In Case You Didn’t Get the Memo

I received a lot of mail about the Anglophile Channel’s interview of Richard Armitage before it was broadcast. The consensus of a significant number of the notes seemed to be three questions: who are these people? how can they interview Richard Armitage when they’re not Entertainment Tonight or CNN or even TheOneRing [or insert some other well known media outlet or website]? And why would Richard subject himself to it?!

It seems fairly obvious these fans thought that site was bogus at worst and not important enough at best.

Meanwhile the rest of the world moved on.

And where did everyone else go? They moved into the new age of media which is far from limited to a few established networks and sites. It just doesn’t work that way anymore and hasn’t in a while. The new media is this. No, I mean this, what you are looking at right now. If you have a site, you are a media producer. Heck, if you have a cell phone, you are a media producer. And that is the shift some resist — consumers have become producers.

Henry Jenkins explains this evolution of media including the reemergence of participatory culture and the rise of convergence culture (more on Jenkins shortly):

Nowhere have participatory and convergence cultures been more ubiquitous than among fandoms. Look at all of the media it has produced and intersected with traditional media. In this particular fandom, which is not even close to the largest, we have produced a large body of media such as artwork, video, stories, and reporting, and more traditional outlets have tapped into it. Hollywood is also looking at that and co-opting the fervor as they feel they can, and one of the early adopters was Peter Jackson. The main reason is Jackson is a fanboy himself and understands and appreciates the ardor. It’s no surprise he was looking at fan sites back in 1997 and developed a relationship with Harry Knowles. It’s no surprise he let a New Zealand resident, who created a a site about The Lord of the Rings movies, onto the sets to document the progress for fans. Jackson gets it, and as well as his artistry, it is a key part of his success.

This evolution of media has been happening for a long time, and I should have been more aware of its progress given my exposure to the power of the Net early on. Nevertheless, I watched that video above in the Fall of 2009 and became fascinated again and read Jenkins’ book, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. Interestingly, I realized while I was reading that I had another book on my shelves by Jenkins. It’s a seminal work on fandom, and it came into my possession over 20 years ago.

When I worked at IBM, there was a graphic designer, Bob, whom I and all my co-workers tapped for “prettying up” our documents. He was a major Trekkie who had written his own language and had a beautiful poster of it as well as some other Trekkie memorabilia decorating his office. Everyone teased him about his obsession, but I was curious what had made him so rabid. We had several conversations over the years about his involvement in the Star Trek fandom, and I remember saying early on, “You must be really into this to put up with the ribbing you get.” I’ll never forget his response, “People don’t get it, and I don’t care. I enjoy it, and it’s a great creative outlet.” It was about a fairly judgment free environment for his creative efforts. He had been to art school, and according to him there was a very oppressive mentality there. One that said if you didn’t do it a certain way, you were no good. Fandom welcomed him and allowed him to make mistakes. That thought stayed with me, and perhaps I was a fan in the making even then. About two years later as I was leaving the company, Bob gave me the Jenkins’ book, Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. I didn’t read it until 16 years later.

Those two books changed my view of media and creative outlet, and in late 2009, I began to see my personal blog as something different and eventually became frustrated with it. I also began to become more involved in the blogosophere with the thought that I had ideas and didn’t want to just consume others’ ideas. By happenstance I developed a very rewarding relationship of give and take with a powerful media player in England. He is in fact one of the founders of Empire Magazine. There I was exchanging ideas with him, and having a blast and I think he was too, and I was realizing the world really had gotten tiny and huge at the same time. I adored that, so when I started this site, I knew there was power in blogging. But I feel compelled to say to some in this fandom who are determined to cast people as connivers, that I did not start this site with an eye toward capitalizing on that kind of power. Are you kidding me?!! I was scared to death someone would find out I was running this place. But I don’t think it would have been wrong if I had been motivated by that. I just wasn’t. I was simply desperate to say something without every little part of it being nitpicked. Whatever fortuitous things have happened to me here as some sort of result, have just happened with no one more surprised than me. All just further confirmation of the power of the new media.

And now I come to the Anglophile interview with Richard Armitage. For a few hours after I watched the promo video for the interview, I had the same view of Marlise Boland so many others of the spectatorial era seemed to have. This idea that she was out of bounds! But a little time later, I mentally slapped myself for two reasons. I recognized she was seizing a marvelous opportunity of the new media, and more important to me is she was a female who was trying to start a business. Why would I want to demean that? Thankfully the better part of me quickly came to my senses and didn’t. I haven’t even seen the interview yet, but I support her efforts. You go, Girl!

If you think about it, this meeting was a natural for Richard for two reasons:

1) He has already made it plain he’s fan friendly. Hello! Have you read this page?

