Those are pearls that were his eyes: me + Richard Armitage sea-change?

This is kind of a weird blogiversary post, but as of a little over three weeks ago (February 26th actually), it’s been seven years!

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I put these numbers from February 26, 2010, here not to attribute any meaning to them except this: that a significant and ever-changing and developing community of fellow fans of Richard Armitage have found it worth their while to read and engage with this blog and me since the dark days of February, 2010, when I started writing it, more or less out of desperation.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed, in whatever way you have done that. You have definitely changed my life. Particular thanks to Guylty, who blogged here for some time before building her own wordpress house, and, naturally: to Richard Armitage!

***

I’ve been writing this post for a long time. Part of why I’ve been struggling is that lately I have less energy for introspection. But also: while things changed so fast last fall, I always remained undecided about how to respond to them. To some extent, this post is continued from here — a year ago now — and I’m actually less convinced about how to proceed than I felt I was then. Between then and now were another installation of CyberSmile, all the Brexit tweets from Armitage, then the election, then last Christmas.

And now the present. Lately, I’m always angry and frightened. These are not creative emotions. At night, I want to protect myself — not open myself up enough to get inspired. Or (as on many nights) I get involved in a conversation with no possible resolution, just sort of out of principle, but without the capacity of changing anyone’s mind. I honestly don’t know how to make myself the necessary level of deaf to the things that the people around me are saying some days. It’s all taking its toll on my thoughts and aspirations.

***

This is probably where this post should have started.

Richard Armitage, 2006. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

Richard Armitage, 2006. Picture that illustrated the article cited below. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

This quotation comes from a ten-year-old newspaper magazine article that was part of the publicity for The Impressionists and Robin Hood.

Armitage admits to doubts about becoming an actor. “I regret it a lot,” he says, furrowing his brow. “And I don’t know why, because when it’s good, it’s great. But it can take its toll on your emotions. You can spend a bit of yourself when you give yourself to a character. At the end of a job, you have to remind yourself who and what you are.”

Richard Armitage, Sunday Times Culture Magazine, April 30, 2006, cover story.

***

It’s interesting how often Richard Armitage has referred to his one of his characters being “a better man” than he is. Most recently it was Daniel Miller, but I believe he said that about either Lucas North or John Porter as well. Whenever he does this, people rush in to reassure him that he is fine the way he is, but somehow I don’t think he’s saying that he is personally suffering from terrible self-esteem. I think he’s saying that the characters he plays have a more coherent, perhaps a more principled, or less fickle, self than he has.

***

michaud-the-subversive-brilliance-of-a-little-life-320I’ve been reading a lot of analog books this year, the kind you travel to the library to get — “normal reading” is a chief pleasure of my new existence. I don’t recommend the book from which this quotation comes, although I read it all the way to the bitter end, but the quote is interesting. These are excerpts from the reflections of Willem, an actor on his way to fame, who is considering the effect of his friendship with another character on his self-perception.

His work, his very life, was one of disguises and charades. Everything about him and his context was constantly changing: his hair, his body, where he would sleep that night. He often felt he was made of something liquid, something that was being continually poured from bright-colored bottle to bright-colored bottle, with a little being lost or left behind with each transfer.  […]

In graduate school he’d had a teacher who had told him that the best actors are the most boring people. A strong sense of self was detrimental, because an actor had to let the self disappear; he had to let himself be subsumed by a character. […]

He had understood the wisdom of this, and still did, but really, the self was what they all craved, because the more you acted, the further and further you drifted from who you thought you were, and the harder and harder it was to find your way back.

Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life (New York: Doubleday, 2015), pp. 436-437.

***

Richard Armitage is always saying he’s boring, it’s true.

***

A picture of Richard Armitage looking boring; ComicCon 2012 autograph signing stand.

A picture of Richard Armitage looking boring, or at least bored; ComicCon 2012 autograph signing stand. The kind of guy I think you don’t normally notice.

***

So –in all that turmoil of becoming a fan, seven years ago — what was I looking for?

