Things We’re Afraid to Say

And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time~T.S. Eliot

 

I often find myself looking forward to a trip, not only for the adventure or escape, but also so that I can come home again and see my everyday surroundings in a different light. this brings to mind Bilbo, and how different things must have looked to him when he went back home to his Hobbit hole. I’ve always likened the whirlwind of finding Richard and becoming part of this fandom to Bilbo, at the beginning of The Hobbit: an unexpected journey, when he runs down the lane enthusiastically shouting “I’m going on an adventure!”

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As I reached my two year anniversary of this blog in May and headed into my third year of following Richard Armitage, I vowed to spend some time looking back at the characters that Richard has portrayed, comparing my impressions of them. participating in the Blog Introspection Challenge played into the looking back theme nicely, encouraging me to peruse my blog posts and note how blogging itself had affected me over my span of time in the fandom. I had another occasion, recently, that found me looking back at things in a similar way. it caused me to create an outline of sorts that followed the timeline of my blog, highlighting certain events and thoughts for me to ponder. the process turned out to be an important part of my journey as a fan but very difficult. and lonely. because it touched upon things that are taboo to talk about in fandom. I feel as if I truly cannot move forward until I acknowledge it, because this blog was originally formed to recall my “fan path” and this struggle was part of the journey. I hope it can help others who may be struggling with something similar. 

you're not alone

no, no, no, you’re not alone

 

When I almost said goodbye and how it broke my heart

My readers may have sensed that something was going on with me. I was struggling- putting out less blog posts, hitting writer’s block walls, and just generally pulling away from everything fandom related. I assured everyone that I wasn’t quitting, just pulling back a bit, and that was true…until it wasn’t. when I hit rock bottom, I would go back to my Love Day post  and try to push through the disheartening confusion. it was rough but I eventually made it through, with much soul searching and some help from a friend who was willing to hold candid conversations with me behind closed doors (thank you, friend!).

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The fandom experience and how we see Richard meets an individual need for each of us. when that need starts to change, it can be confusing and scary. sometimes it’s morphing and evolving into something new, while other times it’s slowly being choked out. when you’re in the middle of it, it can be really hard to tell the difference. my struggle was a result of what I was no longer getting from the RA fan experience, the feeling of fulfillment as I bonded with the object of my affection. the issue that I just couldn’t seem to ignore any longer was Richard’s penchant for being a people-pleaser. it bothered me, and I felt guilty that it bothered me. I’m not one to just sit back and take things, I have a hard time not standing up for myself and others. knowing which battles to fight and making sacrifices for the greater good, are concepts I’ve had to learn through much trial and error.

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I like to complain. cynical complaining is my favorite. Richard doesn’t complain much, does he? (at least not where we can see) he never seems to judge and he has loads of patience… he’s just so damn good, all of the time. how can I possibly emulate that? I try but I still have those “throwing chairs out windows” moments more often than I would like. in short, I was feeling like I wasn’t good enough.

the differing likes and dislikes between Richard and myself never really bothered me until this one thing did. then I started to take a closer look at those differences and began to wonder: are Richard and I too different? because of this, one of the actors I follow on the side started to move towards the forefront of my attentions. he is someone who seems all around more like me. he doesn’t reach me in the same way, deep down, that Richard does though. he hasn’t inspired me, both creatively and personally, like Richard has. but it was just easier. I suddenly found myself part of a triangle that I didn’t know how to get out of. now don’t get me wrong, a Richard Armitage/Jamie Dornan sandwich isn’t the worst possible place to be, but I had some issues to work through and I had to do it alone.

salami sandwiches are my favorite

salami sandwiches are my favorite

why? why can’t we mention other crushes or things we find less than desirable about Richard, without fear of reprimand? (sometimes harsh reprimand) what is up with this unspoken competition of who is the best fan, the truest fan? if someone doesn’t like a particular role that Richard took, didn’t feel his performance was all that, or doesn’t happen to like his choice of clothes/hair/personal likes and dislikes, why are they seen as  less of a fan?

I think as long as we’re polite, not constantly picking apart everything that Richard does, that some disagreement is healthy. can even be enlivening. and opening yourself up to different experiences by following other actors (if you so choose) can be enlightening. kind of like Bilbo, and the different way he saw the world after venturing away from his safe little Hobbit hole.

