*spooof*: The Delights of Voyeurism

Ogling, objectifying and de-dignifying. The rights and wrongs of “looking” have been discussed heatedly, recently. And here is my confession contribution: I am a voyeur. No, I really am. That is, what my profession is all about. I *look* for a living. And then I record my “look” on camera and sell it on as a picture to those who also like looking. That makes me sound like a pimp who exploits their victims, doesn’t it? And it begs the question – is photography a tool for objectification? Or asked a different way – if it weren’t for photography, would we ogle and subsequently objectify Richard as much as we are able to and do ??? And where does that place R___, his agents and the marketing people?

When I was gearing up for a post on the wider theme of “objectification”, my intention was to *ooof* an image of R___’s that shows plenty of skin (abs, biceps, six pack) combined with his under-brow smoulder, in a provocative pose. Purely as a challenge to the critics of objectification. Imagine my surprise when I didn’t find it that easy to find some RA images with gratuitous nudity! Bearing in mind that I generally do not *ooof* screen caps but only photographs taken by professionals with the express purpose of portraying Mr A___ as himself or in one of his roles, I was left with only a handful of images to choose from, and they all are from the early stages of A___ ‘s career. Devil’s advocate that I am, I eventually settled for an image that displays all the trappings of eye porn candy…

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Whoa. Guylty is speechless. And not necessarily in a good way.
R___ A___ in a promo shot acting Cold Feet-character Lee Preston.

 

Alright, let me tell you one thing: No, I am not particularly fond of this shoot at all. It leaves me stone-cold, even though R___ must have been willingly complicit (well, as much as I can tell) in this titillating little set-up. Let’s have a closer look. (Yeah, it’s gonna be real hard, but it has to be done, girls…) On a very superficial level the sitter in this photo could be the male equivalent of the typical 1950s pin-up girls: Our model is posing on location. He has been placed in front of the bars of a window or gate. In the bottom left we even have a padlock just about visible. This background sets the tone for a rather raunchy interpretation of the location – bars evoke the association of prison cells, of captivity and of bondage. *wiiwoo* Helloooo, sexy!

Against this backdrop, our model has been placed with his right arm up, holding on to one of the bars, and his left arm hiding behind his back. Again, we have slight overtures of bondage emanating from this scene – because there is no need to hold on to these bars behind his back and above his shoulders, other than to be a fine sight… And what a fine sight it is as, on a more practical level, this means that the subject’s jacket is forced open by the raised arm (and possibly also a little bit by the arm that is pulled behind his back). How very convenient for oglers – as A___ has forgotten to button up his shirt, and so we are faced with his perfect body – a flat stomach, a muscly rib-cage, a clean shaven chest and the sexy little belly button. But the real pin-up pose comes from the way A___ is jutting out his right hip, with his left leg crossed in front of his right leg. (Google “pin-up” and you know what I mean!) The pose here says “Come and get it, girl! Touch me – I am all yours, I won’t bite. I am showing you my wares.”

This pose has been coupled with a very naughty smoulder from the sitter: Mr A is almost pouting here, his mouth closed, but his head is angled forward in order to then look up from under his brow, directly at the camera. We are all familiar with the “smoulder”, very effectively used by Mr A whenever he is portraying Alpha Male-characters (i.e. all of the time… Aside: funny, that he gets ‘mis-cast’ all the time… by his own admission he is less alpha and much more “nurture and nourish”). Combined with the body language here, the smoulder says “I am not ashamed of my wares, honey. I am looking you straight into the eye, I am actually daring you to come and touch me.” Despite the unsmiling gaze, the sitter is directly inviting the viewer to look and to appreciate what is there. He is literally exposing himself to the appreciation of the viewer. These are classic pin-up poses, laden with sexual promises and hidden titillation. The pose and the look are no coincidences. They have been chosen with one clear goal in mind: to get the viewer to look, to appreciate and to *want*!  The basest of instincts are being played on here. Cos try as we might – humans are animals, and we still act on the remnants of the instinct that nature has given us in order to procreate the human race. As females, we are attracted by wide shoulders, strong chests, muscular stomachs and narrow hips, and by unwavering confidence and determination – all secondary sexual characteristics of a virile male with whom we ideally should mate in order to proliferate our race.