***

Given the anniversary, I’ve been thinking a lot again about my crush on Richard Armitage, how it descended, over seven years ago now, the reasons for it that revealed themselves, the effects, the significance of the things I appreciate about him. The reasons for it lay in a deep career crisis that was about to get worse. The effects were total immobilization and a gradual reawakening of my perceptive capacities and an increased willingness to feel. His beauty was there to catch my attention and the story of Mr. Thornton was there to address my vocational issues. Over the years, Armitage took roles, often archetypal ones, that addressed fundamental problems or questions of mine, over and over, in ways that made me wonder what pattern I was caught up in, watching him. And these choices persist into the present, even if I have been resistant to some of them (Francis Dolarhyde, whom I want to write about but don’t know if I’ll be able to watch again) or struggled to write about them (Kenneth; this is still on the table as a possibility) or maybe just been busy keeping up with the stream of news. I hadn’t started off intending to provide an instant or comprehensive Richard Armitage news service, and I still don’t. Still, I enjoy participating in the thrill as much as anyone and I always end up sliding in that direction. It’s so easy to get immersed in the journey itself and not think structurally about it until it’s too late.

One of my favorite Richard Armitage pictures of 2016, from the Berlin Station premiere publicity.

One of my favorite Richard Armitage pictures of 2016, from the Berlin Station premiere publicity.

Not that I had no fears about my allegiance, or that there haven’t been hiccoughs along the way, the CyberSmile thing being the most apparent and most serious. But there were others: the need to adjust to Armitage as tweep, the regular rounds of tweet/delete, and the (in my opinion deleterious) effects his illusory presence on Twitter has had on the fandom as a whole, both increased policing and the way his presence on Twitter inevitably makes everything in the fandom about him. Try as I might, despite moments of frustration and alienation from my fan identity, I don’t think that that identity and a fandom identity can help but be intertwined (even if it’s not always a positive entanglement). In short: I don’t believe the fans who tell me they’re not part of the fandom even as they tweet, post, and comment away energetically.

Thinking over the whole history of Armitage’s tweeting, particularly his political tweets, there were always dangers. I wanted a more exact picture of him — about this, see below — and the Twitter contribution to his image for me could be positive, as during Brexit, or negative, as after the U.S. election. I don’t question his right to tweet his political opinions; indeed, I am often pleased, as I know how difficult it can be to speak, and they have sometimes left me feeling very akin to him. On a basic level, he has as much right as anyone else, and he’s always the most powerful tweeter in our particular context, so I have never felt any need to defend him in that regard. But insofar as my crush is based on some level of identification with him and the needs I’ve developed out of it, his tweets can also be problematic for me when they disrupt that identification. As I’ve been detailing intermittently for the last two years, he’s my tulpa, and I probably wouldn’t build a feature into my tulpa that involved political insensitivity. Disagreement, yes, but tactlessness? Or wishy-washiness? Probably not. And yes, I agree it was hard to attribute intention when he only had 140 characters, but in 2016, he got FB. I thought that would make things easier for him, but it apparently did not. There was a certain potential ambiguity to tweets (or at least a possibility that one had to concede — he would have said something more reasonable had he had the space), but FB erased that possibility, as he had the opportunity to say exactly what he wanted at whatever length. In fact, his Christmas message 2016 was one of the most poorly written, disjointed texts he’s ever produced for fans (even apart from whether one agreed with what he had to say or not). His decision to publish it in the middle of the U.S. broadcast of Berlin Station felt like a slap in the face to those of us who were contorting themselves to watch the show — in general, his departure from public view after the closing of Love, Love, Love felt abrupt and ungenerous, although I haven’t missed him. And the fact that the message was now in his custody as opposed to that of the fans, given the 2016 tweet/delete game, meant that it stood at greater risk of disappearing entirely, although admittedly the fact of Twitter also really transformed the fandom’s attitude toward the Christmas letter. Before Twitter it was special — a highlight of the year — while since Twitter it is just one of many communications and not special at all.

***

Richard Armitage photo shoot for Fault magazine (2012), and how Armitage wanted to be seen, apparently, in December 2016, based on his Twitter banner.

Richard Armitage photo shoot for Fault magazine (2012), and how Armitage wanted to be seen, apparently, in December 2016, based on his Twitter banner. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

***

I was looking for the openness that led to inspiration, and in getting interested in Richard Armitage the person, I was looking to understand how he — who opened me up so much — produced the thing that energizes his work.

***

The version of the tulpa that I fell in love with: because he was me.

***

It occurred to me recently that I got a whole doctorate in modern European history in seven years — including an M.A. thesis and a Ph.D. dissertation plus some rather taxing comprehensive exams and several years of primary source research in Germany.

