On the persistent fantasy that Richard Armitage is reading this blog

Richard Armitage “tweeting” fans during Hobbit promo tour #1, 2012.

So this one popped again today as well: “What would Richard think if he read what you wrote?” and “I know from a very reliable source that he reads quite a bit of what is written about him.” And so on. To be fair: these are mild versions of a question I’ve been asked a lot, usually in the form of an accusation: “You don’t think Richard Armitage would like your blog, do you?” or even as an assertion: “You know that Richard Armitage thinks you’re disgusting, right?”

Sigh. How many ways are there to express that what Richard Armitage thinks or doesn’t think of me is not a primary concern?

Yesterday 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 that matter seven years ago than it is now. It always kind of astounds me that anyone who has read this blog would think I would write it without having considered that question, or that it is possible that I haven’t been asked this questions dozens of times over the years by now. In fact, I think someone might have asked it of me within a month of my starting to blog. But still, people ask me questions as if I’ve been blogging for seven years without having ever considered how to do it or where my boundaries lie. Honestly: if there’s an ethics question related to blogging, I have possibly spent weeks thinking about it.

Short summary: beginning in 2011, I conceived of my relationship to Armitage via an image given to me by Judiang at a stressful moment of notional proximity discomfort, and which I / we called “the bubble rule.” You can read about that more here. By the time the bubble rule became less tenable as a way of thinking about a framework for what I was doing — specifically, on the day Richard Armitage started tweeting — I had been informed that I had been “reported” to Armitage’s agent twice by groups of disgruntled fans, without any attempt by the agent to contact me, so there was less reason to think that the fact or content of my blogging presented some problem to him. I don’t mean to claim that it’s not a matter of dispute — consider the discussion here, in which superfans disagree on this question. We’ve been through this question several times since then; I think this was my most recent response to how the possibility was affecting me. But at this point, I find the question wearisome, at least in its previous permutations. I don’t think about it much anymore, admittedly; over such a long period of time I have refined my awareness of my project and have grown to trust myself as a blogger.

Richard Armitage reading on his iPad in Wellington, Stone Street studios. Hobbit BTS extras.

But it occurred to me today that there is something of interest here, and that is not the question of whether Armitage reads this blog, but why so many people are (a) convinced he does and (b) worried that he does. And while my attitudes haven’t significant changed post-Armitage-tweeting, this question: what does Armitage perceive of the fan world? is probably heavily impacted by his perceived presence on Twitter.

I’m not sure it should have been, because frankly, there were always rumors, very early on: “Armitage’s messages to the fandom indicate that he’s well informed about what we say,” was a common thing people said to me back in 2010 and 2011. Armitage himself said conflicting things in early interviews, sometimes that he had looked at what fans say, sometimes that he had not but relied on others, sometimes that he had at some time but had quit doing so, and then later that he had been too involved and had had to back off (or here), and that he had decided he had to “leave [us] to it.

So yes: he sent mixed messages. But at the same time, I had additional information. For something like 14 months I wrote a feature on this blog called “Legenda” (it was a successor to another column called “Obsession Update“) in which I linked pieces of the Armitage fandom that interested me. It started with just other blogs, and expanded to consider fanart and tumblr and fanfic and interesting tweets and news and whatever I found that hadn’t merited comment in its own post — a sort of fandom aggregation. By the time I stopped doing it at the end of 2013, it was starting to take up considerable time, on the order of ten to fifteen hours a week, to try to view everything concerning Richard Armitage only in English, let alone the other languages I can read. There were also materials in languages I can’t read and places I never went. In short, I never believed Richard Armitage could afford timewise to keep track of what people said about him because I’m a data jockey and a very fast reader, and I barely could. Maybe he looked occasionally, maybe he had a friend who read it or paid a publicist’s assistant to read it, but it was never been plausible to me, given his own statements about how reading it had bothered him and the sheer amount of stuff, that he spent much time on this activity.

Richard Armitage checks his phone, summer 2015.

But people insisted. Before 2012 (The Hobbit), Judiang diagnosed this insistence (which reappeared in the contest of the “Armitage will be harmed by what fans say about him” question) as an effect of the hangover from the early days of the fandom when there were few fans, and they all felt incredibly close to Armitage and cared for by him, something that had changed over time and was no longer accurate even by that point (now five years ago). At that point, the concern was people writing fantasies or RPF about him; it’s fun to read those comments and realize that that concern, at least, has turned into a non-issue. No one cares anymore which fantasies get written about Armitage — there is RPF and slash RPF and “imagines” (reader self-insert) and all kinds of stuff. We are more open in that sense. So there is progress.

Has anything changed about Armitage’s reading habits? He’s on Twitter, so at least notionally more present, and stated at some point (I’m not finding the reference, but I’m paraphrasing) that he didn’t want to join social media with fans if he weren’t going to read what was said. So he is reading? I can’t exclude it — but for all the reasons that he stated before 2012, which are still applicable, I doubt his reading habits since then have changed significantly, with one exception: it seems clear that he reads some comments tweeted at him or left on his FB or instagram pages. I won’t say I never tweet at him, or leave a comment, but I do so with extreme rarity. So in any case, I never used to put my blog directly in his path, and I still don’t. It’s where it’s always been, with the same distribution patterns it’s always had: one link per post on Twitter, tumblr and FB. (Twitter urges one to repeat one’s content, but I’ve never done that.) I’m broadcasting in just the way I always have. If Richard Armitage is coming here, he’s coming because he decides to do so, and really, after seven years, were he reading, I doubt he’d be very surprised at or hurt by anything I said now. Nonetheless, some fans want to attribute “tweet / delete” behaviors and his silence from mid-December till mid-January as evidence that he is unduly harmed by fan comments, but I’d need to see more evidence, particularly in the second case.

But what I started off wanting to talk about (twelve hundred words in, geez, Serv) is not so much whether Armitage is reading now when he wasn’t doing so consistently then (a), but rather (b) why it seems important or reasonable for others to believe that Armitage is reading this blog, such that their fears that he will run across it prompt them to tell me in all seriousness that I should quit writing or stop being a fan.

As the linked discussion at Judiang’s blog above points out, I think there is something really potent (and possibly “special” for this fandom, given its origin story) about the idea that Armitage is in touch with his fandom. There are fans who were really drawn in by his messages, for instance. Even before his tweeting, fans made constant requests for him to get social media accounts and be active on them, such that he responded to them in a fan message. Much of the fandom wants him to be immanent (apologies, I’ve had half a post on that topic for months and it won’t let me write it somehow) and sees his Twitter as the location where his ubiquity will be manifested. Armitage should become flesh and dwell among us, to mangle a religious metaphor. On this view, Twitter isn’t a divergence from a pattern in which sometimes Armitage spoke and sometimes he didn’t, but rather a continuation of a warm imagined past in which fans loved Armitage and Armitage loved fans. That Armitage often maintained long silences in the pre-Twitter years, or spoke in ways that suggested he did not approve of what fans said back then, has no bearing on the development of the idea. So in a way, what happens in the Armitage Twitterverse (whether it’s changed or not from the fan perspective), and perhaps secondarily on FB, is more significant in many people’s minds than what happened elsewhere before. My personal position is that I’ve been tweeting off and on since 2011 and regularly since 2012 and my behavior hasn’t changed, but in the minds of others, what is said on Twitter, even if not said directly to or at him, is much more important than it used to be because Armitage is more likely to see it. This explains the development of Twitter as the premiere place for fan policing to occur now, and it’s easier than it used to be to police because it’s easier to tweet than it is to leave a comment on a blog.

So the next question is: why is the constant presence, the idea that Armitage is reading and knows everything, such an appealing idea? Here I start to extrapolate, because it’s not my preferred idea (I’d prefer a transcendent or at least a remote Armitage and I often suspect he would, too), but I think that this, too, is part of the big lie of Twitter. Armitage has repeatedly demonstrated that he is a notably unskilled tweep, but even if he were wonderfully deft, and tweeted a picture every day of something he saw, or revealed important details, or (gasp) exchanged tweets with fans, he still wouldn’t be immanent. He would only be present in illusion. He still wouldn’t know everything that every fan had written — it’s just not possible — and he still would only be sharing a version of his life that he edited for his followers. But the notion that he’s there would say to a fan: you matter. Given the larger size of the fandom and its greater dispersion among different media, the belief that he processes all this information might stand in for the earlier belief that he was somehow intimate in a kind of boutique way with his fans.

