel insecure about). But there are other pieces of the Armitage image that, when contrary evidence comes to light, are simply not sustainable (this was one of them for me, and that’s probably because as I tried to indicate in this post, I feel insecure about my capacity to express myself honestly and directly after years of struggling against the pressure not to do so). This is why I’m using the idea of the tulpa to explore this particular relationship — because the tulpa is a spiritual exercise in building a person that inter alia has the purposes of strengthening and critiquing the self.

      I am afraid I can’t go as far as you to say that “[no] parts of the real Richard are out there for display.” I spent a lot of time thinking about this particular issue six years ago and I wrote a little bit about it, although I didn’t finish my thoughts — starts here: https://meandrichard.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/performing-richard-armitage-performing-dr-servetus-parts-i-and-ii/ In short, I agree that the self is a performance, but I do not believe that it is sustainable as a performance made up out of whole cloth, so that nothing at all that we see is real. I think we are seeing modified versions of Richard, and it’s generally been my strategy (based on disciplinary training) to compare the different reflections we see and come to conclusions on that basis. I accept that I will never know the “real” Richard (assuming that we subscribe to theories that say there is such a thing) but this is another reason for using the tulpa concept. In situations like the Cybersmile piece, or other interviews, it would be too exhausting for most people to create a persona wholly alien to themselves In essence, we always show some things and hide others depending on what seems appropriate in the situation, in order to create the most expedient performance, but this is not always a conscious process, I think, and in particular, it relies on building blocks that are either there or need to be created.

      And in this case, we’re also dealing with implicit truth claims that Armitage made about himself. In one of these pieces, he mentioned that he had suffered from things said to him as a child, and in the other he said that he had been bullied and that that had affected him as a developing actor. If those are not statements about the “real” Richard, there is a more serious problem than the one I have outlined here, and it’s a problem with more than my tulpa. I think my gut reaction to those statements is unfair to Armitage the person, and so I’ve never written it down, even here (and won’t do it now), but if the “real” Richard wasn’t bullied as a child, then there are much bigger problems with this piece than simply advocating passive aggression as a way of managing life.

      I would also like to know what he thinks about Leicester City’s current run of success.

      • Thank you for the very detailed response.

        I wasn’t around for the cybersmile controversy. That was probably for the best. Long ago I made the decision not to follow my object of fannish adoration on Twitter because most celebrities are idiots on Twitter. I don’t mind rereading the tweets if someone posts it on a blog. But the direct access of their own Twitter page just squicks me out.

        Re your comment on RA not admiring smart women- what is your take on his working relationship with Yael Faber? He seems to hold her in high regard.

        Re performing the self: I think it’s part of his “Richardness” that he subliminates himself. Specifically I go back to the comment where he says he’s not shy but he chooses not to own his full height and voice because he doesn’t want to scare other people. He’s learned to “tone it down.” I do wonder was there a period of time where he did own (express?) his own physicality to the point that he was a bully to others. He has a certain gift for playing sympathetic assholes or creeps (☺️ With his “mean” face) and to what extent is that drawing upon personal experience? He speaks of acting as being a socially acceptable forum to express violence.

        Otoh, he’s also described himself as “soft”.

        Is he hard? Is he soft? Is he a hard-boiled egg? 😁 He’s so good at subliminating himself that I wonder what part is real.

        Perhaps the most authentic vibes I have got from him to date are his comments on skiing and his Twitter post about the refugee children. I think he truly loves both and it comes across when he talks about either topic.

        • I personally am not all that impressed with Yael Farber’s display of intellect in the material of hers that I have seen, but that’s limited to print and other media interviews, which can be hard to parse. I don’t know her and I find the way she presents herself repetitive, so I haven’t bothered to search out everything she’s said. However, she was apparently a fantastic and inspiring director for him, so I’m glad they found each other and are continuing their creative partnership. I’m guessing based on various things he said that what he admires about is her creativity and her capacity to find ways to draw out relationships and emotion (he’s talked a fair amount about how they prepared for The Crucible — including her rehearsal method) rather than her intellect per se.

    • I should also maybe add — when I say “I don’t think I said that my reaction ot him was Armitage’s problem,” that gets to the very core of what he was arguing in that post. My fantasy world included a Servetus who is free to speak and an Armitage who is free to ignore Servetus’ speech. His post suggested an Armitage who is still overly concerned about the speech of others. I might not think that my reaction to him is his problem, but things he said suggested that he might think it is. And if that is the case — if he is not fully an adult yet — then there really is a severe ethical problem with this blog. If I had had reason before last summer to think that he was really fourteen, I wouldn’t write about him in the way I have for years.

      oh, and: re my identification w/Thornton, very long series on this theme starts here: https://meandrichard.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/i-dream-all-the-time-that-i-am-mr-thornton/

      • He definitely wants to connect to his audience. A very understandable urge. But given his particular talents, maybe it’s best done through his art (i.e. draining himself nightly when performing The Crucible) rather than moralizing on Twitter.

        Btw saw your comment about TV Fargo on another post. I had your misgivings but the praise kept rolling in. And it’s justified. Fargo S2 was probably the best thing on television last year. S1 was a drag mainly because of Martin Freeman’s character. He was so miscast in that role. I would love to see RA in Noah Hawley’s Fargo-verse. Plus another opportunity to see him working with a talented assembly cast.

        • There’s a strong difference between wanting to connect with one’s audience (which he does all the time, if what people say about how he effects them is any index) and needing their approval, or rather, paying attention to them in ways that suggest you are concerned about their disapproval.

          re: Fargo — my bestie told me that I was right to boycott series 1 but that she thought 2 was fantastic, so I put it on my hypothetical list, where it will probably languish until something else provokes me to watch it. I’m not very disciplined at that watching TV.

      • You’ve hit on something in this response that’s been on my mind for some time and also relates to some of your “deal breaker” posts. For me, I never cared too much what Richard Armitage was like as a person ( except lately as he has tried to direct the fandom) My fantasy is firmly rooted in his roles and his looks – but, in addition to the Cybersmile thing and some of the other rather adolescent things he’s said – there’s his sense of humor, which is at what I think is about PG 14 level ( bathroom jokes, silliness, the Wank thing, his speech (something he’d already said three times and made me cringe when he accepted that award) about how it felt to wear oversized prosthetic hands while peeing ( bad for the ego), lighting farts, peeing in a wet suit, etc – all of which, if I were to know him personally, would be a turn off for me in any conversation, since I prefer quick witted, clever, repartee and wordplay in a sense of humor. So I wonder sometimes, whether experiences of his youth, and then recovering from that and finding his way, somehow stunted his growth as a man. Admittedly, not everything he does or says is juvenile, especially when he talks about his acting process, but still, there is this sense i have that in some ways, he still is adolescent.

