Reaching platform exhaustion? #richardarmitage

[I’m not asserting a single position here, but trying to articulate some conflicts I am feeling at present.]

My general reaction to the announcement of Richard Armitage’s inclusion in Arden’s Wake: Tides Fall was: enervation.

enervated: feeling drained or deprived of energy or vitality; weakened.

Or, in the immortal words of Shakespeare:

This is a little more animus than I feel but I couldn’t find an image with the resolution I wanted. I’m more tired than angry.

The following things are true, in no particular order, but roughly in the order in which I thought them:

I’m enervated.

But

A new Richard Armitage project is, in principle, good for Armitage and good for fans.

Doing things to improve one’s future professional opportunities is, in principle, good for Armitage’s career. This piece could be a stepping stone to more voice work in animated films; perhaps, eventually, even one of Armitage’s Pixar or Pixar-like favorites.

Certainly many people will seek to see this for Alicia Vikander, which will spread awareness of Armitage to industry people.

Certainly some industry and tech people will seek to see this due to the VR format, which will spread awareness of Armitage to industry people.

Pecunia non olet. An actor’s got rent to pay, sneakers to buy.

I want Armitage to pick the projects he wants most to do and to be happy doing them. I realize that he doesn’t have an infinite choice of projects. I don’t think he should pick projects based on what I or anyone else will enjoy most or is most convenient to me or any other fan.

And

I am enervated. I turned the youtube video off after less than a minute.

There’s been this regular issue since The Hobbit of having to chase down a particular format, platform, or experience — starting with 48 fps. In part this happens because artists are interested in new formats and in part because we’re living through one of those huge historical media transition periods and new formats emerge as people seek new sources of profit.

This could lead to greater creativity. It might be leading to greater creativity.

I am not convinced. I wasn’t convinced that (particularly after the first Hobbit film) the frame-rate added much to the films. I see them most often on television without 3D or enhanced fps and I think this is how most people now watch them.

It leads to greater expense — each new platform, each new subscription, each new equipment purchase. Often we no longer own content we buy, but only the right to stream it for the length of the subscription. A friend who I was trying to help navigate the most recent of the problems with a media company said, in no uncertain terms, that we’re being subjected to legalized theft. I know people feel that way about Digital Theatre.

But / and in principle I am opposed to a media platform monopoly. It’s not a good solution to me that a*****.com just take over everything. Monopolies lead to other problems.

It leads to even greater frustration as an international fandom tries to cope with intellectual property issues. It leads to scheming about piracy. It leads to actual piracy. It leads to frustration in fan circles as some pirate to see what they want, whereas others are angry because they are following the rules, or they don’t have access to friends with pirating skills.

It leads to tech problems that leave fans marooned and unable to see content they’ve paid for. It leads to exhaustion on the part of those fans who try to help their friends navigate their tech problems, with which the media companies leave them alone after nominal efforts to assist.

Or it leads to inaccessibility, period. It’s very hard to buy a legal copy of Lords of the North, although there were both traditional and download versions of that, because it seems to be caught in rights limbo. Nobody wants to steal, I think, or plans primarily to steal, but what’s the alternative? It was frustrating in Australia that it took a month for The Hobbit to get there; it was enraging that it took years for Berlin Station to get there; what if Arden’s Wake: Tide Falls never gets there in its original VR format? It’s one thing if you can’t see a play because the journey is too far or too expensive; that’s been true forever. But if something’s available in a hypothetically portable format, but just never makes it somewhere legally, it’s infuriating.

I just don’t know. I feel like since 2011 there is just one long litany of issues like this.

OK, there was always  the question of whether one should buy a region-free DVD player. But after 2012 came the struggle to find the right theater to see The Hobbit in, in order to see it as Jackson wanted it seen. There’s the question of buying content from Audible (and others) in a proprietary format, including titles that are available in some areas and not in others. Stitcher premium subscription, or wait? You can download those files but not to a computer; I’ve put them on my phone in case I need them, but I don’t know if they will still play after my subscription ends or when I change phones. The Digital Theatre fiasco, with a notable number of fans who are marooned despite making multiple requests for help — or just those who haven’t had the time to pursue the reclamation of the material they were told they had purchased permanently. Blenheim Films’ problems with streaming fulfillment. Your relationship with your VPN. Berlin Station and its uneven distribution across the most common television platforms in the U.S.; its non-distribution in the UK despite Armitage’s statements in Fall 2017 that it would be “imminent.”

