RA Challenge ♡ #29: A Critical Fangirl Moment

In a strange way, the last few days were an example of something that is a possible answer for question #29 of the RA Challenge, i.e. “a moment that made me question whether I would continue fangirling for RA”. However, the fact that I am blogging today is proof of my decision. I have to thank you for your replies and your insistence that fun and distraction have a place even or especially when the world is faced with serious challenges. I do agree with that. It would be wrong to deny myself fun – it doesn’t bring back those who are lost, anyway. There is a need to celebrate life on the short journey that we all have. What else would be the point of art and entertainment? And in any case, I think the challenge question is more aimed at fandom-related moments rather than the wider political climate. As such, this question should be about an incident/development caused by the fandom or by RA, which made me rethink whether I still wanted to be a RA fan.

Searching for an answer to this question, I have been trying to remember moments when I was close to chucking in the towel. Something that made me feel really pissed off with RA. I know that I have had such “crisis situations” – there are extensive e-mail correspondences in my inbox where I am expressing my anger over something or the other. Thing is, I neither like perpetuating negativity, banging on about my own frustrations and potentially ruining other fans’ enjoyment of the experience, nor do I actually think that what RA says or does has that much influence on my decision to fangirl over him. Sure, I am critical of some of his interviewer choices, I really did not like his statements in context with Cybersmile, and I find his approach to privacy and social media positively frustrating. But I accept and acknowledge that he has no obligation to behave according to my expectations. Whether I consider him my favourite actor and fangirl over him, is my own choice alone. And as long as he churns out good work and comes across as a decent person in interviews, I don’t think he can put me off in the long-term. Not even if he derps.

Sorry Richard. I must have grabbed the screen at the wrong time. Nothing can disfigure a handsome man.

I am much more likely to be put off fangirling by incidents caused within the fandom. There was one such moment, when a group of people took their protective feelings for RA too far, with tangible consequences in RL. It didn’t put me off RA as such, but it made me question whether I was comfortable being part of a fandom where such behaviour is possible. I am still here, so the point is, that the bad is balanced out by the good.

So there. No real deal breakers yet. But never say never…

 

 

 

53 thoughts on “RA Challenge ♡ #29: A Critical Fangirl Moment

  1. I laughed so much at the pic.When a person is being possessed by an evil entity & their eyes roll back into their heads, that’s what the pic looks like. Hahaha.

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  2. In all honesty there has never been a moment in my almost 5 and a half years as a fan when I was seriously tempted to stop my fangirling for RA. That is not to say I have never been frustrated by what he said/tweeted because I have. But despite that it’s still my firm belief that he’s a fundamentally decent (albeit flawed, as we all are) human being whose career is worth following.

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    • That’s my overall feeling, too. However, I sometimes wonder whether all the little frustrations will add up one day – and suddenly a switch is flicked and I am disenchanted… I don’t think there will be one big deal breaker, though.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Whatever happens happens, you can’t predict how you’re going to feel months/years from now… I don’t tend to think about that. I’m enjoying the ride (well mostly) and the amazing friendships it brought to my life.

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  3. I’ve never had doubts. I find the whole experience of making new friends through fangirling, including you, immensely satisfying. And fun.

    For example, though I said “No way!” a few years ago, I am now actively considering buying an international flight ticket, sitting in an airplane for 7 hours (anyone’s definition of hell on earth), and paying for hotel rooms to see my crush on a foreign stage in 2018. But it’s as much about meeting existing friends and potential new friends to pal around London with as it is about his show.

    To me, this fangirling business is a late in life adventure that is paying off in spades emotionally, and I’m not going to stop.

    If you want something to start a “conversation” around, I’ll throw out this: I’m kind of bewildered by some fans’ (including yours) reactions/anger over RA’s social media “behavior”—deleting tweets, etc. I don’t find it important enough in the context of all his communications taken together—performances, interviews, letters to fans, etc.—to get riled up about. And I don’t mean to suggest I think I’m superior to those of you who are bothered because I can just shrug it off. Or that I think social media is insignificant: its use in contemporary protest politics is powerful and undeniable. I just don’t “get” why fans care if he puts out a photo, then deletes it.

    p.s. I HATE that photo you posted on this page. It creeps me out. Just saying.

