On blogging about Richard Armitage (this week, this year, this lifetime)

One of my early favorite pictures of Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne.

One of my early favorite pictures of Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne.

[warning: rant]

A few years ago, many more fans blogged about Richard Armitage either exclusively or as a significant part of their postings on a conventional blog (typepad, wordpress, blogger, or at that point, even LJ). The number of “startups” was also higher — perhaps it was the cool thing to do, or relatively more people got inspired to participate in a transformative as opposed to an appreciative fandom during the early Hobbit years. We tried as much as we could in those days to support new bloggers, because attrition after a relatively short time was common, and it was hard to predict who would stick with it and who would stop after a month or three. That situation has changed; excluding tumblr, there are fewer regularly active conventional Armitage blogs now than there have been in my experience of blogging. The youngest of these has been around approaching two years — an eternity in single-author, single-topic blogging — and some of us have now been around long enough to seem as if we’ve always been here.

But back then, we used to get asked a lot, and thus talk a lot, about why we were blogging. It wasn’t easy to explain (an early attempt of mine is here). I used to feel the need to justify myself regularly, but I haven’t done much of that lately. I’m in the habit of blogging, I suppose, but more importantly, I no longer feel the need to justify myself all that often. What I called Armitagemania has stayed with me — with changes and shifts — ever since those days in January 2010 when it hit. The best answer to the question, “why are you [still] blogging about Richard Armitage?” is “Because I [still] haven’t solved the puzzle of what about him keeps me watching and thinking about him.” In other words — the journey has not yet ended. It takes on additional questions and paths; Armitage takes on additional projects that interest me or don’t; I find new things to think about or to add to my picture; I go on learning about myself. This is true even when I find myself not much liking what I’ve learned about Richard Armitage — as last summer, or this week. I flatter myself that I try not to contort my picture of Armitage so severely that my enthrallment trumps my capacity to perceive and consider seriously incoming data that diverge from the impressions I have formed. But yes, that does mean that I am potentially more susceptible to disappointment or even anger than someone who’s willing to prioritize her admiration or simply to ignore when her crush says things she doesn’t like. There’s no problem with being like that, but I am not that fan, something that anyone who reads here for twenty minutes knows. I try to separate what Richard Armitage says (or what I understand him to have said after thinking about it) from how I am likely to feel about his statements.

Another early favorite of mine, a screencap of Armitage as Mr. Thornton. I love the way his face is lit here.

Another early favorite of mine, a screencap of Armitage as Mr. Thornton. I love the way his face is lit here.

There’s a penchant in blogging for exhibiting vulnerability, even a certain current trend of recommending it, but it’s always a mixed bag when I do it. I said something today that made me look vulnerable, although I said it in an intentionally insider / cryptic way. So naturally, today a few people swooped in to tell me that I’d been doing it wrong and how happy they were that they were doing it right or that I’d finally gotten on the right path. Long-time readers know that I believe earnestly that short of illegal behavior, there is no wrong way to be a fan. This doesn’t mean, however, that I think all fan experiences are the same. No one has to blog, for instance; no one has to make GIFs or fan art, no one has to tweet. However, I think if my experience of fandom involves the decision to write extensive posts and collect evidence over more than six years, and others’ experience involves reading things other people write, looking at pictures, and occasionally leaving a comment here or there, those fans who have a more casual relationship with their hobby might stop to consider that maybe they and I are not experiencing the same thing. There’s nothing wrong with being a casual fan. There’s nothing wrong with being a more involved fan. But they are simply not the same thing. If you think your experience explains what I am going through, let me suggest that you are quite probably mistaken unless you have actually lived my rather odd life, too, and thus are anywhere near as invested in your fandom as I have been in mine. The fact that we are all fans together and that we share one decisive thing has never meant that you walk in shoes that are anything remotely like mine.

If I had ever thought that Richard Armitage were “ordinary,” then I would have stopped. If I ever come to that conclusion, I won’t hesitate to quit. The web I find myself in with regard to him and his work doesn’t always fill me with euphoria. But to those who are inclined to gloat over something about my fandom that isn’t actually happening: leave me the fuck alone. Spare me your simplistic categories, your false empathy, your ridiculous notion of “health,” your assumptions that your reasons for doing or saying something would be the same as mine are, and your belief that what you experience has anything beyond the superficial to do with mine.

