Diary of an RA Fan — Part 23 Fading From View — SPOILERS

See Diary Part 22 here, or to access all entries, hit “The Diary” tab above.

Entry — Still Fall, 2008 + a couple of days later:

I guess I can’t stop thinking about Richard Armitage in ‘Between the Sheets’. I haven’t watched it again. I’m really trying to forget it. The graphic sex scenes that were like a hot poker to my adrenal glands are still somewhat vivid but thankfully receding a little. Now I’m experiencing something less visceral and a little more thoughtful. I just had to get past the shock of seeing John Thornton in all his glory. LOL!

A long time ago I fancied myself becoming a great photographer. Eventually I “wised up” and let that go like I have a lot of other things I enjoy. I’m not sure I’ll ever get back what I once had, but there are things I learned and can’t forget. My first mentor told me to ditch the color. Once the color was gone, I learned how lousy my photos were. It was the first time I really considered composition and contrast, and they needed work. But I was glad I knew the truth. Sex can be like that. It can color everything — for a while. But when the euphoria of sex is gone, people look at their partners and ask themselves, “Do I really care about you?”

In ‘Between the Sheets’ the character Alona seemed to need the euphoria. Almost like an unbroken drumbeat she lets Paul, her partner, know how she needs sex from him and not much else. It’s plain that Paul was little more than a prop in her world.

After the dip in sex and some tense therapy sessions, she seemed to be fighting the urge to dismiss him and move on if he didn’t satisfy her. From talk about her son, to her job, to her dead husband, to her relationship with Paul it seemed that everything revolved around Alona. From the moment she learns about Tracy, she is suspicious of Paul and tries to control the outcome. Too late she realizes she might really care for Paul only to be startled by the final revelation. I would have loved to have seen another series to see who Alona really was. Part of me thought of her as a narcissist, and narcissists can be intensely fascinating — when you don’t have to live with them. In fact, they are sometimes the most interesting people. Self absorption that intense always has me wondering what created it and if it can survive.

My friend Leah was this self absorbed, and I have to admit she was extremely fascinating. In hindsight she was so obsessed with herself and getting her way that it was frightening, but at the time I alternated between admiration, humor, and a little fear about her desperation. By day she was a very capable physical therapist, and in her free time she trolled hardware stores for guys who could flip her in bed and install a hot tub or track lighting, or maybe a security system on the side. I actually laughed at this when I wasn’t horrified. There was no hesitation in her about using other people. Oh, she was smart, and frequently said things I thought, and now I’m wondering what was wrong with me that I wasn’t more appalled at the time.

I guess I wasn’t that upset over her selfishness because I didn’t realize how much it hurt others, and I figured she was just lashing out about things in her life that were unfair — alcoholic parent, untimely death of her husband. There was also her well ordered life, which seemed to say she was in control but just battling some demons on the side. She had a great job, her house and her bills were in perfect order, her 14-year old daughter was very pleasant and a good student. But when her daughter tried to commit suicide, all Leah could talk about was how stressful it was for her and how she needed a damn vacation. She flew to Mexico for 10 days. Meanwhile the kid was on suicide watch at a mental hospital. I never saw any concern for this kid. I mean nothing. Any concern for the kid was left for others. Leah wrung her hands a little, but she was never there for anyone but herself. She did not know how to feel any kind of empathy or real remorse. She only reacted to being inconvenienced and then moved to take care of herself. I can hardly think about this without wanting to knock myself silly for not being more horrified and doing something. I’ve always prided myself on knowing what was going on, and thinking for everyone in the room. I am an idiot.

I think maybe I couldn’t see it because I couldn’t see myself. SO has told me in his quiet way to get over myself. But sometimes he’s gotten exasperated. When we were first together he said, “What happened that you think everyone in the world gives a f*ck about all of your opinions?!” He’s so right, and here I am journaling for the first time in my life and feeling like a putz. But didn’t he want me to do this? Maybe he just wanted me to write so I didn’t have to verbalize all of it to him. What the hell did he ever see in me? Only the pretty girl of 21? Does any of this shit I’m writing mean anything? What was my point? Yeah, Alona’s character brought all of that back, and as badly as I hate to admit it, somehow I saw a little of myself in her. Trying to control everything and controlling almost nothing. Faking myself out and sounding like I know what I’m talking about while I’m doing it. Maybe.

