Discourse is rough, Mr. Armitage

Deleted tweet. I’m looking for a better cap. Meanwhile, I’d say, yeah, you’re a person. Which means the discursive rules also apply to you! Welcome to personhood with all its joys and tears.

Screen shot 2016-07-03 at 10.55.25 AMScreen shot 2016-07-03 at 10.59.13 AM

~ by Servetus on July 3, 2016.

63 Responses to “Discourse is rough, Mr. Armitage”

  1. Aw damn! Will it ever be safe to go back to Twitter???

  2. I think he should have left that one out there.

  3. This insistence that actors and their ilk have no business talking about politics makes me absolutely furious. If you live in this world you have the right to comment on those that govern it. I realise this isn’t factually true in some countries and that is one of the reasons why it is so important. It doesn’t matter if you collect the rubbish or if you own the company that employs the person who collects the rubbish. It doesn’t matter if you’re a school administrator or the minister for education. It doesn’t matter if you’re an amateur actor or a Hollywood actor. Bravo Richard for sticking up for yourself. Pity you back tracked and said something less punchy. You are a person therefore your opinion matters – it is up to the rest of us to decide whether or not to listen.

    That’s what I think anyway 🙂

    • I’m in general agreement with you, although I think there are two issues that fans often forget when thinking about this:

      1) power differential — Armitage is much more powerful rhetorically than any fan who tweets at him


      2) the rules apply to everyone.

      On the whole I’m hostile to people who tell others not to speak, though.

      • I hear you and am very aware of the power differential and agree that people forget.

        • The whole “don’t like don’t read” thing, for instance — although the point is valid in either case, obviously if you’re a fan of Armitage choosing not to read his tweets is different from choosing not to read (say) a fan blog. I’m not saying that he is obligated to say only things that please fans, just that the individual decision to follow or not is different in a case like that. It does make him more powerful and given the tendency of people to forget the second rule (“the rules apply to everyone”) it means that someone who ends up on the tail end of his displeasure is disproportionately affected by that. I don’t think people should tell actors not to speak. But if he says to a fan, “don’t follow me,” it’s just different than if I say “don’t say that [to him]”. I have to think about this some more 🙂

          • Could it be argued that him deleting this tweet and rephrasing is a way of walking back that power? Is a way of saying, “I don’t mean it this way, even though it felt good in the moment.”

            • I think all we can conclude with solidity is that he regretted having said it and thus removed it, and how he might phrase his decision could be different from how I see it. I think that’s a plausible reading although I suspect he wouldn’t put it that way. But in my opinion, if that’s what he’s doing, he’d be better off not to tweet at all. First of all, the tweet doesn’t just disappear. Not just because fans cap it, but also because people read in Twitter clients and phones where the tweet persists at least temporarily, and even more so because there’s a pile on to the person who expressed her displeasure — which is the normal consequence of speech, of course (see above, “rules apply to everyone”).

              In other words, if you have power, you can’t just have it when you wish you do, you have it all the time. (Cf. “telling fans how to behave on the Internet via CyberSmile and apparently expecting them to comply” but three months later behaving differently and then telling fans who don’t like something that they don’t have to pay attention). The fact that he’s talking about politics complicates or intensifies this because for many of us a political assertion matters more than a book recommendation.

              In other words it’s just as plausible to me that he realized that tweet involved a huge self-contradiction.

          • I understand what you’re saying. Not sure there’s a straightforward answer – “all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others” rings ever true 😉

      • En tant que personne exerçant quotidiennement une autorité, un pouvoir sur d’autres, je connais les risques et les obligations de ma position. Il est très facile d’avoir recours à mon emprise, pour clore toute contre-verse ou discussion. Mais le revers sera toujours de se retrouver plus tard, face à une personne rebelle, soumise contre sa volonté. Il vaut mieux argumenter, faire accepter ses divergences par le raisonnement, que par la force reçue de l’autorité elle même. De plus la victoire acquise par adhésion est plus légitime et donc salutaire pour les deux parties.

        • in general, I agree with this, although it’s easier for some people to hid or not use their power than it is for others.