So all along, I’ve been saying to people who object, Richard Armitage is not reading my blog, thinking that was the answer to their concern. Don’t worry, he’s not paying attention to me, was my line. (And I admit historically feeling a lot of frustration with the way that people often assign me the role of Armitage Everyfan. I’m not representative of the fandom and have never claimed to be.) But I see now that that assertion only makes it worse. I’ve been here a long time, I’m prominent, it’s undeniable that a lot of people will at least glance at what I have to say. I’ve done everything I can since 2013 to discourage the idea that I’m engaging in some kind of empire-building (I can see now how people thought I was doing that in 2012 and 2013 and although it wasn’t my intent, I was guilty of not seeing that it was at issue) and have intentionally stayed out of fandom things I used to enjoy doing for that reason. I don’t think this way, but I suppose it’s possible that someone might think, if he doesn’t read that blog, is he reading what I do? And there’s definitely a sense in which a lot of the fan venues are demonstrative, a sort of performative construction of fandom staged on the chance that they reveal something about the fans if seen by the Armitage. Many fans on Twitter and elsewhere see themselves as doing something for Richard Armitage in a way that I haven’t typically seen myself. So I wonder if, given the structural situation and the longevity of this blog, when I say, He’s not paying attention to me, what those who make that charge hear me saying is He’s not paying attention to you / us. If he’s not paying attention to Servetus, who is “harming” him, maybe he’s not paying attention to all the rest of us, out there loving him for all we’re worth.

It would explain the venom, anyway.

I don’t know. I don’t think there’s anything I can say. This blog was not conceived as a letter to Richard Armitage; it was conceived as a way for me to reflect on my fandom and my experiences and a way to communicate with fans who might want to reflect in a similar way on theirs. It was a way to deal with the non-authentic self I was performing in 2010, and it’s allowed me to put together the elements of an authentic self that in turn has influenced how I lead my real life, what I do and say and write. It’s grown and changed as I’ve grown and changed. It attempts to be one thing: as honest as is practically possible. Not to please fans, not to please Richard Armitage, but to fulfill my own goals and reflect my own preferences. The more I am doing that, the happier I am as a blogger. I think there’s something in that about being a middle-aged woman, about the realization that so many of my friends and I are having about the time we’ve spent on other people’s needs. There may be an age conflict here; when I was in my teens and twenties, I didn’t understand a lot about why older women behaved as they did. But in any case, whatever the reason, it’s not going to change.

I don’t have a solution — I can’t influence the content of other people’s fantasies or determine what their emotional needs are. I’m also not going to lie about what I believe to be true here. I don’t think he’s a devoted reader of this blog, and I don’t think what fans say about him either helps or harms him. So maybe what I need to start doing when this comes up is to say, I don’t believe he pays attention to me. I’m sure he’s long ago muted me on Twitter and not reading this blog and living a happy life. But it’s altogether possible or even likely that he is listening to you.

It’s a kind of Unamuno solution.

~ by Servetus on April 7, 2017.

104 Responses to “On the persistent fantasy that Richard Armitage is reading this blog”

  1. I have a relative who was in PR for 30 years. She used to have a morning show in one of the major tv markets before that, and went to LA several times a year to interview celebrities and got to know some of them personally. Eventually, she went on to become a PR consultant. When the dust up happened with IMDb years ago and a fan there complained about Richard Armitage treating the fans poorly, and then Richard Armitage commented on this, I asked her about fan sites and social media, and she said, “Actors read fan sites and Twitter, and Facebook, blah, blah. Maybe a few don’t but most do. Some are obsessed with it. They can’t help it.” She went on, “Think about it. Their living is their image. Why wouldn’t they read fan sites to find out how that image is perceived? They would be crazy not to. The comment section of sites is of particular importance.”

    As a business person, this makes sense to me. I’ve been in businesses where I paid a helluva lot of money for market research to find out how customers perceive something and/or how they would spend their money, and obviously social media has afforded a powerful access to customers’ perceptions and desires that wasn’t available years ago and most of that is free. I just can’t see that Richard Armitage wouldn’t take advantage of that easy access and read fan sites. In my opinion, he would be stupid not to.

    None of this is to say Richard Armitage is slaving over the hot fan blog or reading all the time. But I do think he reads on some sort of regular basis (who knows what that is?) the sites that many fans are reading and/or commenting on. Given the SERP for this site when querying on ‘Richard Armitage,’ I would say he reads it.

    • I think there are several different strands in your comment:
      –what a PR person thinks celebs are doing
      –what value PR people place on publicity and esp fan labor
      –the extent to which celebs are obsessed with their image
      –whether the image of a celebrity is the same as that of a product
      –to what extent social media is representative of consumers’ views
      –whether it’s wise or relevant for Armitage to read fan sites.

      You seem to think these are all equivalent and/or connected. I don’t. For instance, it could be true that celebs are image-obsessed AND that it’s unwise for Armitage to be reading fan sites.

      In any case, I know social media is important to you but I think you overstate the sense in which it’s important to everyone and in every context. If your answer is “the reason fans are worried about it is because it’s true,” I’ve laid out my evidence pretty extensively for why I think that’s not the case — actual evidence based on this particular case, not based on hypotheticals about all celebs or all social media.

      • I just think it makes good business sense for someone providing a product to keep tabs on how consumers are receiving the product. And I certainly believe image is almost inextricably bound up with an actor’s product offering otherwise there would be no money spent to create an image with photo shoots, interviews, event appearances, etc.

        • None of that is for me / us. It’s for people who don’t know him, aren’t aware of him. It’s entirely irrelevant what I think of him or people who will go to see his movies anyway say.

        • I agree with BZirk’ s opinion. Every celeb has to sell a product, namely himself, and he will do everything possible to maintain and sharpen his image. The promo stuff or photo shoots, interviews, tweets, and all the other marketing activities he does helps at first to sell a current movie/tv show but helps also to create an ‘edited ‘self’, as you truly remarked in your post above.
          And I think, this is not only valid for new fans who shall be captured by his personality. Even for legacy fans it must be important that he maintains a certain homoiostasis and continuity. And this goal will only be achieved by permanent, if loosely, observation of the fandom and its reaction on arguable topics. Maybe, his PR agencies does this for him.
          His latest re-tweet (with the N word) wasn’t received very well and I am pretty sure he will not repeat this mistake. Therefore he will analyze fan reactions and comment and will behave like the well-known RA again to keep his old and new fans on board.
          On the other hand, I certainly believe that critical comments and reactions from fans don’t bother him too much in a personal way, since we are not possible employers or colleagues. We are the background and audience for his art, no more, no less.

      • Also, to be clear, I wasn’t speaking so much to what fans are worrying about. I’m just weighing in on the idea that Richard Armitage more than likely reads fan sites and why.

        • which wasn’t really the topic here, but whatever.

          • I could have misunderstood. I thought you were saying it’s a fantasy some have that Richard Armitage reads this site. I was saying why I don’t think it’s a fantasy. I also don’t think he spends the lion’s share of his time reading sites because he probably wouldn’t get much done, blah, blah, blah (we’ve all heard that a thousand times). But I do believe he reads your site. How often and how much? Who knows? But it does happen. I’d bet good money on that.

            As to fans’ fears (and now that my sane self is looking at this purely from a business perspective), they are such a good sign. They mean people at the high end of the bell curve are still very much interested and some of them express that interest by being overly concerned and dare I say, busy bodies. I appreciate how that can be irritating, but think of how utterly dull things would be if there was never a negative reaction to anything. It would seem really weird. Or maybe I’m just jaded. No, scratch that. I am jaded.

            • you’re conflating two things — what Richard Armitage does or does not do, and what fans think about what he does or does not do. There may or may not be overlap between those things. You think there is more overlap than I do. I confused the issue by putting in a lot of evidence in either direction, but what’s at stake for me in this post, because I’m the object of discourse about it, is the fan belief that he does.

              We disagree about the value of negative reactions. There’s disagreement that is productive, leads to discussion, and teaches everyone involved something, and there’s drama, which is what those who say to me “why don’t you quit the fandom” are hoping to provoke.

              • I may certainly be misunderstanding conflate, but I think I was doing the opposite. I took out one portion of what was said and addressed it — Richard Armitage more than likely (as a function of good business) reads sites that many other fans are reading and commenting on and that probably means he reads this one. The second thing I’ve done is address the negative reaction from fans, which is in itself a good thing. Whether he sees it that way, I don’t know, but there is an old saying, which I think is somewhat true — all publicity is good. As to the fantasy about being heard by Richard Armitage, I don’t know what motivates some of these people. I can speculate, as is being done here, but I don’t know for sure. I do think there is quite a spectrum of motivations, and that’s okay. To each his/her own in that regard.

                But as to people trying to smear you or hassle you or anyone else by contacting Richard Armitage’s “people,” I think it’s a wrong response and silly of them, and it says more about them than it does about you. I personally cannot imagine ever doing something like that because in the big scheme of life, there are issues so much more important for me to spend my time on, and that’s not a criticism of you at all. Frankly, I agree with others that you’ve said some really good and very interesting things here. I’ve said as much in the past on numerous occasions even if I haven’t agreed with you on one or two occasions. But hey, who ever agrees with everything that someone else says?

                I realize you have no need for my encouragement or admonishment. I’m saying all of this so it’s clear as a bell where I’m coming from — that I am not against you but not in lock step with you either. (I’m not in lockstep with anyone).

