Not That Richard Armitage — RA on Politics Part II

Disclaimer: I was not offended by Richard Armitage’s interview. His political views are exactly what I would expect from most Brits. And this post is in response to the numerous questions I’ve received about why? why? why? are some people offended?

I’ve had quite a few notes from people asking me what specifically were the problems others had with Richard Armitage’s most recent interview. Further, the gist of what I’m getting from those who don’t understand why some became offended is they see that all he did was express his political views and how can that be offensive to anyone?

This post is an attempt to convey what was offensive to some, and please note these assessments below are mostly an amalgam of what has been said to me privately. Also, no one who has contacted me to express their negative opinion about Richard’s interview was offended by his having views. In fact, all of them have said they respect his right to express his views, but respecting his right to speak does not mean agreeing with the views nor being blind to what they saw as “his painting us with a broad negative brush.” By ‘us’ it was meant those who consider themselves Republicans.

From the article:

“I’ve only just returned yesterday, so I haven’t had a chance to enjoy it yet, but it is something I’m prepared to enjoy. I do feel saddened that it is thus, and also that the Republicans are trying to destabilize Obamacare–I think that’s a real shame. I think it’s something to really fight for and I don’t know why they’re doing it, really. But then I come from England where we’ve had a national health service since the Second World War and I think it’s so important. I take it for granted.”

Source

Roughly half the country is Republican, and Richard called them by name and thereby made this personally against them with remarks strongly implying they are just trying to make trouble and don’t really think health care for people is important or want to fight for what’s right and helpful. It seems Republican readers found it hard to conclude much else from his quote in the above paragraph.

More from the article:

With half of the government throwing a temper tantrum over the Affordable Care Act, it seemed unlikely that the US would ever have national health care to take for granted. From the moment Republicans won the House in 2010 they’d been pushing farther and farther to the right, trying to rescind everything from voting to women’s rights–often in the name of religion.

“I think it gets very, very complicated when religion and politics get tangled up together,” Richard acknowledged, nodding, “And I know for sure in England we do try to keep religion and politics very, very separate. I think it’s important when you’re campaigning on personalities that those personalities–for example, the President of the United States–has a faith. I think that’s important in terms of their character, but when it gets entwined into politics I think it gets very, very complicated. And it doesn’t function well.”

True enough, especially for the US. “You can’t [have religion in politics] because you’re talking about a multi-faith society.And that’s what the whole of the Constitution is built on–those differences.”

Source

In fairness, it appears the reporter and not Richard characterizes the Republicans as spoiled children in the first paragraph. Richard’s comments about separation of religion from government were not offensive as most who contacted me agree, but the placement of his remarks behind the reporter’s make it look as if he could be throwing in with her stereotyping of Republicans as religious controllers.

More:

The UK has never had their government simply close in quite the same way as ours did, which Richard attributed to debate. “We elect a government, I mean, I don’t vote in the US but you elect a government to solve the differences. As much as we in England were opposed to a coalition government, or surprised by it, or shocked by it, in a way it sort of is functioning rather beautifully. There just is always debate, but there’s always a decision,“ Then Richard paused and his eyes widened, almost apologetically. “Oh God, how’ve we got onto politics? I’m an actor, nobody cares about what my politics are.”

I assured him that Moves Magazine cared about his politics and we considered the UK too civilized to have their own government follow American practice in shutting down. “You’d think that,” he said, “but you look at what happened with the Poll Tax riots back in the ‘80s …the closer it gets to our home, the closer it gets to the pound that’s in your pocket, the more uncivilized we become as a nation.”

Source

Most who contacted me appreciated his attempt at humility and thought his comments in the second paragraph were trying to make a concession that any nation can be uncivilized and the UK is not immune either.

As for the comments on gun control, most didn’t take that personally even if they disagreed with him, and many agreed there is too much violence in entertainment.

