Diary of an RA Fan — Part 21 Now I’ve Done It

See Diary Part 20 here, or to access all entries, hit “The Diary” tab above.

Entry — And Still Fall, 2008:

I’m not sure I can read any more of the Armitage Army forum. There are some lovely people there, but I’m scaring myself, and then I discover this! Just the title alone has made me really stop and think about what I’m doing. But haven’t I been doing that all along the way? Haven’t I gut checked myself so much that I’ve worn myself out with it? It seems I’m so tightly bound with circumspection that I’m a small package which bores me silly. And now it seems I can’t even have a little fetish that doesn’t make me stereotypical and potentially a nut case. CWS? What the hell? I guess the first stage isn’t so bad, and that’s certainly where I fit, but just knowing there is a scale creeps me out.

A few days later:

I feel so dumb most of the time when I’m reading all of these web pages about Richard Armitage, and now I’ve made a few posts on the Army site which have sort of wearied me. All I know at this moment is that I’m tired of typing the words Richard Armitage. It feels funny to type his name. It hits me sometimes when I get to his last name that I’m almost incessantly discussing someone I do not know and never will. But somehow it feels like I know him. NOOOOO! That sounds like something further up the CW Scale. I will bust a gut before moving up that scale or even looking like I have. I don’t even want to type anything less formal than Richard Armitage. Maybe I should make that Mr. Armitage. No, that just sounds uh, I don’t know what it sounds like. A bit of the lady doth protest too much? Yeah, that would almost be like banging a gong and saying, “I’ve got a problem and need to keep my distance!”

Anything less than his full name just seems too personal. But isn’t pondering whether it’s personal kind of creepy as well? Why do I care if I’m too personal? Hell, I don’t know. I just know I’m a bit creeped out at myself, but I can’t seem to stop watching his stuff. I really do think he’s a great actor the likes of which I’m not sure I’ve ever seen. But I feel like a fool being on a fan site. It really bothers me. Mostly because it jacks with the image I have of myself. Hang what anyone else may think. The identity I embrace does not include being a fan. It’s just not me. So why the hell am I doing this, and why am I writing journal entries about it?

But the other fans are interesting, and I’m finding new sources for watching Richard Armitage’s performances. Maybe I’ll stay.

A few more days later:

I mentioned that I was curious about ‘Between the Sheets,’ and someone at the Army forum sent me a zip file of it. So I’ll get to watch it without having to order it. What am I saying?! No, if I watch it for free now, I’ll have to buy it, and I’m not sure I want to buy this. And I still hate the name of that show. No imagination. If I can submerge my conscience long enough, I’ll start watching sometime soon. What am I thinking? Besides, I’m doing a stutter step at what I’ve read on the Army site. It seems the watchword for ‘Between the Sheets’ is peaches. Whatever the hell that means. I didn’t delve any further. I don’t want to feel any dumber than I already do.

See Diary Part 22 here.

28 Comments

  1. Surprised there are no comments on this yet. I’m a definite example of what you’re talking about, though. :) I can’t bring myself to type either “RA” or “Richard.” It has to be “Mr. Armitage,” “Armitage,” or “Richard Armitage.”

    This is how I explain it to myself. Perhaps it’s rationalization. I grew up in a setting where people you didn’t know and all adults were “Mr. so-and-so.” Maybe a particularly close friend of a parent could be “Aunt so-und-so.” So for me it’s a forceful reminder that I DO NOT KNOW Richard Armitage.

    I also have real trouble with using the term “peaches” in this context.

  2. I was 23 years old, and I remember my dad introducing a young lawyer of about 26 or 27 to me as Mr. _________. The lawyer and I looked at each other and almost burst out laughing. But of course we didn’t because it would have made my dad feel funny, and he was already getting the hint. That was the last time dad did something like that. I think he finally got that I was an adult too. LOL!

  3. Yeah, I’m practically Mr. Armitage’s same age, so I definitely am an adult. As is he. But old habits die hard … :) Or maybe it’s years of living in Germany where similar rules apply.