I have plenty of faults, more than the considerable number I exhibit on blog, but I’m smart and I spend a lot of time thinking. If my Armitagemania were as simple to explain as you say, I’d have moved on years ago.

~ by Servetus on August 20, 2016.

39 Responses to “On blogging about Richard Armitage (this week, this year, this lifetime)”

  1. This is a “rant?” I would like to hear more of your rants! I mean that sincerely, not sarcastically. (Take my words at face value; I don’t even know how to insert an emoticon.) This is one of your strongest posts ever, in a sea of strong posts that I’ve been reading for years. I keep hoping your cogitations will help me figure out “Why him? Why me? Why now?” for myself, and I am enormously grateful that you share publicly. Pleeeeease keep at it. If it’s not too taxing, emotionally, I encourage you to remain angry and turn on the fire hose.

    • Well, I used an expletive — I very rarely do that in writing like this. Thanks for the support. I am not quitting. But I think my patience with people who know better than me is possibly at an end. There may be a modification to the comments policy coming soon (or maybe not, maybe I’ve said enough). “You’re doing it wrong” as a message was really pissing me off the last little while.

  2. I’d just like to say that I really appreciate your blog. I often find the self-righteousness and sheer nastiness you can encounter on the internet astonishing. Don’t let it grind you down. The work and time you invest is definitely appreciated and I hope that you find fulfilment enough in this to keep on going. Personally, I really enjoy the way you analyze and think about things, especially since you move far beyond uncritical fandom.

    • Thanks. I think it’s maybe easier for me to be critical, although less easy for certain parts of the readership to accept that. My own fuse is getting shorter (which I suppose is s consequence of both aging and aging within the fandom). Sometimes I think there should be a warning label on this blog — don’t read until you’ve been a fan for at least two years.

  3. The trolls are circling, Serv. I’m glad you blocked that one. It was high time.
    And my mother always reminded me that some people thrive on negativity, or engage in some kind of schadenfreude as a way of making themselves feel better. This notion of “ah, you’ve seen the light finally” is invalid because nobody can EVER know what someone else is experiencing.
    I adore your blog, I hope you will still feel inspired enough to continue.

    • Thanks. Struggle with feelings is often invigorating. Tulpa is on life support, as I said, but I’m not quitting yet.

  4. Your blog is an important part of why I am still around. I believe there are many of us who appreciate you and the effort you put into your blog. I hope you stay and keep writing!

  5. I may not have been with you for very long, but I am with you faithfully. I usually agree with most of what you say, but not always. This is a place where disagreement is acceptable. Sometimes, once you’ve made your position clear, I understand it perfectly. I know you spend an awful lot of time and energy looking into things, and have a vast background that gives you insights that I don’t have. I don’t know what occurred last summer that you are referring to. I do know what has been happening regularly in recent times both in this blog, and on Twitter. It has been pretty ugly. I hope you are not as close to stopping as you sometimes sound to be. You provide information, background, and insight that is not available otherwise. You may spar, but generally it it good-hearted. I don’t know what the answer is to all this hateful, venomous attacking that keeps coming up. However, I believe you are more than strong enough to endure it. I hope you keep going. If you get to a point where you feel that you have no more to say, then by all means do what your heart tells you is right. Then it will be on your terms, not because of disappointing tweets by Richard, or because of haters chipping away at you.

    • IMO there’s only one way to quit blogging with class — I hope that when the day comes where I’m ready to do that, i can manage it.

      This is not the closest I’ve ever been to stopping, but I finally got enough pileup of evidence in a certain character to really kill a piece of my picture of Armitage this week. So the tulpa needs to be repaired, or something. One problem for me (that I have tried to work on in this blog) is that, contrary to appearances, I often don’t really know how I feel about something, only that I am having a big feeling. Then by the time I work out what it was, I’ve returned to something like equilibrium … I wish I understood all of this better. I suppose I do. Just not as well as I would like to.

  6. Dear Servetus,
    I also can say,tho i’m newcomer in RA’s world&and i’ve said to you already earlier,in one of your blogs,exchanging of opinions is healthy and that’s not the only thing great about you and your blogs,but i’ve personally learned about RA from your blogs mostly.
    The way you lead discussions here,the headlines of every blog,the way you deal with your “haters”,we can only compliment you for all the hard work your putting into this and you’re doing it beyond great.
    Agree to disagree is my moto and i belive yours also.
    It would be such a shame if you decide to stop all this work at any time,but if you bring this decision,ever,I’ll support you,because it is your decission and we have to respect that,but i just hope it wont be very soon.🙂
    For now,all i can say is keep going,you are intelligent&talented for this.
    All i can say,if i ever disagree with something you say,i’ll be most happy to disagree with you.The best person to discuss RA topic (and all of us here share that interes,hobby)is you,Servetus.🙂
    Talk to you soon.