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    • Yeah, my boundaries have definitely been pushed, too. Prior to becoming an RA fan, I would never have even considered waiting at a *local* red carpet, never mind flying somewhere to watch a play – three times… It’s not even a guilty pleasure anymore, just a happy embracing of the opportunities for joy that are available to me.
      Re. the reaction to RA’s social media behaviour. I suppose it irks me because to me it comes across as a weakness and a lack of self-confidence, and either clash with my *idealised* interpretation of him. I find it hard to take anyone seriously who consistently retracts whatever they have said/done. Especially when there is no need to do so. He has hardly ever tweeted anything that could have been construed as truly controversial or extremist. So why censor it? Or why not think properly about a tweet *before* he puts it out there? Isn’t that what all of us do?
      That screenshot is horrible, I agree. I guess I could “pull an Armitage” and delete it…

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      • “Think properly about a tweet before putting it out there” hits home. I think twice about anything I post online, so I understand your point. Since he knows how many are watching—and how many complain when he deletes something—you would think he would be more careful. But I still don’t understand how that particular behavior shows immaturity, weakness or lack of self-confidence.

        Yes, yes, do pull down the photo! Maybe you’ll discover, in the process of experiencing the action yourself, why he removes photos!

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        • Adults say what they mean and stand by what they have said. If they change their minds, they say so. I honestly couldn’t care less about selfies. However, as I said on blog at the time, I do care about politics and I resent having my feelings moved only to have someone say the equivalent of “oops” two hours later. Imo anyone who makes a statement about something like the Orlando shooting, then changes it, then just deletes it without explanation, touching on a sensitive topic of huge significance in the U.S. — not just of political significance, but moral significance — either didn’t care that much about what they were saying, or else couldn’t handle it when someone disagreed with them, or I don’t know what. It’s not adult behavior — when a friend does it, when Richard Armitage does it.

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        • Hehe, no, that photo is staying. Not because I want to be contrary, but because I generally do not like to censor myself in hindsight. If I took it down, this conversation here, for instance, would lose context.
          As for why the tweet/delete behaviour shows lack of self-confidence – well, to me that is implied because the deletion seems to be a reaction to negative comments. I am assuming he initially posted the pictures/posts because he thought they were valid. Yet by deleting them afterwards, he doesn’t stand over them but deletes all evidence, as if it never happened. A complete change of mind?! That kind of thing never looks good – whether you are a celeb or a foot soldier.

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    • I think most fans have things they “need to believe” or “need to feel” about their crushes, which are wish objects. For some, it’s really important, for instance, that they be a “great artist” or highly successful professionally, for others it’s really important that they be incredibly good looking, for others, that they have a good sense of humor, or a similar life story or family background, or whatever. Everyone attributes different characteristics to their wish object. One reason for me to stay away from celebrity culture has been that imo many celebrities behave in very juvenile ways. Tweet / delete makes him, to me, look very immature.

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      • You’ve explained it much better than I have. Yep, that’s what’s bothering me, too… I can live with beards and silly shoes. I don’t mind unreleased films or questionable role choices. Personality traits, however, can turn me off. In this case it is still balanced out by many other things I like. But it’s one thing I didn’t find particularly attractive.

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        • And here we are on the “what is a turnoff” question — e.g., role choices. In my experience arguments over them have been a large source of fan friction, not as much in terms of frustration with Armitage over his roles (although there is that), but in terms of needing other fans to feel the same way about the roles and hassling them if they admit they don’t. There must be some wish object event going on there, too (why is it a problem if other fans don’t want to watch Hannibal, of instance?) but I am not sure what it is. Or maybe it’s an identity thing: I don’t want to be associated with a group of people I find ________ (in this case, narrowminded).

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          • That is a turn-off, agreed. I don’t quite understand the need for people to have 100% agreement with each and everyone. That’s just not possible – neither in fandom nor in RL. What irks me more than the generalisations levelled at “dissenters” (i.e. “you are all narrow-minded”), is the implication that fans who dare to voice criticism, are “bad” fans (or no fan at all).