      • This is really odd — a WP glitch I’ve never seen. Perry offered the following comment: “You’ve hit on something in this response that’s been on my mind for some time and also relates to some of your “deal breaker” posts. For me, I never cared too much what Richard Armitage was like as a person ( except lately as he has tried to direct the fandom) My fantasy is firmly rooted in his roles and his looks – but, in addition to the Cybersmile thing and some of the other rather adolescent things he’s said – there’s his sense of humor, which is at what I think is about PG 14 level ( bathroom jokes, silliness, the Wank thing, his speech (something he’d already said three times and made me cringe when he accepted that award) about how it felt to wear oversized prosthetic hands while peeing ( bad for the ego), lighting farts, peeing in a wet suit, etc – all of which, if I were to know him personally, would be a turn off for me in any conversation, since I prefer quick witted, clever, repartee and wordplay in a sense of humor. So I wonder sometimes, whether experiences of his youth, and then recovering from that and finding his way, somehow stunted his growth as a man. Admittedly, not everything he does or says is juvenile, especially when he talks about his acting process, but still, there is this sense i have that in some ways, he still is adolescent.”

        • I agree that his humor frequently is sophomoric. He has other smarter humor moments but he has a definite bent toward things that adolescent males find funny.

          I also think the point is good about how, even if you don’t care about what kind of person he is, it starts to be a problem when he wants to prescribe things to the fandom. Honestly, I don’t know why he feels he needs to do that at all. What the fandom does (apart from illegal behaviors) should be irrelevant to him.

  4. first, I sympathize with how hard this may have been for you to write but I thank you for writing it. you are voicing many of the conclusions I’ve come to myself, and thus struggled with, in relation to how my tulpa measures up against the real human. I convinced myself that Cybersmile wasn’t for us but for the much younger generations and so I took those words, tweaked them a bit, and used them to help my own children with online bullying; so good did come out of that experience for me. but in the back of my mind was everything that you’ve articulated so well here: it did not match up to the idea of a strong, focused man who didn’t concern himself with the naysayers. who didn’t take the criticisms of fans to heart and let them influence his thoughts and actions. part of me wonders how much of the “if you can’t say anything nice..” mantra has to do with public image in relation to marketing and his career? I”m not sure what would bother me more at the moment, that this truly is his personal outlook or that he feels he must feel that way and project that idea for his public image. neither are in line with my need for someone who isn’t afraid to tell the establishment to go ‘eff itself once in awhile (and now I feel guilty for saying that out loud, but I’m hitting the submit button anyway!)

    • I think you point to a dilemma in the text and you resolved it (“this was for kids”) in a really practical way. That route didn’t seem takeable for me personally, but I know a lot of people did that. In the end it seems like an okay thing to say to a kid (I know my mother certainly said it to me at times), and it’s even an okay question to ask oneself as an adult (is this something I need to air?) but it can’t become the arbiter of all speech choices or it will be really laming.

      I really hope this wasn’t a marketing choice because it’s also not very attractive seen in that light, either. This is why I used the German term “Spießer” which implies a faith in so-called secondary virtues (harmony over honesty, for instance.) There’s a way to market onself as a “white knight” but this is not the one I would choose. I also think that might be fairly risky for him as a strategy.

      I really appreciate your support on this — the blog wasn’t going to be able to continue without it but it becomes really hard to write honestly about someone who more or less indicates that he thinks that’s a bad choice if it will cause dissent.

      • the keeping silent point is something from the Cybersmile interviews that I “tweaked” first before I relayed to my daughter. I focused more on reigning in those knee-jerk reactions and thinking about what you want to say first, looking at why the things that others are saying anger you so much and decide whether or not this is the battle you want to fight. if so, then say what you need to say, without reacting to every petty taunt and reply. so really, it wasn’t so much what he said but the fact that he, in his position as a celebrity, was saying something, that gave the lesson weight for her. I would never tell her to keep quiet just to keep the peace b/c that is something that my father sometimes told me that my mother fought against at every turn! don’t be difficult just to be difficult b/c you’re angry, of course, but she taught me not to keep quiet just b/c it may cause some waves. if you think it’s important, then voice your concerns. don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not important enough, that your opinion doesn’t matter.

        if my misgivings were just in relation to the Cybersmile incident, I could just chalk it up to him not expressing himself very well. his writing style is kind of jumbled and I think he has a hard time focusing on one idea, which can leave his words open to interpretation. but when you combine that with some of the other incidents that have happened since he joined Twitter, and the themes that ran throughout the older fan messages, it does paint a picture of someone who disapproves of rocking the boat, who is afraid of rocking the boat, who doesn’t feel he has permission to do so in the first place. that is not my tulpa.

        • Wow, we were channeling very similar thoughts at the same time – except I think you said it better, as usual 🙂

        • That’s weird. Lost a comment. That almost never happens anymore. Another try.

          I have a close friend who is dealing with that same question with her preteen daughter right now: “is this really the thing you want to get angry about it.” And I agree it’s an important lesson to learn — when to speak up. It sounds to me like you and I would be on the same page about that. (And it gets to the sort of passive aggressive repetition by Armitage of “some people say I’m just a dumb actor” or whatever. Maybe I should give him more credit, given the Cybersmile posts, about how hard it might be for him to speak, if that is the luggage he is carrying with him.)

          I’ll get to Twitter next. Apparently we have to buy a new cable modem and router today, according to dad. Today!!

  5. I don’t know why people would find it controversial that you state the obvious – he struggles greatly with speaking his mind in the face of disagreement, and possible lack of acceptance following. (His multiple tweet retractions demonstrate that clearly, imo.) But I’m sure some will, so in advance I support you and your right to state not only that, but your reaction to it. (My paraphrasing loses the power of your actual words :/ I apologize for that….)

    This speaks to why I had great excitement over his Trump tweets (since deleted as well). Even though I found them overly simplistic, I loved seeing him “let the words fall out” about something he believes is important.

    Do you think the whole cyberbullying issue, concentrated as it is toward youth, takes him back so much to his own youth & roots that he just pulls back into those values of pulling back, staying safe? Pardon me if I’ve said before that I sense, in this context especially, he will err in the direction of never POSSIBLY causing pain every. single. time. (Also- is it unwise of me to mention that he has been pretty silent on the Cybersmile front for months now?)

    And as KellyDS said, I think he does get cold feet about his tweets as he really primarily sees Twitter as a “marketing thing” he has to do – “Why did I say that??? I’m screwing myself here!!” Return to core ambition yielding –> #Autodelete

    And this may not satisfy you or anyone else, because it’s just my gut talking as usual 🙂 – I think he’s probably a lot more opinionated with friends, family, co-workers than in the public arena (as most of us are)…. Making me wonder, is this- for him- as much or more about “how much do I really want these strangers to know me?” as “how much courage will I show?” i.e. “I don’t have to prove anything to these people!”….?? Basically, a different Richard in the public arena than in private life. Since there’s no way to know, I guess I’m just throwing this out there into the wind…..and I recognize this idea isn’t entirely satisfying either.