Is it just that, like many academics, I have a talent for making easy things hard? It wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve heard that, if it were true. Or a case of the sunk cost fallacy at work? That’s also been an actual problem of mine, historically, part of why I’m experiencing difficulty with committing myself at the moment. Then again, I seem to have little difficulty committing myself as an Armitage fan.

Or I could listen to all the stupid theories in the press about why women develop celebrity crushes, some of which even get repeated by fans themselves when they’re angry at other fans. So much self-hate in fandom, and then subgroups of fans making other subgroups of fans into enemies for purposes I have never really understood but must have to do with identity formation. But I know a lot of fans and have talked in depth with a lot of fans and most of the going explanations I’ve heard don’t really apply to the fans I know. And frankly, while there may be some broad patterns, every fan’s story is different, and interesting on its own terms.

***

Something that I hadn’t anticipated, that’s become a central part of the fan experience for me: the looking-at of pictures.

Richard Armitage, photographed by David Venni, late 2009. The first picture of Richard Armitage I wanted to blog: the man on the make. Guylty talked about it, too.

When all of this started, my then-colleague Dear Friend asked me if there were studies of female fans of Elvis or the Beatles, and I didn’t know, and she suggested there was some relationship between fandom and the sort of veneration of the saints that elite women conducted in the middle ages. I didn’t want to agree with her, but I think that after many years of this, my resistance has worn down.

Another early favorite picture of Richard Armitage: May 2010.

It’s true — when new pictures appear, I still experience something of a moodstorm. When I’m upset or unhappy, flipping through folders of Armitage’s pictures can calm me right down. I’ve even recommended Armitage picture veneration as a remedy against the February blues.

I don’t think this is going away. It still works.

***

I think I’d decided, at some point after that long summer of 2015, as Hannibal was airing and I’d decided to leave my job, that I still was impressed by Richard Armitage’s work as an actor, but not much by Richard Armitage. It was well beyond the problem I’d feared most over the years: it was that inside this very sensitive actor lived a moralistic, often thoughtless jerk. We’d seen glimpses of it, before, the guy who was convinced most actors didn’t work as hard as he did, and so on.

Although, yeah, there was that whole stupid vegan debacle.

And then in 2016, it was a seesawing sort of feeling — tweet / delete was a problem, particularly around the Wall and Orlando, but I felt curiously akin to him again over the refugee situation (although as usual I felt like some of his fans were more interested in the problem than he really was) and Brexit. And there were all the Berlin Station leaks to get excited about — and then the prospect of a play!

***

And this picture from July 2016 which also still makes my heart skip a few beats.

***

And I had loved The Crucible so much. Seeing it was transformative. I felt like I’d do anything to see that play. And even though I was excited by the script, I figured even if I didn’t like it, it would be worth it, as I’m on record as not liking The Crucible.

***

My first glimpse, London 2014.

I know that isn’t possible to know the truth about a person by reading the entertainment press. Still, I do not believe that everything about the entertainment press is a lie, either. The trick lies in discerning the useful information. I started to try to do this with Armitage a while back, and I’d still like to continue.

Because the transformative part of the fandom was really the way he called forth my gaze and my creativity and my desire to write. I wanted to know how he did that. How the person he is does that.

***

And Love, Love, Love really was all that. It recharged everything in me that wants to write.

And then the day after I got home, the election results.

Richard Armitage as Kenneth in Act II of Love, Love, Love. Screencap.

And Armitage’s comments on that.

I was just at sea for so long. I really wanted to quit. I was just so pissed off at the election, and at him. My long fragile tulpa felt unrevivable.

I started writing the documentation of that visit (out of the rationale that I needed to do at least that) and I got to the place that I remembered how much I had enjoyed the play and seeing him in person.

And I had December tickets.

But the fan feeling — I didn’t feel the fan feeling.

***

Daniel’s alive, looking out from his hospital room at a Berlin street scene.

So when I went back to NYC in December — and I apologize for not writing that post yet, though I will — there was a bit of a “I’m saying goodbye” thought in the back of my mind. I wasn’t ready to give up completely. I wanted the proof that I was free of the fan feeling and the blog was done.

But that isn’t what happened.

I saw the performances and I was electrified — again.

And then — back to the hotel room to watch the last Berlin Station episode on my computer, and Armitage can’t even wait until it’s done broadcasting in the US to say goodbye in a way that’s both preachy and bitter.

My reaction to that: I still want the electrified feeling. I never want to lose that again.

