RECAP: Why RA: Are You Sitting Comfortably? Part 1

I started this series in October 2011.  It had numerous parts but unfortunately I never completed it or answered the ultimate question.  Friends have encouraged me to repost and get on with it already.   Since it’s been almost three years with a new influx of fans, I think it merits a new conversation.

[I’m telling this story because it represents my background in fandom spanning a period of almost 20 years.  All observations and opinions stated are mine alone. This post has been month in the making because it’s been so difficult to articulate and pen.   It’s important to know this background so Dear Reader can understand upon what basis I attempt to answer the question of various bloggers in Armitage World: Why Richard Armitage?]

Are you sitting comfortably?  Then I’ll begin.

fandom-by-the-crayola-of-doodahWay back in the early 1990’s, I was involved in a major fandom. I was in my early 30s who had just left a bad long term relationship. I was still a bit naive and callow and frankly, not happy with my life.  I found a group (let’s call them Alice, Bea, CeeCee, and Daria) of what I thought to be like-mind fun women in a forum on AOL. (There might have been a few more of us, but these are the ones I remember).  Anyway, AOL was not so fondly called AOHell because lasting through the long connecting handshake and reaching the forum was a labor of love in the days of 4800 baud dial-up. This fandom surrounded a show that became a major convention industry.

Our group focused upon one actor on the show known to have an extremely dry sarcastic sense of humor.  We decided, sight unseen, to attend a convention in San Diego and meet.  It was a big affair and many of us had never attended such an event.  It was a beautiful city with fantastic weather and we all enjoyed the adventure of it all.  The actor was funny and in his element onstage.  The audience was not disappointed.   My job didn’t send me to industry conventions, so I thought this was a wonderful excuse to travel,  make friends and see new places.  I was terribly green and unschooled in the ways and personalities of fandom.  I’d never traveled before to see any celebrity, so it felt quite weird and daring.  It was a chance to get together, and be giggly, girlish and silly, a stage I missed out in my adolescence.  It wasn’t my first actor crush but it was the first I had ever actively shared with any one else. I don’t recall having any expectations of the actor aside from wondering how he looked in person and how he would present himself out of character.  At such a large event, I didn’t even expect to get an autograph or attempt it.   I perceived no “relationship” to him apart from being a fan which was a distant abstract concept to me and I was content to stay that way indefinitely.

It never occurred to me to examine some of my travel mates more closely or even the actor himself.  I assumed our only motivation was to have a good wholesome time because that was my mindset.  That brings to mind the old legal adage, “to assume, is to make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.”  As I said, I was naive.

fandomI was late joining the group and therefore didn’t know that a history already existed between Daria and the actor. She was a nice,  sweet, very unassuming woman who was something of a door mouse.  She was on a first name basis with Mr. Crush who knew her on sight. I was aware she’s lost a great deal of weight but not that she did it to impress him.  She lavished him with expensive presents but lived hand to mouth in garage back of her parents’ home while she toiled in a low paying job.  All of this information came out as we met from time periodically for the conventions.  After awhile the thrill of traveling receded and I could see the dynamics of this group.  Of the five of us, Bea and I were there for the camaraderie; Alice and CeeCee seemed to teeter on taking all this too seriously and Daria was disturbingly intense.

As my awareness of the dynamics grew, I became more uncomfortable as was Bea.  Things came to ahead when we traveled to be in the audience of a radio program starring Mr. Crush.  This was the first time I’d had a chance to have a one-one encounter with him.  Some in the group was thrilled about this and seemed a bit too in earnest in their pursuit of his attention which I found crossing the line.  On the fateful evening, Daria, Alice and CeeCee waylaid him in the corridor of the hotel.  From what I could see he was smiling and comfortable, so Bea and I approached.  As I stated, he has a very dry sarcastic personality, but in that moment something in his demeanor indicated that he was actually laughing at us.  I don’t know if I was being overly sensitive;  but life had taught me to recognize veiled contempt when I saw it. Maybe that’s not what he intended to exude but that’s how it felt.  I was turned off.  The three were clueless but the two of us were DONE with the whole thing. It was as if I’d taken a step outside myself and viewed the situation with a cold objective eye.  My fangurling dropped away.   I was disturbed by the trio, by me even being there and mostly by this actor. In a flash, I wondered what kind of man he really was and whether he was the type of person I should admire.  I recall thinking, “maybe it’s not a good thing to get too close.  Just who the hell is this guy?”  The group broke up shortly afterwards.