                As to reporting someone for something, again, rhetoric on a blog that is not threatening to kill someone or do other illegal damage, is not enough for me to take offense and contact someone about it. The idea is laughable. As far as I’m concerned, it better be something very important for me to complain to the “authorities,” like let’s say an airstrike in Syria. ;p

  2. Is there a possibility that RA or his people read your blog? Sure. It’s the first thing that pops up on Google. Do I think he reads it regularly with bated breath? No I don’t. After he got burned years ago and took a step back, it’s not likely that he even has the time to pore over blogs, much less the inclination. The man is busy leading his life.

    That’s the point I made in my post five years ago. But newer fans keep coming in and turning over that wheel and the cycle repeats itself. What fans fear involves RA being over-involved with fandom, which he is not. Not anymore if he was in the beginning, or so I’ve heard. I think you have a point about the reason behind the venom. Some of that malice was directed at me for daring to suggest that RA doesn’t pay attention to fandom like it does to him. It appears to be another piece in the fan identify issue.

    • Huh. I wouldn’t have said it’s fan fear he’s over involved, but rather fan fear that he isn’t paying attention. If he’s over involved, they wouldn’t want him to pay attention to them, but Twitter is one solid clamor for him to pay attention to the tweeps.

  3. “….Not to please fans, not to please Richard Armitage, but to fullfill my own goals and reflect my own preferences….”
    Ich denke, es ist dieser gedankliche Spagat, den man hier machen muss, um deinem Blog zu folgen: einerseits das akribische Faktensammlen und Dokumentieren und andererseits (das zusätzliche) Verarbeiten all dessen PLUS deiner Gedanken/Vorstellungen/FANtasien in jedweder schriftlichen Art. Wer an dieser Stelle nicht so beweglich ist (spagataffin), der fällt sicher schneller in das Muster dieser Befindlichkeiten (ob ihm das nicht wehtut?) zurück. Möchte da keinem zu nahe treten, aber ich glaube, Menschen sind nunmal so gestrickt. Das ist ermüdend, aber offensichtlich eine unausrottbare Nebenwirkung deiner Blogarbeit.
    Ja, ich glaube auch, dass er schon Notiz von dir genommen hat. Bleibt ja nicht aus, bei der relativen Überschaubarkeit des Fandoms. Aber hey, er ist doch Künstler: wäre es nicht möglich, dass er den kreativen Ansatz hier durchaus verstanden hat und deine Arbeit im entsprechenden Kontext einordnet? Wir (oder besser: die Befürchterinnen) sollte ihm das doch vielleicht zutrauen. 😀

    • I didn’t know about the possibility of creating the compound word “Spagataffin” but it’s definitely relevant.

      My hope is that he realized long before I became a fan that fans’ persoal notions and pictures of him don’t have much to do with the “real” Richard Armitage. This was something I learned when I started teaching — but it can be hard to keep one’s awareness of that dichotomy present.

      • Hoffentlich kann er das als Künstler einordnen. Mittlerweile sollte er so viel Selbstvertrauen haben, dass er mit vielfältigen, womöglich auch widersprüchlichen oder provokanten Gedankengängen bezüglich seiner Person umgehen kann. Es wäre ihm sehr zu wünschen.
        Gerade darin besteht doch das Vergnügen. Wenn ich deine Texte lese, Servetus, dann bin ich auf alles – na ja, vieles 🙂 – gefasst. Die so oft von mir erwähnte Horizonterweiterung lässt mich immer wieder bei dir reinschauen und mitdenken. Nicht selten bin ich verwirrt, manchmal überfordert, aber es kommt mir nicht in den Sinn, dass du mit deinen Äußerungen Herrn A tiefgreifend verstören oder von irgendetwas abschrecken könntest.
        Ein bisschen “Spagataffinität” schadet natürlich nicht. Was für eine Wortschöpfung. Mal sehen, wann ich die in meinem RL mal anwenden kann.

        • Spagataffinität — great word 🙂

          This is what I think, too. After you read the Guardian tv critic call your performance in Spooks 8 “wooden”, you develop a little toughness and you figure out how to protect what you need to have to do your work. I can imagine it’s been a process, because it has been in my case as well. But does the fact that Armitage might like not to read that the Guardian tv critic didn’t like his performance means that she shouldn’t express an opinion?

          here we are back to the codependency problem. I imagine how Richard Armitage the person feels and feel it with him. Maybe we’re particularly susceptible to that in the case of actors, because it’s their job to create that kind of empathy effect with their characters.

  4. First up – I don’t think RA has time to read this blog (or any other) regularly although I agree he must be aware of it and might dip in occasionally. I’m also 99.9% certain he won’t get as far as reading the comments so I’m definitely off the hook! 😉 However, in my Tulpa he is an emotionally mature and resilient man who isn’t about to throw a tantrum because a group of fans occasionally take a critical view of some of his activities. It’s been said many times but someone who has survived show business for 25+ years will have had to face much tougher criticism than I have ever seen here.

    I do struggle to understand some of the venom directed at this and other blogs although it always more about the aggressor than the reciever in my view. My rule of thumb ( repeated often to my children) is that I would only write online what I would say face to face and I’d like to think if I was standing next to RA in a coffee shop ( my fantasy meeting place) I’d tell him that yesterday’s retweet was not his finest hour. And in my head he would agree.

    • yes, I agree it’s about the person who makes the assumption (hence the term “fantasy” in the title — it’s a belief that the fan has, which is always about the fan).

      The only person I don’t raise language issues like this with is my father, mostly because I tried twenty years ago and it was hopeless even then. I think it’s important to realize what struggles can be won (telling a child not to use a slur is useful) and which cannot (telling an old man not to use one, after attempting it, is probably pointless). My dad has, however, picked up on the fact that I don’t like misogynistic jokes and now he has stopped telling them to me.

  5. Hi Lady . I must say I agree . I also must say I enjoy the bloggers 😁 I do a bit of blogging but for my own personal enjoyement , but not for R. I tweeted him yesterday , but I know he does not reading them , so its like I only write to the fans 😂😂😂

  6. Wow. That’s really fascinating. It didn’t occur to me that people were actually hoping that RA is reading them. Although I have in fact seen that when I take a peek at Twitter and I’ve seen the disappointment expressed when RA doesn’t seem to know them personally. Huh.

    I think that those people consistently writing in the fandom generally don’t do so maliciously, so in that sense any opinions expressed are coming from a place of some admiration. And that I think could only be perceived as a good thing, from an actor’s or publicist’s point of view.

    • yeah, that’s a subset of this question, too (I thought, hmm, maybe there should be a paragraph about that but it would have required hypothesizing on a level that made me emotionally and intellectually uncomfortable): if someone with a picture of themselves as an avatar tweets at Armitage all the time, will he / should he recognize them at a stage door, or even in a Twitter conversation? On the whole, I tend to think that to the extent that he is aware of what fans say, they are largely a blur. You and I perceive particular fans as individual entities because we talk to each other all the time, but to someone in his position, assuming something like reading the fan stuff, it would have to be something along the lines of a book like War and Peace where there are hundreds of characters and they have nicknames and aliases that are not immediately obvious to the non-Russian reader. But I suppose that’s a subset of the issue of “is he reading us” — “is he reading me, i.e., does he realize I am a person different from that person there?” Anxiety about the higher probability that fans are a somewhat undifferentiated mass is also related to the “blogger as Everyfan” issue. Will he think that what she says is what I think, if he can’t separate me from the dozens of other fans?

      re: consistent writers — I agree. Even the blogs that have been more critical than euphoric (pi is the blogger I am thinking of) wrote from a place of extreme admiration.

      • Our tweets crossed on this subject lol, looks like we’re​ in basic agreement. ☺

      • That’s a really good analogy … hundreds of characters like War and Peace. What if we now add all the people who use RA’s face as their avatar? What would he see? Just a blur of people with his own face and maybe some version of his own name or character names? He couldn’t possibly see the crowd as individuals!

        • that’s a good point, too. And I have the same avatar as Ali / RANet.com, for instance. So lots of confusion. I sometimes I get confused and theoretically I know who most of the people are.

    • When I reply, if I reply at all, it’s with the knowledge there’s a .00001% chance he will read, add zeroes for response chances.😉

  7. “If he’s not paying attention to Servetus, who is “harming” him, maybe he’s not paying attention to all the rest of us, out there loving him for all we’re worth.”
    Seems like a good explanation to me.

    I also think the “You don’t think Richard Armitage would like your blog, do you?” statement has more to do with the person who stated it than with RA. She (or he) don’t like or understand your way of fangirling/blogging and thinks that stating RAs (possible) dislike might be a stronger argument than stating her (or his) own…

    And I guess it is quite likely that he knows about this blog….like he might know about the major fansites or forums, but like some of the previous comments stated I don’t think he reads any of it on a regular basis.

    From a bloggers perspective I might add that I always think (mal mehr, mal weniger gründlich) about what I publish on my blog before I hit the ‘publish’ button (like you and any other blogger quite likely does it) and that your ‘I don’t write for RA’ applies for me too.
    So for me the relevant question is ‘What will (possible) readers think about it’ and when it comes to RA related posts the thought what parts of the fandom might say about it is much more repressive than the thought RA could read it ever would be.
    So even if I don’t share always your opinion you are my hero when it comes to bravery as a blogger!!!

