Richard Armitage and the tweets he didn’t delete


This tweet says something I heartily and partially endorse. I don’t think there’s any upside to the recent events and the most optimistic possible scenarios suggest years of resulting problems. But like Kathryn, I’m really thrilled Richard Armitage has not deleted one of these Brexit-related tweets. I admit I’ve been a bit on pins and needles all weekend about it, but it looks like they could hold.

Four distinct points are important to me.

The first reason most people might cite: perhaps this means Armitage is gaining more facility with Twitter, particularly in the expression and maintenance of a controversial opinion and ability to allow himself to make typos in the company of his fans. Hopefully, after this, he will be more comfortable expressing his opinions. Generally speaking, expressing opinions (however controversial, and obviously he may want to continue fine tuning his approach) enhances his appearance of genuineness and authenticity — one of the things that Twitter is supposed to do for a celebrity — it has the potential to make him appear more relatable. Some fans may also believe that Armitage is being more genuine and authentic with fans as he becomes more expressive, which is to say, whether this kind of tweeting is reality or an illusion almost doesn’t matter in terms of its effect.

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 maintain certain opinions as an aspect of having an adult identity.

Third, in terms of the fandom, I hope that watching the fans in play around these tweets will convince people that Armitage is entirely capable of tolerating controversy. The more willing Armitage shows himself to be controversial, I hope, the greater the acceptance in the fandom for opinions in the fandom that diverge from Armitage’s and hopefully a lessening of a need among some fans to consider his opinions more important than the rest of ours.

Fourth, also in terms of the fandom, I hope that watching the play around these tweets will make fans less likely to conclude, if something were to be deleted, that this is fans’ fault and that Armitage must be protected through attacks on other fans.

There’s been a constant, regularly verbalized fear in the fandom as long as I have been a fan that if fans don’t do what Armitage wants, if we don’t “behave,” that he’s going away. This gets used as another brickbat for intra-fandom policing, and it re-emerges with every new wave of fans. I personally think Armitage was not going to abandon his fandom, and that the likelihood that he will do this fell even more drastically the moment he became an ambassador for CyberSmile (because he would make himself look ridiculous). So I am hoping that it’s not too much to think that these fears about Armitage might be soothed a bit by his more robust performance on Twitter in the last few days (and potentially more in the future).

~ by Servetus on June 26, 2016.

27 Responses to “Richard Armitage and the tweets he didn’t delete”

  1. I do agree that in reality there is no upside and I assume you know I was being facetious🙂 Levity in the face of what is possibly one of the biggest political and economic disasters this country has faced during my lifetime is becoming essential to everyday living. As for Armitage, I have to admit that if he starts deleting his Brexit tweets I may very well unfollow him. I would struggle to respect someone who didn’t have the courage of their convictions over something as important as this – hence why I could never respect the politicians who made false and hollow promises about Brexit and are already reneging on them. Deleting a tweet is nothing compared to that but would kind of imply he didn’t really mean what he had said. And right now, there is no middle ground, at least not for me.

    • Yeah, I wasn’t meaning to take you to task. Just saw the 11th member of the Shadow Cabinet resigned — I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime. Maybe 1989.

      I hope he knew that when he started tweeting about this he couldn’t turn back. (But then I thought that about Trump and Orlando, too, so I’ve been tense). I know how you feel about this potentially being a dealbreaker. This isn’t something one can really renege on (particularly given the current discussion of people who want a do over on their vote).

      • No worries, just checking🙂

        The whole thing is f**ked up. There is no longer a viable opposition party although I am and have been for a long time a Liberal, and their day may yet come. The Labour Party could sink without trace and we could be back to 19th century Whigs and Tories. In the meantime, the Brexit lot have made it painfully clear they have no plan because they never thought they would win. The one hope many of us are clinging to is that Article 50 cannot be invoked until parliament have debated the result of the referendum and agreed that we should leave. It is a matter for parliament to decide – we elected them to do a job and they must do it. The referendum is purely advisory. And while a second one is unlikely it’s not impossible. Anyway, I think I’m preaching to the converted here. There will be life after Brexit and whatever that life may be it won’t all be bad🙂