***

This is the law of charge conservation. Richard Armitage as John Porter in Strike Back 1.3. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

***

I apologize that the end of this is so rushed, but I feel like if I don’t publish this now, maybe I never will.

So I think this is where I am now:

I still, after all those years, have the electrified feeling.

I love the electrified feeling.

It makes me want to create. More importantly, it makes me believe I can. The tulpa that I’ve built lets me believe in myself enough to get to the end of a text despite all of my self-doubts, which are many.

In essence, although Richard Armitage is integral to that experience, the experience is more important than Armitage himself.

And I need him to do it for me. So it’s not that he’s boring — but I think that the evidence I’ve seen suggests that he’s a less than coherent human. And what I’ve read about acting this year suggests that maybe that’s a problem in general for actors. I don’t know.

So if this makes any sense: I’ve decided that I’m going to not to let Richard Armitage, as fickle a self as he seems to have, ruin my enjoyment of Richard Armitage.

So the direction to go now needs to be the concrete exploration of where this electrified feeling comes from. Rather than trying to figure out who is creating it and how he does it, for now, since everything about the tulpa is working other than my understanding of Richard Armitage as a person, I’m going to try to focus on understanding how the effect appears and works.

***

If you made it all the way to the end of this: thanks for every minute you have spent reading this post and the blog in general. I’m grateful you’re around!

~ by Servetus on March 21, 2017.

46 Responses to “Those are pearls that were his eyes: me + Richard Armitage sea-change?”

  1. Just finished your post. While I don’t agree with all you’ve said, I certainly can understand your thoughts and conclusions. It’s never easy to open and share one’s thoughts and beliefs, especially today when the social media leaves one open to disagreement, sadly not in a respectful way. Thanks so much for opening up and taking the time and effort to talk about your journey to get to this point. Your posts as well as the time and thought you put into them are appreciated. I’m looking forward to further posts.

    • Thanks for the comment and welcome!

      • Thanks Serv as I have said before I have followed his career since 2004 possibly not as a fan all of the time. I don’t agree a lot with him but respect his right say it. The bitterness that has been creeping into his comments I do not like at all. We hear he is tired, jet lagged etc one could go on. This last round of interviews I thought that he looked exhausted but more to the point p…,,.off. Oh to see the laughing RA again and it is always a joy to see new pictures. I have no idea what, but something is out of kilter in his life. Maybe he does need to get back to his roots ASAP. Thanks once again for the effort that you put into your blog and I have learned so much from it. I hope that we may meet in London maybe next year.

        • yeah, I can’t really say anything about his personal life and choices; I think the evidence is poor and I’m not convinced by the argument about it I hear. I just hope if there is something it’s not parents’ ill health or something in that category. And yeah — I liked the smiles.

  2. Very thought-provoking, Servetus. No time right now to respond in suitable depth, but your conclusion to enjoy RA without letting his real life character interfere with that enjoyment, is probably the way I have always approached my addiction, partly because I’m too impatient to try to analyse the minutiae of his tweets and messages. I tend to believe he’s exactly what he says he is – a normal, not terribly exciting man who happens to be able to captivate us on screen (and stage). I don’t actually need him to be anything else. And like you, my breath still catches at certain photographs, and I don’t think I will ever tire of watching certain performances. (Daniel Miller is not one of them!)

    • I think the issue for me was always, “what is the there that allows him to work and create?” That was very much the question I wanted answered. It’s not that I thought he was or wasn’t boring, per se, or that I was looking for some special “person behind the mask” or even creating that person, so much as I thought there was a center there. I tend to think his best interviews occur when he’s talking about how he thinks about or does something. But of course, one can’t argue that what he says or does doesn’t reflect him somehow.