    • 🙂

    • I think anyone blogging in a foreign language has a slight advantage insofar as it seems plausible (in the fantasy scenario) that he’d have less time to read about himself in languages he doesn’t know. Or maybe that is just my fantasy, that if i were blogging in a different language I would be safer from the anxiety of others that he was reading.

      I think you’re right that someone who asks the question in that way assumes something about themselves is also true about me. Part of it is that I have years of experience of writing about people who have been dead for 500 years — which may have inured me to the belief that one is only fascinated with people whom one adores without reservation. I am accustomed both to having a varied reaction to people I’m fascinated with, and not especially susceptible to anxieties about what they might think of me. Or maybe it was just a childhood where I met with a lot of external disapproval that makes me care less tha others do.

      you are so right that the considerations about how other fans will respond outweigh most other things I’m contemplating. I go through cycles on that. I seem to again be in a “I have more time to deal with the potential backlash” mood than I have for a while.

      • Yes, that’s absolutely true.

        For me as a fan it seems to be always important to be able to admire a person and attribute said person with a positive image but also to be able to maintain the feeling of normality.
        Maybe because as a fangirl I always need a bit of ‘private’ information. That doesn’t mean I need homestories or every single detail of a person’s personal life but little snippets which suggest that I can catch a glimpse of the private person behind the professional self (mir ist aber sehr wohl bewußt, daß die betonung hier auf ‘suggest’ liegt 🙂 ).
        And maybe that is part of the problem with me being a fan of RA lately because I never seem to be able to see behind his facade and that’s somehow frustrating for me….

        I am glad you do that now and than and I hope I will come to the point where I’ll be able to free myself from this ‘fear’ and blog about the things that I think about on a regular bases eventually….or let it go completely

        • He’s done such a good job of confusing people as to the picture of who he could be privately that I think everyone’s in turmoil. It’s not even just that we do or don’t know slightly personal details, but that the picture so many people had agreed on for so long has more or less disappeared.

          Courage to your pen!

    • rather than foreign language, I should have written “non-English language.” I know German is not a foreign language for Germans!!!

  8. I think you are hitting the nail on the head with your assessment (of your critics’ fear) that the possibility that RA is not reading your blog, negates their own fantasies of being “heard” by the man. Your output, the quality of your posts and the number of views it receives in consequence, has made this a site that stands out. Hence it is impossible to not see me+r when searching for info about RA. However, there is still the possibility that RA is consciously avoiding reading this or other blogs. (A possibility that I personally believe. I do not think he reads blogs – for all the reasons you have stated.) What he may actually see, is the headlines that are tweeted as links on Twitter. And those may on occasion encapsule the criticism that is contained in the blog post they describe. So yeah, maybe RA is aware of the criticism that is occasionally levelled at him.
    But here is the point, anyway: It seems to me as if you are only getting flak when two things happen at once: a) Mr A is abstaining from Twitter, while b) you are or have been posting a critical post. So people see a causal connection between those two independent incidents. Apart from the doubtfulness of this causality (as discussed by you above), there is something else that irks me about this approach. It is based on the belief that voicing criticism is wrong, and that being a fan means unconditional agreement with the actions and opinions of the celeb. Apart from the hierarchical implication of such a belief (i.e. an imbalance in equality between celeb and fan), by which the fans (voluntarily) assume a lower status through lifting the celeb on a pedestal, I am surprised that some people believe that a grown man with 25 years of experience in one of the most competitive businesses in the world, cannot deal with the occasional criticism that comes with exposing oneself to the public’s opinion. We all know that criticism is harder to take than praise; and that the one negative review will always cancel out the 99 positive reviews. But that is something which performers learn from very early on – take every review with a grain of salt, and if it really bothers you, then stay away from reading them. (To draw a parallel with RL: I have learnt the same thing as a journalist – I generally do not read comments on my journalistic output on the internet because I find it hard not to get upset about criticism of my articles. So: don’t read, don’t get upset.) I occasionally find the need by other fans to protect RA at all costs, almost offensive to the point of infantilising a grown man. He is middle-aged, experienced in a cut-throat business, and most likely firm in his convictions. I trust that he is able to defend his position, or to ignore criticism (and blogs or bloggers) that he does not agree with. He is fine as he is, a well-rounded human being. He doesn’t need me (or you) to agree with him 100%. Because he knows that he doesn’t agree 100% with others, either.

    • You raise a point that has been in the back of my mind for a long time: When I was teaching, I had to read my annual performance review from my department, AND I had to read course evaluations from all of my students. I was constantly exposed to things that both careful and careless people had to say about all kinds of things relevant to my work (is she a good lecturer? a fair grader?) and irrelevant to it (why does she keep wearing that purple sweater?). I imagine Richard Armitage as in a similar position — that he sees reviews of his work and perhaps also he’s aware of industry-internal evaluations of him and so on. So having had plenty of experiencing of reading people talking about me, I don’t usually rush out to read things that people are saying about me in the fandom world. Sometimes I read them, sometimes I make a copy but only read it months later, sometimes I skip it entirely, I’m not consistent, but the point is: I know where people are talking about me at this point and what they are likely to be saying and so if I’m not in the mood to expose myself to that stuff, I just don’t. I can’t imagine Armitage would be any differing. He should stick to reading about himself in the venues that “matter” and this has never been one of them.

      The second point about a fandom rife with poor understanding of causality is also spot on (I’ve talked about this tangentially before), and it’s a general problem in the US today, not limited to fandom. People don’t really understand the difference between correlation or coincidence and causation.

      re: self-conceptions: I’ve had the feeling lately that most (but not all) of the people I’ve been having these issues with are a lot younger than me and that definitely plays into it. I don’t know if you remember September 2014 and the whole dustup on tumblr about whether anyone could make jokes about his beard. There were very vociferous exponents of the position that his facial hair was essential to his self concept and identity, a statement, if you will, and that those who joked about it, or expressed wishes that he would change his hairstyle, were engaging in some kind of bullying of him. I remember thinking at the time that this was the viewpoint of a teenager. Anyone who changes his hair all the time for roles, and in fact most adults, comes to see these things as less central to identity measures. I, like you, like to see Armitage as a balanced adult who is not susceptible to huge mood swings over criticisms. But I like you am an adult and try to be balanced and I want my tulpa to be that way. The preponderance of the evidence may be on our side (we understand things about being 40+ that a much younger fan wouldn’t), but against we’re dealing with the problem of separating my fantasy of how Armitage is vs how Armitage is and a coincidental overlap between them.

      • I have noticed the issue of age, too. Well, I suppose it is only natural that we interpret the world around us, depending on our own life experiences. And we like to see our tulpa conform to what we ideally want a balanced grown-up to be like. I don’t really mind those interpretations that deviate from my own – they are equally valid in the absence of any objective corroboration. But what I really mind in this whole clash of ages in the fanworld, is the offensive way young fans dismiss older women. Ok, a lot of that has to do with the fact that I have a huge problem with my own age, but nonetheless, I find it really hurtful the way older fans are implied to be “out of it”, “haven’t got a clue anymore”, “uncool”, “conventional”, “mammies” etc. But well, I guess that is just fighting on a personal level…

        • I just have to laugh at people who say I’m uncool, like they think that will hurt me somehow? Since I didn’t ever really care about being cool, and because — having spent so much time with them — the 18-24 crowd always thinks they are cool and they are always kind of right and kind of wrong. It can also be amusing, like when a college sophomore tells you that their generation invented something. At other times you see what they’re doing and it is in fact really cool and I’m just a little bit jealous before you start listening to that band, too.

          I think what bothers me more is a subset of this the dismissing of experience based on ignorance of the past. Well, yeah, I do actually remember when gangsta rap joined the mainstream, I heard Public Enemy on the radio when people started to play it on R&B stations, I was there when it started being mainstream for white kids to listen to it, I’ve been listening to late adolescents tell me about hip hop since I was a late adolescent. So for my generation “cool” was people who listened to hiphop before it hit mainstream radio and its most significant audiences numerically and financially became white teens in the US.

          Yes, Keke Palmer could be my daughter; by the time she was born hiphop had been mainstream for five years already. But that also means I remember vividly the beginning of all of the discussions of homophobia and antisemitism and sexism in hiphop. I was there when people started talking about cultural appropriation. So I might know a leetle bit about this, actually … don’t assume I have no relevant knowledge or experience until you have established that. Even if you don’t agree with me, I might have good reasons for what I’m saying. It’s the same for me — certain words push certain triggers with me based on certain experiences — but it’s even more the case for women who are twenty or thirty years older.

          • Admittedly, the “coolness” issue is subjective. And also relative. Like you, I remember the discussions over the words used by rappers, and to this day, I have an aversion against rap because of that. So yeah, there is a reason why some people felt taken aback (or worse) by that tweet, and dismissing that because we are “old”, is not a very good argument.