And Richard Armitage once again completely became someone else. I was actually dreading this performance and expecting it to be the one that disappointed me in his abilities, but from the first scene I saw Paul Andrews, the probation officer, and not Richard Armitage, and there was a suspicion about him at the periphery of my mind that wouldn’t come to fruition. He seemed to care about Tracy, but he was unsure of himself as a mentor, and his voice, which was so different from all of his other roles, did a lot to convey this. At times his contrition was almost too much and screamed he was guilty of something, but he stopped short and had the perfect intonation for nailing passive/aggressive. These made his fatal flaw believable. I loved the scene in the therapist’s office with Alona where he sounds like a boy lashing out at her. Plus, that sounded like some real shit that goes on between dysfunctional couples. Hell, aren’t we all dysfunctional? LOL! SO’s never sounded like a little boy, but he’s got his issues as well, and I could believe Richard Armitage has had a dysfunctional relationship; otherwise, what did he draw on to capture something that realistically? If not, then damn he’s good. He certainly had the whine and the subtle manipulation down, and I was never quite sure of the extent of the latter until the end. Usually I can quickly see things like that coming in real life as well as in a drama. In fact, my horribly arrogant, impatient nature often wants to bring things to their logical conclusion in an instant, so I can move on. I missed it this time, but I’ll blame that oblivion on his naked ass.

And I’m still trying to rationalize his naked ass in this show. It really wasn’t gratuitous sex even though on some level it felt like it. Rather it was a couple being intimate, and I was in the room with them.

I have never felt more like a voyeur. It was too much, and I came away asking: why did he do it? And when I think of it, I come to that question and can’t move on. I wonder about Julie Graham as well, but hell, I don’t have time to really ponder her when I’m wondering about Richard Armitage’s motivations. Was he that insecure about working? This is the most obvious answer. He had not made it big with North and South yet, so his offers had to be less. That makes sense, but maybe I don’t want to think of him prostituting himself to be working although the answer may be that simple. Or was he honestly unsuspecting of how the scene was going to be filmed, and he’s so biddable that he just went along with it when he found out? I’ve heard that reason floated by some, which makes my bs detector hit alarming levels. Surely actors aren’t that naive. Don’t they have agents who are supposed to be savvy, so they don’t just stumble into things like graphic sex scenes? Didn’t he have a contract with some details? It just makes no sense unless the agents in the UK don’t have as much edge as the ones here. I really doubt this. People are people, and negotiators no matter where they are have an uncanny awareness of how someone can get screwed.

So what was it that motivated him? Maybe I’ve invested in watching him so much that I will not let myself be disappointed by thinking he might be shallow or God forbid, a hedonist. So maybe he felt some artistic challenge? Maybe he really is interested in the human condition and the stories that come from it to the point that he could suspend any compunction about getting naked? Damn, that’s a pretty big step. It’s not just being without clothes. It’s the intimacy portrayed that will be forever captured on screen for his present and future loved ones to see and wonder about to a much greater degree than I’m doing. That’s something he can never take back. It’s out never to be private again and will have to be confronted again and again. Was he that thoughtless?

Or was there such a relief in being naked that it didn’t matter about the consequences? When reading his comments about this show and his family’s reaction, the flippancy of it borders on disrespectful. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but that’s how it seemed. Maybe he seems too much like SO who chafed under the rigid mores of his parents and I’m assigning motives to him that are really SO’s. His upbringing does sound much like SO’s, and that upbringing is still so foreign to me. To be that inhibited about speaking of one of the most elemental things in life — sex? I can’t really wrap my mind around that. But then maybe I’m misreading his comments and maybe I’m a freak. I was at the other end of the spectrum — never inhibited from discussing anything, Mom and Dad really were not like other people, and I’ve fought that notion for a good part of my life. When I was a kid and my friends used to comment on how different my parents were, I blew it off as my friend’s ignorance of people. Years later I realized they were right. I certainly was aware of sex and a host of other subjects long before my peers. Even today I still shake my head in bafflement when I hear women talk about their mothers never telling them anything — even about their menstrual cycles — so that they freaked out when they finally got their periods. I don’t understand this kind of parenting. A friend of mine told me that her mother left a book out for her to read about periods, sex, and unwanted pregnancy but never said a word to her. My friend got pregnant as a teen, and it was the first time she had sex. Small wonder.

One of my many sex talks was Mom telling me that unwanted pregnancies and disease are certainly issues of indiscriminate sex, but the most important thing is how much sex affects your head and your heart. Those are what really matter. In one instance she ended with, “because there is nothing sacred about a p*ssy.” Mom always did have a way of putting things in perspective. LOL! So to think of some mom just leaving a book out that hopefully her daughter might find and understand and heed is… I don’t get it.