  7. “But to those who are inclined to gloat over something about my fandom that isn’t actually happening: leave me the fuck alone. Spare me your simplistic categories, your false empathy, your ridiculous notion of “health,” your assumptions that your reasons for doing or saying something would be the same as mine are, and your belief that what you experience has anything beyond the superficial to do with mine.”

    Loved this part so much. Love this whole post so much.

  8. As a casual fan I appreciate your considered and detailed writing, Serv. If I had a nickle for every time I said ‘I never thought of it that way’ after reading your posts, I’d have many many nickles. Write on. And thank you!

  9. Thank you for taking us on your journey with you, and I do hope it continues as long as you still feel invested in it. I too am relatively new to the fandom, having come into it in stages over the last several years…. only just recently graduating from lurking to commenting. My initially casual fangirling has become something where I am thinking about it/him in some way every day. What is it about Richard Armitage that has had this effect on me? As I explore that question myself, it is really useful for me to have a place where new insights are offered. And even though our experiences cannot be the same, the insights often do make me think about things more and in a different way. For example, I am thinking about what would be the deal-breaker for me. Not sure yet. But I have experienced deal-breakers with other artists who I felt I knew through their music, only to find on reading their autobiographies that I could no longer bring myself to even listen to the once-loved songs. With RA, while I am not really ignoring the tweets he makes that don’t correspond with my “tulpa”, I am telling myself that it could be that his meaning is not really clear in the short bursts of words. I like to think that it possible that a conversation with the man (which of course will never happen) would make his meaning clearer and more acceptable to my world view. But that is me at my current point in my own journey.

    • I think better more detailed messages would be useful — absolutely agree. We’ll just stay on whatever the path is …

  10. Can I be really shallow and say that the photo of Guy of Gisborne REALLY HELPS me stay engaged as a fan?🙂

    • He is really helpful, Babette!😃 ( I feel like I can have grandchildrens😉 thanks to GoG )

    • Ohhh ya, that moment right before the look and glove does just as much as the actual event does. 🎆 🎇 💞 That one is such high quality I’ve been trying to figure out all day how to save it to my tablet, so I can make it my wallpaper.

    • So many people have told me they wish he’d reprise Guy at some point. He really does aid fan engagement!

  11. S, you know how I feel about haters in general and yours specifically. They still can’t eat ya.

  12. just wanted to say that a big part why through all the stuff that happens outside the internet this has remained a constant for me are the opportunities to exchange thoughts and rants and frowns and laughs and blushes about the OOA here and other places close by😉 I’ll never quite understand why people can’t just go and do their thing and let others do the same and not expect it all to follow the path.
    Thanks for being there🙂 And i haven’t given up yet, i just .. well it’s been difficult to put thoughts to screen so to speak in a lone voice because of other things, nothing to do with OOA. But i’ve never stopped enjoying the interaction and commenting.

  13. En premier, je ne veux pas que vous preniez mes remarques comme ceux d’un troll.
    Si le syndrome Richard Armitage existe, il semblerait que j’en découvre quelques signes cliniques dans vos propos.
    Je suis triste et j’ai peur de mal comprendre vos propos. Pourquoi nous rejeter si , comme vous le dites, il n’y a pas de mauvaises façons d’être un fan, de s’exprimer en tant que fan? Dans mon esprit, il n’y a pas de concours de réflexion intellectuelle ou d’expression écrite, avec à la fin un classement avec remise de trophée. Personne ne remet en cause votre profondeur de réflexion sur les multiples sujets que vous abordez. Alors ayez de l’indulgence pour ceux qui nourrissent votre blog. Nous sommes des êtres humains, qui méritent autre chose que de considérer, avec condescendance, leurs propos simplistes et leurs fautes d’orthographes. Chacun, avec ses propres moyens, nourrit le fandom. Si vous penser avoir acquis la médaille d’or, qui vous permet d’accéder à la plus haute marche du podium, laissez nous le droit de vivre notre rêve. Désolée d’être braque et maladroite dans ce commentaire, j’en accepte les conséquences de censures et représailles éventuelles.

