Colliding Identities

RichardArmitage as SvengaliSeveral people sent me links to the newest interview with Richard Armitage. I finally read it yesterday, and then googled the journalist’s name, because I will admit unashamedly I didn’t know who she was. No, I am not cosmopolitan enough to be aware of all these journalists and their quests to capture the zeitgeist. But I digress.

There was a little angst going on in what I was reading. The almost palpable need to set someone or something straight was coming indignantly off the page toward me. Self-righteousness like that usually gets a negative reaction. “Judge not lest ye be judged…” kind of runs through my head, and I want to apply “the same measure” to the offender (no pun intended). I try to resist that, and I’m resisting today mainly because it’s not beneficial. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, oh well.

Mostly, I care what I think. Richard Armitage is something amongst actors I had never seen before. Many of us had never seen his like, and when I say that I’m not talking about his sexiness and the objectifying response that can provoke. I’m thinking of his ability to pierce reality with an elegant sword. Most actors I’ve seen use a club. But to be pricked with something powerful that is there and gone and you try to bring it back so you can take it apart to examine it and understand it and maybe recapture its sweetness, doesn’t happen very often. It’s special.

The journalist didn’t get this, because she couldn’t seem to get much past his pretty face or us. Maybe she didn’t have time to really understand him or us. Maybe she was under a deadline and worked with what she had. I know a couple of journalists reading this who are going to laugh at that notion. But hey, I’m trying to be charitable here. However, I believe she is like many in the press who don’t get Richard Armitage, because they have also never seen his like — someone who is himself, someone not easily whipped into bits of identity for quick public consumption. Is there any doubt that article was an attempt at a whipping?

What can be worse for a journalist than to ever think they don’t understand something or someone enough to make it into a tidy pronouncement? That is anathema and has to gall someone whose business is mostly summing up things and people. Yet how wonderful it would have been if she had seemed at least fair about who he has demonstrated himself to be over the course of years while passing judgment. There was almost none of that, and what was there seemed almost grudging and therefore a bit disingenuous, or maybe she’s just a poor writer. I honestly don’t know.

But I do know the summation was cliched. What else explains the portrayal of Richard Armitage as Svengali right down to the damn photo. LOL! (Sorry, I really did laugh. When I start writing as a journalist for a big time newspaper, I won’t throw in that kind of commentary. ;-) ) Like many of you I wondered about the graphic used in the article, but the text makes it obvious. He’s Svengali and those who find him appealing are Trilby — no good at anything really unless he hypnotizes us into thinking we are. How sad the interviewer was so afraid to let herself really observe someone like Richard. But then prejudice has always been fueled by fear.

Instead we got something intended to be a bit of an expose’ but sounded more like real fiction at times. And that got me to thinking. To thinking what has occurred to me on a few occasions when I’ve encountered someone who was so adamantly not a fan. The fear of truly observing someone like Richard Armitage is that he may cast a spell on the observer, and they may actually lose their godlike objectivity. Or they are closet fans desperately trying to appear fair. Yeah, I know the signs. I’ve been there. Whatever the case, this is what I long to say:

Ms. Gold,

You are missing out. Being innocent is not so bad, and really, if this is what it feels like, I want more of it.

One of Richard’s crazy fans who is having a whale of a time :D

P.S. I don’t think your insult of Richard Armitage is going to have any impact on your career. You know that. But insulting Dawn French and overweight women? That was dumb and tipped your hand more than anything you said.

If you want to read the article, Guylty has it here.



  2. Reblogged this on Armitage Agonistes and commented:
    RAFrenzy weighs in on Tanya Gold’s interview. Pun Intended.

  3. You are right, he is often difficult to comprehend for journalists with a lack of time/skill/interest, but it has never been so painful before. It’s a piece on her much more than it is on him. The photo is… hilarious.

  4. Excellent assessment. Thanks for the humor. I was just ANGRY.

  5. Yep! :)

  6. Man, it’s hell living in a glass house. I’m still chuckling a bit that she actually went there with the fat issues. She may as well have had a bullhorn the angst was so obvious. Not me, not me, oh no, not me, I won’t fall victim to this Svengali. That’s what it screamed albeit couched in smug quips about our innocence and his need to escape who he is.

  7. How can she be a journalist and listen/observe so poorly? She’s behaving more like Svengali than I can ever imagine him doing… seems to be using her interview with him for her own odd purpose rather than just interviewing the man and writing! As you and others have said, this article is really about her, not him. smh

  8. Whoops, actually Richardiana already plainly stated that, sorry about that!
    Another thought about the picture: do you think he posed for it? Or is it a manip? The more I see it and hear about it, it only seems increasingly odd to me. (Maybe Guylty will address it definitively, but wondered what you think.)

  9. I think the only thing that’s a manipulation on the photo is the background. I could be wrong about that but it does look like the background is added.

  10. Which would fit with the “sweet” tone of the piece….
    pose him here, then drop him there.

  11. Superb as usual, Lady Frenz. ;)

  12. I’ve long thought there is an element of ‘Either you ”get” Richard, or you don’t’ and I suspect that may have given him some ups and downs over the years, in all sorts of areas of his life.

  13. Mrs. Thornton,

    I agree. He can be an acquired taste. I’m speaking for myself when I say that. I was not immediately smitten.

  14. Thanks, Antonia. :)

  15. Dare I say I loved writing it? I’ve got another one coming about the Chris Harvey piece. That one is way too good to pass up.