But what was most commented on about the article was its contradictory stance of praising debate while making statements which essentially thwart it — namely stereotyping and somewhat demonizing one party in the U.S. As one person put it to me, “It’s hard to discuss something with someone who has decided you are insensitive or selfish or both and keeps throwing it in your face.”

My take on the contradictory stance is it’s certainly present. It’s also true that some people from both parties do this. Keyword there is ‘some’ since there are some reasonable people in both parties as well as the hate mongering people found in both parties.

So the Earth did not move. Nor did the world come to an end. :D But for Richard Armitage, if he had talked about being for nationalized health care, gun control, etc. and explained why without making things personal, I don’t think there would have been much offense taken if any.

My hope is if he keeps expressing political views, that he does so without targeting a group. Having watched him now for several years, I want to think he did it inadvertently because he didn’t realize referring to Republicans was not limited to politicians.

Rich,

I still say you were drunk. :D

Signed,
A crazy fan

I ask one thing from those of you who have similar views to Richard. Please put yourself in the shoes of those who felt he was in some ways denigrating them. Replace the word Republican with the word Democrat and change the issues Richard is supporting to something you don’t support and see if you would still feel so magnanimous.

Further notes from Frenz. I have now read quite a few articles at NY Moves and enjoyed them, but it’s hard not to see that this site needs work of the technical kind. I looked at it under the covers, and there is so much they could be doing to help themselves. I would love to get hold of it, but of course don’t think they would want my help after my criticism and parody of them. LOL! Whatever my stance on the RA article, it’s a shame an outfit like this does not have a better site.

Last note: new tag ‘not that Richard’

43 Comments

  1. When people express an opinion, it’s out there, to be taken any way the receiver wants. I think he spoke within the context of the government shutdown and politicians. If a reader wants to take it out of context as a personal attack, there’s not much than can be done at about it. I say this even if the shoe had been on the other foot.

    It’s too bad that people can’t express opinions and engage in political debate without instantly taking criticism personally (on BOTH sides).

  2. I think you hit it right on the money there fellow libertarian ;)

  3. Judi, Context is not entirely clear here, and some of the people who contacted me are far from stupid nor disingenuous. The comments stung these people and they felt were unfairly leveled at a huge group of Americans.

    And of course I agree about taking things personally — even when they’re meant personally by some. I try not to be affected. Mostly I’m successful and sometimes I fail big time.

  4. Just try to fantasize about those heated political disscutions with Richard….that should help anybody,Frenz ;)

  5. As a card carrying Tea Party Member – I wasn’t offended in the least. A little disappointed, yes. I looked at the whole thing as someone who has made a judgment call without having all the facts. As a Brit, he won’t understand our right to ‘cling to our guns’ (BTW – Great Britain is possibly the most violent country in Europe, despite the gun ban) and obviously doesn’t realize that the cities with the most stringent, invasive gun laws (such as NY, Boston, Chicago) have the highest gun violence! and as most Brits, can’t understand why we don’t HAVE a National Healthcare System. (I did some research last week on their healthcare system and their attitude towards it, so I kinda saw that coming)

    If he truly enjoys a humorous confrontational debate, I’m willing to give it to him. Southern Style, of course!! I like that kind of thing, myself.

  6. I wasn’t offended either. To me his views were totally expected, but there were some people who took it as him attacking people who are Republicans. I’m not a Republican either nor a Democrat. I’m nothing. LOL!

    Oh I love debate too! But somehow I get the impression Richard is not a big fan of it for himself. I could be so wrong about that, but that’s my impression of him.