Images like these are not made for simply appreciating the beauty of the human form. They are made to evoke feelings. And in that respect, the images from this series may actually work quite successfully – a handsome, hunky male will indeed evoke desire in me and there will be stirrings in my loins ovaries. However, evolution has moved on from cave woman days. Apart from visual sexual markers, women nowadays get turned on (or off) by a lot of other signs, some of them abstract. And all of them highly individual. In my case, I simply cannot switch off the photographer’s brain. This shoot for me is marred by the terrible hues that leave Mr A___ ’s looking like a case study for untreated jaundice. The yellow-orangey skin tone is my personal turn-off, and I am shaking my head at the photographer who thought they could get away with it. Yes, it was probably caused by the fact that there is a mixture of daylight (strongly streaming in from the window against which the subject has been placed) and flashlight in the shot. But that should have been dealt with in post-production. Secondly, I am turned off by the styling of the shoot. I do not like shiny suits and crinkly shirts, and I do not like the type of slacks-trousers Armitage has been told to wear. And thirdly, I do not like the sledgehammer sexpot set-up with the bondage overtures. To me, it simply makes no sense at all to place a man in this location with his shirt wide open. What’s he doing with his shirt undone in a stable? Romancing a horse? It doesn’t bear thinking any further than that!!!

To get back to the questions posed at the beginning of this post. If it weren’t for photography, would we ogle and subsequently objectify Richard as much as we are able to and do ??? And where does that place R___, his agents and the marketing people?  Ad 1) Yes, photography seduces and tempts us to ogle and subsequently objectify R___ A___ . But that is all it does – it tempts. By no means does the profligate availability of photographic material *force*us to look and drool. We can still say no, if we want, and we still do look away when we are not interested. The point of the matter is, that we are often and simply just following our instincts. We are working out the rank and desirability of the opposite sex – just like they do with us. And we do so with celebrities as much as the hunky builder in the Diet Coke ad or the cute guy who takes the same bus as ourselves on our way to work. That does not mean we merely see them as material for procreation. Most often than not we do not act upon our appraisals. Heck, we are not even *conscious* of our appraisals. The ogling simply goes on like an unspoken internal monologue, fleeting, inconsequential. Deal with it! And own up – there is nothing wrong with looking. It is in our nature.

As for 2) R___, his agents and his marketers are no more to blame than we are. They are acting on the premise that R___’s body is his capital. This may all sound very harsh and cynical, but the entertainment industry is one big meat market. If an actor wants to work, he has to offer himself as the product. And like the fruit seller offers you to squeeze a peach at the market stall before you buy it, his marketers show off R___’s peaches, figuratively speaking, to create demand. That is part and parcel of the job. The actors may not like that – and I sympathise with them for that, as it seems crude and rude – but their looks are half their capital. Judging by the relative dearth of raunchy images of RA, I conclude that Armitage has been successful in marketing himself without pimping out his body. Good on ya, I say.

Whatever. What counts is whether *you* get any enjoyment out of your object of adoration. As for myself – my reputation is soldily ruined, anyway. Off I go, ogling for the latest delicious shots.

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39 thoughts on “*spooof*: The Delights of Voyeurism

  1. Perfectly said. The tip about “romancing a horse” made me laugh out loud! Also the dress is totally wrong, lights are awful and yes, one of RA’s pics I like less. I totally agree with your analysis the more so for points 1) and 2). We “always” have to remember its’ all part of “work”, we are all playing a game that is essential in show business. Remember this and nevertheless enjoy the ogling 😀

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      • Thanks S., my avatar looks a bit like me since I’m a very little girl – well, girl… let’s not talk about age 😉 and people think I’m a little doll. Well, I’m actually tall (short) as Thorin! 😀

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  2. Amazing analyse. Thank you, it was really fun and interesting to read. You are so right in your points.
    As I love watching 50s pinup girls, it’s nothing wrong in seeing some pinup boys. If that is their work. I do love when actors do some more modelling photoshoots even if that only exploit their looks (like RA did for Fault and Glamour). But I don’t actually like that mutch seeing him like this or with too little cloths. I feel embarrased for him when I look at this picture. For me he is too talanted for pictures like this. But sadly beeing an actor is to be in the meat market at the same time and if you are not you maybe never get any good roles. I love wathing beautiful pictures of Richard, I can not deny that (I’m just human) but sometimes it’s really hard for me to look at stupid pictures like this and I’m not sure if I will ever be able to see BTS even if I heard it’s quite good. And only because I respect him too mutch as a person and actor. I really hope that the movie roles he gets in the future he will get because of his talent and not because of his looks. It’s a bigger change for that of course now when he’s getting older and is more famous.