  4. I know what you are saying. I too ponder what to call him sometimes when I tire of the repetition of his full name. Putting the “Mr.” to his surname seems to add a little distance (and does seem more respectful). But I do like to use RA too — as it is quick and easy and although it may seem more casual and familiar, it has an informal, less serious tone that is what I am aiming for sometimes. Kind of like a box of chocolates….hmmmm….which one will I choose THIS time! Gotta love those Thornton’s chocolates…mmmmmm!

  5. Not sure I agree with that CWS scale.

  6. Me either, Kaprekar. What’s your beef?

  7. Do tell, Kaprekar. I’ve got my thoughts about it, but I would love to hear yours. Maybe a blog coming on? :D

  8. My beef is that I am definitely not level 2 or 3 (I mean – soul mate! WTF!) And in no way do I think or even fantasise about having any kind of personal relationship or encounter with the real Mr A. But level 1 doesn’t seem like an adequate representation of where I actually am. I’m not an extrovert either.

  9. I agree that it makes quite a leap from 1 to 2 when there is something between them.

  10. I’ve reread Eli’s post now, and I agree. There’s something between one and two, and also something between two and three. For instance, I don’t think Mr. Armitage is my soul mate (though I wouldn’t exclude the possibility unless I knew more about him), but I do think of him inadvertently and wish I weren’t — mostly because when I do, it brings a big smile to my face, occasionally at inappropriate moments. I wonder where committing to write a few hundreds words every day about a man I’m unlikely to meet IRL fits in here. It’s not quite being willing to commit a crime for him, but it’s more than thinking about him when I wish I weren’t.

    And Kaprekar: I am also an introvert. I think that’s part of what creates the feelings of shame about the desire to discuss him with others — because it feels like “it’s not me, that’s something giggly outgoing girls do.”

  11. Terrific post, Frenz. I especially like your straightforwardness and thoughtfulness. I keep meaning to write about this phenomenon, but keep getting sidetracked.

    I skimmed the Wiki article and IMO, the studies reflect the bias of the researchers. To wit, they begin by assuming that there must be some sort of pathology inherent in celebrity “worship”. At best, to them it’s weird. So, already their construct is flawed (eg., described as ‘worship’) . I would have to also see how they constructed their questionnaire as already I question its validity. But I’m not going to do that because, well, I’m not in academia anymore :).

    People have been transported by others since the beginning of consciousness, I imagine. This is nothing new. The mistake is in lumping it all with the emergent and now overwhelmingly centric adolescent group since the late 40’s (?). People have been having these feelings and obsessions forever. Just think about it.

    What about people like my ex who spent every winter poring over baseball stats, trying to predict the coming season, watching baseball every day almost twice a day and dreaming about baseball camp. What about guys and their monster trucks? How do we know what feelings and thoughts accompany that ‘craziness’? What about my love for opera which, when I’m just talking about the upcoming season to, brings out a crazy ecstasy that just freaks out one of my friends. I swear, if RA were doing opera, you bet I’d be totally immersed in that world and no one would be building a ‘worship’ scale about it.

    So, where do we draw the line?

    Personally I don’t put any stock in this kind of judgment. As others have commented, it is totally skewed. I think the problem for people is dealing with such intense feelings and thoughts as if somehow they are less valid than other experiences,as if somehow this is shallow, adolescent indulgence unworthy of you (hence, the worry about image). As if to have a passion is somehow shameful. I think that’s what researchers should be studying.

    I’m just crazy about RA (his looks, so totally my “type”) and his phenomenal acting and the personality he projects which may or may not be real. I love feeling this way and I love the comfort and thrill that watching him brings, ( it’s also fun!) And the inspiration and thoughts that flow from that. As I’ve said before, for some he is a muse. That is true for me. But also, he is hot (sometimes). The best of all possible worlds. :)

    Not to say there aren’t loonies out there. Unfortunately, those studies are really interested in the dark side of fandom. These intemperate fruitcakes haunt every fandom. And they are damned scary, in my experience. Sadly, they give the rest of us, who are happy admirers, a bad name.

  12. Oh, and I’m an introvert as well. Introverts, of course, tend to have intense inner lives, very rich and know how to be solitary. (You can see that with RA as well cause he’s got a whole big 3D life going for each of his characters and he’s a huge reader of novels (vs non-fic}. He is very much like thee and me in that respect and with him it’s pretty obvious in his behaviour. Okay, getting distracted now. Heh.)

