Postcards From the Edge

As I tried to break free from the mundane mood I’ve been in lately, I took your suggestions to heart and started revisiting some of the gems that brought me here in the first place. Guylty suggested rereading the messages that Richard has written to the fan base. I’ve enjoyed their lightheartedness in the past, so it seemed like a good place to start.

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I’ve talked about the fan messages before and how I appreciate seeing the silly side of Richard that shows up in many of them, particularly during the filming of Robin Hood and Spooks. This time around though a different angle grabbed my attention- the progression of a newly recognized actor, as he moves through the frustration of celebrity, into a more balanced individual.

Times Shoot III

 

The messages start with short, postcard type snippets of what Richard was working on at the time. it didn’t feel like promotion, but a casual and warm way of relaying what had been occupying his time. soon an undercurrent of apology ran throughout that picked up speed as the messages went along. apologies for not churning out notes of thank you and requested signed photos at a fast enough pace, apologies for the aesthetic look of characters he was portraying and the quality of programs they were part of, even an apology for his charity doodle not being up to par. I suspect some of this was due to inherent insecurity but also a result of fan reaction.

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As time moved on correspondence, while often humorous, also seemed to reflect frustration. poking fun at the lack of timely communication with the “fan abandonment” theme, walking the fine line of what to say and what not to say by using a fictional “spokesperson”, and touching upon skepticism about the author of the messages with self-depreciation. the signatures also changed from “Richard” to the shortened “RA, with some messages not including a signature at all.

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The messages were regulated to once a year after that, which isn’t surprising considering the filming of The Hobbit and all that entailed. the Richard that appeared in the messages that followed seemed more contemplative, and possibly wiser, as he pulled back from making himself openly available in that way. soon he switched over to Twitter, where communicating in 140 characters and photos has it’s own set of challenges.

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slang is a language all it’s own

I find the earlier messages endearing in their postcard simplicity, and the later messages interesting in their contemplative depth, but the middle ones resonate with me the most. on the outside they’re humorous and creative, yet underneath they hint at struggle (I may have just described myself…). I find that comforting because it says to me that my struggles with similar issues are not a beat-yourself-up weakness. and that’s okay, because Richard has been there, done that too.

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‘to delete or not to delete? that is the question!’

No matter which way you view the messages, I think we can agree that they’re special in the glimpses they provide into who Richard was before. from that first contact post in relation to the BBC North & South message board, through the ups and downs of fandom praise and disagreement, to the checking-in-with-old-friends quality over quantity.

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I’m reminded of the end scene from the movie Field of Dreams, when the Kevin Costner character sees a younger version of his father walking across the baseball field, and remarks:

Look at him. He’s got his whole life in front of him and I’m not even a glint in his eye.

 

The messages Richard wrote to his fanbase not only give me a peek at who he was before I knew of him, but they also remind me of who I was when I first read them- a newbie with no boundaries or expectations.

Hey, is this Heaven?” No, it’s Richard Armitage fandom.

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“enjoy the typos!”

Kelly x

 

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14 thoughts on “Postcards From the Edge

  1. Love this post, Kelly. I have never read the messages with anything but uncritical eagerness of a fan for bits of information straight from the horse’s mouth, so your observations have really made me think. I’ll have to re-read the messages, too, although I do not doubt what you have described. There is a slight feeling of regret, accepting that, but as I said to someone else, recently – we came to the fandom too late. Undiluted Richard does not exist anymore.

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    1. I wonder if we would have felt the same way about the messages “live” as we do now. I think a lot of those messages touched upon things that were going on in the fandom at that time (not all good) so we might have been saved that angst by coming in later.

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  2. This was interesting to read. I’d add to it the British habit of self-deprecation and a few specific contexts, especially as related to the “Spooksperson” posts.

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  3. Hi Kelly! I’m catching up with blogging friends today and am happy to see you still raising interesting ways to look at the RArmitage experience. I wish we had the opportunity someday to know what he really thinks about his fans. Sure it’s changed over the years. We all change. His fandom has changed. Just wish someone like Serve or Guylty could get hold of him and ask. LOL!

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  4. Lovely post, see this i why i love going back to the blog when i finally have time as it’s always good and interesting! I have some feelings of regret of not being there when i read his messages. However i don’t have the feeling that person isn’t there anymore, it’s just grown and ‘seasoned’ And that process seems to never stop which is good, i feel i’ve changed a lot in the year and a half i’ve know who he is. I think knowing myself i am actually lucky i came in when i did, i like his more mature and seasoned self and i don’t do drama very well and there seems to have been even more of that in the past, i’m not sure i could have handled that, the angst the hopes for his career, etc, it’s nice to look back and see things going well 🙂 Maybe it makes me a lazy fan but i like it more as a shared experience and journey than a battle for recognition, progression etc. Growing up is bloody painful, i’m glad it is behind me 😉 in respect to him too. The person i am today can like him more, listen to him better, be more open to his work and all that and benefit more from it and enjoy it more than the person i was 10 years ago 🙂 It was a better meeting place in 2014 🙂

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