I’ve thought a lot about the subject of RA as ambassador for Cybersmile, about bullying in general and cyber-bullying in particular over the last few days. I’ve read various blog posts concerning RA’s blog post for Cybersmile. I’ve voiced my own opinion in comments.
Clearly, this fandom is not a united front when it comes this issue, just as it is not over RA’s selfies, RA’s choice of roles, RA’s friendships and possible romances and a laundry list of other aspects of the man’s personal and professional life. Frankly, I don’t think the fandom has ever really been completely harmonious (not in the eight years I’ve been part of it, anyway). And I don’t think it ever will be.
With a growing number of fans quite different from the middle-aged, educated, BBC Radio 4-loving motherly creatures we were reported to be back in the day—with more kids, teens, guys, male and female fans of adventure/fantasy films vs. period dramas, individuals from very different cultures than our own joining the ranks—there are bound to be differences in tastes, attitudes and viewpoints on his work and his life–and how we should and should not behave as fans.
Some in the fandom seem to imply that if we do not show wholehearted agreement with everything Richard Armitage says or does, displaying a sort of slavish adoration of every word issuing from his mouth or keyboard, then we are not “nice” or “good” or “loyal” fans.
I beg to differ. I have tremendous respect and admiration for Richard and how he’s conducted his career, which I have watched closely over these eight years, and for the man I perceive him to be: a kind-hearted, compassionate, sensitive and well-mannered gentleman with a lively and slightly naughty sense of humor.
I have seen him grow in confidence and poise in public appearances and interviews, and in terms of his physical beauty and overall attractiveness, he really does seem to grow better with age.
But what I do not see him as, is this faultless, saintly individual who can absolutely never do wrong and whose words and actions should never be questioned. Frankly, if RA was a perfect human being, I doubt I could be the long-term fan that I am. I’d have found him an insufferable “goody two shoes” to whom I could not remotely relate and ditched my interest in him long ago (other than strictly as an actor).
Richard Armitage isn’t some plaster saint to be parked on a pedestal, but a real, flesh-and-blood human being who happens to be nearly 44 years of age. HE is not a vulnerable child in need of our protection from the big, bad world, even if his boyish impishness still surfaces.
Surely he is capable of recognizing and coping with the idea everyone isn’t going to agree with all his choices or comments. Aren’t we doing him a disservice by treating him as if he isn’t capable?
The man I love most in my life, the man I married thirty years ago come Monday, is a wonderful man—intelligent, talented, modest, funny, kind and thoughtful. Yet I hold no illusions he is perfect, and he certainly knows his wife isn’t.
We’ve both got our bad habits, our quirks and our failings. Sometimes he gets on my nerves and I get on his. Sometimes, he makes a comment I don’t like and vice-versa. Sometimes, we have to agree to disagree on certain subjects, but it doesn’t make us any less respectful or appreciative of one another. We are still besties and will be for life.
Recognizing and acknowledging our human frailties doesn’t make us bad spouses or our marriage an unsuccessful one. I like to say we aren’t perfect, but we are perfect for each other.
There have always been those who would seek to police this fandom. As many of you know, I was the direct target of one of them and lost a paying writing assignment at Comic-Con a few years back due to their machinations, after being described as a “dangerous, obsessed fan” from whom Richard Armitage needed protection. This is the same individual who has interfered in the real lives of other fans/bloggers. My sincerest empathy is extended to anyone who has been the target of her and other “fans” like her. And yes, like many of us, I endured some bullying by classmates as a child. My heart hurts for anyone who has had to, or is, enduring it.
At the same time, I have grown really wary of, and quite uncomfortable with, attempts to police or shame fans and their fanfic, blog posts and comments. There is room for many different voices in this fandom. If you don’t like a particular voice, you don’t have to listen to it. It’s never a good idea to tell a blogger they shouldn’t be expressing a particular opinion; it’s their blog and their right to do so.
I am not saying I think RA should not be ambassador to Cybersmile; I am saying I am not sure he was completely prepared for the task. And that surprises me, given his track record of dedication to and research for projects undertaken. I guess I’ve grown to expect him to always bring his “A” game, as we say here.
Given his short time spent immersed in the sometimes murky and potentially dangerous waters of social media, I simply wish he had given himself a little more time. I sincerely hope that this organization can accomplish all that it desires to, with RA as its face and voice; I also wish they were a bit less vague in their mission statement, but maybe that will change. We shall see. Looking forward to quantitative positive results from the project.
I do applaud him for his continued desire to aid young people in need of a helping hand, just as I applaud him for taking on controversial roles he believes will challenge and strengthen his acting chops—yes, even if they aren’t the kind of project with which I most wish to see him involved.
And speaking of “Hannibal”—well, that, my dears, is another post.
Shallow Fan Fedora Lady will note he looks damned good wearing only his fancy tats. Mmmm, mmmmm.
(A little laughter in life, boys and girls, a little laughter in life.)