me + tangentially relevant Richard Armitage contexts

I know it’s been nothing but Richard Armitage news again for a while. I’m still enjoying it. I’ve been occupied with the news (this week was a new low in terms of how poorly our government is working — on the other hand, I still have health insurance), softball tournaments, and work. And today I spent two hours skip tracing an old friend of dad’s, whose best friend here died this week. Dad wanted to let him know. We hadn’t seen the old friend since something like 1980, but I finally figured out who he was and where and found his daughter and got a phone number. So that was good. Distraction. Anyway, I know this is disjointed but I wanted to say that I am still here.

Below some things I’ve read recently that might offer some interesting perspective on things we’ve talked about.


Berlin Station: A glimpse of a real CIA black site in Yemen.

Armitage’s appearance: Think Richard Armitage is getting (too) skinny? It’s a Hollywood trend.

Things he’s said, one: A theater director who doesn’t think the purpose of theater is empathy, at least not directly.

[Against] things he’s said, two: A defense of negative criticism — about what you would expect, someone powerful enough to move the market shut down an outlet whose response he didn’t appreciate. (This is but one of the reasons I haven’t seen myself as the “publicist” type of fan, although this last month I’ve been a publicist. I always said I would never work for Armitage for free, but lately it looks like I have been.)

Things he’s said, three: re: the pressure to repeat one’s previous performances, this. Skip to the section on Mark Rylance.

Love, Love, Love: Some other stuff that was happening in the summer of ’67. And yet more stuff that was happening that summer. Makes me think about how English the perspective in that play might have been.

Remuneration: What Peter Capaldi (and now Jodie Whittaker) made for Doctor Who. Gives us a perspective, mutatis mutandis, on what Armitage got for his BBC jobs. And re: collateral attractions, Mackenzie Davis and Kerry Bishé will finally get equal pay for equal work on Halt and Catch Fire this season.

And some Castlevania commentary to close — a kind of meandering piece but makes an interesting point about the political qualities of video games. And a fan watches the series just to hear Richard Armitage.

~ by Servetus on July 30, 2017.

19 Responses to “me + tangentially relevant Richard Armitage contexts”

  1. regarding the skinny trend in Hollywood: while I personally don’t like the bulked up look that the superhero/action men have been sporting, that article didn’t take into account the age of the men they were comparing. all of the ‘skinny’ men are in their early twenties, while the bulked up set are 30 and above. a lot of men are naturally slim in their early twenties, and if they’re tall, they’re most likely ‘lanky’ as well.


    • aren’t those themes related, though? I thought I read one reason that everyone’s talking about the possibility that Ben Affleck is leaving Batman is that he’s considered too old (at 45?). I guess I concluded that the lanky look is what’s being pursued precisely because Hollywood is once again revising down the acceptable age of a movie star.


      • I guess I never really thought about it like that. I just assumed the studios want the younger guys b/c they’re targeting the younger audiences, not that they’re purposely going for skinny actors. as for Batman, if they went with someone younger then they’d have to rework the story b/c the current movie(s) feature an older Bruce Wayne.


        • I don’t know that they specifically want thinner actors, but it follows that if they want younger actors, they will get a lankier look, and if you’re trying for a role like that, you will want to mimic that look so as to look younger.

          As you know I don’t watch these films at all but I would describe Affleck’s build as normal/average, not slender. Which does make me wonder if part of the issue is weight. Huh.


          • I’m more a ‘Marvel’ watcher than a ‘DC’ one but I did see ‘Batman vs Superman’ and I thought his Batman suit was ridiculous. very big, almost like a robot.


            • is that part of the Batman shtick? All the “stuff”? (clueless)


              • all the cutting edge gadgets, yes. his appeal is that he’s a human without powers/abnormalities that set him apart from the average person. assuming that average humans were all Billionaires that could afford said gadgetry 😉


                • I just looked at a picture. I assumed you meant he had a lot of instrumentation or something on his suit. No, indeed. Wow. Yeah, he looks ridiculous.


  2. I am happy that you have a new work. Congratrulations!


    • Thanks, but it’s more or less the same job. Different group of students. Still looking for something full time.


  3. Thanks for all the interesting links.
    Here’s hoping the ultra skinny trend doesn’t continue! I liked it in the 70’s when all the rock stars looked like that and I was a teenager. My theory is that younger girls/women often like the skinny type because the guy appears non-threatening. Same with the longer haired more feminine look. At this stage in my life, I prefer a less boyish older look, which includes a bit of bulk. But my age group is likely not the target market.