2) Who has he been hanging out with for three years?

richardarmitageanglophilechannelI have no clue what he’s saying, but I have the feeling I’m going to use this cap again. :D

note: Henry Jenkins was the Co-Director of Comparative Media Studies program at MIT and is now a Professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, and someone I would love to interview.

I’ve gone on to read quite a bit about fan culture and the new media as well as quite a few sociology books. It now takes up an entire bookshelf. Very enlightening, and I’m sure I’ll be talking more about this. Maybe not on this blog. I’m not sure yet.

28 Comments

  1. Illuminating. How does a media outlet like The Anglophile Channel make money? ( Second time in 12 hours I asked you about making money – just a coincidence) and When TF are you going to watch the interviews?

  2. I’m not sure how they’ve crafted their revenue streams. But I suspect they’re set up for ads. If nothing else, they may try to tap into YouTube, which is not a good deal until you get a certain critical mass of not only viewers but also content, because then YT will push it more vigorously. I’m just now learning about this as I have a client who is rabid about YT. Phew!

    I’m watching the interviews today!

  3. So that may account for why they and others push for more views, more likes and more subscribers.

  4. That’s exactly why.

  5. You have made me see certain things in a different light. I like that. I still was not crazy about the interviews (watched parts 1 and 2;I remember liking the first part better than the second and barely watched the 3rd because I was cringing) Why you say ? I barely remember because I only watched all of these once and I am not sure I want to see them again.That is how uncomfortable I was.I remember how I felt more than what was said at this point.As per M. Bolan, good for her for wanting to seize the moment but for me,she was out of bounds.I am trying to picture a male interviewer doing as she did to a female guest…..

  6. I remember Harry Knowles! He had a relationship with a few other filmmakers too, like Robert Rodriguez (hottest director ever! ;-p ). He was on set for The Faculty back in 97 and had a bit part in the film, even eventually becoming friends with Elijah Wood. He really started the new wave of fan interaction. OTOH he did get criticized for taking those reebie trips to NZ for the filming of LOTR and then reviewing it (which was different from other press being wined and dined how exactly?)

  7. I’m glad you mentioned him and recognized his contribution, and also the way you’ve mentioned the role of ST (of which I have always been a huge fan). ST was one of the first shows/movies to actually encourage fan participation, in the form of fans writing short stories and eventually novels. It tapped into a vein of fan creativity that has been part of the secret to its enduring success.

  8. The other part of that secret has been the conviction with which it is treated by many of its creative staff. They have treated it as an immersive experience: maps and plans and chronologies, all fairly consistent (until the reboot).
    This too is the secret of Tolkien’s success. He created a complete alternate universe, consistent and utopian rather than dystopian, based on an ethical foundation of honor, loyalty and friendship/love as pre-eminent virtues.

  9. Perry, content is also important. If there is a consistent amount of good quality content, YT will get on board.

  10. The emergence into an alternate universe is the secret of all fandoms.

  11. I loved these interviews. I think that they are amongst the best done with RA, maybe even better than the interview with Strombo, because RA is never put at a disadvantage and seems to be enjoying himself greatly.

  12. Secret is not the right word. It’s the common thread. People really get into fandom because they can immerse themselves in it. This is why so many creative types are drawn to fandom. Not all people who are attracted are creative types, but a large number are.

  13. I”m going to stop responding and go watch them. LOL!

  14. @cill I preferred strombo but really could have done w/o the showing of the embarrassing fanvid ( oooh he looked uncomfortable !!)

  15. @RAFrenzy: I agree that it’s a common thread but not all creators of AU are the same.. Some other books or movies have a similar following (eg the Pern series of Anne McCaffrey) but not all encourage fan creativity, or even understand or respect fans’ emotional investment in the world they themselves created. (Very interesting stuff about M. Zimmer Bradley to read at various places. She was quite unlike McCaffrey in many ways).

  16. My 3 favourite interviews with RA might now include 60 seconds with (counting both halves of the MF-RA exchange as one),Anglophile Channel and Strombo. (yes @chris, Strombo loses points for the fan vid *and* mispronouncing ‘Armitage’ :-D ).

  17. I agree that no all fandoms welcome creativity from fans but most do. It is the hallmark of the very successful fandoms.

    Those creators who have contempt for fandom are generally small minded.

  18. Frenz: A serious post! I’m thrilled. You have a sharp, analytical mind. I would like to hear more of what’s on it!

    I was one of the Anglophile Channel doubters. When I watched the videos I thought “Oh geez, fangirl with a camera gets him to agree to 45 minutes on tape.” When she begged him, not once, but three times, for a kiss (finally successful), I cringed. When it was over, I stared at the screen in amazement…then admiration…then big grin…followed by…”YOU, GO, GIRL” out loud.

