Why I’m not leaving the fandom #richardarmitage

Sometimes I think there should be fandom levels, like there’s beginning algebra, intermediate algebra, advanced algebra, and so on. Not hierarchical levels, not because one of them is more serious or better or sophisticated than the other, but chronologically, because there are things that one just goes through at different stages of being a fan. They are intriguing the first time but the seventieth time they are less so. Different kinds of math are useful for different situations. The problem is that every fan is on his or her own trajectory. There’s no set curriculum, in contrast to math. Each of us is solving the problems s/he is solving at any given point. Some of us are repeating long division.

On the one hand, I tend to agree with two contradictory positions: first, that justifying one’s position is important (and people who actually read this blog know I spend a lot of time exploring and explaining and justifying here); but second, that the repeated demand to justify oneself from someone who’s playing in a different level of fandom is just a distraction. It’s rarely meant as a query in good faith; it’s almost always meant as a way to shut one up. Toni Morrison said something similar about racism. Being the object of racism can’t be usefully compared with being a fan. That dynamic, though: the regular demand that I justify myself coming from people who have spent way less time on this than I have, or who haven’t bothered to read anything I’ve written on the topic, or expect an answer in 140 characters, or claim I said something I never said, or will never agree but have decided that they enjoy the energy rush of an argument with me — that I recognize. That’s fine for them, but those exchanges prevent me from doing the things I really would like to be doing. And there are just some things that don’t make sense, fan-wise, if you’re a casual fan vs. a superfan, or if you’re a new fan vs. having been around the block a few times.

Today, by agreeing with some of my fellow bloggers but by trying (for once) to be in the position of discussion participant and not leader, I ended up in an annoying exchange with someone who’d already condemned me — who seemed surprised when I didn’t just cave and then insisted that what was clearly a rhetorical question was a serious inquiry. She said she’d been reading my blog, but if she had, she would have known the answer to her question.

I think I spend way too much time explaining myself for no apparent reason — most of the demands come from people who don’t really want an answer anyway — so I think I’m just going to put this down here and when I get these queries, I’ll just reply with a link to this post.

Here is my most recent reflection on the nature and status of my fandom re: Richard Armitage.

So why do I stay?

Richard Armitage’s work electrifies me.
Particularly when I have been able to see him in live theater.
Being a fan of Richard Armitage has been transformative in my life.
Looking at my life through the prism of his career and what I have learned about him has lent me valuable insights.
Watching Richard Armitage got me to start writing in the most consistent and disciplined way that I ever have.
I don’t want to let go of these experiences and feelings.
I have made some really good friends.

Why am I sometimes critical of Richard Armitage?

I have a wide variety of reactions to Richard Armitage and I try to document them on the blog.
Often these are positive reactions; often they are not.
I don’t believe that Richard Armitage is more important in the fandom than any fan.

What is being a fan for me?

Every fan has a different way of being a fan; my way expresses my personality.
Every fan has her own conscience and knows best about it.
My opinions are mine only; I don’t claim to be representative of anyone.
I don’t have to agree with everything that Armitage says in order to be his fan.
I don’t have to be silent when I disagree in order to be his fan.
Sometimes I will agree with other fans and sometimes I won’t.
Reasoned disagreement, even regular disagreement, is not bullying.
I am not responsible for Richard Armitage’s feelings. The only person whose feelings I control is myself. The only feelings I control are my own.
I don’t have to be a fan the way anyone else is a fan in order to be a fan.

~ by Servetus on April 6, 2017.

38 Responses to “Why I’m not leaving the fandom #richardarmitage”

  1. I’m bookmarking this post so that I can look to the bottom portion every time I feel like I have to justify my way of being a fan or why I continue to be a RA fan. you’ve summed it up quite nicely!

  2. You do not need to justify your views – blog posts, tweets, etc. – to anyone. People can either appreciate the positions you take or not – as you often say (if I may paraphrase) – having an intelligent debate; disagreeing is fine, but there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. You’ve taught me a thing or two about that. (I still lose it once in awhile not on Armitage fans but on alt right type of people – I am a work in progress). I tend to wonder if this fandom is particularly fierce in his defence on everything or is this a trait of all / most fandoms?

    • alt-right is hard: but I think the thing that they have in common is this apparent belief that they have the right to have their questions answered even if they ask exactly the same question every time for hours and hours. As they say in jury trials: “asked and answered. Move on.”

      I can’t compare fandoms; I don’t have other fandom experiences.