    • I agree Kathryn! He reacted like an ordinary person, which of course he is. Perhaps he thought he might have upset the person for whom the tweet was meant but I think the content of the tweet was correct…

  4. Wish he hadn’t deleted that, I want to frame it on my wall. ❤

  5. I’m going to give him a pass on this particular deleted tweet (how nice of me!) because (I think) he responded directly to a particular person and he probably thought the “feel free not to follow me” was a little too mean to single out that person directly. If the tweet was solely “I’m also a person, acting is how I pay the rent” I would have had more of an issue with the whole tweet delete thing. I love that he is showing how passionate he is about things and putting it out there. However, my knowledge on the whole situation is not enough for me to weigh in on it.

    • see issue referenced above about power. He’s infinitely more powerful as a speaker than anyone who criticizes him. Which isn’t to say that the criticism was unfair or that his response was unfair. Only: speech always has consequences.

      • I had to look up discursive right now and I don’t think I fully comprehend the definition but if it means what I think it does then I am always being called out on that kind of conversational behaviour by everyone I talk to.

        • it’s hard to define (and there are many different definitions), but maybe the best way to put it on a simple level is something like “conversational behavior,” i.e., conversation in its quality as exchange between people.

          And yes, people do it all the time. It’s pretty normal. How one feels about it may vary.

    • I agree with that- I think telling a single person, “feel free not to follow me” is pretty tantamount to just saying “I want you to unfollow” (probably especially in Brit speak 🙂

  6. I agree completely with his point that he is entitled to an opinion as a UK citizen and a European, and the fact that he is an actor is irrelevant. However, if I were his publicist and read the tweet ahead of time, I would have voiced my opinion that the phrase “Feel free not to follow me” was unnecessarily hostile for someone who is in the public eye and whose living depends on public support. I suspect he came to a similar conclusion and decided to delete and rephrase.

    I think I understand why folks get annoyed when he deletes tweets, but sometimes as in this situation it is a way of acknowledging that he thinks he made a mistake. On this topic, he hasn’t shied away from expressing strong opinions and letting them stand.

    • I was just going to see whether he actually rephrased, because in my recollection he hadn’t, and I now see that he also deleted the tweets explaining his position on benefits. I assume that happened because the tweep complained to him that people were sending him nasty tweets, but for crying out loud. It’s hard not to lose respect for people who destroy big pieces of a discussion they started.

      • Oh wow! Thank you for pointing that out. Shame he did that. I was enjoying watching him state his position. And odd because he has been pretty firm since the Brexit vote – not deleting; sticking to his guns. I guess it was too good to last.

        • I think he needs to be much more careful with what he does if he’s going to respond to fans. This is the basic dynamic — he responded to a few at the beginning of all of this and they all got grief as well. Or the general advice is that if you get a response you should protect your tweets afterward for a while.

      • The rephrasing I meant was “just the opinion of a person (who happens to be an actor) who believes in a fairer system”. But apparently he deleted it too. 😦

        • That wasn’t directed at the same tweep, though. There was one tweet to the tweep who said she wished actors shouldn’t talk about politics, that was then deleted. The quotation you’re referencing was directed at the tweep with Lyme disease who was talking about the benefits issue.

      • Like you said, they don’t disappear when he deletes them. We know enough to either save them immediately, or go to someone like you if we didn’t see them.

  7. Ok, this will be my first reply ever to a blog, so please have a little patience with me.
    I followed this particular Twitter stream today and was actually happy when this tweet came up. Celebrity or not, everybody is allowed to have his/her own opinion and is also free to say it. Sure, it was not really friendly, but also nothing to call the police for. To me, it showed that this was real to him and i guess he is not a totally happy man at the moment. It looks like politics and the consequences for his country and his work are important to him. And from what i have read about him i think it is not normal for him to be so talkative and open on Twitter. So maybe his temper just got the better of him. That does not make his reply any more friendly of course.Probably it would have been better not just to delete it, but to send a sorry or some encouragement out afterwards.
    But, come on, he is just a human being like everybody else ( ok, a tiny little bit more sexy than most… ) and he should have been more in control, but I like that he is not always perfect and seems to have some rough edges.
    Thanks for your patience, hope you don´t mind the length, got problems sometimes to find the last full stop….

