There Is Madness in This House

When other blogs have already reported a new interview/tweet/IG post/video or any other piece of news of Richard, I always wonder whether there is any point in posting the news on my blog, too. That is basically why I have been silent on my blog the last couple of days. Both Esther and Servetus reported the Telegraph article and provided the opportunity for fans to comment. I did so on both those blogs, and also on Twitter. I am always wary of repeating something that others have already posted, mainly because I don’t want to split up already running discussions to yet another blog. It’s good to have it all in one place, imo. But then it also occurred to me that sometimes my silence may be misunderstood. I usually wouldn’t care, but since some of the contents of the Telegraph article seemed to be discussed quite passionately, I wondered whether my silence is ominous.

There was also a deliberate reason why I didn’t comment on my own blog. Because the piece of info that has been received so controversially, is no cause for controversy in my eyes *at all*. In fact, I consider anyone’s coming out or reference to their sexual orientation – whether straight, but particularly when gay – as total non-news. I don’t mean that in the sense of “taboo”/is not allowed to be mentioned under any circumstance, but rather as in “not worthy of discussion”. If we want to normalise non-heterosexual life choices, then I find any kind of discussion that focusses on someone’s sexual orientation counterproductive as it would again reinforce the idea that such info is *different* and therefore newsworthy. I believe that info on sexual orientation is secondary and that it should not have any impact on my opinion of another person. And it doesn’t. For the record, though, I’ll say this about my reaction to the article: For very personal reasons, I was deeply touched by RA’s admission that he deliberately kept his private life out of the public eye in order to protect his parents. It made me think about a close family relation, and the thought horrifies me that my family member could possibly act in a similar way, for decades. In that sense, I thought it was great that Richard has finally opened up. I take it as a confirmation that he is gay. “And it is a good thing”, to quote Berlin’s ex-mayor Klaus Wowereit (on his own public coming-out in 2001).

As for the manner of reporting, I agree with RA that the headline gave a spin on the article that did not reflect the contents. There was so much more in there than that personal piece of info. But mass media is what it is, and reporters do not necessarily have a say in how their copy is presented. Large publications such as the Telegraph have sub-editors who edit the journalists’ texts. I found Jane Mulkerrins’ reporting sympathetic and had the impression that the interview was conducted in a professional and polite manner, and I doubt that a professional actor with more than 20 years of experience in the entertainment business finds himself trapped into answers he is unwilling to give. I take the interview at face value. Mulkerrins asked, Armitage chose to answer. Unless he stipulated the reply was off the record, and she breached that unwritten rule of journalistic interviewing, then I see nothing wrong with the article. Nuff said. And I don’t mean to muzzle the conversation, but would simply refer readers to the above-mentioned blogs for further lively discussion where much has already been said.

So, to basically contradict myself on my policy of not repeating what has already been reported elsewhere, here is Richard’s latest IG post.

Glad to see Richard so comfy in his dressing room – in woolly socks and without trousers. 😂 What is happening there? “There is madness in this house.” At least we can assume that the dressing rooms in the Harold Pinter Theatre are cosy and warm. Is that a linen shirt peeking up from under the manuscript? I like this little glimpse into the dressing room and the preparation for his role, especially by way of the visible notes. (I think he has also photoshopped some scribbles off of the cover of the script.) Ovna and ovich are the patronym endings in Russian, i.e. they are added to a person’s father’s first name. (My Russified name would be Соня Ачимовна – ok, or in Roman script Sonja Achimovna.) – “Active, driving, force of disturbance. Front footed implacable task” – Astrov? Nice dog ears. Sign of much work on the text.

Well, it’s the final week of rehearsals before the first performance of the play on the 14th of January. Can’t wait!

71 thoughts on “There Is Madness in This House

  1. Thank you. I’ve not said anything because… old news…. too many spins… and I’ve been in the middle of wars in the past. I know what I think. Period. Tomorrow will be Guy Day regardless.

    Ooooh class…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hear, hear.