  3. My heart initially was sinking as I was launching into your post this morning. I was worried where you were going with it, and what the implications were for me. Cos yeah, I find that the fandom choices of my blogging friends always have some sort of repercussion for myself. But never mind that, that’s not the point here. Just to say that personally, I was relieved and happy about the conclusion you reached in the end. And I like how you have whittled it down to making the ‘experience’ more important than the ‘man’ – I think that that gives you much more scope for reaction and development, puts the onus back on yourself, takes back some of the “power” from him. To me, that feels essential, as there is no right and wrong in the activity of being a fan, only a ‘can I benefit from this and if so – how’.
    I think this post is really important because you are leaving a lot of food for thought here. About actively making a “ship” work for oneself, of defining what one wants from it, of identifying the actual highs and lows (in terms of tulpa, fandom, actor and actual human) in order to refocus one’s own approach. It is a fluid and ever-changing process, I guess, and unpredictable as such, as it is influenced by so many variables that we are not responsible for ourselves – the current political situation one of them.
    Despite – or maybe because? – of his retreat from SM, RA is still providing the tools for “electrification” – his work, his pics, mainly. I’d also like to add, that some of his fans – you, for instance – have an ‘electrifying’ effect on me, too, in that you continue to provoke and question and motivate thought processes. I am glad if that continues! (And thank you for your kind mention of me in your post – without being sentimental, but I think those were very good times back then, both for our blogging, as well as for the fandom.)

    • I feel like I’d been on the cusp for so long, and I realize the title was kind of ominous, but The Tempest is my favorite Shakespeare play and that’s kind of what happened. There was a shipwreck, the object was lost where I couldn’t get at him, and now he’s changed into something else (for me).

      And in some ways, I don’t know that I’m completely over the problem. I just know where I want to get (and no, it’s not marrying Miranda!) and I know what parts of the problem I no longer want to be mired in. As tied up in knots as I often I am that will no doubt return.

      I completely agree with the concept that a lively Armitageworld is good for all of its parts. Fandom is more fun with more of the like-minded to talk with. I feel like we would all be more creative if there were less information, though.

      • I couldn’t agree with you more. I am enjoying the silence very much although it still feels strange. And the lack of self-interpretation on his part has certainly given more room for thoughts of our own, I think.
        The Tempest is a great metaphor for how you are perceiving your fangirling journey. I think, I reached that point in London, for some reason. Something switched back then. I have felt more distanced since then.

        • what’s happened lately is that the silence has caused increasing clamor, which I hope will die down. I suppose he can’t just delete the account.

          The Tempest is a great play — I’ve always hoped Armitage could play Prospero. Although I suppose it’s not put on all that often.

          re: London — I had my own “issues” there as you probably remember. But I felt more liberated after that experience than I had in a long time.

  4. much of what you’ve said here resonates with me, especially your words about the ‘fan feeling’. I’ve struggled so much with the things that others seem to see as simple, it makes me feel like an anomaly at times! I really liked the quotes about actors, and also when you called Richard a “moralistic, thoughtless jerk”. that made me laugh simply for the fact that I see it now and can admit it, whereas two years ago it would have thrown me headlong into protection mode.
    and ‘happy 7 years!’ may your blogging continue to be what you need it to be 🙂

    • well, if you’re an anomaly, I’m probably a freak — I don’t know that I ever have a “normal” reaction to anything in the fandom except to squee at pictures.

  5. Happy 7th. In my case, I think I have always found the fandom experience ( and his talent) more important and influential to me than the personality, himself. Though, sometimes, as you know, the man can really piss me off. I admit here that his statement at the end of LLL – that he wished his feet were not on U.S. soil, pissed me off more than I let on. And then the irony of his returning from England to work on Oceans 8. I’m glad for you and your readers , myself included, that you’re in for now.

    • Thanks.

      I just really want to know “how” (and maybe “why”). One thing that’s been increasingly clear to me maybe in the last seven months or so is that I end up reading / writing about things I am not that interested in normally because of this blog (like media mergers, for instance, but especially, television and mainstream film and celebrity culture). Much of that is valuable, but there are still big pieces of the fandom experience that leave me cold. Also, there are things that I’m sort of drawn to magnetically that can end up being time sucks that are not where I am ultimately going, and I have to remind myself that time could be short.

      I’m less bothered (generally — there are exceptions) by “this is how I feel statements” than I am by prescriptive ones, but I think part of the problem this last year is that the one got turned into another. “I’m feeling traumatized” in November and at Christmas turned into “you all should _____” in the context of political statements that were offensive to some and then he got huffy when people expressed normal disagreement. I sympathize in general with the problem of having to make one’s piece with a foreign country. I just wish he’d be halfway thoughtful about it.

      • I get that. I’ve spent a lot of time researching and reading how agents work, marketing and distributing films, artist contracts and the like – none of which really interests me, except as it relates to this particular actor. For example, I wondered how come he took the tube home from the Old Vic, but had an SUV waiting for him every night after LLL.