Maybe I do have issues with that kind of detachment, and I can’t help being curious about those who may have experienced it. We’re all inclined to seek intimacy. It’s hardwired into us. So I wonder what it would be like to seek intimacy when coming from a perspective where intimate matters can never be discussed with our intimates, i.e., with those closest to us who have our best interest at heart. Whom do you discuss intimacy with if not those people? I still marvel at the fact that sex was never a discussion in the house of SO’s youth. There weren’t even any implications of it other than his existence, and others outside their home who talked about sex were like aliens speaking a foreign language. SO is infinitely curious about life and people and how they work, and he’s also the most honest and forthright person I’ve ever met, so he felt like an alien in his own home. I was his relief, and to a lesser degree so were my parents. But what happens to people who get little or no relief? Where do they go? How do they make sense of things when they have never been able to talk of things that profoundly affect us all? And if they are curious about the truth, how do they seek it and convey it?

I know discretion was something I grappled with as I was coming to adulthood, and at times my reaction to my parents’ unabashed and sometimes brutal honesty has provoked me to such a circumspect posture that I’ve fairly strangled my emotions. I can’t help but wonder what went on in Richard Armitage’s head with respect to his upbringing and whether it played a part in selecting this role. Maybe I can understand his need to take the bark off the tree as it were. If I could not easily speak of elemental things to people who matter to me, I might also want to show my ass, just to know if it was real.

Naked asses aside, ‘Between the Sheets’ is so obviously designed to provoke someone to honestly examine their opinions about sex, and I guess I’m verbalizing my response to the show here since I can’t really talk about this to anyone. But it’s not the sex. It’s the fan odyssey I’m on. Sex is so easy to talk about. My need to watch some obscure British actor is not. I’ve enjoyed so many of his roles, but if I’m honest, something unhealthy is going on with me. The fact I’m writing all of this about some actor is….I don’t know what it is. Certainly it’s an escape, and the problem is this show wasn’t an escape. It was too damn real, and here I am trying to get in Richard Armitage’s head. I have to admit there is something satisfying about that. Certainly, I don’t know him, and to speculate that I do or can guess what he’s thinking really is one of my curses but then I always try to get inside people’s heads. I’ve been doing that since I was a kid. I can’t stop now. I never want to do it to exploit anyone, but I really do want to know what drives people, and isn’t that the point? Isn’t the point of me watching all of those characters to be curious enough to wonder what in hell’s name is going on inside their heads? And if it spills over to the actors themselves, isn’t that a normal reaction? Or maybe I do have CWS. Whatever is going on, I’m intrigued and can’t just turn that off.

Later:

I found myself feeling very sad for Hazel. All that angst over what? Some misguided sense of decorum? Yeah, yeah, I know that was the point of the show — more bark off the tree. It must have been hell to grow up in an era that didn’t allow you to speak openly about something so important as sex and Kay Mellor and company are definitely of that era (I think of them now as the British version of the Ephrons only less restrained). Hazel’s part practically screams it, and I appreciate what they were doing to show just how silly some of the mores of that generation were. Plus, abuse is still something that too often shames people and keeps them quiet. The muzzling effect of it can’t be exposed enough. So I’m glad they worked that in. But mostly I look at Brenda Blethyn playing Hazel and how she’s about the age of my mother, and I realize Mom was and is so open and honest about so many things — so much more than most women I meet and come to know. She’s always been honest to a fault. No sexually repressed woman unable to articulate what she thinks for her. Thank you, Mom. You are rare, and I realize it more and more every year. I’ll have to tell you this next time I see you.

I was a little uncomfortable with the use of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. My first reaction was, No! don’t use that. It’s so cliche’. It’s becoming nothing but a caricature of forbidden fruit for the repressed woman, and so unfair to D.H. Lawrence. I think I rolled my eyes a little, but Brenda Blethyn does a decent job. The cliché aside, I just liked Hazel. She was sincere even if she was a little silly acting at times. At first I was predisposed to dislike her since Brenda Blethyn can’t move two feet without emoting and usually plays someone a little silly. Then there were the times I felt some queasiness at her part, but that was coupled with my admiration for her guts in taking off her clothes. I guess all naked asses don’t bother me, but then I didn’t have to see Brenda’s naked ass while she was scr*wing.