  16. The photo just seemed odd until I read the piece, and then it got funny. I’m just glad I can laugh at myself as one of the “innocent.” ;-)

  17. No, you gotta laugh, Marie. Glad this helped. :D

  18. Zan,

    I saw you wrote a piece about this. I need to go read it! I’ve stayed away from others’ opinions until I could get mine out.

  19. It certainly did!! Thank you!!

  20. Ms. Gold is like a gnat, a little inconvenience, but, not relavant in the least. She doesn’t know what she is missing. I am glad to be an innocent admirer of RA.

  21. Perfectly put, as usual. It’s been such a long time since I qualified as “innocent”

  22. Hurrah for innocence — in more ways than one. :D

  23. I’ve commented on this article on another blog and what I think is wrong with it. Your take on the article and what is wrong with it is completely different from many other commentaries. Very interesting.

  24. I tried to stay away from others’ commentaries before I wrote mine. I’ve still not read much of anyone else, but I’m in the process of remedying that. Where did you comment? I’d love to read it.

  25. I completely agree the article is poorly written and disjointed is an apt description. My first impression of it was she probably felt she was slumming by having to cover Richard Armitage, so just cobbled something together. But when I googled her and read some of her other pieces and saw her picture (yes, I was affected by that), another thought began to emerge for me.

  26. Yes, and yes. Say what you like about Richard – it’s part of his job – and say it as poorly as you want – after all, you’re just making yourself look bad by doing a crap job at your profession – but the cracks at overweight women? Stupid and hurtful. Sophomoric. Yes, yes, you’re cooler / thinner / smarter / less innocent (?) than we are. We hear you. Roar away, paper lion.

  27. (Haven’t seen her photo. Should I care?)

  28. She’s not thin. O-o

  29. What other thought began to emerge?

  30. Hopefully it’s obvious from my piece, but if not, it was the thought that condescension and some laziness were not the only things at work.

  31. BTW, also loved your phrase, “his ability to pierce reality with an elegant sword”…. that and following are really nice. (He would probably like it too, since he’s obsessed with his sword. :)

  32. I’m moving so fast, I somehow deleted the last sentence of my comment, and lucky you are going to get much more than the original sentence.

    She seemed to come into the interview with some hard riding filters. Meaning, she was not going to get around her prejudice about how she saw herself and consequently others. She’s probably someone who struggles with weight issues with respect to her self-image. Why else make that crack about Dawn French and overweight women? It was just so unnecessary and mean spirited. It looked more like a defense against feeling lesser, and I can understand that if she met someone who is of Richard Armitage’s devastating appearance. There’s a good chance she was feeling inferior — at least on the physical front. So she trots out some sort of superior intellect to stabilize that feeling.

    And I could be all wrong about this. When I first started writing a blog, I sounded much more angry than I ever was. It was helpful to write it down because it helped me understand how I came across. But I never got affirmation of that writing, and she has for hers. Maybe the attagirl wave keeps her from seeing that she comes across a bit miserable, and that’s not a criticism of her. It’s just what it seems to be.

  33. I started to leave that out because of the potential for it being construed as mostly sexual. LOL!

  34. But back to the speculation of what could have been going on. She reacts to his presence and also our reaction to his presence by trying to slot him in the arrogant but vapid, pretty boy slot, but damn! he won’t go in, and hell, she’s got a deadline, so she has to do something. Enter the underdeveloped idea of him being thoughtful and sensitive to go along with the underdeveloped idea of him being a Svengali.

    I have more thoughts, but mine are somewhat disjointed as you can see except for the one about her bringing her arrogance to the piece — whether as a defense as I like to think it or as a jerk as others have termed it.

  35. Last comment for a while, and I’m sure you’re all glad. :D

    I really don’t know what was going on with the interviewer. I hope I’ve made it clear I am only speculating. But her pieces do have an angry and often bitter tone to them. That is hard to dismiss when considering her. Again, she could just come off that way. I hope that’s the case, because it’s hard to witness someone’s unhappiness. I say that with the understanding that most of the people I’ve encountered who routinely slice and dice others with their words are usually unhappy people.

  36. I agree that she definitely brought preconceptions that she was unwilling to surrender (or perhaps even question) to the interview – i.e. a closed mind. The best journalists, imho, either work severely against their preconceptions to write objectively, or else make you as manifestly aware of them as they are – depending on their aim. Your reasons why she was unable to do either are probably pretty close. As is the “damn! he won’t go in” my slot thing, too. You did a great job bringing some new things out in this piece.

  37. “I started to leave that out because of the potential for it being construed as mostly sexual. LOL!”
    Who, us?? We’re all very innocent here, remember? ;)
    Seriously, a nice turn of phrase for his style in general.

  38. For the record, the article’s image was not manipulated to include a background. Here are the photos from the shoot:

  39. Hmmm, these certainly cover the gamut, don’t they…. several are wonderful, several poses almost laughable.

  40. Ohhhh. … Interesting. So a sort of treacle-y self-loathing there? Directed outwards? I dunno. I’m not twisty enough for this stuff. Color me “too innocent”. (blows kisses)

  41. I really don’t know what she thought other than what she said, but I’m just sharing my unvarnished thoughts, which are worth about what it’s costing you to read them. LOL!

  42. lol Well, it’s certainly been fascinating.

  43. I think it’s inescapable to have someone get negative at some point. It’s a kind of affirmation of his rise in success. Indifference would be worse.

  44. Yes! :D I agree.

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