I don’t think of myself as a tech Luddite (other than hating my cell phone), and the Armitage fandom has definitely taught me a few things. I am emphatically not a victim of the digital divide and I’ve been incredibly privileged to be able to obtain what I wanted and needed so far. But honestly — what does project this mean? More equipment? Another subscription? A trip to a faraway city to see a half-hour short at a convention or a film festival? It’s not like I haven’t made equipment investments before (see: region-free DVD player) or monetary investments (see: Thorin Oakenshield merchandise) or long trips (see: London for The Crucible; Chicago for The Crucible on screen; New York for Pilgrimage; Toronto for Brain on Fire). But this pattern is starting to bug me.

Just writing this post left me feeling: enervated. And I suspect it’s a reaction that’s not going away. I’m too tired to really want to view this project.

If it were video of some kind, I probably wouldn’t be too tired, but I’d be frustrated at either the logistical challenges or the cost, or both. If it were stage, I’d be on pins and needles trying to figure out if I could go. I don’t enjoy those feelings necessarily but they seem “worth it” on some level.

So I know I should be rejoicing about this wonderful new thing but it has just left me feeling tired.

On the upside: Ocean’s 8 is coming!

~ by Servetus on April 28, 2018.

45 Responses to “Reaching platform exhaustion? #richardarmitage”

  1. The logistics of following Armitage has left me drained too. Back in the day I might have expected to wait months to see shows but nowadays we are used to things being fast tracked ( I think we are getting the 2nd season of A Handmaids Tale hours after the US screening) and -yes- TH being screened a month after the rest of the world when it was made on our doorstep is an open wound. Thank you for seeing it from a non US perspective.

    I was whinging about RA’s choices a few weeks ago ( because the highs have been few and far between since 2012 from my POV) and someone quite rightly pointed out that we don’t know how many roles he gets offered. Perhaps he would love to do a BBC drama but it honestly doesn’t feel like that to me. It feels like he is constantly jumping on the latest bandwagon – trying to find something innovative, something that will bring him a new audience. Which is fine if that’s what he wants but the old audience may find themselves worn thin.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think he takes what he can get to keep working.

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      • It has seemed that way lately. I wasn’t bothered by the year of silence in 2013, but many fans were, and maybe he was, too.

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    • Maybe he is slowing down because he is lonely and wants to find a Mrs. and have kids
      although bouncing around so much doesn’t
      bode well for any relationship. I’m sure
      he would have an abundance of female
      takers.😍😍😍

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    • Before Armitagemania I had three friends / acquaintances in Australia and the main issue was how far away it is from European archives. Since fandom I probably have another half dozen and weirdly, it seems to be really far away from media. You would think Australia’s distance would be exactly the kind of problem that media should overcome. (sigh). Puts the lie to the children’s book where the kid thinks all his problems will be solved by moving to Australia.

      re: we don’t know what he’s offered — I agree, and I said that in the post. This isn’t intended as a criticism of him; I get that there are professional constraints operating on his choices. It’s just my reaction to the situation. I do hypothesize that his preference to be doing something different all the time has potentially had a negative effect (if he’s been offered roles he’s been turned down), because he doesn’t seem like anyone’s “goto” guy for anything except audiobooks. You know? Like Martin Freeman is everyone’s choice for “suffering, annoyed everyman” and Benedict Cumberbatch is the choice for “oddball genius.” Armitage does so many different things. Which speaks to his skill and his adaptability but he doesn’t have a real profile. Again, let me emphasize: I know he’s gotta do what he’s gotta do.

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  2. You have hit the nail on the head. Many thanks for voicing these concerns – it is not that easy admitting to certain feelings of negativity that are becoming increasingly associated for some fans with RA, and I am grateful to see that others share my growing fatigue when it comes to branching into an ever-expanding number of media channels in order to consume the material created by my favourite actor. It’s not so much the fees that I am concerned about – I understand that I have to pay to get the goods. But the fragmentation of the consumer experience – both in terms of media channels as well as in audiences that have access to the respective channels – has an impact on fandom, individually and collectively. Not to mention the “once bitten, twice shy” effect of too many project announcements that have ended nowhere. As you said – not a criticism of RA, his communication policy, his artistic choices. Just an honest admission of a certain frustration that has taken root for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel like more than ever there’s a line growing in the fandom between people who simply support everything he does without question and those who don’t. Eight years ago, it’s my impression that the fandom was much more tolerant of people who were frustrated with one choice or another. I think this development has something to do with Twitter and people’s conviction that they can only say complimentary things “in his presence.” But that’s not the only factor. The whole Cybersmile positivity push plays a role, too. The next time I hear “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” I may commit murder.