        • I don’t think he did take the Tube home from the Old Vic. No one ever saw him on the Tube, iirc, and he said a few months afterwards that he’d rented a place in the South Bank. He was spotted at least twice breakfasting in the Tate café. I’m pretty sure he walked.

          • I thought you saw him walking once, but that would make a difference – being able to walk home vs. getting on the subway. Also, if I am correct, I think the set up was different, so that he could back inside the Old Vic after the crowds and SD, and then get out a little late, but quietly, whereas in NY, the set up didn’t lend itself to that. We do know that in London, some fans followed him at a distance as he left the theater to go someplace, not home or to his rented flat. I was surprised more of that didn’t happen.

            • Given that people knew where he lives in NYC, too, it would have been easy for them to figure out which train he was taking. And the Laura Pels had cars waiting for other people as well — maybe part of their arrangement there. Whereas nobody in London that I saw got picked up by car / taxi.

  6. Thanks for, once again, an interesting and thought-provoking post. As someone who only started reading your blog regularly around a year ago, I really enjoy the links back to some of your earlier posts that I may not have read… although it meant I stayed up far too late last night!
    The spark for creativity, whether from the actor or the bloggers, is such an interesting phenomenon… Look at me, for example, in my fifties writing verse and prose for the first time since school, and even blogging! While I’ve always wanted to write, where did the impetus come from to actually start to do it?
    I look forward to continuing to read what you share on your blog.

    • I’m glad when the “back issues” are useful to anyone. I was thinking last night that the whole project is unwieldy; there is so much stuff I might have linked, but then this post is supposed to be uptodate, so I finally feel relieved that I’ve put down something summative about the last fifteen months or so.

      I think I’ve always wanted to write but so many obstacles were put in the way. Armitage / Armitagemania knocked so much of that down. Still, I feel so far behind!

      • I definitely find it interesting to go to your various back posts, where the links lead me. I always find something I haven’t thought about before, or maybe not in that particular way.
        It’s funny. Before I started blogging, I thought I just didn’t have time. But then my older son said, “well you would if you just stopped watching Love It or List It” which I would do when I felt brain dead after a long day. But now I find that I want to sit at the computer and I feel re-energized after I write something. I’m not sure I’ve found a balance yet, but I’m really enjoying it.

        • I watch “Love it or List it,” too, although I have it on in the background and I have to be careful with HGTV. I feel like when I watch too much HGTV I start feeling like without granite countertops is not worth living. Dad is a good corrective, he’s always hostile about those shows, as he doesn’t subscribe to their underlying assumptions.

          • I always wonder how the people they show in those show seem to feel so entitled to top of the line everything. It’s certainly not how I’ve ever looked at potential houses.

            • I ask that question, too — and I’ve never bought a house. My primary issue would be “can I afford it?” and “does it have enough space?” and “is it in a safe neighborhood?” and “hopefully it doesn’t have too much lawn to mow.” These shows totally reinforce Dad’s entire body of prejudice about young people who can’t wait for anything and don’t think about what things really cost. But he also has an entirely different relationship with TV than someone who’s watched a lot of reality TV.

      • I was just looking for something else on the web and came across your spoof with an overheard conversation with the agent of a certain someone who only wanted to be photographed from the rear. Hilarious!

  7. Happy 7th anniversary! I’d been waiting for this with bated breath. Truth be told, I’m relieved you’re still here. As Guylty said, your blog does impact what happens with other bloggers, including myself. Anyway, three thoughts stuck out for me in your missive.

    One – I’d completely forgotten that RA was on FB, just blotted it out of my mind. And no, it didn’t do him one bit of good as far as communicating with fans go. I’m wondering if his approach to Twitter (communicating because he has to) has extended to writing to the fans in general. His old letters showed a man who wanted to reach out to his fans. Now it feels like more of an obligation. This distance, for want of a better word, seems coincidentally, to match his career climb. Maybe he feels a certain alienation within himself and that’s reflected in his letters? Just throwing something out there.

    Two – While the Christmas letter was depressing, I’ve cut him some slack because it reflected somebody who was as stunned and traumatized? after Brexit and the election as we were. Sad and disjointed was probably the state of his mind. His angry tweet about wishing his feet were not on U.S. soil and wanting to be with friends and family back home also points to my earlier point about hurt and alienation.