Peter’s mother, Audrey, was a hoot, and thank God I didn‘t have to see her naked ass. But who couldn’t like Audrey? She was so gentle and earnest. I can hear my own mother talking like that when she gets to be Audrey’s age except my mother adored my dad when he was living and doesn’t seem to be the least bit interested in another man since he’s been gone. Of course she might surprise me, and that would be fine; nothing she might do would take away from Dad. As for Maurice, he must have had more going on behind closed doors. LOL! He was a little mouse of a man.

Georgia was fairly clichéd too, but I liked her as well. Where I come from Georgia would be called “a good ol’ gal”. They always have a heart of gold even if life has done them dirty. The only problem I had was a couple of times she started looking like Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke. It made it hard to keep a straight face.

Then there were the children. Kieran was a shit with an endearing quality. Maybe it was the twinkle in his eye that had the promise of someone with depth. Whereas Simon was just a shit. An angry shit but still just a shit. No, there was more going on; I just didn’t care to find out. If the series had continued, maybe I would have cared. Of course there was Fiona who got my pity for being caught up in this mess. Sweet looking little girl. I wonder if she’s ever watched this show.

But Peter was the one who got to me more than any other. I loved him even though he cheated on his wife and had a seedy profession that should have generated self-contempt. Yet he kept trying but getting things so wrong. Boy can I relate to that. I felt his remorse so much that I sobbed over the herons too. Even writing this I’m getting choked. I just wish the writers hadn’t wrapped up his and Hazel’s story in a neat little package. It was decidedly unrealistic in a show that seemed to wear realistic on its sleeve. It’s never that simple.

[note: spoilers in this video]

I had never seen much with Alun Armstrong, but after this, yeah, I’m a fan. I guess once that fan thing gets turned on there’s no telling where it will be directed.

There are so many more things to say about this show. It had a lot of layers. Why do I hear Shrek’s voice in my head? Yeah, it was like an onion. It had layers. But I’ve got to stop thinking about it or it will drive me crazy. Kay Mellor would be so proud.

Not sure where I’m going next with my Richard Armitage watching. Maybe I need to cleanse my mind with a little John Thornton.

See Diary Part 24 here.

Screecaps and clips are mine courtesy of a friend loaning me the DVD. Thank you, friend. :D

edit: I frequently get email about this post and specifically about the pictures. Just so you know, the screencaps untouched were not nearly so tame. I strategically cropped them to make this post “safe for work.”

32 Comments

  1. Long blog post, Frenz, LOL! My opinion in short is that it boils down to cultural differences. We Americans are still more prudish than the Brits and to them it’s not as big of a deal. I’m not saying you are prudish but most Americans would probably not want this much nakedness out and about for all to see in perpetuity. In the UK a lot of actors have done this and it’s more acceptable. Daniel Craig let it all hang out in the 2003 film “The Mother” and it didn’t keep him from being cast as James Bond three years later.

  2. I edited that out of my original ramblings ’cause cultural mores aside, he went against his upbringing big time.

  3. Interesting post. We’ll probably never know what went on in his head, but … oh well. Using Lady Chatterley? I really should get around to watching BtS then! :) (Not to mention that I really should get my bum in gear and review said Lawrence book.)

    The narcissist you mentioned sounds absolutely awful. Her own daughter tried to commit suicide and she makes it into something about HER and not the daughter?! I mean sure, that’s what they do, but it was such a telling example. Shocking.

    With the period, I don’t specifically remember my mum having “the talk” with me. I remember her once asking if I had had blood in my panties, to which my response was “no mum, I’ve not had my period yet”. I remember there being a little book in the bathroom on the subject, but then, I have two older sisters AND we learned about that sort of thing in school. All the bits and how they work, with boring anatomical diagrams, and all that. Just find it funny (funny-scary) that people are so against sex ed in school, and yet, the countries who are regarded to have the best sex ed (such as the Netherlands and Sweden) are the ones with pretty much the lowest rates of teen pregnancies! So I really don’t get what all the fuss is about. Education is key to a lot of things!

    And I believe I went a bit off-topic there. Sorry!

  4. Definitely people need to be educated. I don’t know anyone personally who has an objection to teaching kids about their bodies. Mostly what gets the angst in the U.S. is the school deigning to teach a moral code. Since there are differing moral codes, it’s hard to do at the schoolhouse.