    Just an added thought: you can tell whether something is abnormal/normal, destructive/constructive etc., because you can ask yourself, does this experience enrich your life or drain your life?

  13. I think, pi, that the line between enrich and drain is not clear for a lot of people, especially in the short to middle term. I’ll probably eventually write something about this myself down the road, but I’m glad the discussion is going here now, because lately I’ve been getting a surprising number of off blog emails commenting on the writer’s preoccupation with Mr. Armitage. I mean, like one or two a day for the last two weeks or so. These are always thought provoking encounters, and they make me think a lot about the legitimacy of what I am writing and how it might affect people in the grip of the same fascination, but what they make clear when taken together is that a lot of times people can’t put their experience of Armitage into a box. On the one hand it makes them feel euphoric, on the other it is novel in their experience and thus frighting, or it either potentiates other issues in their lives or casts a light on other aspects of their lives that are not so pretty. It seems to be simultaneously empowering and sobering for many. I myself experience my preoccupation as both enriching and time-consuming in a frightening way. Obviously how any individual deals with this problem relates to the actual structure of their lives and the amount of free time they have or are willing to make for this particular “hobby,” but what I’ve been reading lately suggests that new sufferers in particular are troubled particularly by how to manage the euphoria and how to allot their time in light of a preoccupation that seems, at least when seen from some vantage points, frivolous.

    Months ago you advised me to lie back and go with the obsession. I’ve done that, mostly because I didn’t feel that I had any other choice, but it’s had both its triumphs and its costs.

  14. @servetus,

    People like to think of life being in their control and it isn’t.

    People also are finding these feelings unacceptable as something outside themselves. Makes them also feel out of control. That is the challenge.

    People feel shame for these unacceptable feelings, because the objects of affection/attention are considered of little social worth or value usually by the one experiencing them. If you live inside your head and this happens to you you are going to experience a lot of cognitive dissonance.

    Life doesn’t become unmanageable because you’re euphoric or have a passion for something. Only you can decide what its worth is to you and the cost. Already you have labelled your correspondents “sufferers”. If indeed, they are suffering then they need to remove themselves from the situation. Are they really suffering or just challenged by something new in their lives that they feel they have no control over? It’s all in your perspective. Suffering fits into that whole worry about “what’s wrong with me”.

    And with all due respect, I think enriching vs draining is pretty clearcut and not in need of micro- managing.

    Years ago, the seminal TV show that brought an ecstatic reaction also brought a lot of us together from all walks of very brainy life. Everyone added their knowledge and experience and swooned and created. It’s probably the only board I’ve been on where the question of feelings was never an issue (but neither did we ever think to talk about body parts). We were just happy to find each other and share our thoughts and feelings. It was creative and a lot of fun. For some of us it was profoundly life changing. One was a religious professor who actually wrote and published a paper about the show. Heh.

    I guess it depends on what perspective and life view one brings to it. I don’t understand the need to pathologise and in turn, turn up the heat on worry. Sometimes I wonder if what we write just adds to this general anxiety rather than ameliorates this. Perhaps such a strong experience is simply not for the faint of heart. But yeah, if you’re suffering, you need to give yourself a timeout. IMO.

  15. Well, if someone tells me they are suffering, I accept their statement, but I also accept their statement if they state they are confused. I have no reason to question what people tell me they are feeling, especially not over email (smile). The line is not clear in my life, but I think that’s mostly because I am personally at a crossroads and not sure what I am doing next. I don’t think it’s a control issue as much as the experience of difficulty in interpreting experiences. If I feel x, what does that mean for the present and future in which x does not easily fit? I find that a very difficult question personally and I suspect I am not alone — my suspicion is that most people don’t have an especially easy time fitting a sudden passion into their lives, no matter what the passion is. I don’t think it has anything to do with “faintness of heart,” but rather with the context of the new fascination within their previous experiences. It’s not so much that they are afraid; rather, they are stunned.