        Sorry if I’ve gone a bit off Armitage topic there! It is nice to know that for once both him and I appear to be on the same page😉

        • I wonder if Corbyn can hang on after this. I just saw his statement, and I was like, okay, if you say so. ???? I don’t see how this debate doesn’t quickly lead to a vote of no confidence (as it becomes apparent that nobody had a plan), but as you say, there’s no opposition either. I think if I were an MP I’d go on vacation for the next year or so …

          I think you’re correct that it’s not the apocalypse. Still — many people’s lives will be changed in ways that they would not have imagined. Uch.

          • I don’t believe Corbyn has a hope in hell of hanging on…I don’t think he ever did. And he was always a Eurosceptic hence his lacklustre (or non-existent) approach to the remain campaign.

            Yes to lives changing. Irrevocably.

          • No you wouldn’t! Go on vacation 😉 you’d have the stamina to stick it out 😊 look there are good people in there… people like Joe Cox… we have to hope! Somebody has to stick to reason and realise they need to get their shit together and prevent stuff getting worse and start thinking for the future. Ill loose all respect for this democracy if the hands wringing doesn’t subside soon and the doing begins. Right now it feels only the Bank of E is keeping a cool head and keeping things together but that’s not enough and not acceptable for elected representatives and government.

            • Meant to say hands wringing and victory shouting …

            • well, I wouldn’t be an MP, probably. I don’t have the right intellectual and emotional gifts for it.

              I kind of thing there will be some real action tomorrow morning. I think Corbyn will go, and leading candidate to succeed Cameron will emerge. I really hope it’s Theresa May, esp given what Johnson said today about how he envisions the EU / UK relationship today (he seems to think he’ll get the market with borders restrictions — good luck). I think the fact that the EU seems determined to act will mean that things will happen before October. Just guesses. I don’t want to think about how much more money the Bank of England will need to have available tomorrow if some certainty doesn’t emerge soon.

              • Me neither… the fact that central banks and monetary policy is what i studied is not making me relax right now. And going back to work tomorrow makes me anxious too, been out for the week. I hope it’s May… the thought of the future of our relationship with Europe being in Johnson’s hands is not a comfortable one. But neither is the idea of a very one sided gathering of requests. I fear the arrogance I’m hearing 🙁

  2. Maybe he feels these tweets are worth any controversy that ensues in a ‘pick your batlles’ kinda a way, and he has consciously chosen to pick this one? This Brexit issue is so monumental, I think that as a Brit who, by the looks of it, actively follows politics, he just can not stay silent. So, I think he may have chosen to wage this battle but he may want to avoid many others. I therefore predict that in the future he will still be deleting tweets… Or maybe this Brexit thing strengthens his resolve to not do so anymore? I guess only time will tell.

    • He’s getting way more grief about this than any other issue so far (although it’s still a small proportion of tweets). If you’re right, I hope he will pick his issues. Because I think to a lot of his fans the Orlando issue might have been more important than Brexit (even if of course Brexit is really important). As I said before — I don’t like having the feeling I’ve been silly in caring about poiltics and I don’t think that makes me unususal.

      • The thing with Orlando is that it’s a US issue of gun control that comes into play and Richard isn’t American. He may not feel like he has a right to ‘impose’ his views on gun violence on Americans. I’m projecting here, though, because that is how I feel. I have very strong feelings on gun control but as I don’t live in the US, I don’t think it’s my place to tell Americans what to do on that issue. If people ask my opinion, I will talk about it, but I won’t be the one starting about it. Maybe Richard feels similarly? Plus, he still needs to work there, so ‘imposing’ his view without being asked about it could be detrimental. Of course, as a man living in the US now, he could offer his ‘thoughts and prayers’ on such a tragedy as Orlando but then another faction will be criticizing him for being vague and not taking a stand. Whatever he does, he’s buggered.

        • I’m sure it’s way less important to him. But that might not be true for his audience.