  8. Back to deleting again…

    • The argument for it in this case is that it presents additional people from joining the pile on. It looks like the tweep who told him actors shouldn’t express political opinions didn’t get as much grief, maybe because the tweet was deleted. I can respect that even if I still dislike it.

  9. he’s been speaking a lot of sense lately and had quite a nuanced approach to the whole brexit crisis generally. I hope he continues to tweet on it. Maybe he should have a general tweet saying something to the effect of – if you have a different Opinion that’s fine- then not respond personally to any more tweets.

    • I think — and this is a general problem with social media — is that this whole “if you have a different opinion, it’s fine” / “agree to disagree” thing is a problem for people who engage in political discussions.

      It’s true that we all get to our limit of these things. I certainly do (hence my general principle “don’t talk poltics with strangers,” which has been heavily challenged this week), because I tend to get to my limit almost immediately because the communicative situation is fraught. Essentially I want to like everyone I’m talking to at least on a casual level. I’d like to have discussions in which we disagree in interesting ways but I don’t like to have arguments in the sense of discussions that provoke only negative emotion.

      There are two problems, though, with saying what you’re suggesting. First, it’s really not okay, in a political sense or any sense beyond the casual, if you have an opinion that’s different than mine. If politics matters, then some opinions are more valid than others — and debate is supposed to elucidate which ones are more or less optimal. “Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one” — but to say that all opinions are created equal undermines the significance of speech.

      Which raises the second problem — it’s an issue if someone speaks (especially someone with a lot of rhetorical power, which he has in the fandom, if not elsewhere) and then says his speech doesn’t matter or he was only venting. Does Armitage have a right to vent? In an absolute sense, yes. But he doesn’t have a right to tell people not to take it seriously if he wants them to take other things he says seriously. If something is coded “joke” then it’s okay to tell people not to take it seriously (whether they agree is another matter). But I don’t get the sense he was joking about any of this stuff.

      • I’m coming from a very pragmatic place: Richard needs to decide what he wants his Twitter to be and then stick to it. He’s perfectly entitled to treat his Twitter in various ways but then leads to the second problem which you identified which is that it is difficult to get your audience to understand when you’re joking and not.

        Right now it appears that he’s caught between a personal and professional Twitter. To some extent I’m greatful because it gives us an insight into his thinking. On the other hand, it blurs the relationship between him and his audience. Then he loses his temper and tells people not to follow and then regrets that decision almost immediately. From what I’ve been able to glean about him – the way he reacted is not out of character for him.

        If it was a professional Twitter then he would post whatever he wanted to but his interactions with his audience would be limited to nothing or just “likes.” Like the way Lee Pace treats his Weibo and Twitter.

        I think for his professional sake he needs to treat his Twitter as casual.

        I don’t mind him continuing to tweet quasi-personally but he’s heading for a Twitter breakdown, which won’t be pleasant for anybody.

        Re some opinions being more important than others – but isn’t politics a compromise? This is why the Labour Party is in such a mess. You have a leader who is focused on nuclear weapons and indicting Tony Blair as a war criminal. You have half the party who are well-to-do social liberals who want free market access but don’t mind paying into a welfare system. You have the other half who are grappling with austerity and terrified/prejudiced towards immigrants. In the Brexit vote the second group voted to leave, the well-to-dos voted to remain, and Corbyn ostensibly campaigned to remain but was happy with the outcome. All these people call themselves Labour. So which opinion carries the day? I’ve come around to the idea the party needs to get the anti-immigrant vote to win a general election because these people are situated in populous ridings/constituencies. I don’t want their lives but I also realize that their reality is important and cannot be discounted. If our mutual goal is preserving the welfare state/anti-austerity then I’m going to have to compromise my views on immigration to get them on board.

        Isnt politics to some extent the acceptance that our shared reality is more Important than our speech?

        • I think one gets an idea of who Lee Pace “is” from his Twitter, or who he wants to be in public, though, which has been an issue for Armitage. Maybe a better way to put that is that there is a coherent picture of a person that comes from Pace’s Twitter that is sweet, quirky, and yet also principled. I’m not a fan of his in particular but from what I see it’s an attractive picture. I don’t follow that account closely — maybe people tweet a lot of crap at him, too. I used to say that an insecure celebrity creates an insecure fandom and that hasn’t changed much. Armitage hasn’t mastered the art of delivering a secure picture of himself on his Twitter (for whatever reason; I won’t speculate). I agree that he seems like to be the kind of person who loses his temper periodically (he has said that himself).