      • On fandoms yep, all the same in that respect 😀 none that i know or know of are conflict free and it tends to be the same good fan/ bad fan themes

    • Thinking about it, too, there’s another similarity to political conversations lately — I’m reminded of the criticism of those of us who didn’t get on the “Bernie Sanders is the savior” wagon. We were often charged with either not understanding the world or not being liberals. To which I usually said nothing, but thought, if you’d had my life experiences you would not see Bernie Sanders as the solution to all your problems. There has always been a split between younger and older fans (over various things) but the concrete issue at the moment seems to be a sort of hero worship on the part of younger fans that older fans just don’t really have and can’t sustain. I was told this morning that fandom means “being supportive and encouraging,” and I thought, well, I buy tickets. I write the blog. He doesn’t need my encouragement. But I’m reminded very much of how young women often interact with their boyfriends without realizing how irritating their boyfriends find it.

    • I think they are fierce . I’ve been blocked by people on twitter who I never even talked 😶 just for critisising him . Mad isn’t it 😶

      • Thanks for the comment and welcome. Please be aware of the comments policy, which asks commentators not to leave personally disparaging comments on the behavior of other fans.

  3. I really like these kind of posts. Never gave it much thought but I’m intrigued by the idea of different stages of fan experience. Makes sense, I can see that. I’m sure you’ve already wrote about it, but I wonder if being a ‘fan’ goes deeper than ‘being interested’? Football club fans come to mind. Again food for thought – Cheers 🙂

    (With respect to leaving something – I just deleted my Twitter account and feel very much relieved. Now I’m not sure about FB yet, but we’ll see. For me social media became somewhat toxic in recent months (all that political stuff). Twitter was the first step. I think I also need to reevaluate my FB use or at least change how I use it / what I read / manage my timeline.)

    • I actually haven’t written about that — mostly because there’s this persistent “good fan” / “bad fan” debate in our fandom that I find punishing and I didn’t want to even risk getting out on that terrain. But it’s clear, for instance, that the person I was having the “discussion” with today is in a very different “place” than I am. (I’m guessing she’s also young enough to be my daughter.)

      And I think there’s a real difference between a casual fan and a superfan and I sometimes think that is part of the problem specifically in our fandom. If you just “like” Richard Armitage and want to talk to a few other fans about him and catch the news — that’s different than what I’m doing here. If you want to write and create art and fanvids, and so on, you’re probably a superfan. I also like him and enjoy talking to other fans and want to catch the news, but the fact that I do all this stuff means that I am somewhere different, implicated in a different way. Not a better or worse way but a different one. Different things are on my mind. I have a different notion of the hierarchy of the fandom, which seems flatter to me than it does to most casual fans.

      The problem comes in in that the “sources” for a lot of the news and gossip and the “hubs” around which a lot of people gather involve superfans. If what you want is cheery, happy, fandom with no obligations, that is not what I am really providing, and when I show signs that that is not what’s going on here, that has a tendency to bother fans who really just want the lesser experience. I have no issue with that — but they often seem to.

      re: social media — it’s a bad moment. You have my sympathies.

  4. I don’t think of myself as a superfan. I reserve that title for bloggers. But I would love to put on the cape and join the gang flying around the RA realm. I love all the adventures and friends to be found there. It’s a wonderful place.

    • I think if you’re willing to put on the cape and fly around you are also a superfan.

    • Kathy, you’ve nailed it! Fly on Super-Kathy, I’m with you 😀
      @Serv: re. maths: in German we use the phrase “Phi x (mal) Daumen” when we’re doing s.th. not very exactly. That decribes my way of being a fan of RA 😁 But I’m always interested in the ART of being a superfan/blogger. Even though, when I’m not agreeing with EVERY word and punctuation mark. Fly on Serv too!

      • “Pi mal Daumen” – da kann ich mich nur anschließen, so mach ich das auch. Ich bin wohl eher so ein “casual fan”, verfolge aber mit liebevollem Interesse und teilweise auch größerem Erstaunen die Vorgänge in dieser kleinen Ecken des Internets. Ihr fliegenden Superfans fasziniert mich. Lasst euch bloß nix einreden, das passt schon.

      • There’s definitely an art.

        And definitely room for approximations. When I think, for example, of pi’s blog … LOL.

    • so long as the attire required is just a cape.. i am not on board with any of that tight knickers over leggings stuff 😉

      • I don’t care for tights. I’m neutral on leggings. Actually, do we have to fly?

        • I’m happy with just a cape 😁 maybe one of the many supercreative talented people out there can come up with a suitable design 😉 would love to see some ideas

  5. That catalogue at the bottom of your post should be made sticky under a “FAQs” section at the top of your page! Not a serious suggestion, of course. But it is a handy reminder/explanation why many of us are active in this fandom.
    Those questions being posed in the course of a heated discussion, are nothing new, of course. Funny how simple questions are always used as the sledgehammer argument – as if disagreement on individual issues means you are not a “proper” fan. Or as if fandom means you have to agree with and promote every single thing the OOA does.
    Did this controversy play out on Twitter, too? I haven’t looked, and I am not even tempted to break my Twitter fast and check it out.

    • There’s always a “doing it wrong.” Back when I started it was “you’re too focused on his body and not enough on his acting.”