  7. Joanna, I think you’re right. :D

  8. We don’t know what the reporter excluded from the one hour of conversation with Richard or the detail of questions she asked or how she structured her questions to bring up the issue of republicans and blame for US government shutdown. We do know the reporter is bias and strongly opinionated and she gave Richard a history lesson on the behavior of republican since 2010, and obliviously, she was in charge of the interview, gave him her opinions and encouraged him to respond. We don’t know her side of the conversation. She knew he was English and she knew enough about the English health care system to know that he would basically say what she wanted to hear and write. I don’t feel Richard is politically astute to American politics or knows enough about the US health care laws to make any judgement. He has not been living in New York long enough to educate himself on these topics so most of his knowledge is hear-say. I give him the benefit-of-the doubt in this interview and feel the article was conducted as a political commentary written by the reporter.

  9. I am NOT a political person–AT ALL. I did not take offense at his views, nor do I really understand those who did–he was answering questions to the best of his ability and I doubt that he knew the interview would take a political path. It’s not like he votes here, people, and we are all entitled to our own opinions.

  10. I would never call anyone stupid or disingenuous, I said it was nice to see him talk about something other than fluff. I grew up in a house that was Hardcore Republican and was accused of stupidity when I announced I was independent of both sides, they each have their own problems….if I said that or even slightly suggested that, it was a mistake. Everyone has a right to their opinion…mine is try not to talk about politics or religion..it somehow always gets you in to trouble…..

  11. (To RAFrenzy, please disregard my comment if you think this is irrelevant/problematic/inappropriate in anyway. Thank you)

    I do not think RA is being ignorant to hold his views the way he expressed them here during the interview. Gun or no gun, it is a universal fact that cities tend to have much higher rate of violence than other parts of the country. So rather than focusing on higher rate of gun violence within more strictly controlled areas, it is also a good idea not to forget about how it could have been WORSE without those laws. Disagreeing or not, you cannot disregard his opinion on the grounds that he is not American and thus somehow not informed enough to form valid opinions. Right there is what I see as disrespect.

  12. JudiCisto, Sorry it wasn’t clear, but my comment was a response to Judiang. :D

    Misty Mountain, there is no problem with your comment, but I appreciate you asking me about it.

    I have no opinion about gun control, or let me be more accurate, I’m not an actor, but no one cares what my politics are either, and as I get older I find I even care less about it myself. It’s not that I don’t care about people and issues, I just see no point in expressing my opinion about politics. I’ve done it a couple of times on this blog — not anything partisan at all — and that was a couple of times too many.

  13. RAFrenzy, Thank you for sharing this. No, i am not offended by Mr. Armitages’ comments. Although I am a registered republican, I am disgusted with both sides at this point and time. I, myself, am more of a Libertarian(and proud of it!). I enjoy reading your blog!!!

  14. Frankly, I’m befuddled that anyone was offended–he’s an actor, not a politician or journalist, nor is he a personal friend or family member of anyone who has commented about this interview. The magazine’s focus is on political and social issues, not just fashion or entertainment, so his comments were appropriate to the venue in which he found himself. He expressed a viewpoint about a particular group of politicians, not on the members of the public who may be registered Republicans and who may or may not have agreed with what certain of those politicians were up to.

  15. Sorry – I’ve never noticed another Judi here and I had a slight panic attack….I thought I must have been on something…I didn’t remember writing that and I was thinking I know I’ve been under some stress lately…but I swear I don’t remember saying anything like that !!!!!!! O.o :D Thank goodness…..I’m going to stand by my original idea and not discuss politics or religion…let’s get back to that gorgeous photo shall we?????

  16. My apologies for some of the comments seeming out of order. There were some I thought I had approved from my phone, but I guess it didn’t happen.

    JudiC, Actually, there’s not another Judi. I’m just messing with you. ;-)

  17. The “trying to rescind everything from voting to women’s rights-often in the name of religion.” part was what really threw me. What the heck? To be offended at this point is almost laughable.