    Don’t we all wish we could have a sit-down with him? And an embrace? And a kissssss? She did it! What did Perry and I say back in January about the 92nd Street Y impromptu “fan event” — you gotta ask! And now that we’ve heard from his own lips, thanks to Marlise, that he says “yes” to everything — let’s all start asking!

  19. I watched the interviews, (courtesy of Summer on Pinterest) having no idea what the Anglophile Channel was, and I was concerned when the interviewer couldn’t say ‘anglophile’ correctly at any point. It’s AnglOphile’, not ‘angle-file’. That said, she was perhaps the most refreshing, smooth and relaxing interviewer I have seen.
    She also takes herself very lightly and I think that is the point that RA gets. He has, like most English folk, super humour. For once in his public life, I think we saw an RA who was at ease and one who deservedly was having fun.
    To me, the key to the whole thing was the tongue in cheek moments from both of them – that is more than British. To be honest, it’s almost Australian!
    As to the movement beyond the traditional electronic and print media to what is currently in existence, my husband was a senior executive with Australia’s national broadcasting organisation and they were well into plans for micro/macro digital media fifteen years ago. Now, it is an essential and accepted part of the broadcasting process. Even to the point where they have ‘pop-up’ broadcasting channels on such things as fandoms – last year’s global ‘Dr.Who’ celebration had a 7 day pop-up radio station run by the ABC (think BBC in Australia) which was superlative in content and CONSUMED by fans.

  20. @armitagebesotted: Was this the same interview that was on just recently? I don’t recall Marlise asking for a kiss even once, although she jokingly said that he nearly kissed other interviewers for getting his name right. (And he did dip Marilyn Denis, and joke that he was going to kiss the hosts of that morning show, so it wouldn’t be the first time).

  21. MB: The last time, the last time a reporter said Armitage right, you about kissed them.
    RA: Yeah.
    MB: You almost leapt across the cameras to kiss them —
    RA: You don’t hear it very often.
    MB: Apparently that’s not gonna happen in LA. (Richard leaps to his feet and kisses MB, laughing)

    Credit to richardarmitagecentral.co.uk: http://richardarmitagecentral.co.uk/main.php?g2_itemId=350238&g2_imageViewsIndex=0

  22. Okay I saw that bit as joking or flirting (tongue in cheek, as prue said), much the same as Richard joking with Hoda and the other morning show host (back in 2012) that he thought he would be kissing them.

  23. Prue, Fascinating! I wish I could talk to your husband sometime.

    I understand the work which was the pebble dropped in the media pond was Ithiel de Sola Pool’s Technologies of Freedom published in 1983. I’ve read it too. Wish I had read it in 1983! And of course before that there were the works of Marshall McLuhan, which I read in college.

    I’m not sure why I’m drawn so much to this subject since I did not major in it. I guess I’ve just always been fascinated with people and communications. If I had not been so pushed into something technical by my parents who were ridiculously proud of my mathematical abilities (which are fine; I can hold my own but am far from a genius), I think I would have gone into this field. I hold no delusions that I can do much with it now. I’m way back behind the starting line, but I do have one thing going for me. I’m a fast learner. :D

  24. Frenz, I’m soooooo not mathematical, much more communications oriented which is how my husband and I met.
    As for handling the digital media developments and getting ahead of the pack, I think you’re rather brilliant.
    What I should have said about those pop-up radio stations is that they are actually broadcast by streaming live online which gives it the same immediacy as normal radio but enables anyone with the right sort of apps to listen wherever they are with their chosen medium. Amazing isn’t it?
    Wonder when someone will start up a pop-up RA station and stream that live! Mind you, I’m so far behind fandom, that it’s probably been done and past me by! ;)

  25. Interesting stuff. Regarding pop=up radio stations for select groups, this shift to niche marketing by large broadcasting entities is huge. Heck, the shift to niche marketing that was facilitated by the Web is revolutionary. And it has been going on for a long, long time, but the general public lags behind in their understanding of it. That’s changing, but there are still vestiges of the former thinking. The reaction to Marlise Boland being a case in point. I didn’t need to read the Jenkins’ book to know what I was saying about that, but I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Jenkins and several others and hope others find it fascinating as well.

    Regarding your kinds words, thank you, and would you come to my house and say that when my four kids are all here? :D

    Personally, I think Michael Eisner has had a lot to do with movies becoming homogenized and boring. But that’s another discussion.

    AS

  26. My last comment here was written before caffeine, and it shows. ;p

    I meant to say ‘kind words” and I do very much appreciate them. I don’t think I’m brilliant because I’ve known people who are, and I fall far short of them. But I take encouragement where I receive encouragement freely given and hope all of you can do the same. It’s such a dear commodity we better take it when it comes. :D

  27. Nothing like caffeine. Love the smell but am allergic!

  28. […] And it should come as no surprise that I had a favorable reaction to Marlise’s interview considering what I’ve said earlier. […]


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