    Thanks again for this ❤

    • I admit that I want to talk about Twitter in a separate post as it raises slightly different issues for me, but I agree that the tweet retractions demonstrate that. However, that hasn’t become extreme until recently (this post is essentially about last June). But, correct me if I’m wrong, he spoke about Cybersmile in his Christmas message. (which put me in another sort of bind — but maybe I should just try to write the next post. Uch.)

      I am sure he’s more opinionated in other settings (as you note, most people are, and me too — there are plenty of opinions I have about things that I would never air here, like politics or certain aspects of religion or stuff that happens at work or whatever) — but that isn’t what I am criticizing or found problematic. Everyone’s choice is up to themselves about what they say or don’t say. But he’s advocating a behavior here for others — he’s essentially saying, because disagreement or the expression of negative sentiment can be, or at least lead to, bullying, avoiding that by preserving harmony is so important that everyone should want to make that choice. I think that’s actually a message that I wouldn’t pass on to teenagers (assuming they were listening). It’s certainly a message that I find repugnant when applied to myself. And I don’t want my fantasy Armitage giving me such a dangerous, silencing message.

      • You’re right, as usual, he did mention CSmile, it was vague & directed toward protecting/guiding the young…. I had a feeling my comments might be preemptive, so I’ll hold off on any more thoughts about Twitter till you share further 🙂

        And the complete message to the young is a really important point – possible for the same young person to be both victim and victimizer. Knowing that, I would communicate (& have)- think before you speak. Think before you act. Speak what you really want to speak, to the right person, in the right setting – not, be silent altogether. And especially for the young (but not only them) – visualize the consequences and count that cost first. Make sure it’s worth paying – that helps clarify values too. Action is more exhilarating when you can pull the throttle hard, without regret, even if you suffer in some way for it.

        • yeah, I definitely agree about trying not to speak until you know you won’t regret what you have said. That is a lesson that gets more important to me as I get older.

          re: victim and victimizer — in general I agree. Although for some reason I let myself look at the Cybersmile site last night and there was a weird post about how this person realized she was a bully — except she never said what it was that she did that was bullying behavior. They have beefed up their “explanation’ section a lot since last summer — which is a good thing, I think.

          • Absolutely, I’m thrilled if they’ve improved their reference materials.
            And I want to emphasize, only “possible” to be both…. not universal, by any means! I think we’re on the same page 🙂

      • And more to your point, avoiding all appearance of bullying at all times, by any standard (espec in the absence of a clear definition of bullying) is unworkable & verges on “Stepford-ness”. I betray my bias toward free speech as a hill I would probably die on, even if I disagree with statements actually made. (Which people seem not to remember – why do we need free speech assurance for statements that everyone agrees with? :/ )

        • yeah, and there’s a real Stepford quality to a lot of Armitage fandom discourse at the moment. Flowers and unicorns. I guess I will once again make myself the test case for why we need free speech assurances …

          • I hope you find more support than you anticipated ❤ (as I know you have most certainly “counted the cost”).

            • I think a lot of people who would disagree are just ignoring this — which is cool. And I appreciate the support and particularly the honest thought that I am seeing in the comments here. This is really for me about how to move to the next phase of writing about Richard Armitage and so it’s good to clear the air for everyone, but especially me 🙂

  6. Is it possible though that this could be a sort of Mars vs Venus thing? In other words I think it is easy for a man to see humility as a sign of strength. He may actually think that staying quiet on things is a certain form of courage. This could be just a very male viewpoint. Whereas we women see humility at least in ourselves as a form of weakness. Staying quiet as just another type of oppression. I just wonder if he doesn’t define those words very differently from a male perspective? Just a thought. I don’t have anything invested in defending him. 🙂

    • oh, absolutely. I certainly think there are gender factors that play into this, and that was a theme of my criticism of the prescription that people should be trying to make others feel good about themselves (or however he put that) in the post linked way above. That said — who was he speaking to again? Presumably even the teen audience to whom he is speaking is heavily female.

    • Not only gender factors but maybe other factors as well? Such as if you follow or more Buddhist path or Humanist path? I haven’t got much to say other than that…I can’t seem to form an opinion one way or another….lots of good points and so much to read and consider here…there goes another couple hours tonight!

      • yeah, to be clear: I’m not saying there are no other factors that would explain this. If you’re a Buddhist, for instance, and your goal is to renounce earthly connections that cause suffering, then of course you’d think everything that fans do is ridiculous. Not sure what you mean by humanist as that’s a word that could mean about seven different things. However, the point of the post was not that there’s no explanation for his behavior or statements; I’m not saying he had no reason to write as he did. It’s not what he should or shouldn’t do, or should or shouldn’t think. The point of the post for me was to demonstrate why the things he did express were destructive to my fantasy.

        • The Humanist Manifesto of 1933, especially “NINTH: In the place of the old attitudes involved in worship and prayer the humanist finds his religious emotions expressed in a heightened sense of personal life and in a cooperative effort to promote social well-being.” I guess that’s a part of my RA fantasy, how I tend to visualize him as a person. Understanding how the Cybersmile business affected you – your fantasty of RA, was made much clearer to me reading your post today; now that some time has passed I can see things with less emotion involved. And also, loved what you said about Canadians!

          • aha, okay. For me humanist spans the spectrum from the sort of people I used to study (Renaissance humanists) to Sarah Jessica Parker using the term to explain why she’s opposed to #BlackLivesMatter, so I appreciate the clarification. It’s sort of hard to be opposed to something that vague — I’m in favor of cultivating social well-being, too. I just doubt that it will be created by everyone focusing on harmony at all time. But that’s me.

            If I’d really looked at this up close in June / July, I’m not sure what would have happened. Some kind of blog combustion.

  7. For children and teens i agree regarding the CSmile and personally I have always been an advocate of being kind. As a matter of fact on my profile I have written “Be kind- it costs nothing” but by the stroke, I do not regard disagreeing with something or expressing ones opinion as a bad idea. Speaking the truth is never bad, it is just the way it is presented. If presented in an adult manner, and yes it can be, then where is the harm?Life would be so boring with out it. Unfortunately when you enter into the entertainment world you open yourself up to public notification and therefore certain opinions will be expressed, some nice some not so nice and I always thought of Richard as being strong enough to accept that. Or at least wise enough to know that it would happen. I look forward to reading this blog as it stimulates my mind and makes me think . i remember one particular incident where there was some disagreement over an interview of RA’s that was not particularly liked and caused a huge rift over fandom members,which you were brave enough to call out. That made me very proud of you because it bothered me too and a lot of others. I enjoy people who speak their minds. This is what a blog is about and you really do not have to read it if you are not open to hearing peoples opinion.