          We could argue about what he is obligated to deliver on Twitter (if anything). There was an interesting discussion about this going on on Twitter today spearheaded by one of the chief proponents of the “Armitage should never say anything that can offend anyone” philosophy, who took the position that his was an “entertainment” account. I personally don’t care insofar as I wasn’t eager for him to Tweet and I mostly wouldn’t miss him if he weren’t there. However, there is a way to tweet to create the impression of personal-ness without going into tilt with authentic moments that then trigger you when people disagree. He doesn’t do it. I have developed the impression over the years that (interestingly for me) he doesn’t really inhabit the sort of in between level of personality that a lot of people with public lives do. That would be perfect for Twitter. Various things he’s said have suggested to me that there’s very little there between Richard the person and Richard the performer, and that this is part of why it’s a problem for him to give any personal information at all. If he doesn’t want various features of his personal life to become public property of his fans, he needs to keep them secret and I think everyone gets that. But he also creates the impression that nothing is trivial, so to speak.

          I also think the problem at the moment is that his choice of the person to respond to always rewards negative sentiment. In that sense, you’re correct that he sets himself up to have to delete.

          Politics is a negotiation — but this is precisely why some opinions (the better ones) matter more than others. It cannot be the best course of action to do “A” and “not A” — indeed, it’s not possible. If I am going to talk to anyone about politics, of course I will probably try to move them toward my position. Political speech is never trivial, or something we can say “ok, whatever you think, Richard” about — not if it is to be meaningful. I think to say that is to miss the point.

          • I agree re Lee. His is clearly a managed account but done in an unobtrusive manner. Look at his sunglasses post on weibo – no one knows what it meant but he’s not in a hurry to explain it. Richard would have posted a letter on the subject!

            What I don’t get is why Richard’s management hasn’t done the same for him. I understand they have the same mangerment. If it’s a personal choice on
            Richard’s part then he needs to rethink because he’s not good at Twitter if he intends to use it to interact with his fans. The contents of his posts are generally more interesting than most celeb accounts but it derails when he engages.

            What do you think if he continues tweeting as is but stops engaging? or, if I understand you correctly – this is not an option because political speech is not trivial?

            Re responding to negative posts – is it the nature of the subject or Richard’s own personality?

            • Your proposal was that he say “it’s fine if your opinion is different than mine,” no? My point was solely that that kind of statement undermines the actual purpose of political speech. He can say whatever he likes. It’s just self-contradictory to speak politically (which is usually understood as inherently normative and/or persuasive) and then say that opinions don’t matter, IMO.

              You’re take on Pace is interesting because I think most of his fans whom I hae seen do not think that Pace’s account is managed; I’m not sure I want to get into that here / now, though.

              Fwiw — it’s my opinion that Armitage never wanted to interact with his fans in the way that Twitter implies one should. I don’t know what has happened to change his mind lately. There were a few loud voices yesterday that were saying it wasn’t fair that he didn’t engage. Or who knows.

              I think he should do what works best for him; I generally wish for the fourth wall to return, though, which would imply non-engagement with fans if he could handle it.

              re: why he responds to negative behaviors — what do you think?

              • Il me semble que l’expression “colosse au pieds d’argile” lui correspond bien.
                Un passage de la Bible raconte l’histoire du prophète hébreu Daniel. Au VIIe siècle – JC, il interpréte les rêves du roi Nabuchodonosor.
                Dans l’un d’entre eux, le roi a vu une immense statue dont la tête est en or, les bras et la poitrine en argent, le ventre et les cuisses en bronze, les jambes en fer et les pieds en fer et argile. Une pierre pulvérise un pied de la statue qui se retrouve pourtant détruite.
                Seule la personne déstabilisée répond aux attaques négatives.

                • I think, though, that he thinks he can explain himself. This is another social media lesson that everyone has to learn. There are certain people who will never find your position intelligible and explaining yourself to them is pointless.