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I’m reminded of a little incident I still get teased about from from time to time from my earlier life. when I was first dating my husband and he introduced me to his friends for the first time, they naturally wanted to know a bit more about me. as the questions of favorite music/bands/songs, etc started to feel more like a test, I replied with the now infamous line “I like what he likes”. as they got to know me better they discovered that although he and I do tend to have the same taste when it comes to certain things, it by no means encompasses everything. I have my own mind. do we have to like what Richard likes? do we have to behave as Richard does? do we need Richard’s approval in order to feel worthy? if I “like what Richard likes” all those meet-cutes that I’m constantly daydreaming about won’t be nearly as exciting if (when?) they actually happen…

heads up! I'm about to come barreling around that corner any second...

heads up! I’m about to come barreling around that corner any second!

 

Why I’m still here

I’m still here because I enjoy being a fan of Richard Armitage. I admire him, his personal brand of acting fascinates me, his personality warms me, his presence electrifies me. being a fan of Richard Armitage is good for me. being a part of this fandom has enriched me intellectually and culturally, it’s helped me grow as a person. and blogging about all of these things has cultivated my writing skills and boosted my self-confidence. being a fan of Richard Armitage keeps my synapses crackling!

snap! crackle! pop!

snap! crackle! pop!

I want to feel enlivened, enlightened, I want to continue to see the world in a different way. I can do that by following Richard’s career, and everything that trickles down from it. he has a profound effect on me. alike, different, easy, hard and everything in between. he affects me in a meaningful way.

I’m still here.

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30 thoughts on “Things We’re Afraid to Say

  1. What a brave post. And is saying that already an example of what you have written about in your post? The unwritten rule of fandom – to like everything *he* does, and to agree with everything *he* says? No, when I say brave, I don’t mean to imply that you will get push-back on this and that you have said something that is only true for a minority. I just think it is brave to confront one’s own doubts and address them.
    I don’t even want to get into the “taboo” topics, or into whether RA really is as angelic, heroic and flawless as some people make him out to be. (fwiw, I presume he is human – and therefore fallible and prone to making mistakes) I just want to say that there is NO *one* way of fangirling. There is now right or wrong. There is only *your* way of fangirling. If that includes the occasional glance outside the fandom, or going two-track and crushing on another actor in tandem – hey, that’s fabulous. Two crushes, double the fun! And if it includes critical discussion, then all the better – I like being challenged, and a good discussion is always welcome. How boring would it be if we all had the same opinion?
    Re. “fan competition”, I know what you mean and it is something that I really dislike. In a disparate, heterogenous group that fluctuates as much as a virtually-based fandom, however, there are no objective markers that could determine a hierarchy. Neither the number of hits on a blog, the number of likes or comments, nor the promotional vigour of a fan in support of Richard and his projects, the length he/she goes to to “see” the OOA at events, or the creative output (or lack thereof) say anything about how good a fan of Richard he/she is. For me, it is about the personality of my fellow fans. I am not attracted by their perceived status within the fandom. I am attracted by what they have to add to the conversation. I am all for fandom anarchy, where we all lead in our own little group of one.
    In any case, I am glad you are with us – no matter how often you write or whether you have developed a penchant for cute Irish boys. Between many amusing, gif-illustrated posts you come up with bombs like this one, adding to the conversation, starting discourse. I like that unpredictability. And the honesty. And the courage. Because I can see a personality behind it. We may sail our ‘ship individually, and not always smoothly, but occasionally we band together as a small flottilla under the RA flag. That’s worth it for me. RArrrrrrrrrrrgh!

    Liked by 7 people

    • I am seriously tearing up at this comment right now! first of all, thank you for commenting and sharing your opinion b/c I am shaking in my boots right now after writing this 😯 as you said, it’s not so much what I said but the fact that I said it. that I admitted it to myself and then put it out there for all to see. I shouldn’t need the validation of others but I do (b/c I’m human. shh! don’t tell anyone!), and so for you to say that you like me no matter what…that’s touching to me, truly ❤ throughout my ponderings I came to realize that Richard not showing his faults probably bothers me so much b/c I don't exactly broadcast my faults either. not that I'm purposely hiding anything but more the fact that in striving to remain a positive force, it might help to show more of myself. I certainly do not have things all figured out and I'm not always as patient or non-judgmental as I may appear to be. embrace the imperfections! 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      • Oh Kelly, come on!!! Of course I do! 🙂 ❤ (((x))) (hehe, I am running out of emojis…) I truly meant what I wrote – it takes guts to address things that bother us, whether just internally or putting them out in the open. Honesty must always be credited, I think. And you know what – even if you turned away from RA, I would not discredit or regret any moment I spent reading your blog or exchanging e-mails with you, and I would certainly hope we would continue to stay in touch.
        Ha, btw, I am a people-pleaser, too – how are you gonna deal with that 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • I *know* these things but it’s nice to see them spelled out in black and white. I think there are different levels to “people pleasing”, it’s not all bad. I’m actually married to a people pleaser, so… we’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out when you & I finally meet someday (if we were having this conversation on Twitter, this is where I would refuse to put the airplane and suitcase emojis. b/c I like to rebel in passive ways)