  9. The only question of interest would be: “Does he now need glasses to read his laptop, a must-have media today and can he keep his feet on the ground without glasses?”

    • To read at the second degree (irony), not to take literally.

      • it’s true that far sightedness makes device reading hard 🙂

        • Sure. There was also an under-heard about age: stay in tune with his age, do not run after a youth that no longer exists, while time like sand slips through your fingers.

        • If blue light emitted by screens could damage eyes, wearing glasses should be a revealing indicator of addiction to social media. Watch where the eyes rest!

  10. I have a hard time imagining that Richard keeps tabs on all the blogs, tumblrs, forums, FB pages, and fan twitter accounts (and frankly, if he does, my respect for him would take a hit) maybe he checks certain posts once in awhile if directed to them but I think those instances would be few and far between. I personally think he appears to be informed b/c the fans themselves tell him, through fan letters. I’ve read a lot of instances of people saying they told Richard abut particular cases of drama that was happening in the fandom, or that they directed him to a certain post b/c they thought it was funny, etc. I think this, paired with a fraction of comments he views in relation to his own posts on Twitter, is how he stays ‘informed’.

    as to fans thinking he’s reading what they say, I think this notion has skyrocketed since he joined Twitter. I unfollowed so many RA fans myself b/c they were constantly tagging him in conversations about him. I always untag those I’m not talking to directly, maybe it’s just a pet peeve of mine, I don’t know but the thought that fans want him to see their conversations bothers me. as a blogger I won’t say the thought that Richard has seen some of my posts doesn’t enter my mind but if I really believed that he was a regular reader it would stifle my honesty and creativity. it’s a big step, emotionally, to put yourself out there and be honest about your feelings, even the ‘acceptable’ ones. so when fans throw around the ‘you know he reads your blog/he doesn’t approve’ lines I think they’re using them as weapons to hurt you, and to convince themselves that they are better than you. well, I have news for them: a vocal fan is a vocal fan, whether you’re sharing honest opinions or kissing Richard’s ass, you’ve already lumped yourselves in with the rest of us. those outside fandom don’t separate us into categories 😉

    • re: letters — I think it’s true that he gets a lot of his information that way (and thus, he would get it in one fell swoop rather than in the constant drip, drop of social media).

      The effect you describe (the division between fans who want him to see everything they say whether relevant to him or not, and those who only want to interact with him when they have something to say to him directly or that concerns him directly) is extreme on Twitter, I find. My recent repeated lament of “Twitter used to be more interesting before Armitage was there” has a lot to do with that — to the extent that it becomes primarily the place of those who use it to perform their fandom by tagging Armitage in everything they say, it also become less interesting, or even distressing, for everyone who doesn’t feel that way. (There may be a parallel effect there — if the Twtterverse is primarily occupied by people who want Richard Armitage to see them all the time, what does that say about me if I participate in Twitter? Will Armitage think that I want him to notice me all the time? I think most fans have some notion of “pride” (for lack of a better word) about their attachment to him and it’s not all about getting his attention, so the perception that Twitter could be about that could be a turn off to many).

      re: suggesting he’s observing as a weapon — I think that’s right. One of the questions I’m searching for an answer to right now in my writing life is how to maintain the emotional openness necessary to write while one simultaneously maintains the vulnerability level of rhino skin to deal with the responses.

      and re: if you say anything at all, you’re already in the group of people you say you don’t like — yes. Absolutely right.

  11. I hadn’t considered that linkage before- that if he doesn’t pay attention to Servetus, how could he possibly notice me? That’s probably real, even if unconscious, in many minds. I think you were involved too in parts of the discussion last fall after the article where he stated (paraphrasing) that he didn’t care much about people’s motivations for coming to the theater, as long as they came. While undoubtedly the “ka-ching” undertone could be read in (& was), I actually felt he intended it as an egalitarian statement- that EveryFan was just as welcome as the theater maven. The more common theme seemed to be, see, we’re just butts in seats to him. He doesn’t care about us as people. What really surprised me was the surprise at my suggestion that while I think he evidently cares for his fans as a group, there’s no way he distinguishes or “follows” us as individuals. There are too many of us, & I can only think of a couple example right now that would prove he ever has. (Other than in the early legacy fan days, which I know nothing about.)

    To circle back to your point, Serv (finally, right?? 😀), I agree that at least on Twitter, that hope that “maybe he watches me & likes my tweets” is probably involved​ in some of the problems you have​. Nor am I making fun of that- I reply him most of the time & even tweet him occasionally if I think he’d find something interesting. But I would never assume he remembers or distinguishes ​me from any other fan.

    • I’m also trying to catch up on some of your more recent posts, fascinating as usual… This year has been super challenging for me, more so than last. Still interested, just wiped out on multiple levels, I guess… Cheers hun 💗

      • sending a hug, just because it sounds like you could need on, hope things will get better 🙂

        • Thank you, sweetie, hugs always make it better! 🙂 Nothing that won’t get better, just unanticipated and no let up, it seems. Thanks again ❤

      • No worries — I do actually notice when people “disappear,” (in contrast to Armitage? LOL) but I assume they have reasons. In general, I always think if someone needs something from me specifically they will get in touch. Let me know if you need prayers. I’ll gladly write your name on the post it note on the steering wheel for prayers at traffic stops.

        • Prayers always make things better too ❤ I just need to keep up the balancing act, and it can be draining emotionally as well as physically. I’m sure we’ve all been there – thanks sweetie ❤

    • I thought for a long time about writing about that, but the people involved were so angry that I thought what I had to say was better directed to them directly than as a sort of principled or abstract statement. I’m sure you remember my position — that it’s not either / or. When I would propose to teach a class, i always had to think about whether anyone would want to take it because if it didn’t reach a certain threshold, it would be canceled and that had all kinds of bad consequences for me (including but not limited to possible salary consequences). So the fact that I had to care about butts in seats and do what I could to make sure they appeared didn’t mean that (a) I was only teaching for money or (b) I saw students, whatever their motivation for being there, solely as revenue generators. I needed the students to be there so I could do my job — which I loved and cared about doing well, too, apart from their motivations.

      His main goal is to keep on acting. He needs people to come to the theater. Some of those people will be fans and have certain expectations and that is okay with him, if he can he will try to fulfill them. That is what I took away from that. But I think you’re right that there were a lot of people in that discussion who assumed or expected that they were seen by him as individuals (I think people assume that’s what’s happening when a celeb favorites a tweet, as well.) Whereas the stage door is really the ultimately incorporation of the “fans as blur” situation. Whether you get individual attention or any attention at all is largely a function of random actors beyond your control.

      • I agree about SD, I learned that in the fall, having never been to one (& may well not have opportunity again)…. while he was certainly polite, it was basically a non-event the night I was there, and after reflecting I even felt a bit sorry for him. So often if “this one” has a great experience talking with him for a moment, then “that one” feels bad because they didn’t, i.e. “what’s wrong with me?” lol. And as you say, it’s beyond our control, or even his, really.

  12. Sigh, i admire your patience in dealing with the issue again and again and being willing to explore potential new sides to it, new implications. Doubt i would have the patience and much less the rigour.

    I think people sometimes seek a scapegoat for perceived absences or lack of interest on his part and it is easier to try and find them in those who seem to react or think differently than you than to pin it on the man himself. Partly i think because there is a certain generational gap at which lack of interest in social media or engagement with it (or loss of interest after some initial curiosity) is almost ‘unnatural’ for those to whom it is an integral part of their lives. Also because in their generation artists who are emerging also grew up with it or feel it is an integral part of their lives and it certainly creates the illusion of connection.

    Having grown up in a world where one could freely admire an artist and be preoccupied by him without any real possibility of any connection or interaction other than buying a ticket to a show or a CD that feels more normal to me. I think social media is good at ‘make believe’ in terms of that connection. But i don’t think it is able to fundamentally change the way an artists thinks about or feels about his fans. Some seek the attention and some feel grateful and that’s it. It actually makes me sad when people place such overstated importance and feeling on social media with respect to their idols. They can easily be disappointed by a fantasy which imagines a reality which was never there.

    I find the internet useful and social media interesting up to a point, but i think for some of us, maybe also age related it will never be the center of our social life as it is for younger generations.
    I have no idea how one could convey the message believably that social media is just a tool and that i don’t think for a busy actor like him his views on fandom or feelings about it have changed in any fundamental way with it. He seemed perfectly comfortable the way things were before his SM accounts , going on about his business with occasional thoughts of thanks or whatever. Seems to me that’s not changed really.

    It’s this world where everyone makes their views public and can read everyone else and where people use SM to create business for themselves hat creates the illusion that you could somehow be closer to somebody just because you see what they ate for breakfast.