          Think about it as a reverse case — I’ve been posting all week about Brexit. Let’s say I decided tomorrow to delete all the posts. It would make sense to say “she doesn’t care about it because it’s not her country” or “she cares about it less because it’s not her country and she doesn’t want to get into it” as an explanation of my behavior. But people who had spent the week talking to me about it would probably feel at the least confused, potentially betrayed or angry by my decision to delete them.

          In other words — if he doesn’t tweet about it, fine, he didn’t tweet about it and people can speculate about the reason. But if he does tweet about it, people answer, and then he deletes, they feel like they have wasted their emotions. When it’s political and something that matters to the reader, that’s a bigger risk on his part. This is why I say he should be more discriminating. No one cares if he changes his mind about ice cream. Changing his mind about Orlando is a rather different matter.

          • Oh, yes, I agree that it’s not smart to tweet/delete on issues such as these! Just trying to make sense of why he does it. I have a feeling he gets caught up in the moment of something and posts without thinking the possible consequences through and then doubts and deletes when he realizes what the reactions are. What I hope is that he learns from this, to maybe think it through more BEFORE he tweets on the big issues (although, he may be thinking it through more than we know)… that is, if he realizes how annoying this tweet/delete thing is for his Twitter followers. And how annoying it must be for him as well, that he keeps on having to doubt himself after tweeting.

            • some of it is just clearly incompetence (e.g., yesterday) that will hopefully go away with time. The thing is that he also deletes joke tweets — it’s not to easy to generalize about what he’s doing. Anyway, I hope he quits it!

              • I hope so too. In this case I was just trying to make sense to his deleteing those Orlando tweets. I can make some sense of that. I can not make sense of deleting the joke tweets! I know I delete tweets (just did that today) but that’s because sometimes I’m too quick and forget to add something or I blatantly mis-spelled something or like today, I accidentally retweeted the wrong tweet! I always go on to tweet the corrected version again and I never bother scrolling back down my timeline to delete older tweets – I see no use in that! Anyway, that’s me, not him… I can’t begin to understand him in that regard unless he chooses to explain it… which I don’t think he will.

  3. This one hits closer to home.
    These people/politicians are elected by the people and have failed miserably in informing correctly; BJ has deliberately provided incorrect information to mislead (he was apparently infamous for doing just this during his journalist years according to a former Danish Foreign Minister), and others have either been unsuccessful in informing due to party politics or have been invisible and/or reluctant to go into a serious discussion because they believed England would never vote exit.
    This is not belittling Orlando or any other shooting in the US. It’s a completely different matter. This is not the work of one mad man. It´s the work of incompetence and power greed by (many) politicians who are voted by the people to look after said people’s best interest.
    I believe RA will chose his ‘battles’ in future, and I’m repeating myself here: It’s good he found his voice. I want to hear it more often. I also don’t like to be made feel silly because I’ve cared about something. And, no, I don’t think he’ll leave his fans/Twitter.
    The delete of his Orlando tweet was a serious communicative mistake because it carried an important message to his fans and the outside world (it’s Twitter for crying out loud), and it had a signal value of who I believe he is as a person (or who I believe he wants to be perceived as a person) (my Tulpa, perhaps), and it’s a mistake I hope he doesn’t repeat.
    This is an issue which involves the UK and the EU; two Unions which are jeopardized – well, perhaps not the EU as much – but Britain is one of the “founding fathers” of what we now know as the EU, and for Britain to leave destabilises the European Union. I think it’s safe to say that Europe is shaken to its core.
    I too have looked at RA’s tweets and thought to myself: “I wonder how long this will last”. I now believe his tweets will remain, because this is about his country and his region. He voted (I’m sure), and like so many others he’s also shaken to the core by the result.
    Kathrynruthd: I really liked your tweet, because it made me smile – and I recognize the sarcasm, but it made me smile🙂

    • They are definitely different events politically and unquestioanbly they mean something different to him. The average American fan is probably still more concerned about Orlando than Brexit, whether that’s fair or not. (Most American fans I’ve chatted with about this don’t completely understand why this is so earth shattering.) The fan is still going to prioritize his/her perspective in evaluating the tweets.

