Fandom Frenzy; or Richard Armitage Goes Political

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:

elle morris

 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?



53 thoughts on “Fandom Frenzy; or Richard Armitage Goes Political

  1. I’m not sure how much “respect” we should “afford” him (using your words) about the substance of his opinions (or at least not any more than we’d afford anyone else). I think respect that we should be concerned about in this case mostly accrues to your earlier point — that he’s an autonomous adult who knows what he’s doing. (As are our fellow fans, the pulpit I seem to be stuck on lately.)

    • I didn’t mean that what he said exactly needs to be respected, I was discussing the larger picture. Give him some consideration for having his own opinions, something that been lacking in the fallout.

      • yeah, I don’t think we disagree, really. Let’s give him the respect that accompanies thinking he’s adult enough to say what he wants in public and mean what he says.

        I do think the substance of what he says is important, insofar as there are things he could have said that would have been a severe turnoff for me although none of these were. Outed himself as a paid up life member of the NRA, let’s say, which was unlikely. Then again, I have friends of every political stripe except Tea Partiers and I have political disagreements of some kind with most people I know well.

        To me a lot of this goes with how you interpreted things he had *already* said in the past. He had never made a coherent political statement in this much detail before but there were always hints here and there about his general political views, and then there was that statement about his “rebelling” against his very conservative parents. I think if I were going to be turned off by this statement, it would have started with perturbation about those things — i.e., i would never have come this far as a fan had I not already suspected he’d be at least somewhat sympatico. I suppose you could argue I was interpreting those data in line with my impressions and desires and what i knew about him, so I was unikely to decide he was inappropriate as an object of admiration. But I think people do have a political vibe and I don’t think his was ever particularly conservative. Of course, if you looked at the things he said about hard work and earning what you get or it not being worth anything, you could, I suppose, have thought him to be more conservative, but I’m pretty left and I think those things, too …

        • Yeah, I think we pretty much agree here.

          That gets into the area of “What could RA say to put me right off him.” Mine would be extreme things smacking of racism, misogyny, etc. I think everybody has some sort of limitation on what they would tolerate hearing but don’t believe he said anything of that magnitude yesterday. I guess that begs the question of how far is too far. Maybe some fans will leave based on his views. If that happens, I’d say they were better off.

          I never really thought about his politics, maybe because I assume (probably wrongly) that artists tend to be more liberal. Based on what he said about the coalition government, he tends more right than left, or was he just referring to the upside of coalition governments in general?

          • To me, he sounded like a centrist. It’s interesting to me that I haven’t heard comments from my extreme lefty friends in the fandom (there are a few) complaining that he’s too conservative, but he’s nowhere near as far left as I am nor as most of the people I know. Based on what he said here, anyway. But he was also concretely talking about the US shotdown in that piece of the interview, and what he was probalby saying was, look, in the UK parties can actually still conduct political negotiations, i.e., compromise is possible.

          • As to the deal breaker thing — I don’t look to him for political opinions (either to tell me what mine should be, or to reflect mine). He’s said 1 or 2 things in the last year I find troubling, one to the point that if he’d said it while he was having dinner with me, I wouldn’t have let it go unchallenged. Are there dealbreakers? Yes. But he’s safe on some of the biggest ones. He’s quite obviously not a blatant ideological racist, for instance. And I’d really think that even fans who are not as far left as I am would be troubled were that the case.

          • As far as his remarks about the coalition go I wondered if perhaps what he meant when he said it was working beautifully was that it was working in terms of debate rather than successful government. That was just how I read it but of course I could be wrong. It is very unusual in this country for someone in the entertainment business to lean towards the Conservative party.

            • Yes, we agree about what he meant in context of what he was being asked. Some people would say for political reasons, though, that any praise of this government, which has been rather hard on the poor lately, is misplaced.

            • Kathryn – Re “I wondered if perhaps what he meant when he said it was working beautifully was that it was working in terms of debate rather than successful government.”

              That is how I took it. I have always been impressed with how any British Prime Minister is required to address Parliament and vice-versa.