    So which photo are you referring to Judi Cisto?!! :)

  18. I greatly appreciate your objectivity in posting what upset fans about Richard’s comments. I am an independent and politics turn me off because I feel it took both parties refusal to compromise to cause the govt shut down. I am not being disrespectful to Mr. Armitage but as a celebrity he has a large following and needs to be well informed before blaming are holding any US policitical party accountable. His comments were directed at blaming republicans so naturally he made his democratic fan base happy he shared their opinions. He has bloggers clapping their hands with glee singing his praises. I understand why some republican fans are offended. How well informed is he when he has lived for 2 1/2 years in New Zealand and has only lived in NY part time this fall since filming? Most Americans are confused about the new health care laws so I have to question the depth of his knowledge to form such strong opinions. Does he know about our state department selling automatic rifles to drug cartels in Mexico? How much US news has he kept up with to learn about US gun laws, crime rates, and illegal sales of guns regardless of gun laws and the horrible killings on our borders, inner cities, etc? Well, everyone can have an opinion, including celebrities regardless of depth of knowledge on complex issues. Move Magazine editors are thrilled about RA’s political comments because controversy sells magazines.

  19. Yep, at the end of the day, it’s about selling magazines. They are thrilled I’m sure. LOL!

  20. Queen, most Republicans (or conservatives)who contacted me weren’t offended and pretty much had the same reaction as you — they laughed. I wish I had the heart to republish some of the comments as they’re hilarious, but these are fans of Richard as am I, and no one wanted to humiliate him.

  21. These are all terribly complex problems that few people have good ideas to solve. This was an interview controlled by a reporter and editor. I say give the man (and his work) the love we always have and indulge in a few chuckles.

  22. The card-carrying Liberal here also greatly appreciates your objectivity in this post, Frenz. And, as well, I appreciate the forum you have created for honest and open discussion. I have no criticism or any anti-input to what you have said what-so-ever, just wanted to express my appreciation for your post and comments, as well as to everyone here so far.

    To acknowledge pfallin: I noted the mention of the State Dept and guns to the cartels. Yes, this a problem. The lack of follow-through when we, as a country, attempt to find solution to a growing problem that seriously affects our country as well in the bleed though-to-direct-flow of drugs and drug related violence, is disturbing. When the State Sept authorized the sale of the guns, it was to the Mexican Government. Tracking those guns, as well as properly acknowledging and monitoring the corruption often found, is a major part of the problem. I understand the official reasoning for wanting to provide easy access to a government who professes to want to help fight this issue, but unfortunately believing that they are sincere, or even able to keep their own corruption issues in check, is something I might never be able to see as possible.

    In regards the the gun transfers to the cartels, Larry Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said this as something to note:

    “There have been 150,000 or more Mexican soldiers defect to go work for the cartels, and I think it’s safe to assume that when they defect they take their firearms with them.”

  23. I am sending this response without reading the other responses to your blog. My problem with this interview is not just RA but it is with so many foreign guests in our country who think they need to tell us how we should live. Piers Morgan for one, and now RA. We don’t need their opinions! It is not his place to say anything about our gun laws or healthcare unless he does a Craig Ferguson and becomes a citizen of the US. What if a popular American actor (Ryan Gosling or, God forbid, Lee Pace) did in interview in London and said “I think you need to euthanize your queen because your heirs to the throne are backing up-you have about four in line waiting and she is really old”. This is of course an extreme example but many people are thinking it! IMHO he made a huge mistake in answering these questions. I think he is marching to a different drummer in NYC and all the power to him. Hope he’s living a good life there but he needs to keep his opinions about American politics to himself. I agree with you, I think he was drunk. I am very passionate about my country but at the same time I will always have North and South (sighs heavily). He is just an actor!

  24. @crystal…can you imagine the terror of the ranchers on the borders who face this on a daily basis? Our TX friends can tell stories that will make your blood run cold.

    @Frenz…when the “journalist” stated the “rescind” stuff, I hooted. TBH, I kind of felt sorry for her. But the “enjoying” bunk pushed me over the edge.

    @plfallin…ditto. :)

  25. Moondoggie, There were are several people who have expressed the same sentiments to me — that he overstepped himself.