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      • sparkhouse1 says:

        Regarding “Richard not showing his faults”….my opinion on that is that he gets a lot of flack sometimes for what he perceives as ‘doing the right thing’ (anti-bullying coming to mind…but let’s not go there!) so I can only imagine the firestorm unleashed if he showed any less than positive face to the world. But, I am sure in his real life he is as human as the rest of us, warts and all, but strives to become a better person….which I find inspiration in because I can tend to be petty and backbiting at time and need to remember that that is not who I really want to be. And, I love your blog and many others and I really admire how you (all) put it out there in your writing and I always grow just a little bit more for it with everything I read and digest. And I totally agree with you when you say “being a part of this fandom enriches me intellectually and culturally” — a really nice and unexpected bonus, at least to me!

        Liked by 2 people

        • I think you’re right, that Richard tries to remain positive and graceful while in the public eye but probably lets loose behind closed doors. I find myself doing the same thing, in a way. on blog or in other places around the fandom I try to remain positive and understanding, yet in e-mails I can get rather cranky if I’m in a mood 🙄

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Kelly, thanks for sharing this. I really assume that we’ve all had moments when Richard wasn’t what we expected him to be, or at least feared he wasn’t…. just as I’ve felt that way about my husband at times, and he surely has about me. I think we learn things about each other by the things that bother us, and grow through the experience…. I honestly feel stupid simply by the fact that ANYthing would bother me about a person that I fully realize I don’t even actually know on a personal level 🙂 (I guess it’s good to have remained in touch with reality to that extent 😀 I imagine the specific triggers would be different things for each one of us, and it would probably be enlightening to know them about each other. (I think just the fact that Richard is capable of hurting me is embarrassing enough for me to share this fine day 🙂 Thanks again for your courage in helping us know, once again, that we aren’t alone in this ❤ ((hugs))

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    • we open ourselves up to the idea of who we think Richard is, and that makes us vulnerable. I don’t think it really matters if we know him personally or not, that vulnerability is real regardless. society tells us that it’s adolescent to fangirl and shames us for it. but when we open ourselves up, we get so much in return; a risk worth taking, IMO.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I agree, I’ve gained so much through this “unexpected journey” ❤ Probably really more from other fans than from Richard, in real terms….

        I feel that I haven't put a lot of preconceptions on Richard. I think I resist doing it because I don't fully trust my reactions that aren't based on real interaction. And I think I enjoy tweeting him in reply because I wish I could interact with him. (Of course I'd probably pass out if I did XD ) When he tweets or releases interviews, I find it so fascinating to try putting the pieces together, and really miss it (a little too much 😛 ) when it doesn't happen…. I've never fanned another celebrity, so I continue to wonder, what the heck is going on here?? lol 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        • I enjoy all of those things too, putting the pieces together and just enjoying him. I generally don’t delve too deeply into the hows and whys of everything that he does or says, but there is a certain criteria inside my head that he must meet in order for me to keep on enjoying him. I have fanned other celebrities before but none of them were as in touch with their fans as Richard continues to be. he not only acknowledges them but he tries to look out for them and even interact with them (collectively speaking). that is a rare thing.

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          • I admit to being spoiled by Twitter, especially the early days with all the funny tweets and bacon faces 🙂 I know longterm fans used to go through months at a time with little to no information, especially directly from him. So I know I should be grateful, and I really am ❤

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          • Cill says:

            I think we should be grateful for twitter and the updates and little jokes it brings. If RA doesn’t use it for the little jokes and personal touches he did at the beginning, it’s the fans themselves that are to blame for nitpicking – as kel said, picking everything he does apart.

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        • Camassia says:

          It’ s just the same for me. Before Richard, I was fascinated many times by different actors, but no one reached my heart (except Jimmy Dean, but in these days I was 14 and easy to impress). But later, never again.When I found RA, I was really overwhelmed by myself, being so captivated by a total stranger. And I don’t want to “let him go”.
          The advantage of being a grown-up fan is the awareness that even RA has his faults and takes odd decisions, yet I adore him as an actor and as a real person (at least this is the impression, I get when I watch interviews). I’m somehow convinced he is als in real life a nice, serious and sensitive man (remember the Sunday Times article of 2014 by Tanya Gold, which I think described him in the best way).
          And additionally, the fandom gives me so much fun and interesting stuff concerning the entertainment industry which I don’t want to miss anymore.
          For example your blogpost which I’ve discovered just today!