      Good point about the fragmentation of the fan experience. I also feel like discussions about particular projects are much shorter and less detailed, because no one is watching them at the same time. It’s not like with Spooks, where first the English fans talked about it, and then the Australia fans, and then the U.S. fans. Now everyone is watching at very different times and that interferes with sustained conversations. The timing also interferes with the quality of the conversations in that by the time one fan even gets to see something, another fan has already seen it three times and formed a firm opinion about it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m now inclined to agree with you in relation to the division of the fandom and the reasons for it. And I find it increasingly difficult to navigate between these two factions – but that’s an individual personality problem of my own. I’m not that big into voicing criticism myself, but I do not see why respectfully expressed criticism or critical reviews on the basis of well thought-out arguments should be seen as detrimental to an actor’s ego or an actor’s reception in the industry. If fans have any influence at all, I would think that nothing looks better than a variety of voices that react with insightful commentary. But well – preaching to the choir.
        Are there still any discussions, btw? There seem to be only a handful of individual blogs where (longer) discourse happens. We’ve lost too many fellow fans who used to add their own voices and reacted to discussions that were kicked off on one blog, with blog posts of their own. I usually avoid wishing back ‘the olden days when everything was better’, but in terms of lively discussion over a length of time, the times pre-2014 were better. Mind you, I think a lot of that was also motivated by the fact that we needed to create our own dialogue at a time when RA had vanished to NZ for nearly three years. With news, projects and communiqués directly from the horse’s mouth on a regular basis, we are not fixating on individual issues anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

        • There are a lot of things at work, I agree. After 2012 there just was a lot more news and so people got occupied with that (as opposed to earlier when there was not a piece of news every other day, so if people wanted to stay involved they got involved in discussions). The natural of the products also changed the demographic of the fan base — that original legacy fan dynamic consisted of people who wanted to have long discussions about things, same with Spooks and to some extent The Hobbit, but the Hobbit fans who were into long discussion were already having them elsewhere. And I think there’s a general change in discourse that relates to platforms, i.e., the switch to tumblr made things heavily visible, there’s a particular kind of conversation that goes on on Twitter, and now the move to Instagram and pinterest where it’s really hard to even say words adds an additional twist. If you look at how much attention he gets on Instagram — I think a lot of people have decided that for whatever reason they don’t really want to talk about things at all. I know less about FB but I’m not interested; it’s only useful to me as a human because I have my profile clamped down really tight, to people I am good friends with and with whom I’d talk anyway. Plus there’s just so. much. crap on FB.

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  3. I couldn’t agree more. I’m another fan who traveled to see him – FCS, I even went to NY from Mexico for only 2 days to go to see Pilgrimage – but this is frustrating. Why do you think only two people at a time could watch Arden’s Wake? Because there were only two headsets maybe? I’m not sure how useful this role will be as far as recognition for Armitage in the industry. How big is the audience for this format? How easy is it to find a venue? And again, it’s another voice role. I like his audio work, but when that’s the bulk of what’s on the horizon, it’s disappointing to me. In the end, IMO, I think Wolverine was a mistake (nothwithstanding some article thought he’d be a better Wolverine than 10 other men.

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    • My impression was that the Tribeca set up was one where you signed up for an “immersive experience,” and there were several VR things on offer for the visitor to choose from during that experience. (Hence, no fan could go to see it b/c all of the VR showcase tickets were gone before we even heard about this.) Something like this is limited by equipment, so yeah, they only had two headsets available (for whatever reason — I don’t know if that was the festival, which seems to be run on a shoestring, or the choice of the distributor or the studio, or there were other things in the space and they only had so much room available).

      The main significance of that CBR article was that the editor seemed to be signaling that a significant subset of fans were signaling “nihil obstat” on Armitage in the role, i.e., if the studio did cast him, they can count on a significant segment not boycotting the film because he’s not Jackman. Lots of industry professionals write for and read CBR. It’s like the New York Times of comics and comics-related material. Also, it’s one of few venues that have tried via platform changes to address the gender / bullying problem in those fandoms on its message boards. That’s the main thing I associate it with — they deleted all their old forums in 2014 and tried to start over (to huge uproar).