    • I think your comment points to one of the more subtle ways in which that statement grated on me — being kind is not the opposite of expression one’s opinion, disagreeing, or even saying something negative.

      Lately when I’m around town I run into people who knew my mother and the same statement has been quoted to me three times now of something people remember her saying in a church meeting about five months before she died. It was a memorable statement, it definitely changed how people saw a particular issue, it was controversial and it took her quite a while to figure out how to say it and even that she wanted to. My mother was on the whole a quite kind person, but this statement was not especially kind and I remember when she told me that she said it thinking that it was absolutely on the edge for her. And yet it is remembered very positively — even by people who disagreed.

      I always have assumed that Armitage could deal as well. I don’t know now that I think he can’t — because I don’t know exactly what the place of this Cybersmile stuff really is for him. He sure made it seem like it was important last summer though.

  8. I’ve thought long and hard about how to respond to this. As you know, I am one who stays in the background for reasons of my own which are not suitable public for discussion and relate to my own (difficult) circumstances. However I hope that you also know by now that, whilst I may not always agree with you, I applaud your bravery when considering your own motivations and behaviours. You do not shy away from self assessment and will unflinchingly look long and hard at yourself. I will always, always support you in this and will always defend your right to do so. Ultimately for me it comes down to 2 things:
    1. The image we see of Richard is exactly that, based of PR teams, marketing people, basis points, statistics and our own interpretation of these things, shaped by our own wants, needs and desires. Cynical? Yep.
    2. It comes down to intent and motivation. Is the intent behind his comments born of a desire for wanting us all to ‘get along’? Or is it to do with basis points? Do we argue a point because we intend to have an open and honest conversation, an exchange of ideas (which BTW is how I view your blog)? Or do we mean to cause harm and upset?
    Anyway, enough of my pathetic ramblings. Keep going, keep challenging and keep questioning. Where would be if everyone went along because they didn’t want to rock the boat? I believe in you.
    Wishing you the best of everything, as always.

    • Thanks for the comment.

      1. I agree that what we see is an image (and also that what we build is a fantasy). While agree that the fantasy we build is only fantasy, I don’t agree that the image we see is only image (see comment above regarding performing the self). These are performances, but they are performances of something — in order to understand the something, it’s worth comparing them to see exactly what comes out.

      2. I do think Richard Armitage would prefer that everyone of his fans just “got along” — based on his history of statements in the past. I am way less invested in that; there are plenty of people that I won’t be rude to but I don’t feel any need to get along with. Conflict can be productive. That said, even I don’t like to have arguments over stuff that will needlessly upset people over issues that primarily involve taste. Although everyone draws that line somewhere different.

      • Thanks for your comments. Your points are well reasoned and clearly made, which is the whole point of a debate isn’t it? Whether we agree or not doesn’t actually matter, as long as we can at least understand others’ points of view. I agree that certain things do need to be challenged and that at which point this needs to happen is a personal decision for us all. I cannot fully appreciate what it must be like for any celebrity to have every thing they say and do to be scrutinised or available for scrutiny indefinitely. This is why I do think that the more savvy they become, the less of we see of their true selves. I understand that our perceptions and creations of their image does grow from their initial exposure, but wonder how much control they have once their PR machines take over? Having never met Richard, I cannot comment who he really is and so am content to continue with my imaginings. After all, are our real life relationships ever perfect?


        • There’s been a definite change in his self-presentation over the years and I think that he’s more guarded now than he was before. That change was even visible in a degree in the various stages of the Hobbit publicity.

          One thing that continues to bedevil me is the following: if I were Richard Armitage’s PR machine, I’d write better. I’d still find a way to make it look like he was really writing what he publishes, but I’d edit out the really severe problems in syntax that his stream of consciousness writing style sometimes gives rise to so that it was more clear what he meant to say. It’s just not plausible to me that things like the report from the refugee center are written by a publicist because I feel like a publicist would know how to write. (That isn’t the only problem in that kind of thing a publicist would fix but it’s an important one).

          I don’t think our real life relationships are perfect, but real life partners supply things fantasies don’t (ideally: sex, companionship, concrete support, shared income, etc., etc.). I think the problem for me isn’t that I wasn’t content to live with my fantasy — I was doing very well with it. But it became untenable.

  9. During the discourse that occurred during Cybersmile I also came crashing back to earth with respect to my feelings about Richard Armitage. It would not be an understatement to say that my eyes were opened up to some things about him which did not conform with my own fantasy, and I also started having some uncomfortable feelings about his intelligence which I won’t write here because I don’t want to create the impression that I think I am so smart. It has also occurred to me on various occasions that his modesty might really be somewhat false, and almost a product of vanity, if that makes sense to you. (I think what I’m trying to say is that his projection of the “really nice guy image” is a huge part of how he markets himself and that he takes pride in being seen as “kind.”) I do not dispute that kindness is a good thing, but he has sent many mixed messages and how they are interpreted by young girls concerns me. I am a middle aged woman; I know myself and have a pretty decent amount of confidence. I see the world differently than a girl in her early twenties. I was aghast by some of the things he wrote during Cybersmile. It was incoherent, badly thought out and sometimes dispensing advice that I would consider outright dangerous. Internet safety is really important to me for many reasons and part of what I do for a living causes me to see the terrible consequences of poor judgment online. I know Armitage meant well, but I was upset and very disappointed. My crush changed quite a bit after that point, and although I am still very much a fan and admirer and think he has wonderful actor, something changed and I could not go back to the way I felt before Cybersmile. I will always want to see his movies and TV shows and read about what he is doing, but I cannot stomach going on Twitter and reading all sorts of things written by people who blindly worship him and would throw themselves off of cliffs if he told them it was a good idea to do so (and don’t get me started on the whole issue of him soliciting monetary donations for his causes from people who may not have adequate financial resources!)

    • Babette, I felt that way about his stated “personal preference” for using our “real names and faces online”. I don’t & never will on Twitter, unless I decide to use it professionally. That’s the difference between him and me, and I know more fans who’ve had problems with doing it than who haven’t. In his defense, he clearly called it a personal preference- but now that we’ve seen fans who apparently felt pressure to go vegan since they heard 2nd hand that he “almost” had -we know how that ended up. “Perceived prescription” has to be frustrating for him too, as it is for us….

      • There are plenty of people who use pseudonyms productively. We’ve had so many issues in this fandom with fans insisting to know the names of other fans and it has typically ended badly.