          Liked by 1 person

          • you mention once upon a time being 14 and easy to impress, but it never happened again until Richard. this seems to be a common theme in this fandom, fans who say that Richard has been their only crush or that they haven’t felt anything of the sort since they were teens. that says something about the kind of people that get pulled in by him, that they aren’t celebrity groupies or someone who is looking for a quick fix. this is something more for many of us. Richard is something more. he reaches us on a deeper level, even the fans who choose not to go the analyzing/discussion route; Richard isn’t just anyone, he’s special 🙂
            I have had other celebrity crushes but I tend to be picky, so there has to be something about them that really speaks to me in order to grab my attention and keep it- whether that has to do with acting, personal character, charisma, personality, etc. with Richard, he has all the qualities 😎

            Liked by 2 people

          • Cill says:

            I’m not sure how that horrible excuse for journalism described RA in a good way. He came across as a good person *in spite of* all the efforts of Gold to provoke him, insult his fans and generally do a hatchet job.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your blog, Kelly! Though I don’t usually comment much reading your posts always makes me feel good whatever you write about. I admire your honesty, positivity and sense of humour. I have a lot of interests in my life but in show business it’s only Richard, the one and only for me. I enjoy being his fan and I’m in the RA fandom for fun. I try to avoid any negativity as much as I can but I believe that everyone can express his/her opinion openly as long as it is not an insult. When I love someone I am blind to his/her faults (it concerns my friends as well), I see only what I love and that side always prevails. It doesn’t mean I see people in one dimension, I believe I accept them as they are. And I had been married to a “people pleaser” for 19 years (before he died), for me he was and he remains the nicest, the kindest man in the world. So I easily can believe they do exist. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m attracted to nice men, nice is my “type”. this preference often challenges the rebel in me and stamps down the inherent sense of entitlement that comes with being raised by a strong woman. as for not seeing the faults in others, I’m the opposite. I need to see some faults before I feel comfortable, it puts us on the same playing field. I tend to think I have someone figured out rather quickly though, so when things I didn’t count on slowly come to the surface after knowing someone for awhile, it knocks me off kilter. it has little to do with them and everything to do with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think it is brave of you to share your thoughts, worries, confusions with us all the readers 🙂 I think a lot of us share many of your quibbles, joys, worries and so but we’re maybe not as open in talking about them 🙂 It is reassuring to read other people think about these things and it does matter and is in no way something that needs hiding, phewwwwww 🙂
    As to the shaming and apparently competitions of how is the ‘best’ fan, peh, just forget about all that. Emotional growth and all the good things that you mentioned being a fan does for you doesn’t come from this kind of pretty infantile regimentation. And don’t feel bad ever for wanting things to be more varied and open 🙂 It is so much more fun this way!
    As to fandom it is not the one thing, it is just different people liking Richard for probably many many different reasons. It’s great we sort of find people we get along with or like to have discussions with and so on but we don’t have to like or even agree with everyone 😉
    This ‘thing’ with R or with his fans or some of his fans is there as long as it does something for you, as long as your are interested and enjoy it on some level. Please don’t feel bad if you don’t or not the same and so on, that’s also perfectly ok.
    Him? of course he’s not perfect girl! LOL but he is all the more interesting for his flaws, obvious or potential ones, no? 😉
    Glad you are still feeling ‘it’ and enjoying being around and writing and i’m enjoying reading and bickering and swooning and all that 🙂
    Thanks for being so open and getting us all talking 🙂
    Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m harder on myself than anyone. so it’s not that I’ve been the victim of chastisement personally but I have seen it out there, repeatedly. I do this kind of thing often in my personal life, push someone or something that I enjoy away, go through all kinds of angst and deconstruction as I put it back together in order to feel solid and secure in my attachment. if I make it through, then I have a deeper connection than I ever did before and it will be permanent. if not, then I bid a fond farewell and am thankful that I had the experience. I never seem to remember my penchant for doing this though until after the fact…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Kelly, this was a very brave post and I applaud you for your honesty!
    I for one do not believe in being a fan of or ‘following’ anyone without criticism. There is no such thing as a perfect human being – to start, how would that even be defined? And why should criticism even be a bad thing? If there never was any criticism, how could we even evolve as people? I believe in treating others respectfully but never without being critical. It is totally OK to love Richard and also not love everything about him. Every person I love in my real life has faults. I mean, I love my husband more than anything but he is not faultless… No man, not even Richard, is faultless. The fan shaming and comparisons – seriously, do not let that bother you, it is utter bullshit! Really, that is playground behavior in my eyes and not worthy of too much attention and certainly should not bring you down in such a way that you’d want to leave. I’m glad you’re finding a way of dealing with all this and that you’re sticking around!