    I remember the summer of ’67. We moved back from Toronto to Montreal. There was lots of excitement about the Centennial of Canada’s Confederation and the school choir learned this song to commemorate it. . Expo ’67 was held in Montreal — a world’s fair. But there was also the famous speech in Montreal by French President Charles de Gaulle which included the phrase “Vive le Quebec libre!” Quite the breach of protocol for a foreign leader to shout a separatist slogan, particularly in that year celebrating Canada! It helped give some additional impetus to the separatist movement in Quebec.


    • I was -2. But all this stuff (and thanks for your perspective, too) — there was also a documentary on this week about the disintegration of Haight/Ashbury. It’s a good reminder that ’68 and its travails were not a sudden eruption, but could have been seen coming.


      • I was 7, so much of what I remember was from a kid’s point of view. But definitely it wasn’t all free love and flower power!


        • My dad was in the Army then, and that was something my parents definitely made clear to me — the hippies were a real minority (which you can definitely still see reflected around here).

          Liked by 1 person

    • oh, and, interesting hypothesis — makes sense.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry to come in late, but I’m reading around the fandom in fits and starts. If you’re of a mind, could you elaborate on the “publicist-type fan” thing? It’s the second time I’ve heard something like that (I think I saw a fan refer to herself as “a publicist-fan” on twitter and I was like ???????


    • interesting that someone else used the word (it wasn’t me, because I’ve been thinking about it but this is the first time I used it).

      This blog has a history of being anti-publicist that goes back to at least 2011 and maybe further:

      and my hostility toward that model was the source the second-biggest fan drama I’ve ever participated in and the only one in which I was a truly active agitator. My position has pretty much always been that I post what interests me for my own reasons and my opinions are not co-opted by considerations other than the ones I am willing to make, i.e., not those of people trying to move projects / products. So saying much more than that might involve me breaking my own comments policy.

      To speak as vaguely as possible, though: participating in fandom and thinking about fan anxieties and what “makes engaging in something so frivolous / meretricious okay”: (a) many fans need a “worthwhile” justification / excuse for fanning; (b) fandom unleashes a lot of creative energy that leads to various sorts of “value added” activities [writing, art, etc.] for that significant chunk of its participants who don’t participate in the primarily “appreciative” aspects of fandom. (I could say more here about fan needs and how they work out in practice, but to keep it brief I’ll limit myself to saying that many fans, perhaps the majority, conceal temporarily or permanently their actual motivation, or even are unaware of it for a long time.) These generalizations about the need for justification and the effect of fandom rely on the distinction drawn by some commentators on fandom between fan as recipient/consumer — these are the fans who are usually arguing that people “shouldn’t take things so seriously” — and fan as creative/engaged in fan labor — people who often take things very seriously.)

      I’ve been struck since the advent of Web 2.0 (which hit this fandom later than some others b/c Armitage wasn’t a visible social media participant in the fandom until almost a decade in) that there is perhaps a third type of fan that might see his/her purpose primarily in terms of acting according to their notions of how publicists have, at least in a limited way. Acting as a publicist functions as the justification / excuse in the minds of these fans and also corresponds to the “value added” aspect.

      It has been hard for me to see publicizing itself as a “value added” activity, but that relates to my creative prejudices and the fact that my own model and my tendency to be open about my sometimes negative reaction to things doesn’t correspond to the “publicist” model at all. (I’ve also had the issue that I’ve felt pressure to publicize at times in order to keep people visiting the site.) There’s also a parallel to the development (I think it was Elizabeth Minkel who commented on this) of a change in the hypothesized hierarchy of fans — the old hierarchy being based primarily on knowledge of the object, with the new one being based on access to the object (and the relationship changing because the increasing legitimacy of fan activity means that the creators and consumers are closer together than they ever have been), which is also enhanced by Web 2.0, which grants the user (the illusion of) real access or contact with the fan object.

      In our fandom that is possibly pushed forward by the fact that there are at least two BNFs who are known ex-publicists. What the “publicist fan” does is a very limited, low-commitment version of what a publicist actually does, of course.


      (a) as people embrace that role, it becomes aspirational for others. There’s a competitive aspect to it, in that people attracted by this model rush toward the news and are followed because of their awareness of how to get at the news (and or remote or obscure pieces of information).

      (b) It also speeds up the information transfer within the fandom in general and correspondingly segments fans further –so it used to be that a new interview could occupy dozens of fans in discussion for several days whereas now fans are divided into the group who wants to know immediately and the fan who can’t or doesn’t want to consume the information as it emerges. By the time the latter group gets the news the former group is done with it already. I find myself labeling things that have happened as recently as 12 hours early with “ICYMI” for this reason.