    If I only think about the picture. He has a nice body and he looks so young. But you are right the worst thing in this picture is his horrible yellow skin, it looks so fake. I don’t think I have ever seen Richard in a tan so it just looks weird. And not to talk about the huge shoulderpads. Is this picture taken in the 80s?

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    • I have to agree with you Thora – it is hard to ogle RA when the images are just not as aesthetic as they should be. I *could* imagine RA doing a proper nude shoot – but *only* if it was done really tastefully. That would most probably also exclude full-frontal nudity – and no problem with that, as a proper nude is about the human shape and not about sex.
      As regards the image – no it was not taken in the 80s, although I can see where you are coming from with that assumption. The shoulder pads and the shiny suit *graaaaaah*, I am shuddering. No, this was part of the Cold Feet promo, I believe (notice the crinkle shirt), and so must have been shot around 2002/3. Yeah – unbelievable!
      Thanks for your comment!

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  3. This is how I see it. Richard has a beautiful body (and many other wonderful feature too, but let’s focus on this one). He KNOWS he has a beautiful body because he probably takes great pains in keeping it that way. Of course he could go down the Val Kilmer route, he’s got enough talent to grow a nice beer belly, but he strives to keep himself fit.
    I don’t feel like I’m ‘objectifying’, I’m admiring a beautiful physique that someone has spent a lot of time and effort on and has decided to show. I believe in this exchange we are both equals meaning the beautiful body and the greedy eye. It’s natural, it’s primal.
    I wouldn’t want it anyother way and I very much doubt Richard Armitage would either!
    Ps. That suit in the pic sucks so badly I demand Richard takes it off. Right now!!! 😉

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    • I like your point about the process of ogling being an “exchange”. Come to think of it – yes, it is, While the action of the model may have been in the past, it is still an interactive process as it shapes the audiences’ view of him and then the model’s image. – Richard is not stupid. He knows that his body is part of his appeal as an actor. Plus, he is human, and chances are that *he* likes to look at images, too. Maybe not of himself though *coughs* unless he is *really* vain and narcissistic…
      PS: Yeah, let’s rip the suit off and do this properly 😉

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  4. Noooooooooooooooooooooo!!!! I hate this picture with the passion of a thousand hurricanes (and if you’ve ever lived through a Category 4 storm, you know exactly what I’m talking about – hear me roar!!!). Yuck. Disgusting. I might throw up my breakfast. Seriously, he looks like a porn star. There is NOTHING sexy about this picture (and if you’ve read my RPStrndrng, you know I am no prude). Why do I not find it sexy? Let’s forget your brilliant comments about the light that makes him look as if he needs to be rushed to the nearest hospital for a double kidney transplant. Let’s forget about the atrocious outfit he is wearing (Hello, awful fashion stylist? Yes, *you* honey-bun. Next time, if you don’t have any beautiful clothes for your male model to wear, put him in a pair of tight, dark, boot cut jeans and a tight white t-shirt. The sexy Leo man will do the rest of the work for you. He’ll first let you take a couple of pictures of him flexing his biceps, then he’ll turn sideways, tighten his dancer’s moneymaker while he looks into the distance – practice for future green-screen work – and let you highlight his delicious peaches. Then, the best part ever, foreshadowing the creation of a certain Sgt. John Porter. Richard will s.l.o.w.l.y. remove said white t-shirt while chanting: vagina, vagina, vagina. Easiest money you will ever make!!!). It is a picture that screams: ‘Hey, babe, I’m a serial killer pervert. Want to hop into my windowless van and come for a ride?’.

    Sorry, where was I? Ah, yes, need a fashion stylist when you actually get to shoot Richard (I have faith!) in the comfort of your own carefully chosen isolated location (like you haven’t ever thought about this, S!)? Tell me now, and I SWEAR I will save every single penny and sell my blood too so I can get a passport and a ticket out of here.

    You can pay me with food…and five minutes alone with said model. *cough* OOOF!!!!