    Liked by 1 person

    • the fan-on-fan shaming is not new to me, having experience with other fandoms, but it’s something that no one talks about, at least not constructively (i.e. without bullying). the same goes for finding fault with Richard- those who feel he does have faults, rarely mention it b/c of the negative reaction they are sure to get from fellow fans. so I wasn’t thinking of leaving because of all of that, I just felt like I couldn’t talk about the struggles/confusion I was going through for fear that it would be misunderstood. I’m very glad to see, through these comments, that the reaction from our little corner wouldn’t have been as harsh as I imagined 🙂

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  6. Servetus says:

    This is a great post and I read it a bit ago and put off commenting for various reasons (and yes, I’ve got one of these, too, 3000 words that I wrote on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah and haven’t published). There are three aspects to the problem for me. One is Richard Armitage (over whom I expect to have no control, and who has the right to be whoever he’s trying to be in whichever setting, but may not be all that). A second is my needs (life is short, so why spend so much time on this activity if I don’t get what I need from it?). And a third is that for a long time now the fandom has not felt like a safe place for diverse opinion, dissent, or even the full extent of the diversity reflected in the fandom — at least since the spring of 2013, and maybe some people have felt that chill even longer than I have been feeling it (and so, if a place is so unhappy, why do I take the risk of spending time in it? I would never spend RL time, outside of work, with people who make me sad and angry). My own response to the latter thing has been to defend some things aggressively, which has had its upsides and its downsides. Lately I’ve been staying away from the fandom places I no longer enjoy, which means I don’t have that feeling of being up to date on stuff that I enjoy so much, but I don’t think there’s any alternative. I suppose it’s part of the ebb and flow and I’m at ebb at the moment. I don’t know how to resolve these questions, frankly, but I’m glad you’re still around and we are all still asking them (whether or not we feel able to publish our thoughts).

    Liked by 2 people

    • the “flow” seems to be elusive at the moment. I wonder, statistically, how often I’ve been in the “flow” and how much I’ve been in “ebb”? I tend to glamorize the good and denigrate the bad in any given situation. as I try to look back objectively, I realize that I did come into this fandom at a time of upheaval, my “normal” was actually chaotic. it’s all been a bit of a whirlwind, so now that things have settled down for me, I’m looking more closely at my feelings/reactions and finding some surprises. I’m not sure I’ll ever get back to where I was before but I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. ebb and flow, resolving and evolving; it’s all part of the journey 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Servetus says:

        I think that’s true, and so it will be interesting to see what aspects of the fandom persist (or are perhaps revived) in what seems at present like it may be a very long period without much stuff for us to see. (One thing that’s fascinated me is how the attitudes toward pictures of Armitage has changed since there have been so many more of them, comparatively speaking.) On the other hand since I think currently the majority of active fans have emerged with or since the Hobbit, there are a lot of people who think of that atmosphere as normal, those people don’t have a memory of what it was like before, and thus they may create some new things to cope with a relative dearth of information.

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        • it’s interesting b/c the tone of this fandom before The Hobbit reminded me a lot of the Christian Bale fandom. so I’m familiar with the lulls of not having new projects to discuss or the lack of photographs and news, etc. on the flip side, w/my time in the Twilight fandom I saw how fans would create drama during the lulls to keep things going; they didn’t cope as well with nothing going on b/c it was such a fast paced fandom. I prefer the calm but I can appreciate that “go, go, go!” mindset. my fear for this fandom is that the current transition into a “new normal” may cause it to fall prey to a high turn-over rate :/

          Liked by 1 person

          • Servetus says:

            I think that’s a legitimate fear and the signs that that might happen have been manifest for a while. Armitage may be a people pleaser on a personal level but (at present, at least) I think he is unlikely to have the kind of career that will fulfill a fan with a need for a regular pattern of big name or high profile projects that generate a constant stream of events, pictures, articles, etc., to enjoy. One consequence of that is that we’re always going to have fans who honestly believe that the issue is his publicist, and so they can do something meaningful to promote his career, and thus get very involved in attempting to do that because there is a shortage of other things to do. Which for me, then, raises the question of, if an actor attracts a certain kind of fan, and his career tends to provoke a certain kind of behavior on the part of that sort of fan, what does one do if one isn’t interested in all that? It’s not per se a question of what one does oneself, as much as it is a question of with whom one wishes to spend one’s free time. In the end effect I’m more concerned that fans I most like will fall away than I am that he might lose fans in general.

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