      This was all on Twitter as I closed comments on blog as I was trying to write a job application. Which I did finish.

      • Bravo. I can see you do have your priorities right 😁.
        And sigh – there will always be a “doing it wrong”, no matter how long we are in this or where and when we express opinions. Exhausting.

  6. I think if the fandom were just the latest RA news, I personally wouldn’t be as interested. Some days that’s what I want and what I have time for, and other days it’s something different. I enjoy the mental stimulation in all of the various perspectives being expressed. How boring would it be if we all agreed with each other (and with RA) all the time? And that would be pretty unrealistic, given that we are from different countries, with different life experiences. I wish sometimes that more robust conversations were possible, to put opinions in the context of those life experiences, but the medium is limiting. As to the different ways of being a fan… Vive la difference!

    • I think this is one of the consequences of the fandom center of gravity shifting to Twitter. We used to have a lot of lengthy blog conversations about various things (and we could again, I suppose). Context is impossible, and that was part of what was going on yesterday. There were actually fairly sophisticated conversations going on at least one blog, but the fact of Twitter reduced it all to the spectrum of alleged outrage. Twitter means somehow that if one says anything at all that isn’t approval, one is expressing outrage.

  7. I love your “Why I am still here” posts. Yup! Fly your fan flag (or cape, Kathy!🤣) any way you want it!

  8. Ditto! I think that’s a very good summary S of reasons to be a fan and all the ways one can be a fan 🙂 Maybe i would say that because i largely agree with you but either way, reflects my sentiments too. Except i would probably start with ‘I don’t have to be a fan the way anyone else is a fan in order to be a fan’ because there sometimes seems to be a view that there is only one ‘acceptable’ way of being a fan and then one is denied the attachment to the OOA. I just wish people would feel more freedom to be a fan their own special way than being regimented in prescribed behaviours but i guess peer pressure in fandom is ultimately just a reflection of same thing in society,always pressure to conform.
    And in any case i never needed him to be perfect in order to be enthralled by his work and him most of the times. Ok, he’s or rather his behaviour is more imperfect sometimes than i would like but hey ho, so is mine, so arguments and critique are unavoidable.

    • I hadn’t thought about it in terms of peer pressure but that’s very much the dynamic (and also relates to the age of a lot of the people who do the pressuring).

  9. This shouldn’t be an approach, a matter of mathematics but thoses of mechanics and medicine!
    The on early time (prehistorical hours) fan’s should impose on novices, a toolkit and an instruction manual of discovery and survival, in the hostile but mostly friendly jungle of RA’s fandom.
    They should offer as present, to fans with failing memory or volatile mind (me), a magnetic or scratch board, with in background the image of their favorite star. There, they will be able to hang reminder written on post-it, on cloth, on métal, about all their earlier comments, which they must be keeping in memory through time..
    The last gifts would be a camouflage clothing with helmeyt for conflict periods and a great evening outfit for living theater performances or red carpets.

  10. […] I was preoccupied with the topic of repetition fatigue in fandom. In a way this question is a subset of that one, because it was more interesting for me to consider […]

  11. I love your oppinion . Full stop . No more comment .
    But for the record . Why do you worry about what others think ?
    Shut those voices out .
    For me to be a supporter of his work , the way he is working , the talent what he posses , just personal . I am interested to see what others have to say , but I decided that I love his work . In my heart , and in my head . 😊 don’t let then judge you 😊 I love his work , but I am not obsessed . Don’t go into details . I am kinda down to earth like that . Don’t dream or imagine . That’s just my way 😊

    • You appear to be embracing a black / white dichotomy that doesn’t really apply in my life. “Caring” can mean “caring enough to read what people say,” or “caring enough to change my behavior,” for instance. Most people care at least somewhat about what other people think about some things. What those things are may vary. In my case, if people speak to me I might care on one level but not on another. Random people speaking to me would not cause me to change my behavior.

      In this case, there is a pervasive dynamic in this fandom with a sort of passive aggressive discourse. Fan A has a problem with Fan B, but she’d never confront Fan B directly with her concern (for a variety of reasons). So instead, Fan A goes to a place where she knows Fan B can see her, and others will agree with her concern, and articulates all her issues with Fan B there, where everyone will tell her how wonderful she is. (That is part of why I have the comments policy I do, because I don’t really want to support that sort of destructive activity.) So when someone actually confronts me directly with their concerns, in the past I have tried to respond to them because this is the correct, accepted and “healthy” mechanism for disagreeing with someone else.

      Every fan has their own way of being a fan. See above 🙂

  12. The being a Richard Armitage fan testament according to Servetus! I love it! I especially love this one: “I don’t have to be a fan the way anyone else is a fan in order to be a fan.” I always feel like that.

    • I’m hoping I can just link to this next time I have to deal with it. You kind of wonder how many times one has to say it, but I guess we have to come back to essential content every now and then. It’s like a catechism or something 🙂

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