              • I’m no expert on British politics (I should know more than I do seeing as I get to vote here!) but I guess the thing with the Prime Minister is that although he leads the government and the buck essentially stops with him he is still simply a Member of Parliament. This means he still has to represent the voters in his own constituency in exactly the same way as all the other MPs. We don’t vote for a Prime Minister, we elect individuals to represent us and they then form a government based on which party has the most elected members. There is a lot more to all this with regards to party leaders and who can be Prime Minister, elected or not, but I think that’s too far off topic 🙂

                • And my knowledge of British politics is almost negligible, I’m afraid to say. But from what I have seen here in the US, on BBC News/BBCAmerica, the meeting of Parliament and that process is impressive to me.

  2. Absolutely … 100% right. I felt proud to be an admirer of someone who showed himself to be anything but apathetic. Not that I ever thought he was. His opinion is not relevant to his talent or his work. It may influence his personal choices, as you would expect, but it makes no difference to our ability to enjoy and admire the fruits of his labours. All this interview did was fuel my passion and respect for him and it would have done that even if I disagreed with him.

    • What disturbs me is some fans have lost sight of all of that and seem to be stuck on the opinions themselves. It smacks of resentment that their fantasy has decided to run amok.

    • I agree Judiang and Kathryn, and others,
      I think it’s great that “our” Richard Armitage–the UK born one–has social and political views and he shared them. Good for him! God bless!

      And the whole APM thing blows my mind. Frankly and happily, I don’t see APM happening in the sandboxes I tend to inhabit. So, I’m outing myself as a non-legacy fan, I guess. Ha! My crush has only been almost four years.

      Besides, RA is grown man and he can take care of himself were he to feel put on the spot by an interviewer. He could decline to answer a question, or decline to be interviewed the next time by a person he felt misrepresented him, I imagine. But I don’t think he was misrepresented in the NY Moves article. it seemed like an easy going breezy interview–albeit edited down from an hour’s worth of chatting. I did not view the interview as reflecting “negatively” on RA at all.

      And I think RA’s personal expression was great–regardless of my own views–with him dropping a veil or two! Ha! And I will happily enjoy his creative performances and storytelling long into the future.
      Cheers! Grati ;->
      P.S. And on yeah, no circus questions. Yayyyyyyy!

  3. Well said!!! Always fans are wanting to know what Richard has to say for himself and it seems when he does it’s still wrong! I’m a Brit and talk of politics is fairly normal and non controversial, I read the interview with an open mind, I remain as such now. Thank you for putting such a clear, calm and rational blog entry together.

    • Thanks Dee. It’s good to hear a voice from outside the US. Many Americans tend to be touchy and strident in views on politics and religion, as if dissenting opinion is a personal attack on their beliefs. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s definitely a trend here.

  4. I debated about commenting here, but I feel like I should. Most of the comments I’ve seen that suggested he was duped or tricked or whatever word you want you use seem to be from those who disagree with his political views. So I’m commenting, because I’m one of those who disagree with him. To be honest, I’m not fond of celebrities political opinions being published, because so often they seem to be portrayed as if they carry more weight than that of the general population.

    But my preferences have no bearing on him or his right to his opinions or even his right to express them publicly. And even though I disagree with him, I’d much rather see him say something I don’t care for, about a topic that actually matters than read about his time in the circus one more time!

    I do however think what he said matters. Perhaps not so much what he said, but the nature of what he said. For a man who in the past seems to have made an effort to please and not rock the boat, this interview was a major departure. He’s an intelligent enough man to know that in this country at least his comments would be controversial. That suggests some kind of shift to me, although I’m not quite sure what it is. But it leads me to wonder if this is the beginning of a new era for him when it comes to how he presents himself to the public. Only time will tell, but I’m even more interested in the upcoming DoS PR blitz now.

  5. Thanks Jas for commenting. It’s good to hear dissenting views. 🙂

    I do agree that it’s the fact that he said anything like this which speaks volumes. Does it signal a more relaxed RA or was it just a topic he went with because the interviewer raised it and we won’t see the likes of that again? What I’m curious about: if it is a shift, what influenced it? Overnight he’s become more interesting to me. Guess I’ll have to stick around to find out the answers. 😉

  6. Good to hear more people coming out with clear opinions. Thanks Judiang. I love discussing “heavier” topics, and would love to do more of that – although I follow a self-imposed policy of keeping politics mostly off-limits in my own postings. Considering that we are reading the opinions of an individual who is not a politician but an entertainment professional, I agree with you that what he says is irrelevant. In a way, so is the fandom response, like it or not. Win some, lose some. *shrugs*
    [Had written more, but find myself self-censoring *hmph*]

  7. Thanks for commenting Guylty. I don’t usually get into politics either but where RA goes, I go, or something like that. 😉

    Don’t self-censor here! The more outrageous the better, ya hear? 😉

    • Really??? 😀 – Well, I actually was wondering whether I am wrong with the impression that the (public) voicing of a negative reaction to the (contents of the) interview mainly happened on twitter. The follow-up to that would be: due to its nature, is a short messaging platform possibly more prone to direct, quick, and spontaneous criticism? And does it reflect the general consensus?