    Probably his biggest challenge living in NY is not to become insulated to what it’s like elsewhere in America. I absolutely love NY. It is one of my favorite places in the world and has been for as long as I can remember. I’ve been there countless times, lived there, and now two of my kids live there. But despite its being cosmopolitan, it’s no different than other places in that a person can lose perspective if they become too entrenched in one mentality. When my oldest daughter was getting ready to move there, she asked me, “Mom, is there anything you want me to know,” and one of the things I told her was, “Don’t lose your perspective. Do things and read things and socialize from time to time in a way that does not insulate you from the rest of the world.” She had to learn that one the hard way, but she learned it, and Richard Armitage may have to learn it the hard way as well.

  26. I appreciate all of you expressing yourselves and being sensitive to this subject matter. I think it’s fine to speak out about our views, but I’m not sure it’s wise to do it just because we can. There is such a thing as discretion. Do I think it’s terrible because RA said something negative about a large group of people in America? Oh heck no. And I don’t even care to revisit the times I’ve said something derogatory and knew it was a mistake. I don’t know that he feels that way about what he’s said, and it’s his business how he feels, but I do think it was not well done of him especially when I consider how really sensitive he appears to be.

  27. One last comment (for now. :D). I”m still a fan. What I think of his abilities has never had anything to do with his politics. I like all sorts of actors whose politics I don’t care for, and some actors whose work I love, I don’t even like them ’cause they’re jerks. But I can still appreciate their abilities. When I read an author’s fictional work, I seldom consider the author’s personality or politics. This is the same thing to me.

  28. What I really, really loved about that interview was the info on the process of making the dragon scales. Now THAT is important!!! I Can’t WAIT!

  29. The man has a right to his opinion, and the rest of us would be well advised to leave judgment to a much higher power. And as for him having a large following, let us hope they have a brain between their ears and can make their own opinions for themselves without using his. Which I have heard they are quite intelligent. You do not have to agree with everything someone says, but I think you must respect their opinion, just as much as you would want your opinion respected. I do not think Mr. Armitage meant any harm or disrespect to anyone. I think his opinions were aimed directly at this huge political machine we have in Washington that calls itself our government. Can any one of you say that you are proud of a government that actually shuts itself down because they cannot come to an agreement?

  30. Queen, I am talking about the profile photo from the article, but I’d be happy to discuss any pic of him……he has the most beautiful eyes I think I have ever seen…..his hair, his shoulders, his strong jawline……Where should we begin?????

  31. No doubt Armitage is further left politically, than many fans on the right might have hoped and possibly wished, but in my opinion, he is not quite as far left in all things political, as that article seemed to want readers to believe him to be.

    Half way through reading it, I found myself needing to pay much too close attention, to the placement of quotation marks, in order to distinguish which parts of the political opinion and commentary were actually attributable to Richard Armitage and which were those of the writer/interviewer.

    Quite frankly, that aspect of the piece, irritated me much more than any of the political opinions espoused…whomever it was that actually had or made them. (As is obvious by the fact, that it is THIS POINT, that I’m here posting about.)

    Oh yeah, and that bit about the guy having the most beautiful eyes I KNOW (not think ;) I’ve ever seen.

  32. Interesting….seems the politics were just for us damn yanks Lol
    http://uk.movies.yahoo.com/thorin-oakenshield-actor-richard-armitage-talks-hobbit-desolation-161900309.html

  33. As we discuss this provocative article, I wonder if RA is just sitting back enjoying the tempest in a tea pot that it created. Or do you think he is going to be a bit more careful in publicity of this nature, Frenz?

    I agree and know firsthand that NYC is indeed a bubblle with its own atmosphere. I am not surprised that you gave such great advice to your daughter as I have to my own daughters, Frenz.