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    • *hahahaha*, oh B, you made me laugh so hard with this. Sounds almost like a well-thought out piece of fanfiction there *ggg*. Go on, flesh it out a bit and publish it on Wattpad or somewhere. It sounds positively delicious.
      Hehe, and should I *ever* come into the (un)enviable position of photographing Mr A (which is about as far from reality as hitting 30°C in an Irish summer…), I’ll ship you over as my stylist on shoot.

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    • Jesus, yes, this is a whole specialist cheese shop here, Nat. And it stinks, too *haha*.
      I think you can really tell how his growing status and popularity probably have also helped get him photographed better and meet better stylists and photographers. I haven’t really seen many duds recently (well, there are exceptions – wait for tomorrow when I’ll be discussing a recent one). Particularly the shots that surfaced yesterday are so incredibly good, I was literally staring at them, for several minutes, not believing what I saw. That guy Ascroft is really good. Have a look at his website – he’s really shot all the big names. http://robertascroft.com

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  5. Pingback: Coupla things while our lawyers check the next bit of the drone transcripts … | Me + Richard Armitage

  6. Hi! My name is Joanna and I’m a Voyeur! It would be a bad sign and plain rudeness not to admire the results of Richard’s struggles, right Guylty? 😉 I hate this photo! ( poor Richard, his hair loks like cheap wig)

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    • LOL – we may have to start an Oglers Anonymous or something like that… Yeah, I am with you. Richard is putting so much work into his body. If we ignore that, we’d be hurting him. I am advocating selective ogling, however – in this case we should all just zoom in on the general stomach area of RA’s and ignore the rest. It’s actually not that hard to do…

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  7. So, is it awful to admit that the first time I looked at this pic, I thought, “wow, someone finally gets his trouser length right”?

    I really like your point at the beginning that it’s not the easiest thing to do to find gratuitous topless photos in photog shots of him. This is a really key issue for me in the whole objectification debate. Most of the topless or nude-bottom photos we like are actually caps relating to roles. And he has said things that indicate that he was willing to do those things because they were *for the role*. IIRC these pics were made in conjunction with publicity for Cold Feet, and he may very well be “playing” Lee Preston in these photos as well. The cheapness of the imagery seems like it can hardly *not* be intentional.

    Side note: don’t know if you remember this but there was a fan vid ages ago that cut the Diet Coke ad with pictures of Armitage. It was really funny.

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    • Noticing the trouser length on first sight really just confirms my suggestion that we all look selectively. You were less stirred by the naked flesh and more by a detail that appeals to you – in much the same way that all I can notice in this image is the horrible yellowish hue. Having said that, it also confirms my point that everybody has their own triggers and their own turn-offs/ons.
      Yes, this is definitely part of the Cold Feet promo – he’s wearing that crinkly shirt that Lee Preston sports in a party scene at the gym, IIRC. And that makes Richard the mere foil for sex-pot Preston and as such the image is not a representation of RA, the man. *phew* I am glad we can establish that 😉 And you are right – that accounts for the cheapness of the styling, I didn’t think of that. – Ha, I love the way that there are always points being made in the comments that add to my initial response.
      Re, the diet coke ad – oooooh, that sounds very sweet *ahem*. Must look for that.

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  8. Dying from the jaundice comment. Dead. I hope you’re happy, Guylty! *LOL*

    Analysis is spot on, as usual. I can concede that this shot is “sexy” (air quotes) but it doesn’t really push my buttons. Trying too hard and in all the wrong places. Reminds me of the 1980s for some reason. Just….NO. Thanks for eloquently explaining why I feel that way! I’ll have to hook you up with the voices in my head sometime…^_^

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    • Sh*t, I hope I can revive you. 🙂 Cos I want more of the story of your latest Armi adventure, you serial encounteress!!!
      Funny that you should say that shiny Preston reminds you of the 1980s. I feel the same, and Thora commented along the same lines. I wonder whether Don Johnson has got anything to do with it. Do you remember the fashion back then, t-shirts underneath formal jackets, preferably with sleeves rolled up. The Johnson tan was also pretty much like the Preston jaundice. Miami Vice has a lot to answer for!

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  9. So true! With this Cold Feet Promo, I got the sense that Richard Armitage was biting his tongue and just going for it. He doesn’t look comfortable and half (if that) of the shots have any smoulder to them. He has a beautiful body–and a nice guy face, despite what he says. Ha!