    You know what I think on the matter itself. We are in complete agreement. Wowi was my first thought as well. 😆

    Just a word on the vitriol directed at Jane Mulkerrins, the journalist who conducted the interview. Barring any complaints from the man himself, I too will take the interview at face value. She asked an easy question and he made a choice: the choice to answer more fully and candidly than before, then elaborated unprompted. The fact that people are dragging her through the mud, questioning her character and her professional credentials is frankly a very bad look for the fandom as a whole and those people on particular.

    Onwards and vanyawards: Interesting BTS photo

    Liked by 2 people

    • “Und das ist auch gut so” is such an apt comment. It is what it is, and that is neither good nor bad, it just is.
      From my POV there was no reason to attack Mulkerrins. And RA’s tweet to her didn’t feel like an attack on her, either. It’s hard to really judge it, anyway, as we were not present at the interview and have no way of telling whether she coerced him or not. Just from the tone of the piece, I did not get that impression. I have all the trust in Richard that he is able to see loaded questions for what they are and avoid them, if he needs to.
      Hehe, no trousers – another way of being more transparent…?

      Liked by 3 people

    • This is old news, too. Someone in the fandom doesn’t like something he said, the first reaction is to blame it on the journalist: Rebecca Hardy and Tanya Gold come to mind immediately as objects of ire, also Boudicca Fox-Leonard and Allison Pearson. Some of those people (Tanya Gold!) probably deserved it more than others. Elle Morris tried to justify herself after being accused of either lying about things he said or printing things that should have been off the record, and in consequence took so much abuse from fans that she made her Twitter private for a while. I don’t see, though, why someone writing for the Telegraph should get the benefit of the doubt, either. Journalists want attention. As Mulkerrins said, her main concern was that it get retweeted by Armitage — even if the retweet was a correction to what she wrote. Mulkerrins was refreshingly honest, in any case.

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  3. All beautifully said, dear G. I agree with you, and also with what you and Kate said about the journalist. It appears that she politely asked the standard question that he always gets, and that RA, for reasons known only to himself and his partner, decided to answer in a way he never has before. One can only imagine the amazement and possible terror of “Me? Now? WHY?!” going through the journalist’s head as RA spoke. I hope that she will recover from being the shot messenger, and that our beautiful man is content with his decision to allow the world a more intimate glimpse of his life.

    As for those #LongLongLegs? “Dad bod”…right. Silly old bear.

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    • I hope this standard question has now been answered and the media moves on. The whole “would you like to have a family” question was the new “you ran away with the circus” chestnut.
      LOL on the journo being caught unawares with a new answer on the topic. But yes, I hope RA now feels liberated to live the way he wants – and to disclose what he wants.
      Kate’s quip applies to the revealed long legs – no longer taking his shirt off, but now baring his legs. #AlternativeBeefcake?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I expect that he will still be pressed on the issue for a while, especially given that in the “tiny chair” interview, he gave the usual “I’m a moody bastard” reply about why he lives alone. So there will probably be some “Do you live alone or are you in a relationship, and if you really are in a ‘good’ relationship, why are you living alone,” type questions. And there will be the more ambitious reporters, who, now that he has revealed as much as he has, will want to be the ones who get him to actually say the words, “Yes, I’m gay.”

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  4. I would like to believe it is non-news, but the world as I experience it suggests something entirely different. Indeed we are far from it and things are possibly getting worse.(Of course we can question whether Armitage is enough on anyone’s radar to matter — probably much less so now than five years ago.) I understand that you don’t think this, but I don’t agree that any discussion of sexual orientation only reinforces the norm that it should matter, simply because socially (at least in the US) we are not in a place where it doesn’t matter, and I really don’t want the public discussion governed by forces that would insist on the suppression of information like this and its general acceptance. For a subsection of the population, public information and statements about the sexual orientation(s) of people they admire are newsworthy and even important. If there are teens (especially) or others out there who would be helped by this news, they should have access to it, it should be reported, they should discuss it if they want. That need doesn’t supersede Armitage’s own priorities in my view, but I completely understand and support the views of those who say it’s important to be open about sexual orientation to normalize it — and thus to discuss the normality of the situation. It may be a different matter for fans. OTOH it may not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I see what you mean (and how my opinion could actually come across). If it helps anyone come to terms with their own sexual identity there is *of course* a need to verbalise it, possibly with the help of such facts. I do wonder, though, whether the continuing discussion then also increases the pressure on young people to declare and discuss their own sexual preferences when that is not necessarily what they want.
      From the perspective of a fan, I admit that I am someone who would’ve actually preferred more transparency on RA’s part long ago – but I fully respect that transparency could only be given on RA’s terms. I’m glad he has opened up, but I do get why others find it upsetting.