                  • Yes, that’s were the trouble lies. He needs to make his stand, accept that not everyone will agree, some rationally, and others who live to argue with him. Deleting just sends it all spinning.

          • Lee does occasionally reply to fans who tweet him, including some Armitage fans. I had never considered his account managed, but it’s possible he gets guidance from someone i.e. “Lee, tell them about a book you’re reading now” etc. Kind of like you’re saying, the illusion of personalness. Seems clear that Richard has not opted into something like that.

            And your comment is fascinating & I think probably true that Richard doesn’t inhabit a “between” level of personality. He does seem to either fully engage or fully not, and I suspect he may be the same with friends / people he knows personally. Maybe a function of his natural brand of intensity / introversion. I’m reminded of the famous Vancouver airport debacle. I don’t think he will ever open up his personal “bubble” just because “Look, Idris Elba posed for me, everybody else is doing it, yada yada”….sorry a little OT, but I think it has some relevance to Twitter too.

            • I don’t think so either — not least because the bubble seems to predate social media by quite a long time. As someone said to me a long time ago, he never features in gossip. He’s had his shelter built up for a long time — why should he destroy it now?

  10. I don’t follow him on Twitter, but his stuff was all over my TL. As soon as I read the “feel free to unfollow me” tweet, I knew he would delete it.
    Slightly off topic, I do follow quite a few actors on Twitter, and I have never seen fans defend someone’s opinions the way the Armitage ones do. People are allowed to disagree with him. There were some unnecessarily rude comments made to the tweeps he was replying to.

    He needs to take some tips from James Gunn who has one of the best managed accounts on Twitter.

    • It’s been a dynamic in this fandom as log as I’ve been a part of it — we even have a name for it (Armitage Protection Mode, or APM). It’s such a nuisance. I honestly thought it would abate after the Hobbit because I really thought fans would start seeing him differently, but I guess he still creates an impression of overwhelming vulnerability that appeals to many fans.

      • It can be very annoying. I have to deal with it on a regular basis. It brings out my sarcastic side 😀

        • Not being able to rely on a capacity to speak about him like he’s a normal adult is an ongoing obstacle to writing this blog. I think I’ve gotten over it now, but I agree that the struggle to maintain equanimity provokes tendencies that might not come to the fore otherwise.

      • I think the constant unexplained deleting is a big part of what continues to create that impression, at this point. It’s clear Richard is disinclined to explain himself, and that’s basically OK with me – but when I’ve seen celebs make brief statements about why they deleted a tweet (that wasn’t sheer idiocy, I mean), it seems to calm things down faster. (Don’t ask me who, though, because I don’t remember now…. :/ )

  11. We ALL have the power of choice – read or not read, speak or not speak, follow or not follow. It is your power to use as you choose.

  12. I am thinking, just thinking as I’m not an expert on how Twitter works, that most of his weekend twitters that are now invisible/deleted were answers to others. What if THEY deleted/hid their own tweets. Would that delete also RA’s answers?

    • Ladies and Gentlemen, we are back for the newest installement of ‘Tweet and delete’, a tragedy in endless acts…

    • When the second tweep started to complain about responses she was getting, I suggested she protect her tweets for a few days. This would have meant only replies could be seen, but not what they were replying to, until she unprotected. She also could have deleted her tweets, which is permanent, but his responses would still have been visible. You just would not know what he was responding to. There is always an advantage to deleting the original tweet, though, because it removes the easiest way to search for responses to it. Hope that answers your question.

  13. Sorry, my comment wasn’t meant as a reply to Sara!!!

  14. Again?
    The moment I do something else than Richarding, he goes and pulls one on me – again.
    I advise against it. Nevertheless , it’s his bar (I guess it was – raspberry beer, uh, que horror!), and he calls the shots.
    The “feel free to unfollow” is fairly up front for a polite English man with an edge😉, and he’s a public figure. RA will have to resign himself to not being able to please everyone. He should just have let it be and walked away from it. Just as he advocates. That’s my advice anyway.

    • On some level this is all novice behavior — responding to heckling for instance. He really shouldn’t be a Cybersmile ambassador until he understands how this works out in real life.

    • Slowly walk away from the keyboard, keep your hands in the air. Lol

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