    I wish we could empower people to admire their artists of preference the way they want and to understand that how others do it should not have any influence upon them while at the same time making them more comfortable with the idea that a connection is not actually part of the ‘contract’ on a 1+1 level. Even though there can be warm feeling towards the admiration dedicated as a group.
    A poster on the wall and a concert with memories for a lifetime used to be the max! Where has the world changed ? I guess by sticking in our faces the kind of celebs who’s business is not some output but rather themselves and the image their create and so that is what they have to sell and show you all the time. For those who are busy with an output selling the person alongside might still not be desirable other than in rare exceptions. And those while grateful people like what they do are way to busy to keep worrying what people say about them.

    Sorry for digression, ultimately what i guess is very hard to accept for some is that a direct relationship 1+1 between 1 and thousands is just not possible or desirable for the 1 (if he/she wants to carry out a normal life and be about their business which makes those thousands interested). I just wish people could free themselves from that illusion and enjoy the admiration without those frustrations and erroneously directed aggression. Wish they could realise that maybe reality does not deliver as they think it will because the expectation is simply false. But it needn’t be a lesser experience just because expectations need to be adjusted.

    • It’s sort of like everyone’s forgotten that there were entire years when he said nothing at all. But I think that’s a really good point about social media. His comments from before 2012 about social media were always neutral to negative and his comments about finally joining Twitter were the same. I’d never imagined that he did it out of anything but pressure to do it promotionally, or that he enjoyed it.

      I think my support of Richard Armitage is essentially that I follow what he does and I spend money on his “stuff” (although there’s no direct relationship there as I buy some of that stuff used). By the time I see a movie he’s been in he’s already been paid, but I suppose my butt in the seat is useful. The rest of what I do is for myself and to a lesser extent, for fellow fans. He’s never asked for any support other than that. in fact, I don’t think he’s ever asked for any support directly, if it comes right down to it. It was probably easier to ignore other fans before social media. And maybe one could go back to that. Although I am also confused by people who declare aggressively that they are fans but not part of the fandom all the while engaging with Armitage and other fans. I think you can be a fan but not part of the fandom only if you never engage with other fans.

      I love your line about feeling close to someone b/c you see what they ate for breakfast. I often feel close to Armitage, maybe more episodically now than I did seven years ago, but it’s not about what he tweets. And it’s about my feelings and what I imagine, not about what I see of or know about his life. Conversely, it’s possible to make someone’s breakfast every morning and not feel all that close to them.

  13. Let me get this clear: I don’t think he’ll ever hear me and I really, really don’t care if he does, because it’s not what I’m looking for. I’m not a blogger, nor a regular Tweeter and my usual “fandom” activities take place in a very small circle of a handful of German fans. Also, I’m not a new fan, I’ve been around since about 2006, sometimes more intense, sometimes less. So: No, you theory doesn’t apply to me at least. (And I am stating this because this blogpost is about what I said to you on Twitter)

    But since I am mildly of public interest for my actual work (which has nothing to do with the fandom), I know that everyone who has some kind of public reputation, more or less frequently googles up his own name to see what’s the matter.
    So, if RA wouldn’t read any of the comments fans are making to him, he wouldn’t be so quick deleting tweets and Facebook entries. He definitely reads and cares about his fan’s opinions – we don’t know about the frequence, but we can take it as a fact that he does. And you can be sure that he sometimes lurks on our blog, since your outreach is big.

    Maybe there is a better question than “What if he reads it?” – It’s “Would you say that to him in person?”
    It’s easy to rant as an anonymous, faceless blogger. You’re not directly confronted with the person you are critising, analysing and praising.
    You may say: This blog is about my thoughts. And yes, of course it is. But it’s about a human being, too, and his name is Richard Armitage. You’re not a restaurant tester and he is not an object. Sometimes I’m not sure if people keep that in mind when publicly ranting about him. Because, if they met him in person, I doubt anyone would have the guts to tell him exactly what they are tweeting and messaging him sometimes. Most of them would become the random shy and excited fans who have a hard time even asking for an autograph.

    So, the thing is, objectifying someone, for whatever purpose, is borderline respectful. He is a person, he is a human being and he deserves respect and courtesy (which sometimes means just to shut up if there’s nothing positive to say). Not because he is something better than us, but because he is equal to us. If he were not a celebrity, some things you and others do on Twitter, on your blog etc. would count as cyberbullying. And to me, it counts as such if you cross certain borders, because I don’t see the celebrity I’m fangirling, but the personality behind it.
    Plus, as a person of public interest, you can’t just count on your mom encouraging you. You permanently need the reassurance of your audience.

    I know you won’t answer me, or with a thesis that takes days to read, or not even unlock my entry. Anyways, I’ve said all I wanted to. Maybe you’ll get my point without lashing out.

    • I’m still not sure why you’re so angry at me. I didn’t understand it yesterday, and I don’t understand it now. However, now I can connect the dots between your Twitter and reddit personae and what happened last weekend. Everything has a genealogy. I answer all questions and allow through all comments that don’t violate the comments policy. But you yourself participate regularly in a forum where many people say extremely negative things about him — things that sometimes shock me when I read them. I wonder why you don’t take them to task as you do me.

      As I remember from yesterday, you seem to believe it is the task of a fan (and a fan blogger) to solely say things that are “supporting and encouraging.” I don’t agree. (I don’t even treat my friends that way, although I also say supportive and encouraging things to them, as I say supportive and encouraging things about Armitage here — in fact, thousands of words of them over the years.) The function of this blog is to record to my reactions to Armitage so I can try to understand them. If it would be easier for you, perhaps you might consider this a blog about Richard Armitage by someone whom you consider not to be a fan. Perhaps that could help you separate more effectively your reactions to Armitage and your reactions to me. You’re not defending him by attacking me. You’re only defending your picture of him. And he doesn’t need your or my protection. I would never question that Richard Armitage has a personality. People who think they understand it based on what we know from the Internet, however, are dealing with their pictures and not reality. There may be overlap there, there may not be.

      However, anything that I have said here I would say to Richard Armitage’s face if I were ever offered the opportunity to spend twelve years reading it to him. (That includes posts that are protected — the protection is done not to protect him, but to help fans who don’t want to see certain material avoid it. My issues around the persona of Armitage in reality aren’t related remotely to the content of what I say about him.) I assume that no one is that interested in reading quite this much verbiage about themselves. I know I wouldn’t be. It is interesting to me that you seem to think all conversations that people have in visible places are equally public. I make no such assumption. In public libraries, there are children’s sections, adult sections, and restricted sections, for instance. All the books are visible to everyone, but not all of them are “for” every audience. This blog is not “for” Armitage and perhaps, given how much it upsets you that I write it, it is not “for” you.

      It was surprising to me that you apparently thought I hadn’t considered the questions you were putting to me in such vehement, rhetorical form long ago. As many of your comments yesterday revealed, however, for someone who’s “been around since 2006” you’re not very well informed: I am not anonymous. My name is known. Many people know it. I published it on this blog some time ago. And there’s a difference between anonymity, pseudonymity, and writing under one’s own name. Depending on how you see it I am either pseudonymous or writing under my own name. I have met him in person, twice, and I can tell you this: meeting him in person at present means you have about maximum 8 seconds to say anything you want to say and ask for a photograph or a selfie if that is your desire. Most people are somewhat dazed in that setting from having just seen him on stage, which is breathtaking. Or they were in a huge crowd around a Hobbit event. In those settings, everyone who meets him is a “shy, excited fan” except possibly for those who try to meet celebrities more regularly, who have often learned that they need to put themselves forward more aggressively.

      I think you are overgeneralizing about the nature of public figures’ personal involvement in reading information about their own reputations. My activities were of public interest (in the sense that there were about five hundred people who were interested in them), to the point that I found out a decade ago at a crisis moment that there was a predictive query for my name. I have googled myself maybe five times in fifteen years. If I were him, I would do it less and delegate it to someone else to the extent that it was necessary. In general, he seems much less interested in fame than most celebrities we “encounter.”

      And I agree, artists need audiences. I just wonder why you think — and this was the purpose of this post — Armitage is so focused on me as his audience? I don’t think so, and never have. I think that’s about your need to believe it, and not about the reality of Armitage’s perception of fans, which (as SheRa’s comment points out) is almost certainly largely in the aggregate. If, however, Armitage wants to read only very positive comments about himself, there are plenty of places for him to do that.

      • You’re mistaking me. It’s not only about you and you’re surely not the only person backlashing on him from time to time. There are plenty of them on sm, otherwise he wouldn’t earn shitstorms. A shitstorm cannot be caused by one single person.
        But to me, you appear to me to be one of his “loudest” critics. You have quite an outreach with your blog. It’s one of the first results on Google when looking for Richard Armitage. You have a certain amount of followers. That given, everything you say might pour oil into the fire. I see this mutual revolving again and again. One person starts, the others beat in the same score, and when it’s someone who has quite a voice amongst the fandom, the whole discussion is doomed.
        Is it worth it, just to have some things said? I remember that cringeworthy discussion about one of RA’s selfies, where someone stated he looked “too gay”, others crawling out of their holes and agreeing, leading into the deletion of the pic.
        Then, RA writing a christmas message (which is not his duty but a favor to his fans) and people picking on details, spelling mistakes and blah instead of focussing on the message. What is this for? Spreading negativity into the world?
        No, it’s not just you, but you are part of it. If you really considered all those questions, then your conclusions draw a, let’s say, very difficult picture of you.
        I’ve been around in the fandom more or less since 2006, but regularly on your blog, so: No, I don’t know about your name and I don’t care. I come here for some information from time to time, but I don’t have the capacities to read your often very long, thesis-like entries, sorry.
        As for reddit: I’m in since a few months and I of course take people to task when I think it’s necessary. I missed a lot of discussions in the past, though. But, if you made connections correctly, you will also know that I definitely don’t confuse RA with Jesus. I criticised some of his behavior as well. But the difference is: I don’t do it on a blog which carries his name and picture. I try to be always positive towards him. I analyse things, too, but I don’t have to do it to oblivion. It would be ungrateful.