        The whole question of whether you’d do something because Armitage did it (or appeared to do it) is an interesting one and one I don’t know how to deal with. Like I’ve definitely read books or watched films I wouldn’t have examined otherwise because they came up in a interview of his. I’ve become a ChildLine donor because he was interested in that charity and I wanted to do something appreciate of him that wasn’t giving him a gift I didn’t think he needed. So I can’t really criticize — and I’ve been motivated by him on tons of things. But I don’t take diet or moral advice from actors or strangers just like I don’t take medical advice from my rabbi. I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong reason to become a vegan, say, even though I think most of the vegans I’ve met are high on principle and low on nutritional knowledge, but I wouldn’t do it because Armitage appeared to be doing it. Like I said, I don’t know exactly about how to think about this one.

        • I guess the crux of it is – it’s fine if you or I decide to do something because of him (or “whyever”), but we don’t need to then sail around asking everyone else why they’re NOT doing it because of him….& I’ll confirm some of that happened w/the pseudonym issue.

    • I totally agree re: the point about modesty. It can also be a source of pride. It depends a lot on how you read him. Any virtue can be used as a weapon if it’s used in the right way and it felt a lot in 2015 like he was doing that.

  10. Why do people feel disappointed if he makes a mistake or doesn’t talk about a hometown soccer team? I see a lot of women look at him like he some saviour and I wince. I enjoy his work; I like how he wants to challenge himself, and I am very aware he’s as human as anyone else. Yes, he could have used another set of eyes to proof his Cybersmile post, but you know what I empathized with his story because it echoes parts of my history.

    In the end, he’s a man, he’s an actor and can delete, say, or change his mind as much as he needs. It’s not blind hero worship just common sense.

    • I think it’s probably an exaggeration to say that people are disappointed that he hasn’t mentioned Leicester City. However, when I was reading about Leicester City’s successes recently, I did wonder about what he thought about it, since he revealed at some point that it was the team he followed. If he were to say something about it, it would humanize him in an amusing way. The point that the poster who said that was trying to make isn’t that she’s crushed by the fact that she doesn’t know what he thinks about that specific issue, but rather that it’s the kind of thing he wouldn’t say because it is irrelevant to work and thus private information.

      re: why are people disappointed if he makes a mistake? I can’t speak for all fans, some of whom might have a different reasoning or motivation, but we might consider that for some fans he plays a different role than he does for you? (which is fine — he doesn’t have to mean the same thing to everyone). I know people who were carried through the deaths of loved ones by watching his stuff and his career, who feel like he truly helped them surmount a loss; I know people who feel he carried them through significant weight loss. I’ve known people who were motivated by him to renew their marriage and people who were motivated by him to separate from their partners and finally seek the love they had been missing. So yes, for people who have had those experiences, certain kinds of steps he might take are upsetting. If you haven’t had that kind of experience, perhaps you don’t understand it, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

      He obviously has done that kind of thing for me. He’s not G-d but what I thought I knew about him has been crazily motivational for me — it carried me through the end of one career, my mother’s death, two cross continental moves, a first career change, and it could potentially carry me further. Of course I want to preserve my picture of something that’s been so meaningful to me.

      I really hope it’s clear from my post that my issues with what he said go well beyond proofreading, although I understand the position of those who find the way he writes disturbing. I understand that you, as someone who has written several times how you have been repeatedly wounded over the technical aspects of your writing, might see that issue differently than other fans — but that underlines the point I’m trying to make here. We all construct our picture of him and each of us finds particular things important.

      • I have no doubt popping in a movie or North and South has carried you, or others, through a bad time. I have done the same thing. This is one aspect of fandom I choose to not get tangled up in. I put in my two cents, you put in yours, and I have nothing else to add on this issue.

        • That’s fine. But I think there’s a real difference between “x got me through a bad moment” (something I might also say about beer, for instance) and “x changed my life for the better over a long period of time” that your comment suggests you don’t take seriously. Perhaps I’m treading too close to home — but there are at least four women who became mainstream published authors after their “Armitage experience.” You don’t have to share that experience or those sentiments — as I said. But for those who have had that experience, it is very real. When people do admit it the admissions are so often overwhelmed with negativity and remarks about common sense. This blog is here to stand in the way of that and explore the experience in its ups and downs. That is the answer to the question “why do people care?” Answer: “because it is important to them.”

        • By ‘nothing else to add’ I mean it’s an issue you and others have every right to ponder.

  11. I lost my “pink glasses” almost two years ago”, Serv.

    • I remember what was going on around that time and I don’t think you were the only one. Hugs.

    • But without the pink glasses you have a far better view! I lost mine too last summer. CyberSmile-Victim 🙃

      • Well yes :)..but now I’m plain well- yawn– wisher ( I was much more sexy as a fangirl 😉 )

      • Ihr bewahrt mich als Neuling davor, mir überhaupt die rosa Brille aufzusetzen. 😉
        Andererseits, wenn Herr A all die vielen positiven Entwicklungen bei Menschen auslösen konnte (über Jahre hinweg), obwohl er innerlich und mittlerweile wohl auch manchmal nach außen hin ein Spießer ist/war, dann ist das doch trotzdem wunderbar – und erstaunlich.
        Er muss die Fähigkeit haben, in Menschen etwas durch seine Kunst anzuregen, was ansonsten nicht zum Vorschein käme. Ich schätze dieses “Anregungspotential” sehr. Er hat meinen Horizont erweitert: ich lerne wieder Englisch und unterhalte mich mit Menschen, die ich ohne ihn nie gefunden hätte…
        Ein realistischer Blick auf seine Person, der deshalb aber nicht unfreundlich sein muss, schmälert seine “Verdienste” nicht.

        • Indeed, I suppose this isn’t a natural “beginners’ blog” in that some questions that really fascinate new fans are things we were talking about years ago …. but we’re not trying to disillusion you. And yes — there are so many Armitage “miracle” stories. He really does awake something in a lot of people and I think that is the best reason for me, anyway, to persist. I think some fans are in it for the escapism and others for the community but I am heavily in it for the inspiration. (not that all these things are mutually exclusive)

        • Die Cybersmile Diskussionen haben eine ganze Menge ausgelöst und viele von uns fans auf den “Boden der Tatsachen” zurückgeholt. Auch RA ist nur ein Mensch und hat bei vielen Dingen nicht den Durchblick. Er hätte vielleicht vorher ein Praktikum bei Cybersmile machen sollen, analog zu seinem Tag im Flüchtlingswohnheim (wobei ein Tag bei diesem Thema nicht ausreicht!) bevor er sich dazu äußert. Auch mir ist die rosa Brille abhanden gekommen, falls ich sie überhaupt je aufhatte. Ich sehe Kritik, wenn sie konstruktiv ist nicht negativ. Wir alle entwicklen uns immer weiter, lernen tagtäglich im Umgang mit anderen Menschen dazu, wieso nicht auch er? Nur leider kommt ja nie irgendwas zurück und alle ‘Diskussionen’ sind sehr einseitig auf das fandom begrenzt.