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  4. I have never considered jumping off the RA bandwagon. The friends I have made in the fandom have enRiched my life immeasurably. The only way I could give it up would be if all of us switched to another dream man enmass. Then the fandom would remain, attached to someone else. As for deal breakers, I’ll know it when I see it. That pic could do the trick.

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    • You know, that’s exactly what I have been thinking, too. If all my fandom friends moved on together, that would be the only way out of this. Unlikely to happen. So we’ll stay put, creepy pictures or not.

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      • Judi wrote a post about this once, what happens when the crush dies but people want to stay together. In her case, they stayed on a listserv together for a while, but then it kind of died out; however, the people that she had established a close base with in something apart from fandom stayed close to her and she still is good friends with them.

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    • Kathy, I have a handful of friends whom I met in the fandom who are no longer active fans, but still friends. The key seems to be finding (a) commonalities and (b) a way to interact easily and casually.

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      • That’s nice to know. So it is possible to have friendships survive the demise of a fandom. My RA friends are very important to me, and I hope I continue those friendships until I can’t type anymore. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s a weird thing. (One reason I didn’t participate in this challenge is that so many of the questions referred to things I’d discussed at length as they were happening and I didn’t really want to revisit them — Cybersmile being one of those things; I’m hoping that Armitage’s relative silence over that this year means either that he’s done with it or we’ll be limited to a single sermon once per year; Tweet / delete being another, esp the one relating to the Orlando shootings). But it’s intriguing insofar as your question raises the possibility that there might not be a tangible dealbreaker for some fans, so to speak. Watching the long-term trajectory of the fans I’m closest to, it seems a lot of times that what looks like the dealbreaker (retweeting a racist word) was more like the last straw after a decline in interest or a series of frustrations — it is a pretext, or an occasion for doing something, but not a reason. Since 2014 Richard Armitage the person has fallen in my estimation but the crucial things he does for me as a wish object seem to be still in place, as conflicted as I have felt about him.

    I’m in general not a proponent of putting a positive face on things that are not positive experiences (it’s one of the things I resent about American culture), but with reference to the incident you’re referring to, there was an “upside” in terms of finding out how much solidarity and support was really present, and at least a sort of neutral realization that goes in the category of “humanity isn’t always as horrible as one might think,” e.g., there were a lot of people who, although not being supportive or even participating in the negative behavior, at least did the thing of calling it out as wrong once it escalated to the point of RL actions. (And I thought at some point, well, if I didn’t throw in the towel in 2013, will I ever?). Still, if I think about the relative problems caused to me by defects in my picture of Richard Armitage vs issues caused in fandom, there’s no question that the fandom issues loom much larger, and it’s not always predictable which issues exactly end up being “triggering” for the feeling that it’s a “critical moment.”

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    • Yes, there is a difference between “Anlass” and “Ursache” – and I can see how a “last straw” scenario is responsible for final disenchantment after a longer period of gradual distancing. If it happens, it will be like that for me, too – I don’t see how I could possibly go from 100 to 0 from one moment to the next. Especially as Armitage is too much of a “Kunstfigur” for me – an artificial persona created by my own imagination. In my imagination there will always be an excuse for potential deal breaker behaviour/opinions.
      The fandom, OTOH, is not an artificial entity, and as such has much more potential to do something unexpected that I cannot live with. As you said, when it happens, hopefully there are side-effects that balance out the deal breaker. But who knows…

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  6. I’m staying too. I’m a never before, never again type of gal –. I got dragged in more or less against my will, but resistance was futile. (Armitagus of Borg?) I told myself I’d stop when I wasn’t having fun but that hasn’t happened so far. Maybe because I switch off when I come across elements of fandom that jar. Obviously they have as much right to their opinion as I do mine, but I like to live in my own little bubble.

    As for Mr. A, I’ll take his flaws when I look at the entertainment columns sometimes.