    Though he has some contradictory statements. He said in the 60 second spot that he wouldn’t gain weight because he is vain. Yet, in the Glamour UK interview, he cheekily said that he is not high maintenance for red carpets, rarely shaves, but he does wash his pits. That was him being very sardonic. Ha! Or, was RA drawing our attention again to his pits like he did in SB 1 when he took his t-shirt off before he got hosed? Oh sorry, I daydreamed a little there. Ha!

    I’m guessing that Mr. Armitage as a grown man “owns” his choices and moves on. Though with his elevated career status with his role as Thorin in The Hobbit, I’m guessing that we won’t see many more beefcake shots–despite that Accion interview t-shirt image. Ha! And I hope that he is laughing all the way to the bank as we buy his dvds, audiobooks, mugs, cardboard cutouts, etc. H!

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    • You probably know the rest of the shots in this Cold Feet Promo? There are a number of really ridiculous ones where RA is dressed like this but appears to dance. Not in a good way. But at least in those shots you get the impression that he is laughing along, not groaning along as in the sex-pot shots…
      His vanity statements – I must say that I was momentarily but quite seriously thrown by his vanity comment in the 60 seconds interview. Not that I am unfamiliar with vanity – I probably am vain myself. It’s just that I would not admit to it, if I could. And his use of the word “fat” really got all my defenses up. As an ex-fat person that word cuts every time I hear it used. Anyway – how did I get onto this tangent?
      Yeah, let’s hope he *is* laughing all the way to the bank. After all his insecurity regarding his job, I do hope he sees the fruits of his labours. And you never know whether that means he’ll un-beef himself. Maybe he’ll do some gritty art house cinema films soon that requires himself “fassbendering” (laughed out loud when I heard Ben Affleck coin that phrase on Jimmy Kimmel recently). And even romantic leads nowadays have to show a bit of skin… Ah, guess I am daydreaming a little myself here… Thanks for commenting, Gratiana!

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  10. This photo is hard to look at along with a few others. There is nothing sexy about this one at all. I am sure it is just part of the job of selling the work he is in. Give me those white T-shirt pics any day, there is just something about them that push’s all the right buttons.

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    • Yeah, it sounds like an exaggeration “hard to look at”, but it is really true. I have this uncomfortable feeling of shame and embarrassment in the pit of my stomach. Servetus’ comment that the shoot may have been deliberately cheesy in order to portray scoundrel Preston helps, though… Thanks for your comment, Katie.

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      • To expand: I just think the photo you’re looking at, anyway, sort of says, “I think I’m hot” and then undermines itself (just like the character is supposed to be this intense lover who’s in fact a two or three-timer, a ridiculous flirt, and in the end, even threatening. One way to be not hot when you think you are is to wear clothes that embrace an out-of-date notion of sexy style because you have the body for it. Here’s a guy who’s wearing 80s disco clothes in the first decade of the 21st c. — his older brother’s idea of teenage style …

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        • Kudos! I think you have contemplated and interpreted that photo much more than I! What you say makes perfect sense. Poor Richard, I say again. What pathetic character. Mind you, looks like RA had a soft spot for the 80s himself, sporting that Gisborne mullet…

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                • Well, I love them on Guy *sigh* but on any other male… I shudder when I think of the most famous German mullet, worn by a footballer called Rudi Völler who played for my home team. Uahhhh. Seriously, if all the mullet bearers were as yummy as Guy/RA it might still be in fashion. Alas…

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                  • Es gibt nur ein Rudi Völler …
                    Es gibt nur ein Rudi Völler …
                    Es gibt nur ein Rudi Völler …
                    Es gibt nur ein Rudi Völler …

                    (feel free to sing with me)

                    I thought they looked good on him, too, and I didn’t even know who he was till 1996.

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                    • OH MY GOD Servetus!!! I am in bits here! LOL! That chant!!! ROFL… Uah, no, the footballer, also affectionately dubbed “Tante Käthe” is as far away from Guy (and any inherent sexiness) as could be.

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                    • well … honestly, I think the point is that they don’t look so terrible on someone when they’re in style. It’s the fact that they’re out of style that makes them look terrible / cheap (a la Lee Preston …)?

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