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      • I’m not a good observer on this, or rather: what I regularly see in my own position in real life is that young people would like to “be who they are” in terms of openness about their sexual orientations but don’t feel they can. Someone we both know well would have a lot to say about this question as it affected her child and the child’s treatment at school by both schoolmates and teachers / administrators. There are still plenty of people here who throw their kids out if/when they discover or are informed of non-heterosexual preferences and the foster care system and homeless shelters are full of them.

        I too am somewhat suspicious of the need to label everything (and wish it didn’t exist), but overall I have seen a lot less of that, even when I was doing advising and living in “anything goes” Florida. To some extent, too, I wonder about the way that that tendency is influenced by social media, i.e., a lot of what i have seen has to do with “taking up space” or establishing identity for oneself (or joining a group) on the Internet. In general I wish kids would wait a bit before defining sexuality as a piece of their identity. But to me, that problem is an older one than the question of “coming out” / “outing” / openness. It overlaps but it is not necessarily the same. And I think it has a lot to do with how parents deal with things. My nieces were not really interested in boys at all until they were 14 because they were heavily occupied with sports and 4-H / animals. To some extent that might be natural tendencies; it might also have to do with the fact that their parents kept them away from smart phones for a period considered way too long by everyone else round them.

        I think people are going to feel how they feel. I don’t love how everyone feels. But I can understand most of their viewpoints well enough to explain them, even if I disagree strongly.

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        • A lot has changed since we were young ourselves, and I observe through that many things are different nowadays. I had a long conversation with my 18yo about this yesterday, who claims that there was virtually NO (negative) reaction to class mates in school who came out as homosexual. But that could just be the nice little middle class bubble, private school environment in big city Dublin in a country that voted by clear majority for marriage equality. I am certain it is different in other regions and other countries, just as it was for the young woman you are mentioning. There is still a lot to be fought for.
          I agree with your point about the “age of definition”, and the reason for such early coming outs. The world has changed from my own time where I was nowhere near acting on sexual impulses until I was 20. Could be I was a late bloomer, could be I was young at a time when sexualisation did not happen as early and was not as prevalent as it is in the era of social media.
          Your final point is right – everybody has the right to feel what they feel, and in the context we are discussing this in, I get why some people feel strongly and differently from me. There was a time when I would’ve felt like that. And maybe time is exactly what this needs.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes — very different around here, and although the question of what friends say is important to teenagers, it’s not the whole story at that point or even later. I’m sure people who are close to Armitage (friends, colleagues) have had a much better feel for his situation / greater awareness but that didn’t mean the world was going to be as tolerant.

            I “waited” till I was 21 myself — but probably in no small part because of religious socialization. At the point at which I decided I absolutely did not want to get married I also decided to stop saving it for marriage. I didn’t rush right out with a will but my receptivity changed. And yeah, I do think people waited longer then. There as less general sexual pressure in the air in the US (no constant easy exposure to porn, for one thing). There was also HIV to be afraid of. And no social media peer pressure.

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            • Different times, for sure. And yes, I am sure the situation presents itself quite differently when one is closer to the person who is thinking about coming out – or not.

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    • I actually didn’t really follow the comments directed at Mulkerrins herself. There were some conversations which expressed anger over her reporting. Most of the conversations I saw were done in an acceptable manner, though.