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      • I don’t know if I’m keen on him as film Wolverine ( probably), but I admit to being slightly (OK more than slightly) proud that he was # 1 better than both both Aidan Turner and Luke Evans. Luke Evans is having quite a run. (I’m watching him this minute was Bard on TV) He got great exposure in The Alienest series on TNT – I found it too gory after two episodes, but it got lots of goo reviews.

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        • Isn’t Luke Evans already some other superhero? Aidan Turner is growing on me as an actor, but his interviews are a serious turnoff. I watched twenty minutes of the Alienist and got bored and turned it off. My RL FB friends seem to have mostly stopped after the pilot. Apparently some people really love it, but the latest review I saw of it was negative to the point of being angry. People like Daniel Brühl, too.

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        • He auditioned for Wolverine against Aidan Turner and Luke Evans?

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          • Not that we know. There was an article in Comic Book Resources about candidates to play screen Wolverine. It’s linked in one of the tangentially related posts.

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          • Read the article. These are only suggestions for a new film Wolverine.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Yes I noticed that. It sounded like they approached him directly for the podcast role, maybe. (At the risk of being “disloyal”, I kind of like the idea of Scott Caan in the movie role.)

              Liked by 1 person

            • yeah. The author is a pop culture / fandom writer. I think the fact that they published it more an indication of the willingness of fans to accept someone else (Armitage inter alia) in the fole, more than a comment on who will actually get any such role. Plus a little speculation on current rumors.

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  4. Thanks for articulating this. It would be so great to have good TV show or a movie that can be seen in actual cinemas. (Yes I know Oceans 8 is coming.) I suppose that those roles are just not being offered. I do love his voice and admire his voice acting, but there is SOOO much audio work lately. My thought when I read about this project was whether he will now become primarily (or only) a voice-over actor or narrator. That would not be an ideal trajectory to me, and I wonder if taking so much audio work actually changes the way the industry sees him in a negative way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s like a mantra: Ocean’s 8 is coming! Ocean’s 8 is coming!

      It probably reflects my own priorities, but my assumption is that he’d prefer to be on stage or on screen. I’m sure there are ton of considerations going here — not just what gets offered, but the things he’s committed to and waiting on (Berlin Station, My Zoe), and possibly, if his mother was seriously ill, and desire to hang around and not commit to months of filming or stage performances that make his schedule inflexibie. I’m also guessing he’d have no problem getting voiceover work of the kind he did before 2012 on UK television, so guessing that audiobooks pay better or are somehow more convenient to his needs. I suppose becoming a voice actor would mean he wouldn’t have to spend so much time cultivating his appearance and/or worrying about aging. But I agree: for me a development as primarily a voice actor would be a huge negative for me, i.e., if it became apparent he was no longer trying to get television, film or stage roles. Not because he isn’t good at it but because it’s not a product that fits in my lifestyle or consumption habits and it doesn’t call forth the same euphoria as the other stuff does. No knowledge on whether that stereotypes him in any way professionally.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sure he would rather be on stage or screen. He said in one interview that his instruction to his agent was to make sure he had a sustainable career. He’s certainly got that if he keeps doing audio and voice-over work while he’s waiting for projects he’s committed to to happen. (I hope My Zoe is finally happening.) I hadn’t thought about his mother’s situation, but that could be a consideration. Interesting thought that he wouldn’t have to work too hard on his appearance — “great face for radio” and all that — and the ability to wear stretched-out T-shirts whenever he wanted! But yeah, I would be disappointed if I couldn’t see him but could only hear him.

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        • I’m surely reading into it a bit from my own experiences, but at some point one realizes one’s parents won’t be around forever.

          Liked by 2 people

    • I think he has been offered and accepted film roles, some we hear of and some not, but they seem to keep falling apart. Like the Edith Wharton one (Summer?), the one set in South Africa with Naomie Harris, the film with Toby Stephens, and My Zoe – which nearly fell apart because of financing but is now seemingly going ahead. All of these movies would probably have been really enjoyable but just didn’t work out and then he was maybe left scrambling to fill in his schedule with other projects. He seems to really love audio work (some of his choices though, I can’t even wrap my head around).
      He also really interested in new and various things which, as you point out, can be frustrating and exhausting. He seems to love to be all over the map, literally. I think he must bore easily and likes to be constantly on the move in every sense. He must be an exhausting person to be in a relationship with. I totally agree with everything you say in this post.