My fandom isAs far as I know, the trio are still fans, 18 years later.  I saw Alice on Facebook two years ago talking about seeing him in a play.  We don’t know if Daria was still hoping to be noticed.  We lost contact with CeeCee.  Bea confided a few months after the breakup she had similar misgivings.

I came away from the group a bit more savvy about fandom dynamics and with whom I should associate before jumping into a situation.  I also became aware that the object of my crush might not be who he seems but that I can never really know who exists behind that public persona.  Although I felt a bit more experienced, it turned out I still had a lot learn from my next fandom.

So what about you Dear Reader?  Were you part of fandom before Armitage World?  Is this fandom new to you?  Please feel free to share your stories.


16 thoughts on “RECAP: Why RA: Are You Sitting Comfortably? Part 1

  1. Seems like along time ago but this was one of the first post of yours I read. Back in the days I stayed in the shadows, just reading the blogs and taking in what I had read. Thanks for sharing again.

    • Thanks for sticking with my blog all these years. I appreciate your support. The goal is to repost some of the series and get on to finally finishing it.

  2. I have never participated in a fandom before this one so I have nothing to compare with it. I am aware of controversies within the fandom but I find out about them after they are over. I know not everyone is sweetness and light here, but my experience of four years of commenting (I know, big deal) has only been positive. If I was a blogger, it would probably be different. For me, RA worship, too strong a word, likeship? puts me in touch with a younger, silly me. It is fun, but also a great way to connect with other women and also a catalyst for self discovery. All the questions, why him, why now, why me, so many whys we ask ourselves – I don’t know. But in the end -why not? It makes me happy.

    • Isn’t it fun? I really enjoy the connectedness and camaraderie more than anything. It encourages a nurturing atmosphere to be creative. I wouldn’t even be blogging/writing if it weren’t for fellow fans. I think you maybe be more onto the answer that I will finally answer in a few weeks.

  3. Before RA, I made a half-hearted attempt at joining a fandom for an actor before, but I was largely put off by the clique-ness of the fandom. The RA fandom is not new for me anymore, after two years, and yet it is constantly evolving and changing. I find that challenging and exhilarating at the same time.
    As for your story: WORST NIGHTMARE! Feeling the scorn, contempt or pity (?) of the admired person is my worst case scenario (hence I am more than reluctant to put myself in his path). I am genuinely sorry that you felt that way with the mysterious first crush. Consolation: It wasn’t you, it was the others 😀

    • You definitely have a steadfast and active fan in the community. Wanted to say I do appreciate your efforts, photographic expertise and good humor. 🙂

      Crush #1 was unfortunate but you live and learn about what not to do and who not to run around with. Because of that, I have friends I’ve known for almost 20 years.

      • Thanks, Judi – I am just taking the cue from all those who have been before me, you included.
        As for the experiences – having made those friends more than weighs up for the disappointment. I think it is quite impressive that you are still friends and in touch. (I am almost tempted to say that mysterious crush must have been half-worthy, based on how we always ascribe the friendships we make to Mr A, too – but maybe it is time to take credit for our own flawless and magnetic personalities *ggg*)

        • Actually I’m friends with people from the fandom that came after that with Crush #2. That’s in the next installment. Yes, I think we should take credit. Like-minded people seem to strike up like-minded friendships. 🙂

  4. No previous crushes, but I raised my daughter as a Trekkie. In 2005, a friend showed me “North and South.” I was smitten, utterly, but very quiet about it. In 2011, I became somewhat involved with Armitageworld — just not rabid about someone who I am most unlikely to meet. No thudding, no squeeing, and no desperation — just a profound appreciation and an attraction on multiple levels.

    • Even though I call myself the anti-fangurl, I keep my interest low key too (don’t tell any one I said that. ;))

      So you’ve been a fan since 2005? That’s along time. Are you surprised by the trajectory in RA’s career or simply expected/hoped it would happen? I had hopes but don’t think I really expected it to take off like it has.