        • No, I’m not the only one; yes, I am a prominent blogger. But if you were me, you might be asking these same questions in the same way. In some ways, I make myself a target. My question is — given that there are plenty of targets in this fandom, why people are so focused on this particular one?

          Most people who are blogging want to have a discussion, which is why they post. That is always the intent of my blog (although not on that particular issue, because I was trying to finish an application — in that case it was to share with my readers what others were saying and to agree with them). But that is not what we usually get. We get accusations and rhetorical questions that point us to being “bad fans.” You are part of this dynamic, since you have accused me now twice of saying things I haven’t said or writing things I haven’t written, and instead of actually going to the people who articulated their positions on the questions of Armitage’s retweet of Keke Palmer in detail, you decided to latch onto my statement that I was substantially in agreement with them. “Substantially” means, “in substance.” It does not mean, “in every detail.” What I actually thought is captured in the comments sections of those blogs, but you decided to ignore that in favor of castigating me for not fulfilling your definition of “respect” and “gratitude.” I was talking about racism; you were talking about me not fulfilling your expectations for being a an. I don’t know what you expected, but surely not, after seven years, that I would say, “oh, you know what, you’re right, I’ve been doing something wrong for seven years.” You wanted an argument in 140 char bursts and for my sins, I gave it to you.

          re: what it is worth it to have said — yes, sometimes it is worth a storm. Sometimes it isn’t. For instance, as this blog indicates, I’ve never considered it worth the storm to discuss hypothetical surgical alterations to Richard Armitage’s nose. Others have. Whether it is worth it to have said something always lies in the judgment of the person saying it; there is no universal rule that we can impose on others. Out of consideration for fellow bloggers, I don’t tell them what they should or shouldn’t say or get excited about or not. In my case: I used to be an academic adviser; 42% of my case load were minority students. I was heavily involved with trying to figure out how to make the university “work” for African American students given the institutional, structural and practical racism of US universities. Before that I taught undergraduates for fifteen years. I’ve been party to debates about racism, multiculturalism, their expression in hip hop culture, and unconscious bias since 1991. Considering that this blog is mostly about Richard Armitage, it may or may not be appropriate that I’ve blogged multiple times over the years about racial problems in the US (usually on the fourth of July and Dr. MLK Jr., Day) and more recently extensively about African American history.

          So yes, in this case, I considered it worth saying. As you will note, some other bloggers did not. In my experience, almost every non-casual fan eventually comes to an issue that they think is important enough to “start a storm” over. Particularly redditors.

          Since you’ve been around since 2006, you will also have noticed that I spent a lot of 2015 considering free speech issues in fandom. Oh, wait. You don’t know what I’ve actually said, but you feel entirely free to criticize it. I’m not impressed by that. It’s like when students of mine used to say, “well, I haven’t read the book that we’re discussing, but this is what I think about it”. It’s disqualifying. I am frequently informed or persuaded by the arguments of someone who’s familiar with what I think and say, but random people who show up because they’re angry that I am not as “supportive” of Armitage as they are? Nah. You say you’re not interested in details or long essays — that is your privilege. But it reveals you as largely disqualified to make criticisms. And if your response to “this question is more complex than that” or “I thought about that a lot in the past and here’s what I said” is “I don’t care,” why should I take you seriously? First you say “a nameless, faceless anonymous blogger can make a rant” and then when I tell you, “I’m not anonymous” you say, so what? If you don’t care about an argument why do you raise it in the first place? Why should I give you any information if any information I give you is automatically discarded? This is either disingenuous on your part, or actively malevolent.

          I could only figure out who you were on reddit because I saw your email. I didn’t know yesterday. But honestly, in terms of whether or not my behavior relates to gratitude or supportiveness or positivity, I don’t think I come out badly in comparison to most of the participants in that community.

          The upshot is: you don’t want to analyze, you don’t want to read analysis (I find this hilarious coming from a redditor — honestly, people are looking at flight plans to figure out where Lee Pace is on any given day and whether he and Armitage could have crossed paths in JFK), you don’t want to say anything negative about him ever. That’s fine, if you believe that of yourself. But you don’t decide for me, and I don’t get why you seem to think you are entitled to do so.

        • maybe a better way to put this question, more succinct certainly:

          I only have the power you give me. So why do you give me the power?

    • Oh, and I should add: Richard Armitage certainly knows my name, because unhappy fans reported it to him in 2014.

      • Well that’s not okay from them.

        • The acceptability of their behavior (or not) is not the point here. The point was that you said I wouldn’t have the guts to say what I say here if Richard Armitage knew who I was. He knows.

  14. “But it’s altogether possible or even likely that he is listening to you.” – Aw, that’s kinda sweet and encouraging! Meant to placate, I know, but sweet anyhow.

    Yeah, I don’t think Richard would have the time and energy to follow all that is written about him. He may be aware of some things written about him and he may read things on occasion. He may get a heads up about something from his PR people, or friends or family but mostly I imagine he has better things to do with his time than constantly check what is written about him by his fans. We are his fans, he is not a fan of each of us individually!

    I know that when I am short on time (like now with me working again) I skim a lot and if he finds some time to read fan stuff, I’d imagine he’d only have time to skim as well. Besides, your posts tend to be long when you are posing an argument (even I park them sometimes for later reading) so I can imagine that even if he did read here, he’d skip over a lot, just for time’s sake. 🙂 I always imagine we are a sea of faces to him whereas to us he is of course one-of-a-kind.

    Of course, your blog may be more recognizable to him as you are quite prominent but even so, I don’t for one instance believe he follows you that closely. He’s been very busy going from project to project, where would he even find the time to immerse himself so deeply? He has research to do for roles, read scripts, learn lines, do press, audition, hone his craft, see his family and friends, exercise, network within the industry, be immersed in politics as he seems to be like many of us now, live his life. I think that if he does read fan stuff on occasion it is more in passing.

    This wish for fans to be known to him is an old one, amplified now by the ‘easier access’ to him via Twitter. But really, even now I imagine his fans remain part of a sea of faces to him. He may recognize names of frequent commenters to his tweets but I really do wonder how much he can really differentiate between them/us all. He has 200.000 followers and that’s only Twitter! Even if someone stands out because of some comment, it is still one comment in a sea of comments. I for one have no illusion that he would remember me commenting that I love Muse too when he tweeted about it and I had this (very rare) urge to respond.

    So yeah, I can imagine that he may on occasion read something here or on any other blog but I imagine it will only be one of many things he reads… or skims through… It’s a nice fantasy that each one of us is recognized by him personally but in reality I just don’t think that is realistically possible…

    • “we are his fans …” YES. I’ve said this a few times recently — this is a hierarchical relationship. He’s the crush. Emotion goes from me to him. There’s no expectation or obligation of reciprocation. He doesn’t owe me anything. But I think it goes further than that, that there’s some tendency to assume among fans that because we spend a lot of time thinking about him, that he spends a lot of time thinking of us. That maybe part of the fantasy, too — if I spend such a huge amount of time thinking about him, then what about him?

      • Might make for a nice RPF story – Richard becomes the fan of a blogger! I’ve been playing around with that idea for a while but it’s going nowhere, something feels very off about that premise…

  15. If Richard Armitage doesn’t read this blog now and then, then he’s missing some really good stuff! And wow, this post has generated a lot of comments. Really long comments. I haven’t come close to finishing reading them. What you wrote about some getting very upset with your blog because “if he’s not paying attention to Servetus, who is “harming” him, maybe he’s not paying attention to all the rest of us, out there loving him for all we’re worth.” is probably very true, even though they may not even realize it about themselves. (And I don’t think you are “harming” him in any way of course). I love your blog. The good the bad and the ugly – it’s all great, all food for thought, all a chance to grow and learn and ponder.

    • There’s a kind of sense in which love, when it happens, is largely arbitrary. Often people who are worthy of love don’t get and others who don’t care are the object of great love. Maybe that general perception plays into some of this.

    • Food for thoughts AND completely without calories, perfect!!!