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  5. I have often considered how much ‘othering’ is perpetuated by discussions or references, and if society would be better without highlighting difference. but then that would also lead to suppression . Also I rarely experience ‘othering’ directly so don’t feel justified in my thoughts,

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    • I think you have put your finger on the crux. It’s difficult to see how much discussion is needed in order to change things, and how much is too much because it reinforces the “otherness” as something negative.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Guylty, I was waiting for your blog to post about the recent interviews. My summation was “read between the lines”. I saw some of the drama versus yes or no and all I could do was chuckle. I know what I believe and he pretty much confirmed it. Since most of the interviews have been done by women, I wondered how it would be different if done by a man. Would he ask those same questions? Would RA respond differently?

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    • I am all for people simply believing what they believe. Without putting pressure on anyone (including he who we are talking about) to think otherwise.
      It’s an interesting question, whether male interviewers would focus on different topics. I honestly have no idea. I suspect, though, that RA’s answers would be different. Someone (Servetus?) observed that he only brings up the “I don’t want to be a heartthrob” theme only with women reporters.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I get all my RA info from you, Guilty, or Serv. I wouldn’t know anything if not for you two. Please keep doing what you are doing. what’s the consensus on Twitter? Are fans ok with the news or outraged, depressed, etc. ? Just wondering. I thought he never came out was because of career worries. Very surprised it was to protect family. I have three gay nephews and one gay niece. Two hesitated to tell their parents because of religion. The others came out in high school without too much drama, but they live in Southern California, where being gay is no big deal.

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    • Thanks for the reassurance, Kathy 😘
      On Twitter the two vocal strands of discussion that *I* observed, were a) glad he has come out and b) the article/reporter was disrespectful. Only very few voices openly declared they were disappointed and/or could no longer be a fan.
      Yeah, I always assumed that worries about being ostracised in the business were the decisive factor in his decision to keep his private choices under wraps. Especially as I assumed that close family would know his orientation.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Thanks for the link-love.
    As for taking the article at face value: I later read a few people saying it was disrespectful to RA but I firmly believe that if he hadn’t wanted to reveal anything, he wouldn’t have, he would have just avoided it politely. So, yes, I take it at face value as well and see nothing wrong with what he revealed (which still was vague). I admit to being very happy that he is in a happy relationship. 🙂

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    • I absolutely agree with you. He is a grown man who has been in this business a long time. It wasn’t a trick question or even one that he had never been asked before. He could have easily dodged it. He chose not to.
      I actually find I’m offended when people claim he was taken advantage of. It makes him sound like a bumbling fool and he certainly isn’t.
      Happy for him was my overwhelming feeling. I was grinning like a loon. 😁

      Liked by 4 people

        • Assuming you believe she’s telling the truth. I’m not saying she’s not, but it has the rhetorical appearance of a total CYA move. “I didn’t out him, he did it himself! It wasn’t me! I’m just the messenger.”

          Liked by 1 person

          • Unless you think she is flat out lying about the “” quotes, which would be his exact words, then he did “out“ himself—such as it were. There really isn‘t any wiggle room there.

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            • No, I think the commentary on her part is designed to cover her ass (“he returned to it on his own” or however she puts it.). Definitely enough wiggle room there to drive a truck through. We only have her word about the substance and direction of the conversation and indeed, Armitage’s own commentary suggests he understood the burden of the conversation differenty than she did.

              That said, there are plenty of British papers who have no trouble putting things in ” ” that no one ever said. It’s not like the Telegraph has a sterling reputation.

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              • Armitage didn’t like the headline. I didn’t like the headline. Mulkerrins might not like the headline. Headlines are clickbait. The Times article was the same. He didn’t contest the substance of the article.
                The article is all the information we have. If you discount it as lies, there is nothing to discuss. You either believe the first quote about adopting etc. (disregarding her later commentary) is factual or not. 🤷🏻‍♀️ If you don’t, I think there is nothing to talk about.

                Liked by 1 person

                • The interpretive choice is never between “everything a journalist says is true” and “everything a journalist says is false.” The whole point of reading critically is to glean information that is more or less reliable — a position that I’ve been underlining for ten years on my blog. I never said she lied. I said that the remark on her part that he turned back to the topic is a classic rhetorical CYA move, as if she was somehow innocent as to the substance of the conversation. I don’t accept anything anyone says verbatim and for sure not an entertainment journalist writing for the Telegraph. That’s just common sense.