    Three – I’m so glad you’ve decided to move away from RA the person to RA the experience but that’s what kept you electrified. RA the man is a flawed human being like all of us who can all too easily disappoint. Now, RA the experience never seems to disappoint, does he?

    Glad you’re back to tackling RA. 🙂

    • I think with the exception that one year, his pre-Twitter communications to fans were much less frequent. So even if they were an obligation, it wasn’t a constant one and it might have been easier to keep things under control. Social media is both more tempting and louder in its effect.

      re: the tweet about feet on US soil, I blogged about that at the time. It didn’t really bother me. I think what bugs me is when honest reactions turn into normative prescriptions. Although some of his honest reactions have also published me.

      In rereading this post this morning I see how badly I just wanted it out there and there are some issues and lack of clarity. My own evaluation of my crush, anyway, has always been that there were things I’ve never believed about him — that he was particularly smart, that he was particular benevolent / charitable, that he was especially moral — and saying these things periodically made me unpopular enough that I think that’s always been on the table. That hasn’t been the delusion I was suffering under. (That he is particularly beautiful is probably a belief we’ve all shared from time to time.) I think the thing I was wrong about was to treat him as a coherent self, to assume that there was a “there” there that was acting as an agent. That has implications for what I do, too, insofar as some aspects of my writing are held up by aspects of my coherent self (my unwillingness to write in ways that would hurt certain people, for instance). Either there is no there, there, or it’s largely undiscernable by the methods I’ve been using, or maybe somewhere in between there. So I don’t think I’ll ever stop being interested in him as a person, but I’ve concluded (a) looking for a self that could be instructive to me as a writer is a stalled project (and maybe always was, if the lack of that core is a characteristic of actors in general) — which doesn’t mean I won’t think about it, but (b) I’m not going to allow myself to dislike him over this kind of thing; this wasn’t ever a love affair and thinking about the dealbreaker in those terms is destructive to my creativity; because (c) there is still something he does to me with his work, particularly when I see it live and (d) that is the thing I have to understand somehow.

  8. And maybe now that I finally wrote this I can get on with other writing. Geez. If I can get a handle on my relationship with politics, lol.

  9. Happy blogiversary!

  10. I had no idea that he’d tweeted something rude about not being on U.S. soil; it would have made me angry if I’d read it when he posted it. Did he delete it? I’d like to see it.

    As for him being a jerk at times, it’s true. Then again, he’s a Leo. There are times I watch his old interviews (like the BBC one where he answered questions from the fans) and it makes me long for his sweet, smiley self. Everything changed for his career after The Hobbit and – unfortunately – it either brought out the worst in him or the international fame changed him., and not in a good way.

    There’s no denying the depths of his acting talent. However, his desire to become a movie star instead of a “jobbing actor” has led to him making choices of roles that most of his fans will never get to see, and that makes me sad. Hopefully Pilgrimage and Sleepwalker will get worldwide distribution or at least come out in DVD. I’m tired of waiting to see more of his work.

    I feel like we’ve all been working at John Thornton’s mill and now it has closed, except there’s no Margaret Hale coming to the rescue!

    Here’s to seven more years of blogging for you, if you so wish it.

  11. Happy Blogiversary,Serv !
    He is not electrifying anymore…but your posts still are 🙂
    (chuckling at the “moralistic jerk” APM is so gone)
    PS: I have a new saint, he’s 104 🙂

  12. This merits a much longer comment than I’m able to offer ATM.
    Thank you for this; you express some thoughts I’ve pondered myself the past 6 months or so. I’ll return to that – Thank you for the past 6½ years – I hope you continue, despite it all, and happy 7th blogiversary.
    In the words of Arnold: “I’ll be back”.

  13. Again very thought provoking. Thank you.

  14. Can’t do my thoughts justice in mu current state, but Servetus…so incredibly grateful you’ve been around for us for 7 years. It has been an ultimate pleasure and privilege😚

  15. For what it’s worth, I’ve always admired and supported what you’re trying to do here. The man himself is just a bonus.

    • Thanks. He is a (pretty) bonus. That said, I didn’t think it was fair, in terms of my own struggle for identity, to sort of put him in that box (you’re pretty, so just focus on that and don’t have adult opinions where I can see them). I’ve taken a lot of criticism over the years for disagreeing with him or supposedly intentionally misunderstanding him, but it seems to me it would either be ridiculously sycophantic to agree with him all the time or condescending to write off what he says. The only gift I can really give anyone is to take them seriously.

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