  16. I get the same comments. “Do you really think Richard likes your insert expletive here plushies”
    My reply, “do you really think I need him to like them?”
    I don’t understand why people have to be so rude and nasty. He’s a grown man. If he wants to address an issue with someone, he’ll do it. He doesn’t need or require a proxy.
    You keep doing what you’re doing, Servetus! [redacted]

  17. One last thing, I think Richard Armitage has muted almost no one on Twitter. It’s not good business, and I never forget he’s running a business with his Twitter account and other social media contact with the wider world. It’s a business, and if he has muted someone, it better be a pretty good reason other than they blogged a lot about him and wrote some real fic or diagrammed photos of him, or was even critical of him at times. The occasional criticism actually lends more legitimacy to the praise.

    But bottom line on the muting is there is no real effectiveness in muting a person you’re not following. It literally does nothing. Muting is really only effective (and even then partially) if the person is following someone. Blocking is another matter. It would completely erase someone from a person’s timeline. But his blocking you would be a total mistake. If he ever blocked any account, and especially one that’s looked at by a lot of fans, oh man, can you imagine how that account holder could make hay out of that? So no, he’s not going to do that unless there’s been a real threat against him, obviously not in this case, or he’s stupid.

    • Perhaps you’d like to blog about Richard Armitage’s social media habits.

      • I might, but I guess I would have to actually start reading his tweets on a regular basis to do it justice. For now, my business hat is firmly on, and my insanity cap is on the peg. I keep trying to put it on again because it’s fun, but I honestly am working seven days a week to pay off a considerable six figure medical bill and don’t have much time to think of anything else.

        Other than all of that, I hate reading that there are still people who create problems for bloggers. My take is if they don’t like what they read, move on. That’s always a win/win. Why more people don’t do that, I don’t understand.

    • That is, I mean, if your goal is to instruct people about Twitter.

    • Agreeing with your assessment, bZirk. And if I may add something to your Twitter explanation: Since RA is a verified Twitter user, he doesn’t even have to mute anyone. Verified users have access to one extra feature which mere mortals as us do not get: When it comes to notifications, you and I can filter either “All” (which is the default), or “Mentions”. Very handily for verified celebrity users, they also get the filter “Verified”. That means, if they want to have a look at their notifications but avoid the “noise”, they can choose only to see those tweets where they have been mentioned by another verified user. My hunch is that RA is using that option. Thus, he doesn’t miss the tweets by his celebrity pals like Michelle Forbes or Keke Palmer, nor the tweets by official publishers such as the Berlin Station account, or a magazine or a TV channel.
      Psssst: If a fan wants to get around this “exclusivity clause”, even non-celebs can have their accounts verified. Twitter changed their rules to that effect last June…

      • Oh yeah, definitely true about verified account functionality. And the blue check is certainly not what it was. But then Twitter is not what it used to be since it started censoring more. Part of me understands why they do it, and part of me hates that we can’t have a big discussion with no filtering. It makes me sad to see the self-segregation.

  18. You should do what you need to do.

  19. “Persistent fantasy”? Wow, wouldn’t it be cool…? (rhetorical question).
    It’s the issue of approachability – a fantasy of accessibility, I think, of one’s crush – that if he’s listening in, he’s in some way “closer” to me (well, not me per se; closer to any fan).
    IMHO he, or his agent, would be wise to tune in sometimes on the more prominent blogs to see what’s up. It would be the sound nurture of business interest. But as a fan to believe that he’s “listening” to you (any fan) is a mere fantasy.

    • You made this distinction more effectively than I could have. Or I didn’t foresee that there would be a need to make this distinction so apparent. But yeah — there’s a difference between a sort of awareness on a general level of what fan sites say, rooted in a sort of marketing aspect, and what most fans fantasize Armitage is doing with fan sites. As Judiang said so effectively five years ago: he’s just not that into you. I wasn’t interested at the time in saying it with quite that much brusqueness but frustration is getting me there.

      • I’m sorry in advance if I hurt anyone’s feelings, but as a Dane I’m fairly direct in my approach, and I have long since settled for being part of a business plan. But he’s talented, caring (still) and beautiful, so I’m still here ❤

        • It’s an interesting thing to think about — and would be an interesting thing to trace (she said, making a note in her notebook): the influxes of fans in relationship to his various contacts with them. Assuming we believe that the pre-Twitter “fan messages” are accurate representations of Armitage, then Armitage was most intimate at the point at which he was most distant (I actually don’t find this at all surprising), and the point at which he began to appear more present, his messages became more distant. Just at the point at which some fans begin to believe he is much closer, he is actually much further away, and at the point at which many fans began to believe that he was becoming more personal, the actual tentacles of the business model begin to grasp more firmly.

          I don’t have a problem being a part of a business plan in that sense, either. I can like / not like, buy a ticket / not buy a ticket, participate in a stream of publicity or not. Where I get tetchy is where fellow fans start to insist that I need to support the business plan actively and identify with enthusiasm with my role as market segment (as opposed to just being a consumer).

          • Too bad you’ve already got a PhD (LOL at my own joke).
            Anyway, it would be an interesting topic for a future post. It’s exactly how I’ve viewed RA’s relationship with his fandom since his SoMe presence became more prolific.
            Consequently, more demands more than just an annual message, and this is – to me anyway – the most likely the reason why he feels more distant now than ever.

            • yeah, too bad 🙂

              do you think he feels more distant? My suspicion is he feels about as distant. Mostly because I feel like he didn’t want to be Twitter in the first place and never really warmed to it. As I think KellyDS said above, it’s not like he knows more about fans now than he has all along.

            • I think there’s an argument for saying it’s possible to have warmer feelings to a smaller group of people (2005) than a larger (2012). But people were having this discussion (“why does he feel so distant to us?”) in 2009, even before Twitter.

              • A big part of me wants to answer, no, RA feels closer to his fandom bc of SoMe. It’s part of a dichotomy, I believe, as I (we; can I speak for the entire fandom…? No, surely not) feel he’s become more distant, RA believes himself more close. Uch, it’s a difficult question.
                In actual fact, I couldn’t presume to know how RA feels about his fandom, but if I’m supposed to see this from a realistic perspective, I tend to agree with you that he feels equally distant.
                One aspect we haven’t discussed here is the impact of the fandom having changed over the years. There are legacy fans who perhaps expect more (something else?) from him than we are getting ATM, and those that came along after The Hobbit who may be thrilled by what they’re getting, because they’re not used to any other means of approach. It’s about the style of this accessibility, I think.
                Somehow this feeling/notion of accessibility is related to a perception of RA being approachable via SoMe…I’m rambling; do you get what I’m driving at?

                • So many of the legacy fans are gone now, but of the ones that I’ve talked to about this issue, there’s a segment of “social media, okay fine, but then you need to engage with us.” I do think they’ve lost their feeling of intimacy with him (and had by 2012 — I posted about that, too, I think the posts were titled “Losing Armitage”). In that sense, the new fans “get” a lot more, but have settled for a lot less, if what they want is warm feeling from Armitage directed at them. I don’t think that message is ever coming back (whether it was real in the first place or not — I kind of had the impression at some point that he hrealized that no matter how much he thanked fans, it was never going to be enough.)

                  • His pre-twitter messages felt more genuine to me. This was the real Richard Armitage writing. The warmth you mention, I believe, was sincere. Those messages were rare, but appreciated, and their seldom nature made them little treasures. His style changed with twitter, and I had hoped he would’ve embraced FB, bc it offers more flexibility and more characters. It’s less dynamic than twitter.
                    The bottom line is that there’s a discrepancy between what is expected (I believe this is a fact among legacy fans), and what he offers on twitter. Also, this discrepancy is messing with the Tulpa (definitely with mine).
                    I’ll leave it here. The news is on. Brilliant to ‘talk’ to you.

          • Uh, and I want to add that if one is supposed to actively be a part of and support this business plan by being overly enthusiastic, it would call for some sort of remuneration 🙂

            • That was my position, repeatedly, when this started coming up. There were always fan volunteer campaigns (vote for Armitage for this, for that, etc.) on the forums, but when fellow fans started telling me I needed to attend films in a block with other fans to show that we could move markets, or that I should stop writing because marketers wouldn’t like what I had to say, or that I should shut up because I would jeopardize somebody’s contact with an inside source … talk about the tail wagging the dog. But there is definitely a model of fandom that is about that: the point is all about publicizing him (not discussing him — it’s a pervasive source of this “you’re talking about this too much” sentiment) and disseminating favorable information. Some of those people are also former publicists and it may just be a different, more superficially professionalized version of the approachability thesis (“if we work for him, he will be accessible to us”). I don’t get that: if you want to pay me to be your publicist I’ll consider it but that’s not what I am. I don’t do paid work for free for total strangers. But I’m also not trying to be close to him. On the whole I don’t see the purpose of this blog as supporting his career at all. I think I’m closer in approach in that sense to the original impulse of the big fan sites than to many of the more active fans today.

    • I should say, not most fans. Rather: those fans who have this fantasy.

  20. I think it might be potentially easier to be warm with people you don’t see (just like it’s easier to flirt with people you know you’ll never be intimate with).

    I hear you on the tulpa.

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