    • désolée ” si vous penseZ”

    • Let me be clear — there are in fact plenty of people who have attacked my way of being a fan. Three did yesterday. In fact, one of the most frequent points of contention between unfriendly readers and me is that I analyze things too much or spend too much time thinking about them in detail. I’m getting tired of it after six years and I’ve had it with being polite about it or attempt to respond politely. I have the right to express my frustration with that situation. I’m no longer going to be polite to people who come here specifically with the intent to condescend to me or make me angry.

      • J’ai compris que les destinataires étaient les désagréables et non le commun des mortels qui vous répond. Etre constamment la cible de leurs attaques, doit être usant. JE VOUS APPORTE SOUTIEN ET CONFORT.

  14. Well that needed to be said. Sadly I suspect those who need to hear it most will be too full of self righteousness to truly listen.

    • Now I have a link I can tweet at them. I don’t think it will stop but I feel like my attitude toward it is changing.

  15. Although I’m late to the party, I still would like to add my support. Please keep at it, (for a first time) this has been really enjoyable experience so far, and I like your analytical approach.

  16. Oh no, have they been preaching to you again? Ugh!! I’m so sorry you have to deal with this shit constantly!

    As for casual and more involved fan, I think even that is open for interpretation. I was a very involved fan for 8 years before I started to actually blog and comment two years ago. I was very involved but just didn’t dare put myself out there in the fandom. I read your blog and other blogs faithfully for several years before I ever even dared comment, I read fanfiction, watched RA videos constantly, read every scrap of news I could lay my hands on, dug up RA pics, tried to see all I could see of Richard’s work, lurked on fan forums (mostly C19, where I’ve been a member since April 2006 and where I occasionally dared comment under a pseudonym). I was not casual, I was VERY involved but just privately so… Actually, come to think of it, I may be LESS involved now that I blog, as my RA news consumption has been limited to less sources. I hardly read fan fic anymore, I don’t watch many videos anymore, I hardly ever go to C19 anymore, I just check out RA Net, blog and read more other blogs and comment more now and sometimes check out a bit of Twitter when I have some time to spare. When I went to The Crucible in the summer of 2014, I remember wondering whether someone in the audience would be Servetus or Guytly or Ali or some other names I knew from the fandom.

    So, I guess what I’m saying here is that I totally agree that everyone has their own path in RA fandom and no one should be chastized for it! Also, everyone has their own intensity of involvement, whether it is privately or more publicly. You like to analyze things and blog about it, others like to GIF, make videos, or fanart, or shrines, or tweet, or write fan fic, or just lurk, whatever and all of it is fine and should not be judged by others! No one can judge for someone else how involved they are or whether they are ‘too involved’! And if you don’t like how someone else is a fan? Well, then just leave it alone and move on! Why this absolute need to ‘convert’ the other? I guess it is human nature (looking at politics or religion, so many try to convert others almost militantly!) but I wish human nature would learn to adapt a little! I know RA fan places on the internet that I don’t really like. I sometimes lurk, out of morbid curiosity, then am reminded why I don’t like them and move on. Why this need to start a war over how to be a fan? It’s just not worth the aggravation, I wish people could learn to accept that it’s a different way and just as valid as their own way.

    You are very visible in the fandom, you express strong feelings and opinions and I find you very brave that way. Please don’t stop doing that! I think many many people, even if they might not agree with your views, appreciate the critical throught you bring. I know I do!

    • I definitely get what you’re saying (and there have been another one or two people who have been intense fans for a long time but just recently decided to get more involved in social media) — social media alone are not an index of intense fandom.

      I think this whole question of “how do you react to disappointment as a fan” has been looming over us for a while — just in that Armitage was always much more “mysterious” when he only “spoke” once or twice a year. It’s much easier for him to disappoint now and a fan to be disappointed. There’s this tendency to point fingers at fans who feel disappointed and say “well, it’s you’re own fault, you were too intense, believing, naive, gullible, etc.” I would be the first one to agree that I am responsible for my own feelings about anything. But I don’t totally get when fans are unsympathetic to other fans. It’s a side effect of the way that Fremdschämen seems to permeate fandom. It’s like the fact that someone else is disappointed and says so is proof that they were doing it wrong and that one, oneself, who is not xperiencing the disappointment, is doing it right.

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