                  Armitage said (Urtext): “To clarify, we spoke extensively about The Stranger @NetflixUK @netflix and Uncle Vanya.” The article is not extensively about either of those things. It’s dominated by another theme. The fact that she spends two entire main points on this issue suggests that she saw that interview differently than he did. Which is fine. This is how entertainment reporters make money — by giving their impressions of people they talk to for a while, whom most of their readers will never meet. She gave the impression that he was primarily interested in answering her questions about his personal relationships and he gave the impression that he was primarily interested in talking about his next projects.

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              • Just to clarify (genuine question) – why is defining the “burden of the conversation” important to you? Because the way Armitage may have seen the interview (primarily as promo for his upcoming projects) might indicate that he felt all disclosures about his private life were off the record?
                I think we all agree that there was a spin on the headline if not the article in total. Entertainment journalism and all that. RA certainly didn’t like that headline. Personally, I do not believe that a journo like Mulkerrins would make up quotes. She is a freelancer writing for The Guardian and The Times, too, a slip up like that would cost her big time.

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                • Because it’s my impression (taken together with the other interview, which circles around various things) that the main point of it *from his perspective* was talking about mid-life crisis, in relationship to the play. The questions about relationships and how you deal with them while your parents are alive are a subset of that — not the main point of the conversation.

                  If I were the journalist, I would ask myself when I got this assignment why anyone would want to read a profile of a very low-profile actor who had a lot of notoriety five years ago but for whom not much has happened professionally since. She can ask about / discuss past glories. She can talk about audiobooks although even a significant portion of fans aren’t that interested in them. But in terms of what’s on the table now, the Stranger is a non-starter — B-list streaming tv at best. Maybe people will love it when it comes out but it’s not a project that attracts a lot of advance notice. Vanya is potentially better — the theatre crowd will be interested in that, people who follow high culture, etc. — except there’ve been several high-profile London stage Vanyas in the last few years and it’s not clear why we need to see it again now. If I were going to write about Vanya, Armitage isn’t the person I’d interview, either — I’d choose McPherson. So you need a hook of some kind and unsurprisingly just like Tanya Gold this is one of the hooks that she chose.

                  In general, I don’t understand the binaries applied to this conversation (either she lied or she didn’t, either he spoke off the record or he didn’t). He wanted to talk about Vanya and presumably that was the reason she got the assignment. There were a dozen things they could have talked about in the subset of promoting the play. Reading both of these pieces together suggests that what was on his mind was the relationship of the play to life stages in general and HIS life stages in particular. They very much could have been having two conversations — to him what wa in the front of his mind was the play and its meaning, and he spoke about the relationship matters in that context. To her, she had an assignment to write about the play but she was going to try for the kind of information that could add value to someone who wasn’t interested in the actual topic of the promotion. No one is lying here or acting with ill will, no one is tricking anything. They had a conversation whose significance she understood and portrayed differently than he did.

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            • and no, I don’t trust any journalist, especially the ones in the entertainment press, any further than I can throw them, unless I have an idea of their reputation before I start reading their work.

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              • Just to lighten the mood: I chuckled a little bit at this because I am a writer, too, (even if only for online tech news, so not something that would create controversy) – and felt like quipping, do you mistrust me, too? 😉
                However, upon second thought, there is this, from my POV as a writer: Yes, every article I write is subjective, by default, because even just choosing which facts I will include and which I will leave out, puts a minor spin on what I write.

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                • We had a lesson in fifth grade about why you shouldn’t believe everything you read in a news source, and it’s stuck with me (long preceding my contact with postmodern text critique). But to speak on a common sense level: if this were a transcript of their discussion and I knew the order in which these things had been discussed, I would be more generally accepting of her claims, even though that would not be foolproof.

                  All that said, I was thinking this afternoon that the real problem isn’t the reliability of the journalist. The real problem is the reliability of Armitage.

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              • Context is important. This is her account of a conversation and she uses quotes to demonstrate the impression she’s creating. So she may be representing the conversation correctly or she may not, independently of the question of what statements go inside quotation marks.

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