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.

Signed,
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.