      I hope he sticks with it.

  4. I’ve been following Richard’s tweets now with some disappointment, and it’s always the political ones that prompt me to open my mouth… While I’m glad he hasn’t taken to the doomsday fearmongering and disgraceful tantrum-throwing that many of the Remainers have, his attitude toward the Leave voters still comes very close to dismissing the lot as nothing more than racist bigots and working class numpties who are just “misinformed and uneducated”. The kneejerk response from leftists to brand all Brexiters as racist, uneducated and therefore stupid – or even “too old” – is a very shameful thing and I hope Rich steers clear of that.

    To me, the EU is a power hungry monstrosity that is only growing in corruption. In leaving it I believe the good will far outweigh the bad, especially in the long term. I have no desire to see the UK or anywhere else continue to be bullied and ignored by detached politicians in Brussels. And most importantly:

    “but here’s the question everyone must honestly face: do you accept the right of nations to control their borders? Do you defend the right of a sovereign state to decide who can and cannot come in? I do. It’s called national sovereignty and, in my view, it is absolutely worth defending.

    It seems to me that many teachers who are instinctively Left-wing understand that the EU is an elitist and anti-democratic institution, but they don’t have the guts to come out for Brexit. I would ask such people to have the courage of their convictions and defend popular sovereignty.

    For those educators concerned about being associated with Right-wing politicians they may not like, I need to remind you that there is a noble Left-wing tradition of defending democracy and self-determination. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago we used to hear stinging critiques of the undemocratic nature of the EU from trade union leaders and politicians who included Tony Benn.”

    • Thanks for the comment and welcome, and for the article (here’s the original in case others want to read it: )

      I think it’s probably obvious that if I’d voted in the UK I’d have voted for Remain, although that’s a severely hypothetical counterfactual since if I were able to vote in a UK election I’d have to have led a very different life than I have, and my experiences are shaped by living in the US and in Germany (so in the original core of the EU), so maybe those experiences would have led me to a different conclusion. The way federalism works in the US, most Americans are less worried about the lack of direct democracy in a lot of our decision making — although that has been changing in the last fifteen years or so.

      I think there were plenty of Left cases against the EU (the one I have read most often is an objection to the globalizing aspects of the institution). As far as the US goes — we’re a sovereign nation with the right to enforce our border and we either haven’t or can’t (I lead toward “aren’t willing to pay the price for it” as the best explanation). I can’t say anything about people not voting Leave because they didn’t like their political bedfellows. (Just don’t know enough). I do think that the very fact of the development of UK democracy and its legal system (adversarial, as we have here in the US, too) makes the fit of the legal culture of the UK with that of the content an often awkward fit.

      re: “xenophobes,” I’ll say something about that in a different comment.

    • So the rest of my reply is a tangle of a few issues and I hope this makes sense.

      re: is Armitage saying or implying he thinks all Leave voters are racists, xenophobes, etc.?

      I want to note that I wrote this post not because I agree with everything he has tweeted (I think I made it obvious that I didn’t like the article in the New Statesman much), but because I think the fact that he tweeted and then didn’t retract the tweets is a significant development. I tend to think that the first motivation for almost everything Armitage does is his feelings, which doesn’t mean he isn’t smart or doesn’t consider other things, but I think he leads with that impulse. One consequence of that rhetorically is that he’s going to provoke emotion from his respondents, which means that responses to him are going to tend to be more emotional than reasoned. Given that he almost has to expect emotional backwind to what he says when he says something controversial, I was cheered at least this stuff he seems to be standing behind as opposed to retreating at some point for whatever reason.

      Because of reading him as emotional over rational, I see his tweets in two lights. The first is that the main thing he seems to care about are the cultural/cosmopolitan aspects of Brexit. The politicians he’s angry at in his tweets are not Cameron or Corbyn, or apparently any English campaigners, but Trump and Le Pen, and I think that that reading of the situation is significant for understanding his reaction to this. He hasn’t said anything about the financial piece, which is what most of the press is focused on, or the governance issue, which is mostly getting play in the conservative press, or the geopolitical aspects (which I have seen almost no one discussing, unfortunately).