      • Outside of Twitter, a little on RANet’s comments page, and here on WP, I haven’t seen any discussions, myself. Tumblr seems to not care one bit. But I haven’t gone to (avoided?) any Boards, including that on IMDb.

  8. I assume the negative fire has come on Twitter? I don’t have tweet.

    Enjoyed the interview, which was candid, and yes, more revealing than any to date. I think he is comfortable in his skin, has given indication in past interviews of one who reads (not just Tom Clancy/Chris Ryan), is not naïve, and is conscious of what he says, and within the context of time/place/interviewer. The views he expressed do not raise eyebrows in many countries – UK/Europe, Australia, Canada etc. I can see that what seem natural views on gun control/healthcare etc. there might not accord with all segments of the U.S. population (quite conscious of this, as I live on the doorstep of the U.S.), and my views might be considered very “pink” further south. They are certainly left of centre in this country, but it doesn’t prevent good conversations with Conservative friends, who are and always will be right of centre.

    I don’t know how my response to him might be affected were he to express very right-wing views (support the U.K. National Front, for instance?) – probably would.

  9. Thanks for this Judiang. As a new fan, but one who’s read lots of old interviews, I agree that this interview may mark a shift in how he interviews in public, and I look forward to it. As to what Guylty said, you are correct that Twitter was the platform where most of the disagreement and discontent was (although see MarieAstra’s blog for a non-RA fan view which.
    I wonder what would be a deal breaker for me- the thing is, from what I know about him, it doesn’t seem likely that there is a deal breaker. I think I would have sniffed it out already. But who knows.

  10. Well, since everyone else is chiming in, here I go. *Disclaimer: I did not read every single word, the article received a skim.* Aside from what he said, I think what he didn’t say is also important. He didn’t personally attack those who have different opinions. Yes he talked about Republican vs Democrat and what was going on, but I did not see that as an attack, more of a statement of what was going on at the time (of course, I see myself as a moderate type individual). I’m really, really sick of the social environment in this country/world/internet/fandom where people cannot have a conversation in which they civilly disagree. People seem to take offense at the very fact that someone has a different world view than they do. Is it really worth the rise in blood pressure? I don’t think so. I’m sure none of us agree on everything. SO WHAT? It is what it is. I wish everyone would take a bleeping chill pill. He’s a big boy. If he wants to state his political views good for him. Whether your views agree or disagree with his, good for you. Let him have his opinion and have yours. Moving on!!!!

    • I guess I should mention, lest anyone reading this think I say all this d/t agreeing with all his comments ever, I have a pretty major disagreement about something else he has said but have managed to put that aside and still enjoy his work/face/body/etc.

    • Hey there SM. I agree. I read on another blog that some fans bristled because they they thought he was attacking all Republicans. Considering the context of the comments (shutdown and politicians), I don’t see how they assumed he was tarring everybody with the same brush, unless they were looking to take it personally. Sigh. I didn’t agree with everything he said either, but saw it for what it was, his opinion.

  11. I’m glad he raised his voice in the debate but I disagree with him and the reporter about at least one thing. Several people in the fandom, too, as it turns out.

  12. As long as he is not a member of National Rifle Association 😉 I’m staying in his fandom.

  13. I’m outting myself. Willingly if not tardy. I’ve been reading and reading and reading and contemplating have concluded that I stand in the ranks of Jas and Jazz. The hesitation to express myself here or at any of the other blogs is lesson hard-learned! I once dared to voice a political (for me it was moral) stance at my blog. The results were predictable. I was shocked. I was also naive.

