Richard Armitage and the tweets he didn’t delete
There is an upside to the whole EU referendum debacle! Richard Armitage hasn’t deleted a tweet for almost 3 days! 😂 #atleastithinkso
— Kathryn (@MuchAdoAboutK) June 26, 2016
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).