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bill Mayor, RA Addict. RA Addict said: Diary of an RA Fan — Part 23 Fading From View — SPOILERS http://bit.ly/ibBt9S […]

  6. Lovely post, lady! I haven’t seen Between the Sheets but I enjoyed reading your thoughts on it. My mother did the book thing too! The first time I talked to her about menstruation was when I started. She was completely hopeless with all that stuff. Fortunately I was able to learn all I need to know from elsewhere. There’s a great cross-cultural study by Goldman and Goldman (1988) that reveals the dangers of sexual ignorance. I think they found Swedish kids (who are given frank sex education at an early age) to be the most educated and less likely to have unplanned pregnancies. Some folks think that the moral panic surrounding child sex abuse that emerged in the 1980s has lead to poor sex education in countries like the US.

    I had a friend who attempted suicide and had a narcissistic partner who was selfish like your friend. All his partner cared about was having another baby and she didn’t want him to go on meds. I think sometimes, because we are inclined (maybe) to assume the best of people, it’s harder to see when things aren’t quite right, it takes longer to process, so I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself for that.

  7. I didn’t get “the talk” from my mother either – she was very inhibited and embarrassed and I learned pretty much everything from my school (all girls Methodist, but surprisingly progressive in terms of keeping the girls informed … quite possibly so they wouldn’t “do it” too early).

    BTS wasn’t pleasant to watch but I thought the acting was good. I fast forwarded through the more explicit scenes but they were over in the wink of an eye anyway. I have to say I don’t get a thrill out of seeing the naked body.

    BTW: I cried when the heron was killed too :(

  8. I take my hat off to you Frenz! And I agree Alun Armstrong is a great actor – I watch him in New Tricks regularly – nothing like BtS but good fun.

  9. Great post RAF – so glad to hear your thoughts on this (and with illustrations). You’re right, the sex scenes in BtS are shockingly intimate, in a way that most we see on TV in the UK are not. And we do see a lot – hardly a week goes by etc etc. Big yawn, not another nude sex scene. You get de-sensitized to it.

    I suspect actors in the UK emerge from drama college feeling the statutory nude scene has to be part of their skill set. On stage, of course, it’s ten million times harder to watch than on TV – but BtS almost felt like a ringside seat in the stalls.

    Like you I’ve wondered about the flippant-sounding way he talked about the nudity (or nakedness) in BtS. It could have been a defence of course, and I did like his perceptive comment that the gist of the play was that discussing sex was the difficult part, not doing it. But when RA has talked recently about ‘getting his kit off’ in Spooks he’s sounded reluctant and even a little apprehensive, though he’s done nothing in Spooks that’s remotely as exposing or un-stylized as BtS.

    So perhaps it was just about a relatively little-known actor keen to be involved in an above-average script by a highly regarded writer, and deciding to go for it. Or maybe he rationalized it to himself on the grounds of artistic integrity – the whole play was about sex and intimacy, it wasn’t just a gratuitous add-on. At that stage in his career, it definitely wasn’t about ‘let’s get Richard to take his clothes off to give the fangirls a thrill’. He might be less willing to do a BtS now because the innocence and the anonymity have gone. Heartthrob status may have made him more self-conscious or even cynical about having to take his shirt off.

    Alun Armstrong – yes, a wonderful wonderful actor. And dad to Joe Armstrong of course, aka Allan a Dale in Robin Hood (and also a fine actor).

  10. “Bark of the tree” great line, a new one for me. I wonder why he did this too, I think he wanted/needed to work. I was pretty amazed at the mechanics of it all (as another blogger delicately wrote, tab A fitting into slot B) and just hope that was acting and not filming a real scene of intimacy (especially the bobby sock scene). But then again, he, like the rest of us, is human, and sometimes we rue decisions that seemed ok at the time.

    Perhaps the lesson he learned was to be sure to read a script thoroughly before committing!

  11. Very, very, interesting post and comments ! I wasn’t going to comment but…hey.

    For a long time I had only seen the YouTube clips of BTS, but finally some months ago I decided I had to see the entire program “unabridged”. From all I had read before about it I thought for sure my eyeballs would fall out of their sockets and I would have to immediately enter a nunnery after viewing the DVD!

    But nothing remotely like that happened! Hey, I’m not a big fan of explicit sex scenes, I think they are often not as HOT as when the scene is implied rather than explicit on screen and we can use our own imagination. Certainly nothing like this would ever be shown on US TV – though now maybe on Cable. But I wasn’t really that shocked by BTS, maybe because I had read so much about it before. Surprisingly, I was more involved in the story played by Brenda Blethyn and Alun Armstrong than Paul and Alona. (Though RA’s many transformations of character on screen are always fascinating to watch, and always believable.)

    I agree that it is a fact of life for actors today that they have to do nude scenes on stage and screen, especially younger, attractive actors. (You would hardly ever see on US TV the older characters in the nude, only young and beautiful people need apply). I believe it’s different for actors to “take their kit off” than it is for us contemplating doing the same.