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    • There’s a quote from RA that fits what you are saying (although it was said in a completely different context) – If it stops being fun, then it must stop altogether. Occasionally the fun wears a bit thin for me, but all it usually needs is a step back, a bit of a pause, and then the curiosity kicks back in.
      The flaws are fine. We all have flaws. It’s alright.

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  7. The other thing that occurs to me re: problems of fandom is that there is now a sort of set-in, core chunk of Armitage fans for whom spite towards other Armitage fans is something they cultivate and enjoy. So there’s that piece of the identity politics of fandom, too.

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    • That is quite possible, and I am not happy about such developments, either. In that particular context, I think the only option is to choose wisely who to hang out with, and to avoid fuelling the skirmish by not reacting to it…

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  8. My situation is of course different, but I first came across Mr. Armitage and the Armitage fandom itself roughly five years ago and have maintained an active interest in both ever since. I like the comparative light it sheds on My Own Guy. Have I ever had a moment of “maybe just chuck it” with Himself? Nah. I’ve seen a few really unflattering photos (LOL) and I’ve become frustrated with myself at times for putting so much importance on a thing that the rest of the world believes is silly. But in my heart I know I can’t change it voluntarily. Perhaps I could change my behavior, though it would be hard, but not my feelings. I enjoy my Kunstfigur (a very useful term)!

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    • I wish I was less of a one-track mind and able to tentatively engage with other fandoms for the same purpose as you. It certainly would be eye-opening.
      But yeah, I also think that my fangirling is an emotional reaction that would be very difficult to influence rationally. And if truth be told, I don’t really want to give up the “silliness” – it really is uplifting. And I am old enough now to not care whether other people find it stupid 😉

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      • Agree. I don’t want to give up my “silliness” either, no matter what people say. I’ve learned not to mention it, of course, but it’s such a big part of my life that I can’t always keep it hidden.

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  9. One last comment on the tweet/delete thing. I just noticed that the Pope has tweeted things about Donald Trump and then taken them down–at least that’s the conclusion I draw from journalists’ links to the Papal account which now say “tweet deleted.” With Twitter, there may be situations where one feels the need to say something. And if it creates a certain reaction, one does not feel the need to have it hanging out there in perpetuity, perhaps feeding further controversy. Sometimes hindsight reveals that a particular tweet is not helpful–even though one has not changed one’s mind on the topic in question. So I don’t think it is immature or childish to tweet/delete. Granted, it exposes a person to charges of inconsistency, but sometimes it is the appropriate thing to do.

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    • When it was the appropriate thing to do, as when it was potentially self-damaging after the Muslim travel ban, those of us who dislike tweet/delete have noted that; however, mostly it has not been appropriate and definitely a sign of immaturity (with social media, if with nothing else).

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    • That makes sense. And yet I think such a situation would be better served by at least explaining why a tweet was deleted, rather than just erasing the comment. I understand that sometimes we say things in the heat of the moment which we later regret. It’s when it becomes a habit, that it is irritating for others.

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      • I have to admit this discussion disturbed me on some level. I actually googled around a bit this afternoon to determine whether it was so odd for me to think that adults should speak responsibly and carefully, explaining what they mean if necessary, and be responsible for the consequences of what they say, not saying things they can’t stand behind. I’m not, actually, as a little research reveals. It’s pretty much a basic ethical tenet of Western culture that people are accountable for what they say. The fact that politicians say one thing and then deny saying it (despite evidence) or try to unsay it is one of the traits that voters most often take them to task for. Of course, everyone will have their own values but this discussion shocked me.

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        • I would have thought that it goes without saying that we are all held to our words. If we say something, it is assumed that we mean it. Hence we dislike it when someone says something – and then goes back on their word. Deleting a tweet to me looks like taking back what one said in the first place. And if the deleting is left uncommented, then the first explanation that comes to my mind, is that the tweep has backpedaled. However, I suppose RA eventually did explain why he deletes his tweets – not because he regrets what he said, but because he wants to signal that the discussion has ended. – But as you pointed out somewhere else a while ago – that approach has other pitfalls.
          If anything, this discussion shows that tweet/delete issue is a thorny one, no matter whether we accept it or not.

