I could feel it coming in my bones – the fandom meltdown. It’s a phenomenon that occurs about every six months like clockwork, fueled by boredom, diverse personalities and the crush not giving the fans enough to chew on between projects. The energy builds with nowhere to go. Just about anything can set if off. So when yesterday’s article in New York Moves hit, it was time. My inner watcher perked up to study the fireworks. And boy did Richard Armitage not disappoint.
I’m not going to rehash what others have said. Most of the immediate reactions can be found on Morrighansmuse’s blog and on Twitter. The negative opinions were a textbook case of fan identity crisis, claiming that the interviewer, the editor, the hot weather, RA’s supposed British ignorance, etc. were responsible for what he said, and what were politics doing in an entertainment interview anyway?
I want to point out a few things:
– NYM is not strictly abut fashion and entertainment. Also from Morrighansmuse’s blog:
Here’s the description of New York Moves magazine which tells anyone that this is no entertainment magazine just reading off the publicity packet handed by the studios or PR company:
“Moves Magazine is a lifestyle magazine for city women (and men), unafraid to ask hard questions. We take on social, political, and global topics and show how women are shaping the world we live in today. Written with a progressive vibe, the magazine offers a provocative, often polemic view of society; an askance look at the world we live in.”
So RA stood an excellent chance of discussing politics – and being provocative (if one considers stating his personal believes such). When asked, he had as much right to an opinion as anybody else without being American. That’s how our political system works. Democracy in action. If we have no problems discussing politics in fandom (it happens all the time), why shouldn’t he?
– According to European fans, what he said wasn’t really controversial.
It seems to only have caused a kerfuffle among American fans. So sitting and having such a conversation probably didn’t phase him one way or the other. I suspect he’d be surprised at the extent of the negative reaction from some quarters.
– RA wasn’t tricked, manipulated, edited etc. Also from Morrighansmuse’s blog and Twitter feed:
He knew the topic and participated anyway. Despite constant fears to the contrary by some fans, RA knows his own mind. He knows what he wants to do and say. He’s certainly old and experienced enough to handle himself with reporters. He really doesn’t need our protection. Really.
– It doesn’t matter what RA said.
Yes, the nature of his opinions are irrelevant. It shouldn’t matter, and I think fans are losing sight of this. It isn’t important which way he swings on gun control, violence, or the colors in the rainbow. What matters is that he felt comfortable to reveal a part of himself, let us into his mind a bit to reveal opinions about topics other than his work. He’s human. He showed that he’s a real person with real opinions and real thoughts, not a walking talking fantasy to be kept in a pretty box uttering safe platitudes for our amusement. Shouldn’t he be accorded some respect especially by us, his fans? Yes, he could have stated the exact opposite opinions, and I would say the same thing. I respect him for having the courage of his convictions and saying what he thought. Fans don’t have to agree with him 100%; I don’t. Disagree. Criticize. But do give him a bit more consideration that what I’ve been reading in for the past 24 hours.
After all, his politics don’t determine our level of adoration, do they?