      (c) Detailed discussion in general is dampened, as for the publicist fan, the value added activity is mostly exhausted in transmitting the news with a bit of cursory discussion.

      (d) The publicist fans tend to limit the extent to which criticism can be tolerated in certain circles because the justification is “doing something for Richard Armitage” and so saying anything that didn’t fit with a general notion of “good publicity” is increasingly policed, or if not policed, so aggressively disapproved of that it leads to discouragement. This is not to say that there was no policing before this, but it was primarily identity-based policing (“don’t say that about him because I think it’s wrong and I am personally implicated in the misunderstanding” — I’ve written about this before as the tulpa effect) whereas the gradual shift to the publicist model creates a situation in which the policing comes from the feeling that the fandom is being watched and fans cannot afford to say anything negative about the object “if they really care about it/him.” It’s been interesting to me that the most detailed and analytical discussions of Armitage I’ve seen in the last year or so have moved away from Twitter and the best ones are taking place on the forums, esp the passworded ones, albeit with many fewer participants than earlier …

      (e) which I think is also the result of this publicist fan model emergence. The “access” model that it corresponds to limits the number of people who are be highly informed in that not everyone can have access and because the fandom doesn’t need thousands of publicists. Probably four or five are sufficient. It feels like there are many fewer BNFs now. This doesn’t mean that there are no creative communities along the lines of earlier days — they are still there. But they are more niche, now, and appreciated by smaller audiences. I suppose, in the end, the rule is that the rank-and-file fan is interested in the object, not the commentary, and the publicist fan serves that connection much more directly than the creative fan or even the appreciator/consumer fan ever did.

      Hmm, that got long. Anyway, fwiw.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks so much for taking me through it.

        The first context I saw it in was a string of a twitter conversation where the fans said they shared items and spoke positively because they considered themselves “publicist-type fans” (as one put it). The other time was when a string of fans were talking about the lack of Berlin Station promo online and they lamented that BS didn’t seem to understand that fans could “help them publicize”. Both times they seemed to be in the “doing something for Richard Armitage” camps, which seems to give them satisfaction.

        I mostly gave it a quizzical look because I was coming at it from the POV of someone who occasionally gets paid to be an arts publicist and works alongside a book publicist. It seemed odd to equate a fan signal boost with the work of industry publicists, which is often more behind-the-scenes work than people realize.

        But I can understand that from the fandom POV, fan publicists operate as a means of quickly getting the word out to fans and operate as a go-to source for the up-to-date information. And fans boosting the signal on blogs and social media does help the publicity machine in the long run.

        I can also understand how the whole “publicity fan thing” can create more deeply ingrained issues in a fandom. Thanks for giving me the 101 on it.


        • These are still fairly inchoate thoughts on my part, so if they help I am glad.

          There are one or two fans who consistently pass on this message (the idea that a fan signal boosts equals being a publicist, and that signal boosting does something for Armitage). If I get into detail about how this has worked in practice, I’m breaking my own comment policy 🙂 But it’s been surprising on a number of levels. I used to do publicity for a number of academic groups, so I’m also puzzled by that idea, insofar as one key feature of success is actually getting the message in front of a target audience that is unaware of it but could be interested, and then moving the bodies or the money, and all this is a lot harder than it looks. I worked with a woman whose husband was a TX assemblyman and she was a master of getting people out to political events and donating to her cause, and she had a few tricks — but what she did was nothing like what a fan does. (It’s a bit like the difference between the person who likes a political candidate’s post on the web and one who actually votes.) Fan activity may help, but the problem IMO with how the “publicist fan” model works within the fandom is that practically none of these people are real social media influencers. So you have a lot of people boosting and a lot of buzz within our own little pond. Everyone has some delusions about their role inside fandom, though, including me, so if it makes us all feel better, cool. I admit that I enjoyed the fandom as such better before this became the standard — blogging was more fun before the fandom became all about the news — but I understand why it happened and I’ve adapted myself to conditions.

          I think from my perspective the issue with BSt is that their machine hit the social media hard but didn’t operate it correctly last year — barrages of stuff but they never used their 2.0 capacity and more or less ignored most of what fans did in response. Orser and Forbes were better in that regard than whoever operated their social media. This year they aren’t even really broadcasting. It’s a bit puzzling. Guylty and I had a discussion about this the other day; comments on this post:

          Liked by 1 person

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