    As for Richard Armitage and reasons for taking this part, I think he was doing a job as a working actor, this was a better part than some he had been offered before, (better than Lee in CF for example), and he had few choices and offers in those days. He’s an actor and not a saint. When we see him with Alona in intimate moments on screen I know he’s not being Richard Armitage the person, in those moments he is always Paul. So, I don’t feel at all that I’ve had an intrusive glimpse into his private and intimate life by watching him on BTS. After all, this was a series about sex therapists and sexual dysfunction. That’s why sometimes we wonder how an actor can be shy in person and then be naked or violent on screen, or make convincing love on screen to someone they dislike in real life, but it’s because I do believe there’s a freedom of sorts in becoming another character, another person, and the character can do things the real person would never do, or want to do, in real life. But, just my opinion of course, we really don’t know what he was thinking when filming this, or what he thinks of it now.

    RA is physically beautiful (as we know-LOL) and I’m sure that wasn’t lost on the producers and the director of BTS when filming those scenes. I’m sure RA, who is an intelligent man, is aware of the exploitation factor involved in his profession, and is more uncomfortable about it now because then he was almost an unknown actor , and now he’s very much not. I also think, and agree with others, that what seems to be flippant comments about his mother especially watching him in BTS is a way to cover how uncomfortable it must have been for both of them, for all of them, to watch him in this. How he really feels about this, and how his mother really feels, I’m sure is very private and nothing he would really share. But, I have a feeling he’s a good son and good brother in ways that really count in life and he’s been forgiven by his family :)

  12. I never thought it was a big deal. Basically for an actor his naked skin is just another costume. It is not Richard Armitage’s body but Paul Andrew’s just like Guy’s leather is not Richard Armitage’s real clothing. An pretending to have sex, following the stage directions, is not at all the same as really doing it with a real life partner. It is like a choreographed dance (or fight or whatever). For me it does not feel like a peep through his private bedroom door. I never understood why it is not considered a big deal to pretend to kill someone (something the actor hopefully would never do in real life) but pretending to have sex is a big deal. For me both is acting and part of the repertoire of an actor.

  13. @skully, Thanks, but I think I should reiterate that these postings are from over two years ago. The kid in question is now doing well. I have stayed in touch with her over the years, and it helped a lot that “Leah” has had a miraculous change of heart. It will take time for her and her daughter to work through it, but it was still an answer to prayer.

    @mulubinba, Schools in the U.S. frequently cover the subject, and in fact, I got several talks and a couple of films at school, so it was covered. But some of the same friends who sat through those films were still ignorant of so much.

    Oh, and Peter’s contrite heart was hard to withstand. I’m glad we didn’t. :)

    @kap, Thanks, and I have yet to watch anything else with Alun Armstrong. I may have to check that out.

    @feefa, I think you’re right about the expectations of a new actor from drama school. or that it was a chance for participation in a piece with a fairly well written script. I would like to think this was the motivation more than being prostituted to have work or being a hedonist.

    @AnnMarie, it would be interesting to know what he really does think about it now, but we’ll probably never know. Doesn’t keep me from speculating though. :D

    @musa, I think if I had heard all that I’ve now heard about BtS that it wouldn’t shock me to see it. My expectation was set by a few comical comments about his nudity. From that I had no idea that it was going to be that graphic. The shock aside, I would feel the same about that kind of graphic sex in any piece by anyone.

    I feel the need to make it clear that I never thought he wasn’t a good son or brother. I assume that he is. But it’s possible to be a good son and brother and still have some angst about the family. Also, I’m not so sure they ever felt they had to forgive him of anything. Of course I wouldn’t know for sure about any of this and honestly, I’ve never thought about that part as much except to imagine how I would feel if it were my son. It would be hard to just see a character. So I couldn’t help but feel for his mother.

    Mainly, I was disappointed that he would relegate himself to something that seemed to objectify him so, but then that was the part he was playing — someone who was being somewhat objectified.

    As for the disconnect between the actor and the character, that is fascinating to me, and I do wonder how people can do that. That’s one reason I’ve read so many books on method acting. It’s extremely interesting to me and has been since I was about 12. I’m sorry I didn’t read on it sooner.

    @Jane, for me both graphic sex and graphic violence can be troubling. In order to be too graphic, they have to have a realism to them that makes it hard to just dismiss them as an element of a story and in fact, have great potential to eclipse the story.