          • Wenn er auf bestimmte Argumente antworten würde, dann würde das auch nicht auf ungeteilte Zustimmung stoßen. Wahrscheinlich hält er sein Bild in der Öffentlichkeit mit Absicht so vage… – das wurde hier ja auch schon gesagt.
            Andererseits hat er sich in den letzten Wochen doch recht gezielt gegen Herrn Trump und seine Mauerbaupläne geäußert und auch sein “Aufruf” zur Solidarität mit Flüchtlingen war ziemlich eindeutig (jedenfalls durch meine Brille – “grins”). Mir kommt das entgegen – aber er macht sich dadurch natürlich (bewusst) angreifbar. Das spricht gegen die These, dass er nicht möchte, dass kontrovers diskutiert wird. Er weiß (so naiv kann er nicht sein, nicht in Berlin), dass diese Themen heftig diskutiert werden.

            • This is actually a good point — at least hypothetically the willingness to raise the immigration issue points to a willingness to say something controversial. I will have to think about that some more, just because I suspect that he didn’t think it was especially controversial. There’s a horrid rhetorical stumble in what he wrote about the refugees (the paragraph about being a dumb actor that ends with the statement about how he’s “above average” in empathy), though, and I suspect that he thinks that the empathy argument sort of beats all the other ones — which it may do for him. If one is willing to speak with absolute conviction then one may be less willing to be daunted by controversy.

              • Er wird diesen Text in einer relativ emotionalen Verfassung geschrieben haben. Ohne Zweifel ist er (der Text) sehr subjektiv, aber da es sich um die Beschreibung einer persönlichen Erfahrung handelt, möchte ich das gar nicht kritisieren. RA hat ganz klar gemacht, dass das keine objektive Berichterstattung sein soll.
                Dass er sich aber immer schon in einer Art vorauseilendem Gehorsam selbst ganz klein macht, das finde ich unangemessen. Wenn er sich entschließt, seine Meinung zu einer Sache zu sagen, dann muss er doch nicht zuerst denen zustimmen, die ihm das Recht dazu absprechen wollen. Das Recht, sich zu dieser Situation zu äußern, erwirbt man nicht erst mit einem Studienabschluss. Das bedeutet, dass auch ein unperfekter Text ein sinnvoller Beitrag sein kann. Man muss die Diskussion nicht nur den “offiziellen Stellen” überlassen, wenn man (wie er) eine persönliche Erfahrung gemacht hat, die zur Diskussion beitragen kann.
                Natürlich wird es eine “Diskussion” werden und vielleicht/hoffentlich ist er (diesmal) überzeugt genug, um auch die Widrigkeiten in Kauf zu nehmen.
                Seine “Harmoniesucht” scheint ihre Grenzen zu haben. 😉

                • I dunno, we criticize each others’ perceptions of things all the time. I also think we have to interpret this incident in light of the fact that it showed up in two tabloids within two days. I don’t think fans were the only audience, in other words.

                  I think that defensive move was multi-faceted; there are a number of ways that statement could have been interpreted, depending on whether one was a fan of longstanding and for how long. However, I agree, it’s a basic move that one teaches in the first month of composition — don’t EVER apologize for what you are saying, or for speaking in the first place. It always makes you look bad. In this case, it really distracted from the message for his fan audience; I would say at least a third of his twitter stream focused on reassuring him rather than on the topic he allegedly wanted to deal with.

                  Of course an imperfect text is allowed (and no text is perfect), but the poor the quality of his text, the more he risks disguising his actual message.

                  I think it would be surprising if he didn’t set boundaries to his willingness to prioritize harmony — but that wasn’t what he was suggested in June / July.

                • Vorauseilenender Gehorsam, was für ein furchtbares Statement! Es ist einfach nicht möglich es allen immer recht zu machen. Irgendwann wird man zwangsläufig irgendwo anecken 😦
                  Mir ist jemand der klar Position zu etwas bezieht und dazu auch steht lieber (Ausnahme: Rechtsradikale) wie all die Opportunisten die es auf der Welt so gibt.
                  Und im Falle von RA – wer ist denn die “bewertende Instanz”? Das fandom? Die Produzenten in Hollywood? Das schafft er nicht den goldenen Mittelweg zu finden 😦
                  Wenn ich einen Wnsch frei hätte, dann würde ich ihn im Kreise des inneren Fandoms zu einer Diskussionrunde zerren…… und hoffen, dass sich dann nicht das Fandom zerfleischt 😦

                • Ups, Suzy, ich wollte mit “vorauseilendem Gehorsam” nur ausdrücken, dass er schon im Voraus denen zustimmt, die ihn (angeblich) als “dumm und unwissend” bezeichnen. Ich denke einfach, dass das nicht notwendig ist und auch nicht der Sache dient. Wollte keine falschen Assoziationen wecken.

    • I’ve also lost my pink glasses. Like CraMERRY I am a CyberSmile-victim. Then for me it got even less rosy with Francis Dolarhyde and Hannibal.

      I’ve been wanting to say more but I haven’t gotten my thoughts together yet. I do admire your honesty and bravery Servetus. (((Tree)))

      • maybe we should form a club — fans disillusioned by Cybersmile.

        We’re here when you’re ready, Tree.

        • “FdbC” – why not? 🙂

        • I just reread his Cybersmile comments and I’m upset all over again. Really upset. Still can’t articulate exactly why.

          • Oh, I’m sorry — the goal wasn’t to upset you again. Big hugs from me. I just wanted to make sure you knew your comment is welcome.

            • It wasn’t you that upset me. I have a copy of the comments in Word as well as a document with my thoughts on his comments. I’m just surprised that they still have the ability to upset me after reading them numerous times. Thanks for the encouragement.

              • I’m kind of not — I avoided writing this post for months and months because I didn’t want to experience those emotions again. For whatever reason these texts were really influential …

  12. I had pink glasses for someone else, some years ago. The lenses were very pink. He did something stupid and it broke my heart, frankly. It came at a time when I had personal stuff going on, plus I had built up an idealised view of him, so when he did this thing, I felt so let down by him because it was so against type. Well, it was so against the type that I had created in my own head. It took me some years to really understand why I felt so personally angry about the whole episode. So I understand anyone questioning their crushing because of something that person does or says. When a crush lets you down or disappoints you, it can be devastating. I feel your pain!

    Now that I adore Richard instead 🙂 I have deliberately steered clear of trying to make him into something other than an actor whom I adore. Which is quite a challenge at times, especially when we actually know so little about him! It’s easy to impose your own ideals and opinions, especially if he is helping us through a difficult time.

