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