  34. I also gave my son the same advice as he went off to law school four years ago, not NYC but just as isolated. This is where faith comes in that we raised them right (no pun intended) I still think celebrities should not interject themselves into the politics of another country while they are trying to earn a living there, except maybe Canada/Toronto and their little Mayor problem they have right now (lol) Love your board Frenz! I am a lurker here!

  35. From what we were told by British news media about the government shutdown you guys went through, “the Republicans are trying to destabilize Obamacare” pretty much sums it up. That’s the impression we got from it, anyway; that they refused to agree on the budget as a way of trying to hinder Obamacare.

    Anyway. This side of the pond, the only “controversial” bit in what he said was this:

    “As much as we in England were opposed to a coalition government, or surprised by it, or shocked by it, in a way it sort of is functioning rather beautifully.”

    The last three words, specifically. The poor lad hasn’t been here much since ConDem came to power, so he may be excused. I mean, seeing as how pretty much anyone, regardless of political leanings, would only describe the ConDem regime as “functioning rather beautifully” if using an excruciatingly sarcastic voice … ;)

  36. Traxy–thanks for that info. I have to admit I haven’t been able to keep up with UK politics much lately. Is it a gridlock situation, or are they accomplishing things, but not the things anyone wants? (that’s usually the only two options here in teh States lol)

  37. Geez, the guy has a brain and a voice.. So sue him. Talk about overreacting..

  38. Although I will say I agree with Traxy on her last point. The coalition point is odd. I am much farther removed from it all than RA and even I know that’s quite a leap of the imagination. I can only presume he is referring, in some general sense, to a spirit of collaboration.

  39. Of course, Richard Armitage is free to speak what he wishes to whomever he wishes. That freedom is the right of all people in a free society. That being said, anyone in the public eye as he is should walk circumspectly and not only think before he speaks, but do a little research as well. Rarely are controversial topics cut and dry. They are complicated, to say the least, being comprised of sub-issues upon which the salient topic rests as a general covering.

    To examine only the broad subject, while ignoring the nitty-gritty aspects of which it consists and the legitimate pros and cons and concerns of those who are apprehensive of the long term effects of the issue is short-sighted.To ignore the history and culture of a people or compare it to other nations whose paths to the present have been vastly different is imprudent.

    To make declarations in a public forum based on only cursory study, or on no study at all, by voicing the opinion of public proponents of one perspective on an issue is unfortunate since it tends to insult the legitimate concerns of other thinking, intelligent people who see things differently.

    All this being said, Richard Armitage is beloved by so many for his character, decency and sensitivity. If anyone can survive this unintentional (I’m sure) slight of a good portion of his admirers, it is he.

  40. I pretty well agree with everything he said. I don’t see any sort of slight. He was expressing thoughtful opinions. I live in Canada and have lived in the US and have American friends who would agree with him.

    To me, this is a tempest in a teapot. I’m far grouchier about the fact that I don’t get to see him on film more than once a year if I’m lucky and barely anywhere else. I think it’s enough to make many, many, many fans cranky and wayward.

  41. Of course it’s natural not to feel slighted when a celebrity voices opinions that you agree with. But suppose it was the opposite and he or she had spoken against positions about which you have strong feelings? In that case, it would be natural to feel uncomfortable and a bit disappointed, the point being that taking a public stance has consequences either way. Some will be pleased, and some will not, which is fine if he or she feels it necessary to speak out in a public way, consequences be damned. Rest assured, however, a vast number of Americans hold a different view than the ones expressed in the article.

  42. […] ago those of us in sympathy with Richard Armitage’s political opinions were asked to consider how we’d feel if Armitage espoused the opposite political opinion to our own or denig…, and my reaction was that it wouldn’t be a problem for me. This is a test case. Because I […]

  43. […] and expressed opinions about gun control, universal health care, and church / state separation. Some of the more conservative U.S. fans were offended by this interview, to the point of recapitulating a frequent fan discursive move when we don’t like what […]


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