  5. It is just so good to see you back!
    I’ve had plenty of crushes on actors and real chaps alike. But never took them too seriously. Armitage is the strongest “crush” to date; that is probably fuelled by the advent of blogs. I do greatly admire him as an actor and find him drop-dead-gorgeous. I have no desire to meet him, but wouldn’t mind, if in right time and right place. 🙂

    • Thanks Fitzy, you’ve always been a great cheerleader for me. Good to hear from you. 🙂

      Yes, it really doesn’t hurt that his drop dead gorgeousness is aging very well indeed. Seriously, I’m excited to be in a fandom watching a crush’s star ascend. My old crushes’ careers either remained constant or stalled out. I’m interested to see how far RA will go.

      BTW, what would be the right time and place for you?

      • Cat says it for me below. Meeting as a “fan” is not an egalitarian situation. To carry that further, it implies that the fan seeks something from the subject (what – a blessing??). Does it not also put an onus on the subject to grant some courtesy/appreciation. Please let me emphasize that this is entirely a personal reaction. I’ve read the accounts of RA fans who have met the actor in various settings and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the pleasure they have derived from such encounters. While this seems contradictory, my reticence with regard to a “meeting” applies only to me and is not a “moralistic” discourse on fans. Each fan must find her method of showing appreciation and this actor has many times expressed his appreciation of their appreciation – heavens, I mangled that sentence! 🙂

        • Oh, I understand perfectly. Every fan has different ways of being one. I just was trying to envision you somehow running into him by accident. 😉

  6. My first real fandom was Buffy, and things were much kinder on the internet then. I hung out at the City of Angel, where everyone was lovely. There were no shipping wars, we just accepted that people had different tastes and that was okay. I understand the Bronze message board could be nasty, but I liked my CoA.

    I went to the conventions but after the first few times, it was more about meeting up with my fellow geek friends and having a great weekend. I stopped going to many of the talks, and generally only went through the autograph queues because my friends were. I’ve been donating those signatures to charity auctions ever since because I don’t really understand why a squiggle is meaningful.

    I quickly learned that the actors were not their characters, and some weren’t nice people.

    Some characters were okay but I didn’t fangirl over them. Watching their QandAs though, was hilarious. Tony Head is the best example of that, the man is a riot. I never did fangirl him, but I always attended his talks because he was so entertaining.

    Another actor was the type who used the women fans for easy sex. Which is fine, that’s legal and there wasn’t any force used, but I think that’s sleazy and put me right off. Luckily, I never much liked him much to begin with, but I hated him after that.

    Some put me off with their constant need for attention, for example, one actor used to keep taking over from the DJ at the nightly parties to sing karaoke. I came to dance, not to listen to some guy’s ego trip.

    Most just turned out to be totally different from their characters, and like Tony head being nothing like the fussy, fastidious Giles, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it did show me that it was the character’s I was drawn to, the actors just happen to look a lot like them.

    I would never want to interact with those people as a fan though, because of the power imbalance that implies. If I talk to anyone, it’s as an equal. I did get a few fun interactions though, thanks to my group of friends being quite tight with the organisers of some events. I have dance with Joss Whedon, hugged Jeremy Renner, and some other things that are private, but I never sought those interactions out.

    That’s one of the reasons i like the small conventions, because the guests are less guarded (metaphorically and literally), so you have more chance of having a proper conversation with them. I’ve been to some conventions that had as few as 600 attendees (although granted, the guests were lower calibre). I would also never attend something like SDcomic con. Sure, they get huge names there but Hall H holds something like 6,000 people. You wouldn’t be able to see the actors (unless you drop a small fortune on premium tickets) they’d just be a dot and you’re watching them on the giant screen. I can do that from my home, thanks, in much more comfort, with no queuing, frequent bathroom breaks and unlimited cups of tea. I think SDCC gets something like 150,000 attendees now, which is my idea of hell. I don’t do queueing or crowds! 😉

    • Hi Cat, welcome and thanks so much for commenting!

      I have a friend who was in the Buffy fandom. She was on LiveJournal where they got into huge shipping wars. Too bad she didn’t know about CoA or she might have had a better time of it. I went with her to San Diego to see a certain person’s band. I wonder if he’s who you’re referring to. YIKES!.I understand about the fan/crush imbalance and wanting to talk as an equal. It’s very weird because it puts you at a disadvantage. It’s why Zan and I avoided chatting RA up at the Proust party.

      I’ve gone to huge Star Trek cons (nothing like San Diego con I hear) but it’s so much more fun to break out into small groups with friends. Like you, it’s the camaraderie I really enjoy.

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