  16. I mean, is there a reason NOT to sympathize with people who are anxious?

  17. I’m done on the subject. Thanks.

  18. […] Interesting discussion at RAFrenzy about CWS. […]

  19. I’m not speaking for anyone else. My reaction is about control. Of course it’s not that simple. It never is.

    @pi,

    I love your post,and hell, I just love your writing. It’s a pleasure to read your words here and elsewhere, and I almost wish you hadn’t said such nice things to me so that my motive for this compliment might in no way be questioned. Oh, I appreciate your kind words to me! Just know that I like your stuff.

    Where was I? Oh, yeah. You are right that the definition of what is shameful is skewed, and who is deciding where it should be anyway?

    I also agree with servetus that the line between enriched and drained is blurred. Being drained by a passion is sometimes the most fulfilling. The problem I’ve had is that my control freak has often tamped down my passionate nature out of fear it would not be worth it. Whatever ‘it’ may be at the time. Yes! I want to know the end before beginning, and I wonder why I’m bored at times! What’s kept me here is success. Well, I mean success as the world defines it — money, power, good reception. I’ve dabbled in all three. But none made me happy.

  20. You point to an important contradiction, RAF (hmm. Royal Airforce?) — it’s exciting because it’s potentially dangerous and unscripted, but one wants to know how dangerous it is ahead of time because then one would avoid it. Which would totally take away the reason for avoidance in the first place.

  21. I’ve learned to live more dangerously with respect to interacting on fan sites and certainly with respect to trotting out my “writing” for whomever to see. Other than being a good speller not much in the way of style. Oh, if I could get the thoughts out of my head!

    Signed,
    Frenz (Nat dubbed me that, and I’m running with it; sounds much more friendly than RAF. :D)

  22. Great discussion of CWS which I wish I had seen earlier, I’ve been a bit distracted by Twitter in recent days – guh! I think I could come up with a better scale. A few months ago I received a request via the AA to participate in some research about fandoms but when I read the questionnaire I just couldn’t bring myself to answer those questions. Things like ‘Do you consider yourself to be X’s biggest fan?’ if I recall correctly…anyway I felt it was too simplistic and not capable of uncovering the really interesting stuff. I’m sure you must have got it too, ‘Frenz’!

  23. I had the same reaction, Kaprekar, to the questionnaire.

    So now I am wondering: what is the difference between CWS and just having a severe crush on someone? I think my own reaction is consistent with a crush (albeit one that often feels debilitating) as opposed to a change in my general cognition patterns. Nothing about what I experience substantially challenges my morals or my notion of my own place in the world — only my grip on the feeling that I still have some common sense left.

  24. Well I’m not delusional (or at least I think I am not!) – I think that could be the difference. I do have a strong emotional reaction to seeing / hearing / thinking about him, call it a crush if you want, but I don’t believe I am in anyway special as a result.

  25. I just wanted to add – you really are a member of the AA then, servetus? I don’t post there much – I’m more of a C19 gal but that’s great!

  26. I might be in a formal sense — when I started this I joined a bunch of forums. But I never go there, more’s the pity. Skully suggested it to me, and that point you could get the form off the surface of the Armitage Army website.

  27. […] But what this reaction showed me is that there is a limit to the insanity of Armitagemania. I may spend a ridiculous amount of time writing on this blog, which is in turn only a fraction of the time I spend thinking about him and his work, but I still haven’t become so much of a fangrrl that I can’t tolerate the thought of the actual Mr. Armitage in the arms of a partner in real life or that I would be happy to learn that he’d been dumped and was single again. My excesses aside, at base I am at least capable of fulfilling the laudable self-description of another commenter here of herself the Armitage fan as “a friend he’s just never met,” of being happy that he has people in his life, no matter his relationship to them, that have stable contacts with him that stretch over long periods — that he has friends and potentially romantic partners towards whom I have no consciousness of jealous feelings. In short Armitagemania is not making me betray my own convictions; maybe I am letting myself off the hook too easily, but Ms. Capper’s recorded presence at this event provided the welcome news that I am not at stage 3 or even close. […]

  28. It’s not about RA, it’s about YOU. Tell us more of those “tangent” stories that bubble up, like your dad saving you in the swimming pool. Those are brave revelations, and they are going to lead to something very, very good for…you. Accept the RA obsession; he’s just the catalyst.


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