    But now I am able to enjoy the freedom of wondering about him (and I do), without being affected by any of his choices. I don’t think too much about why he does something – I just accept that he does it. I do admit that it’s been easy for me because most of what he appears to believe in, I would mostly agree with; and I certainly appear to have had a similar bullying experience in childhood which will always stay with me and I really appreciated the Cybersmile posts regardless of how they were expressed. I think no matter what, I’ll still be a willing fan when I’m an OAP.

    I’d be so glad if you were able to work through your thoughts and still come out the other side with a healthy enjoyment of a very, very good actor.

    • You wrote me about this, so I know who you’re talking about — and at the time this was happening I wasn’t really ready to discuss my reactions with anyone, so I am glad that you brought this up again.

      I think the whole question of the breaking point is that one builds one’s fantasies against one’s own priorities in experiencing that crush in the first place. My issue with your crush #1 was something about vulnerability and vicitimization — I was more in love with Luka than with Goran, I think. So when I learned about some of the questionable moments of Goran’s personal life, well — it was a turnoff, but that wasn’t the issue for me. I left that interest with an enduring affection for him because his actual life didn’t touch my crush.

      I think in comparison I’ve been much more interested — in Armitage’s case — not just in what he does but how he does it. I never cared how Goran put Luka together (and admittedly maybe that’s because there was so little press about him and he didn’t really talk much about acting.) I’m way more inherently interested in Armitage’s “character” or “personality” or whatever want to call it because it’s what he mines in order to accomplish what he accomplishes on screen — in turn affecting my life. And he talks about his creative process and thinking quite a bit. My Armitage fantasy is built up against this notion of how to be creative even if people are resistant to what you’re doing. So there are plenty of things I could find out about his personal life that wouldn’t put me off too much, I suspect, even if I didn’t like them — but in this moment he absolutely pushed my button in a way that I imagine that Goran never could have because it wasn’t about those things for me at that time.

      I don’t know if this is making sense. I do think that I have an absolute prejudice on this issue that fandom isn’t really about enjoyment for me (although I do enjoy being a fan and I have enjoyed Armitage and there have been many moments of absolute euphoria in the last six years). But in the end, there are things i enjoy more than watching TV and film or reading the entertainment press, for instance, and I would seek pure escapist pleasure elsewhere. I think I’m different from many other fans in this sense, but if it were primarily about pleasure — and if I could find a reliable to inspiration to write in some other fashion — I’d probably rather read. Which is not to disparage Armitage; it’s not his fault his an actor and it’s still a bit of a puzzle to me why this particular jolt came from an actor rather than a more conventional source of interest to me. It’s just that this scene he’s drawn me into isn’t really typical of me in any other regard.

      I’m in it for the inspiration. If he turns out to be someone who can’t inspire, then I probably need to leave. I don’t know if it’s healthy or not but that’s how it is.

      • Do you need to get all your inspiration from the same place? You have said that you need to feel and express emotions rather than shutting them down, and that he and his characters are inspiring in this respect. You also said that you need to be creative, and as an actor he is certainly inspiring in this respect. Is there anyone else, perhaps from your other interests of history and politics or your personal life, who inspires you to form independent opinions and stand up for them when criticised? Maybe you could form a sort of “committee” of inspiration!

        • Thanks for the suggestion! I don’t think there’s any other actor for me right now (as I’m not that interested in acting, isn’t that odd? and don’t watch much TV). And in all these months I haven’t stumbled across anything else. But this isn’t the last post in the series — I have found a way around this, I’m just still struggling with it.

  13. A la place de lunettes roses, il faudrait préconiser des lunettes qui traversent la carapace de ce splendide coléoptère aux couleurs chatoyantes, dont la dissection est impossible, à cause des barrières qu’il a installé autour de lui.
    Les égyptiens vénéraient les scarabées. En l’honneur de nos amis belges il y a eu “Tintin et le scarabée d’or”. Comment ne pas parler, en l’honneur d’Hannibal, du film ” le silence des agneaux” et du fameux Sphinx tête de mort (Acherontia atropos).
    Le sujet est la métamorphose et l’art de se camoufler par mimétisme dans un lieu hostile. Est ce que monsieur Armitage en est un héritier ou représentant?

  14. Instead of pink glasses, it would be necessary to recommend glasses which cross the shell of this magnificent beetle with brilliant colors, the dissection of whom is impossible, because of the barriers that he settled around him.
    Egyptians worshipped beetles. In honor of our Belgian friends there was ” Tintin and the golden beetle “. How not to talk, in honor of Hannibal, about the movie ” the silence of lambs ” and of the famous Death’s-head moth (Acherontia atropos).
    The subject is the metamorphosis and the art to disguise by imitation, mimicry in a hostile place. Is mister Armitage a heir or a representative?

  15. When I read this post last night and was about to reply with my usual brilliant insight (oh wait, that’s another Kathy Jones) my electricity went out. I thought it was a sign of things to come, an explosion of contrary calamitous comments. Not happening, at least not yet, or here. Really disliked his CyberSmile message for the reasons already pointed out. I think he sincerely values kindness; he seems to mention it a lot, even outside of Christmas messages. And good for him. But I don’t think a halo is a good look on a sexy actor who “knows what he’s selling”. Maybe I am just jealous of all that humble virtue. To quote Steel Magnolias, “If you have nothing nice to say, then come sit by me”.

  16. Oh Kathy Jones, you are a kindred spirit! 😀

  17. I just came also this article and thought it was relevant. It’s not about cyber bullying but is about women’s conditioning to be polite and how it’s not necessarily a good thing http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/relationships/how-politeness-conditioning-can-lead-to-confusion-about-sexual-assults/article29294471/

    • Thanks for posting that link. I think that is one of the common consequences of the sort of behavior Armitage prescribes, when misapplied — and as the article points out, it is all too likely to be misapplied, especially by women.

  18. Across, not also! I hate how you can’t edit your own comments for autocorrect typos!

    • yeah, it’s annoying. I’ve kind of given up on the hope of writing truly clean prose on WP comments. Grrr.

  19. So late into this; I just got back from Austria, and it has taken me some time to boil down what I want to say about this. I’m sorry the comment is still very long.

    Thank you for being so open about your feelings. For some time, you’ve let seep that you are disappointed. After reading your three sections, it is clear to me now that you are not so much disappointed with the person/actor (because you don’t know him personally), but rather disappointed that your Tulpa is no more. It’s a very brave thing to 1. come to terms with, 2. write down, and 3. publish your feelings and thoughts on the topic.