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  10. Lol zum Foto 🙂
    Das Problem ist doch – auch RA ist nur ein Mensch! Welch Erkenntnis:-) Mit allen Fehlern, Schwächen, Unzulänglichkeiten die jeder von uns so hat.
    Unser Problem beim fangirlen ist, dass wir viel zuviel in ihn hineininterpretieren, all die tollen Eigenschaften die wir an unserem gut aussehenden und perfekten Traummann gerne hätten.
    Und wenn wir dann feststellen dass er genau das nicht ist, sind wir enttäuscht……aber nobody is perfect ❤

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    • Das Foto ist wirklich fies, ich gebe es ja zu. Aber ein kleines bisschen ist es ja auch komisch, wenn jemand, den man immer nur als unsagbar schön wahrnimmt, auch mal fies getroffen ist…
      Total wahr – wir interpretieren zu viel. Weil er eben eine Projektionsfläche unserer Wünsche und Träume ist. Ganz schön schwierig, dem gerecht zu werden. Zudem jede andere Wünsche hat.

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  11. First of all, I’m very glad you continued with the challenge. The Manchester tragedy was terrible, and it was close to you, but life goes on. There was a tragedy in Romania around UATSC premiere, kids died in an accidental fire, all country was mourning, I had such a moment of “I should stop doing silly things and spend time with my family” and I resisted 3 weeks. Then I came back and I’m here as you see, anxious to complete the challenge. What a terrible picture, a proof that dear RA is “only human” 🙂 I had my problems with the first letter for Cybersmile but, as you might remember, I forgave him after twitting him what I had to say. I find the tweet/delete annoying in some cases, Orlando shooting being a good example. Speaking of Twitter, what bothered me lately was the retweet of Keke’s tweet, he should have been more careful, he knows he has a large audience and that people might be offended. This was far from me, but if I would be offended by something he does or says, I might put more distance between me and “him”. From a different perspective, a romantic affair with a women might be close to a deal breaker for me, I would continue to support him as an artist, and I would remain in love with his characters, but I would not cross the ocean for him.

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    • There was no question I would continue with the challenge – I started it, I was going to finish it. But for a couple of days, I really had lost my mojo. In the end, the need to be reminded of the fun and joy of life, prevailed…
      I can relate to what you say about “putting more distance between me and him” – that has always been my instinctive reaction every time something happened that I did not agree with/did not like. It’s a good strategy, because it allows me to step back, calm down and reevaluate. It usually takes a couple of days for me to find my balance again and to realise that he is “just an actor I adore” – not my father, not my boyfriend, not a politician. He’s not there to give me guidance or to fulfill my expectations as such. He’s there to entertain me. And he is pretty good at that.
      BTW, kudos for your honesty. I think a lot of people feel that a relationship with a woman would be a deal breaker. But hardly anybody admits to that…

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  12. I’ve never had a critical fangirl moment. It’s been rather surprising. He’s not the first celeb I’ve crushed on but he is the first to last longer than a few months and at my age I think he’s going to be the last. I don’t know what it is about him that has me so obsessed. I’ve collected his memorabilia, flown up to see him on stage multiple nights in a row, joined fan groups, stuff I’ve never done before. And I’ve made a lot of friends, some I’ve had the privilege of meeting, some I hope to meet in the future. I’m including you in that.
    And, by the way, keep the photo. He looks so human, so imperfect, so ridiculous, I looked at that picture and burst out laughing. I can hear Richard rolling his eyes while saying, “Good Lord, what am I going to do with all these demands from fangirls?”

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    • I think that is one of the reasons why I will never really get over this/him – the intensity has never been as strong with any other movie crushes, and that still surprises me. That’s what sets it apart.
      Re. the photo – that’s it. It’s just kind of normal that people occasionally get caught at a bad moment. I never meant it to be mean-spirited. It’s a total given that I think he is the most gorgeous man alive. So a little ‘derp’ doesn’t hurt – it merely enhances the beauty…

      Liked by 1 person

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