      Liked by 1 person

      • good point about the movie projects that collapsed.

        I agree that he’s probably either easily bored or often lost in his own thoughts / daydreamerish. Various things he’s said over the years suggest that.

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      • You’re right that a lot of the projects seem to fall through. I think that’s partly because a lot of what he is offered is in the realm of independent productions. But it’s great that he still has work that he enjoys, in the audio books.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I thought I read he was interested in producing and was working w Irish Film Board on some project? I would think he would have enough networking in him to move a project forward or am I being naive? Maybe he’s in a holding pattern bec BS season 3 is not concrete yet??

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        • He needs money, mostly likely. His rumored pay for The Hobbit and the ongoing merchandise and royalty deals will probably keep him solvent into the middle to long term, but it wouldn’t have been enough, even if it had all been invested, for him to start a career as an independent producer. All we know about the Irish Film Board is that he tweeted at them that he wanted to get the film made — the maximum conclusion from that is that he’s applied to them for a grant. There’s been no evidence that they gave him a grant or other support beyond that.

          We don’t know exactly what his contractual commitment to Berlin Station 3 is. There’s been some speculation that he has the customary US 7 year option on his services for that project, but no one knows. EPIX has put in orders on two new original series in the last month or so, so the continuing silence about Berlin Station is a bit worrying.

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  5. I’m so with you here!! I know competition is good to keep pricing down but this is annoying me to no end as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Triste, désolée, ennuyée, contrariée, … et encore beaucoup d’adjectifs peuvent décrire nos états d’âmes actuels, sur tout ce qui a été dépeint par vous tous (toutes), ci-dessus.
    J’ai souvent des hallucinations: je crois voir Richard Armitage jouer à la place d’un autre acteur, dans les bons films ou les bonnes séries qui sortent en ce moment. Il pourrait jouer un excellent commandant Fred Waterford, à la place de Joseph Fiennes, dans la série “The Handmaid’s Tale”, (série mentionnée par lui dans une entrevue de 13° rue).
    Il y a en France à Lille actuellement un festival international dédié aux séries: ” Séries Mania” . https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festival_Séries_Mania
    Malheureusement BS n’en fait pas parti. Les critiques qualifient une bonne série par: de bons acteurs et un bon scénario. J’espère que la saison 3 sera mieux écrite… car le sujet de cette série est d’actualité et digne d’intérêt…
    Il faut croire en l’avenir . Il sera un réalisateur très connu, à défaut d’être actuellement un acteur star…

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    • I hope he finds something good soon and that it’s not The Handmaid’s Tale.

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      • Je dois m’être habituée à la violence, pour arriver à aimer cette série. Restons positif malgré tout!

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        • I won’t get into it in detail as I’ve said it so many times, but I think Margaret Atwood is one of the most wildly overrated contemporary authors. I’ve taught the book twice and I can’t stand it.

          But I’m sure Armitage will find something great to be in!

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          • Exagération c’est sûr! De la science-fiction très noire, mais qui nous fait nous interroger sur les travers de cette société où nous vivons.

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            • I’m not a huge fan of dystopias, it’s true, but The Handmaid’s Tale is just bad writing, bad plotting, and a kind of political screed that was stupid when it was written and quite frankly pointless now.

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            • “dystopia versus utopia”
              Au moins, cette série a eu le mérite d’enrichir mon vocabulaire sur la thématique du récit de fiction. Mais mon fort intérieur a une préférence pour l’utopie plutôt que pour la dystopie.

              Liked by 1 person

  7. “Découvrez la symbolique de l’Animal qui vous accompagne dans votre chemin de vie et apprenez-en plus sur vous-même !”
    D’habitude je fuis ce type d’article, ces lectures de salle de gare ou de salon de coiffure.
    Mais cette fois-ci j’ai succombé et je me suis demandée: “Quel est l’animal spirituel ou l’animal totem de ce fameux acteur anglais?”
    L’évidence est un animal de l’ “underground” comme la taupe ou de la nuit comme une chauve-souris. Qui vit à l’ombre et se brûle à la lumière du jour. Ce soir mon humour est grinçant,méchant. Désolée!

    Liked by 1 person

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