    Real or virtual, it’s a relationship that is evolving and changing like any other. This can only be a virtual relationship which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not any less real (a mono-relationship). We paint our individual, imaginative picture, image, of Richard Armitage, and project this individual image to our own wants, needs, desires, and imagine that this is who we’d like him to be. And all we have to go by is what he says and what he does. This mono-relationship is inevitably going to crash at some point, because can you live with the disappointment when the other (silent) virtual party isn’t present to discuss or argue back?

    I’m certain he appreciates his fans, but I’m also positive that the reason he retreats is because he shies away from conflict, he would rather we would all get along, and that we weren’t this vocal. Sorry, Richard, I’m afraid that’s not going to happen. We have a common discourse community, but we are ultimately very different individuals from very different cultures, have very different opinions, likes and dislikes which we like to vent, which we do, and some times get into trouble for it. Someone commented about Mars vs. Venus. Could have a point, there 😉 He asked at one point: “Shall I only say nice things?”. This means, he must have considered at some point to respond, and then let it go. Why? The easy answer is extremely stereotypical.

    You question RA’s intellect. So logos is not his strong point, and as academics we are taught the rationale of logos argumentation is more valid than argumentative support built on pathos. Sometimes he seems to get carried away in all this artsy-fartsy, emotional whirlwind of his in an attempt to do good, do the ‘right thing’. I often wonder what this ‘right thing’ is. Is it the same for you or me or RA? No, not necessarily. I don’t know if I agree that he is dissing the intellectual female when he said that a colleague brought something cerebral to a part. Is there a connotation of cerebral that I’m unaware of? Personally, I rely heavily on my individual interpretation (a very fallacious interpretation) of Richard Armitage in order to try and understand what’s going on.

    Okay, so this is my interpretation of RA. To me RA is an enigma; he’s on a personal quest with the purpose of understanding himself. There’s a definite duality to him, a duality he also likes to explore in his roles. This is why he’s being so contradictory at times. He wants to be rebellious, creative, experimental and a free spirit, but his middle-class, conservative, bourgeois background sometimes gets the best of him.

    This became incredibly obvious with the Cybersmile cooperation. He basically told us what to do and not to do, and we (or some) didn’t like it. He shows a lot of compassion for the less fortunate, i.e. victims of bullying, children with a skin disease, refugees, etc., yet at the same time, he comes across as an authoritarian. He thinks he encourages, but instead he preaches. It’s almost as though he carries two worlds with him.

    My purpose for being here is different than yours, Servetus. I’m here for inspiration; RA has inspired me to get into shape. It may seem odd to others that my own family hasn’t been able to provide that kind of inspiration, but I haven’t been able to find that driving force, that particular mechanism in my own family which could/would induce me into the kind of stamina that I needed to reach my goal. Believe it or not, but he inspires me to go my own way, perhaps because he does (go his own way), but – as you point out – in a very conservative and restricted sort of way. Furthermore, he’s also steered me towards literature I would never have found on my own, let alone read. So, yeah, for inspiration.

    (Sorry about the length of this)

    • Welcome back and thanks for the thoughtful answer.

      re: cerebral — I think you’d have to see the interview. He looks to me like he’s struggling to find something to say. But I also think it wouldn’t be surprising, since for him the initial chunk of building a character lies the movement aspect.

      re: getting into shape — that’s a theme I posted about about a year ago. I think that’s a great justification for what one is doing.

      I think we’re both here for inspiration, I just want to be inspired / encouraged to something different. He’s not a conventional muse for me in that sense.

      • Thank you. It was great – skiing was fab – but it’s also great to be back at home and back with my virtual friends.
        I originally had a much longer manuscript prepared, but you wouldn’t want all my ranting on your blog so I shortened it.

  20. I read part of this and some comments last week but had no time to comment then. I admit to feeling a little taken aback at the “Spießer” comment – for me proof that my RA fantasy is different from yours. But that’s OK! I can see where you’re coming from, and to a certain extent I agree! The Cybersmile business just was not his most brilliant move…
    You are so open and vulnerable in this, my hat’s off to you for that. I do wonder where this fantasy disappointment will lead you… I’d hate for it to be the start of losing you in the RA fandom…

    • I think if I were quitting now I wouldn’t have written this. But I also think it’s fair to say that I feel very far from the absolute euphoria of a year and a half ago. In the end, I find what usually breaks up connections for me isn’t boredom; I’m not easily bored. It’s something more along the lines of contempt. I haven’t gotten there yet anyway.

  21. I was only now able to read this part of your series and it seems a little late to comment, but I wanted to thank you for your openness and courage that’s needed to write this!
    I wish I could express my own thoughts about RA and fandom (and blogging in general) so precise and sophisticated and I hope you’ll write more about it soon!!!

    • Thanks for making the time to read it and for the sweet words!

      I feel a little like this was the last thing I had the big energy to write. There is one more piece, but this spring has been full of anticipated stuff (feelings, events, reactions) and I’m gearing up to get going again. I really want to. A few more days.

  22. […] Secondly, in terms of my own picture of Armitage: the fact that he was able to keep these tweets up this long significantly improves my perception of him (or, if you like, my tulpa): it acts to revise my negative post-Cybersmile perception of his attitudes about free speech and his capacity to mainta…. […]

  23. […] Armitage’s decision to join Twitter in August of 2014 energized all of the major trajectories that I’ve traced here in the fandom. It changed the fandom by adding a platform, one in which the political distribution fans was altered yet again; more importantly, the rules of discourse were drastically different in that any fan who wanted to could tweet Richard Armitage directly and enjoy the illusion of personally reaching him. Due to Twitter Q&As it increased both the actual and potential information available about him, in a form that looked like it was personally authorized, and his follows offered interesting, occasionally contradictory, information about him, although it was often hard to say just what. For me, Armitage’s presence on Twitter made it difficult to argue that he wanted to continue the pattern of hiding his opinions (if, indeed, he had ever wanted to do so). For me, it very much increased my power to disagree because someone who can speak for himself is not someone who’s in danger of being run over — and at the same time, it made the impression of the precious man who avoided open statements on principle fully untenable, as did some of the press of the summer of 2014. Most fans have been overwhelmingly positive about Armitage’s presence on the platform. In contrast, while I enjoy his selfies as much as anyone else, I’ve been in the ambivalent camp for three reasons: first, because of the effect his statements often have on fans’ treatment of each other; second, because of his frequent tendency to delete; and finally, because of the impression of advocating wishy-washiness and passive aggression that so much of his Twitter beha…. […]

  24. […] I wrote a post about the status of my fandom (2015 was a brutal year for me as a fan) and left off here, intending to write more. Hopefully I can pick that up soon (although I’ve got a lot of other […]

  25. […] always remained undecided about how to respond to them. To some extent, this post is continued from here — a year ago now — and I’m actually less convinced about how to proceed than I […]

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