    An instance of something stopping short of too graphic violence (but skating right up to it) would be ‘Dead Man Walking.’ If the detail of how those people were tortured and killed had been shown, then I would have wondered about Sean Penn’s choice to participate in that. As it was, it was horrifying enough without putting the audience that up close and personal with the horror. It just wasn’t necessary, and if it had been shown, it would have overshadowed the story.

    @all, apparently I got over any reservations I had about RA or you would have never heard from me. LOL!

  14. About Alun Armstrong: you must have seen Sparkhouse? I bet you’ve probably seen him more than you know! Black Beauty, David Copperfield, Braveheart, Bleak House??
    That was a long post! Honestly after hearing so much about BTS I was disappointed. But I did grow up in a culture where there is less stigma to nudity. There wasn’t enough of what I had anticipated and not that shocking. For me it suited within the context. I can only speculate but at that age it’s not that hard to be shy. And I would think for an actor it might in some cases be easier to take off clothes than to reveal intense emotion? Perhaps it’s also part of a career dare, something of the times then? I enjoyed each storyline in this series. The power play between RA’s & JG was fascinating, hated that those intimate scenes were cut short frankly. The implication is that a woman in touch with her sexuality undermines a man is somewhat chauvinistic though.
    And sorry DH Lawrence is not erotic in my book LOL but I think I’ve been spoiled in that department by woman writing for woman!!
    What a relief to hear about your friend’s situation being improved.
    I can’t remember when but DO remember my mother talking to us about birth control at 15 and feeling SHOCKED to the core! So she must have informed us although it was too much information too soon! The storyline of the elder couple being so busy in the bedroom touched close to home too!! (Still) LOL

  15. Agree about Lawrence being dated with respect to eroticism, but that was never why I liked his writing.

    Interesting take on the chauvinism. It’s true if a woman is assertive that she’s usually characterized as a ball buster, but I’m not so sure that was the point in this. I think Alona was pretty selfish, but then so was Paul.

    Yep, I saw Alun Armstrong in Sparkhouse, but that’s it, and I may be the only person on the planet who hasn’t seen Braveheart. LOL!

  16. I think Joe Armstrong is in this piece somewhere as well in a bit part, but I can’t check at the moment because someone has my DVDs :)

    I really enjoyed reading this post — really long for you, Frenz, were you channeling me? — and all of the comments. To me you get most to the point where you write that Mr. Armitage is objectified in the film because he’s playing someone who’s being objectified by his partner. But importantly, as you also note, he’s being objectified by the filmmakers in order to attract viewers. I didn’t buy the whole “people will watch this and then be brought to have frank discussions about sex” argument pursued by Mr Armitage in the article — people who want to have those discussions certainly already have enough encouragement these days to be having them. And in the end, no one has to really care *why* people are watching something, just that they watch it, which is the point of commercial television. I think he was certainly aware of what he was doing; it boggles the mind to think he’d simply sign a contract without having read the script to see what it actually called for; I’m sure he got this role *also* because he could act, but I think it’s interesting that his comments on getting cast as Lee include some funny remarks about being afraid his abs weren’t sufficient, he didn’t comment in that article at all about whether the rest of his body was acceptable for the role of Paul.

    When watching BTS, I found myself wondering about whether sections had been cut from the filmed version of the script in the sex therapy scenes between Alona and Paul. At the end, when they finally resume intercourse so precipitously in her office (something I found rather unbelievable), she says to him that she’d still want to be with him even if they couldn’t have sex, and he stops to say something along the lines of “and I hear you saying that.” It seemed like a weird dialogue unless they had said something to each other in therapy about him specifically feeling like she only wanted him for sex (a message that comes through very clearly from the script of her character) and her feeling like he wasn’t listening to her — like the reason she was treating him as the junior partner in the marriage was that she felt she was being ignored, something that doesn’t come out as clearly from the script. In the end I felt that the character of Alona was a lot more comprehensibly scripted than Paul was — I didn’t like her at the end of the film but I understood her behavior. I feel a bit differently about Paul but I’ll save that for my own posts on this topic.