    My take, as if anyone really cares, as a conservative, libertarian…dare I say it?…Tea Party wannabee. Now that I have completely disqualified myself…

    The interviewee’s political statements:
    1. Did not shock me.
    2. Did not put me off
    3. Did not enrage me
    4. Did not sway my core beliefs
    5. Did not force me to swear off RA in general

    The interviewer’s journalism techniques:
    1. Did not shock me…we’re talking elite liberal/progressive New York women’s righter type here who has no clue what exists outside the bubble of NYC. I know. (That’s “profiling”. But there you have it. Us gun toting, Bible thumpers tend to be like that in Texas. Or Kansas.) I don’t think trickery was part of her plan. She was just being who she is.
    2. Did not sway my core beliefs
    3. Reminded me why I don’t subscribe to “magazines” on this sort in the first place. I don’t live to be fashionable and certainly don’t want to expose myself to more progressivism as described in the mags mission statement. Really? The wife of a dirt farmer? LOL!

    All that said, while it was great to see RA outside his usual box, his questionable statements verged on naiveté and were sometimes contradictory, IMHO. But this is a small time mag (as I understand it) and he felt comfortable. That’s a good thing. He knew what he was doing. The bottom line is…had this been a piece at say Huff Post or any major “news” breakers, I wonder if he would’ve been as “open”. (I have no idea, just wondering.)

    My first thoughts were…had more conservative views been upheld by RA, what would fans reactions have been? Certainly the initial chest-thumping and “Oh look. He thinks just like me!!!” reactions were dismaying because I am, obviously, in the minority here. I am uncool!? 🙂 That particular wave of fan exclamations seems to have settled into calmer thinking though. And I appreciate that.

    To answer your question, Judi…the article did NOT affect my adoration because I have never nor will I ever adore the man (yes, I know you were being semi-serious??). 🙂 I save “adoration” for people in my real life. I do, however, respect his talent, his work ethic and his overall character, while not agreeing with most everything he stated. And he’s also easy on the eyes. 😀

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment Queen. I welcome all opinions. 🙂

      When I read the article, I didn’t think of it terms of being cool or uncool. I was thrilled because he ventured outside the box and in a big way. Even if he’d leaned right, I would have been just as pleased. Seriously. (Okay, maybe slightly disappointed) but that wouldn’t have diminished him in my eyes.

      I suppose a better word would have been “admiration.” Like you, I save the rest for people I know. 🙂

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  15. I never actually stated what thing in the article I disagreed with. The thing that pushed my button was the whole “enjoying the shutdown” bs because I elect my government to do their damn jobs, I see the ACA as a good thing that needed to happen and because I assure you that people who depended on WIC to feed their children had more on their minds than where to score a white wine on a hot day in October with a good looking British actor. I disliked the flippancy of that part of the discussion.

    • I agree it was flippant, but I also think it was bitter, based on what the reporter said in her twitter stream the day before the interview. She asked if she should ask Armitage to get the Queen (of England — grin) to take the colonies back, because she would. There was a real atmosphere of that in my social media that week — we’re making jokes because we’re so angry we can’t stand it.

      Anyone in my RL FB feed knows how enraged I was about the shutdown, but sometimes people get flippant because they don’t know what to do. I’m not saying what happened in the interview because I don’t know and we don’t know the tone or whether anyone was trying to sound ironic. But based on my memory of that week I am prepared to give them both the benefit of the doubt.

    • At first I was thrown by that, but like Serv said, there was a lot of black humor flying around those weeks. (Missing in my household; I simply resorted to cursing.)

  16. “According to European fans, what he said wasn’t really controversial.”
    – Nope, I didn’t find any of it controversial, but then I do fit the “European fan” description. 😉 The only thing that was controversial (to me, at least) in what he said was that the current coalition government is working well, or something like that. Because pretty much everyone in Britain would look at that and go “LOL what?!” but then he hasn’t spent much of the ConDem incumbence actually living in Britain, so … how would he know?

    • Oh, yes, and the “enjoying” of the US shutdown, but wasn’t that said by the interviewer as opposed to RA? Because yeah, what’s to enjoy about people being forced to take unpaid leave because the ruling bodies of the country can’t come to an agreement? 🙁

      • There’s a trend here to take opposing opinion as a personal attack. It has a chilling effect on the debate process, and stymied political resolutions. As for the coalition govt, I assumed he was talking about how the UK can form coalitions to resolve issues, unlike in our currently uber poloarized government.

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