      I hypothesize this has to do with his self-concept as cosmopolitan (I remember his offhand comment at some point after 2012 when he said he can live in NYC “because it’s cosmopolitan”) and his view of England and his relationship with being English as diversity-friendly. Any kind of barrier that makes the UK less cosmopolitan or even less apparently cosmopolitan is going to be an issue for him. And I imagine it was even more problematic for him when these reports of attacks on non-Whites started emerging. At first it was anecdata but apparently there are now police statistics about it and Cameron referred to it in his remarks today. I can imagine that attacks on “foreigners” interfere with Armitage’s sense of being English as “fair play” and so on, in addition to the issue of cosmopolitanism that he associates with living in London. In short, it’s an identity question for him, and it may be more of one because this attitude is quite probably something he constructed for himself. Leave beat Remain in Blaby by almost 19 points, and while you’re correct that we can’t say that is all about hostility to immigrants or distaste for the outside world, it seems undeniable that at least some of it is.

      Secondly, I think perhaps some of this relates to the way he’s been using the term “empathy” lately. There seems to be an assumption in what he’s written that if we just stopped to empathize, we’d agree with each other about how to deal with these problems. If we empathized with refugees, we’d invite them all in and give them all the support they needed. I think he genuinely doesn’t understand that his notion of empathy (while it might work for what he uses it for) isn’t very politically robust or that it might actually complicate things in that it causes us to believe things about our neighbors that simply aren’t true. I think that he doesn’t realize this because he is so accustomed to prioritizing an emotional reaction to things (and I’m guessing he doesn’t get a lot of opposition to this approach at work or on a daily basis) that he doesn’t often practice the acute rational capacity that is the norm for some others.

      In short, I suspect that the issues that are important to you are much less important to him. He doesn’t seem to be a very sophisticated political thinker, although he has shown repeatedly that he is very interested in the news. He isn’t helped by the fact that with few exceptions, the press has been truly hostile to the Leave result.

  5. Also, I wish someone would send this article to Richard. It explains how dishonest and sensationalistic the media was in regard to the EU google searches after the referendum.

    [The Washington Post] note[s] that searches about the EU tripled. But how many people is that? Are they voters? Are they eligible to vote? Were they Leave or Remain? Trends doesn’t tell us, all it does is give us a nice graph with a huge peak. More likely, it’s a very small number of people, based on this graph that puts it in context with other searches in the region…

    But it’s giving plenty of people cover to insult the entire country, when it’s likely just a few people searching for something in a way that they always search for something. It makes “The British are frantically Googling what the EU is, hours after voting to leave it” absurdly disingenuous without better numbers. Update: Remy Smith points out this out: The peak was merely ~1000 people! It’s ludicrous that so few people get turned into a massive story, but it underscores the need for context.

    • re: this article specifically — I don’t know if you noticed it but I posted the tweet and closed comments with the title that it was an example of why I need not to be discussing politics with strangers. It was obvious from the first paragraph of the article (I saw it the night before Armitage tweeted it) that the results were meaningless to support the conclusion the article drew. I think that any person who pauses to think for three minutes after reading it would have come to a similar conclusion. I think the reason it is being cited so frequently (I see it linked everywhere) is to underline the argumnet that a lot of voters did seem to be fatally underinformed about their votes (not saying you were, or all Leave voters were). It’s not really evidence for that argument, but it appears from various other pieces of evidence that many voters did not understand what could happen if they took this step.

  6. […] post about Richard Armitage’s recent spate of tweets. I’ve already commented on the upsides to his decision to maintain his recent political tweets in his timeline. Now I want to comment more specifically on my relationship to the political tweets. The […]

  7. Reblogged this on gpg44blog and commented:

    very well said and so agree with your points , That fact as you so well point out being a anbassador of cybersmile and not being able to stand the heat would make him look foolish (one thing he sure is not ) standing by his convictions i hope this continues

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