    In terms of prudishness: I am so unbelievably tired of hearing that I don’t like sex scenes in visual media because I am American. That doesn’t really explain much, I think, about my artistic preferences. Not everything with a graphic sex scene in it is a work of great art, and even leaving out the sex scenes BTS does not qualify as great art. FWIW, I was raised in the 1970s in the Midwest with parents who were (and remain) very sexually interested in each other and vocally open about that, was given “the talk” by my mother after she received a letter from the school saying that the topic was going to be taken up in health class soon (she and my father both grew up on farms so they didn’t get the talk, they just always knew), was allowed to watch neither graphic sex nor graphic violence on screen, and while I enjoy watching sex on screen when it seems called for but I still have a hard time with violence, even mild forms. I wasn’t horrified when I saw simulation of sex and all that bare skin, but neither was I titillated. I just didn’t think that what we saw advanced the plot all that much, and I actually suspect a sex therapist would agree, since the primary argument of sex therapists seems to be that difficulties in bed often / usually have their sources elsewhere.

    Apologies for the long comments. Now that you’ve finished with this (yes?) maybe I’ll manage to get my thoughts together.

  17. Oh, I just wish this was all I said about it. LOL! I say more later, but maybe I’ll edit that out. Who knows what I’m going to do? I wish I had the guts to post more of what I think, but sometimes I feel like I just think too damn much and it doesn’t really mean jack.

    This entry is actually edited quite a bit, but I did not edit much of the RA stuff out of the entry although I did edit some out. But basically this is what my entries look like before I take a hatchet to them.

    I’ll take that as a compliment that I was channeling you. :) But not sure I was since your pieces are more coherent than mine. Mine sound more like a rant — at least they do to me, and well, maybe that’s really what they are at times.

  18. Isn’t that the dilemma of blogging? As you say earlier on, where did you get the idea that anyone should care this much about your opinions? :)

    I’ll read anything you care to publish. Your pieces are not rants.

  19. Thanks again! I appreciate you reading my stuff. It really does mean a lot.

  20. That is exactly how I feel about my opinions! And lately I’ve been more aware of the dilemma one posted they remain frozen which is never the case in RL. I’ve been wanting to note something about modesty. Prior to sex education children (at least mine) are being taught in school safety about their bodies. Drawing the line to what only a doctor&parent can touch in terms of healthcare. I obviously applaud such efforts. What I have difficulty with is being told changing behind a towel well hidden from view is not acceptable! This was my 10y old of me urging the 12y old in an empty familylocker. I am one of those people who is very skilled at changing on the beach covered by a towel. What happened to we’re all the same underneath??

  21. […] but I’m particularly fascinated by her last two diary entries on Between the Sheets (one; two). How do you react when the object of your admiration suddenly appears in the rear altogether? If […]

  22. Often times actors take parts that allow them to go to places they couldn’t go to in RL. I marvel at actors their courage to put themselves out there in a way I couldn’t begin to fathom. That ability to bear your soul and is some cases your bottom is what seperates a great actor from a good actor. I have only seen BTS on You Tube and there was a time I was trying to get my hands on it, but that urge has long since passed.

    I wouldn’t say you are a prude, I think, at this point it is almost like seeing a good friend or family member having sex. And no one would want to see that. Right?

  23. @rob,

    Please, please pardon my language.

    No, I certainly wouldn’t want to see a good friend or family member having sex, or anyone else come to think of it. So I would feel the same about seeing someone fucking no matter who it was. LOL!

    But also note that here I am two+ years later writing a blog dedicated to the guy, so I guess it didn’t offend me enough to put me off watching him in other things.

  24. When I think about friends or family having sex i think of the joke, “my eyes, my eyes…” and go run screaming into the night…

  25. LOL!!

  26. These pics look like photos from one of those videos that teach couples how to have better sex. I think this show was more about being provocative, than trying to be exploitive, but I haven’t seen the entire episode or series so I prob shouldn’t even be commenting. I think they were trying to encite people and make them uncomfortable. Two posts later and I think they did the trick. :)

  27. Oh, definitely, and they hit pay dirt with me. :D

  28. […] Frenzy has a very thought-provoking, soul-searching post on BTS, also definitely worth a […]

  29. I second “I’ll read anything you care to publish.” Don’t let anyone discourage you. Keep writing. You are not a raver or a flake. Your stuff is good.

  30. J, I have just been reading all of your comments, and you know, flattery will get you everywhere. :D I’m kidding. Maybe.

    No,seriously, I appreciate the encouragement very much. I salve my conscience on this particular entry and the one before it with the fact that like Richard Armitage, I made myself a bit vulnerable. I do have another diary entry and quite a few more, but I’ve been waiting for the right time to post the next one. Your remarks aside, the time is pretty much right.

    Thanks again for the kind words!

  31. […] into the character of Paul Andrews. an observation that I share with others, especially Frenz, on “R.A. Frenzy.” (The flashback scene in which Armitage sports redder hair and  and […]


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