Posts Tagged With: I speak for myself and myself alone.

Jas, The Anti-Fan

It’s Christmastime (Advent if you want to get technical) and for me that always means baking and candy making. This morning I’ve been working on Paleo peppermint patties. So, so, sooooo good! But anyway, while I was making the candy I had time to think. This post is basically me thinking aloud. I just need to think this through and in the past this blog has been a good place to do that.

So, the other night my good friend Snickers’ Mom sent me an email after a discussion we’d had saying that I might soon be the anti-fan blogger. Dear Judiang protested, “But I’m the anti-fan!” Love ya, Judiang. In response I told Judiang that the difference was snark versus legitimate anti-fan feelings.

Judiang told me she thinks I’ve moved into the disillusionment phase of fangirling. That I’ve gotten to the point where Richard Armitage is no longer some godlike creature on a pedestal to me, but a real person. So instead of just rolling with whatever he says or does, it gives me pause when something doesn’t sit quite right with me. I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days and while I get that that is a legitimate stage of this whole crazy fan experience, I don’t think it quite fits where I’m at for a couple of reasons. For one, I’ve never really had him on a pedestal. He’s always just been the smokin’ hot guy who has the sexiest voice I’ve ever heard and is also an amazing actor. I’ve never been delusional about him lacking flaws. Secondly, Judiang pointed out that she thinks RA is trying out a new persona. I won’t say anymore about that in case she wants to blog about it, but I think the new persona has more to do with my “anti-fan” status than disillusionment.

The anti-fan feelings started with my take on a couple of interviews where RA seemed dismissive of book fans to me. (I don’t want to rehash that, especially after another blogger informed me and all of her readers on her blog that she knows the subtext of my thoughts better than I do). I wouldn’t even class this as anti-fan, because while I didn’t care for what I perceived, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I certainly wasn’t angry just somewhat disappointed.

But then I saw the Cinemax interview. I don’t want to lay out what in the Cinemax interview made me angry, yes actually angry, with him because I don’t want to draw attention to something that might hurt a certain segment of fans if their interpretation matches mine. One friend felt as I did about the interview. A few others whose opinions I value thought he was joking.  If that’s the case, the joke was in poor taste…

…kind of like one of those photos that Josh Horowitz tweeted yesterday of himself with Richard. While that specific photo didn’t stir up painful feelings for me, I was seriously unhappy about how it affected at least two people I care greatly about in this fandom. In general, I support Richard’s right to say and do whatever the hell he wants. If he pisses me off that’s my problem not his. I wouldn’t go so far as to call that photo malicious, but certainly incredibly thoughtless and in extremely poor taste. I’m aware that Richard isn’t the first and he won’t be the last to mimic hanging himself with a tie. Another friend pointed out to me that Richard can’t possibly know what will trigger negative feelings from fans. In general I would agree with her. Anything could set anyone off in some way. But, and this is a big but, he’s a smart man. He should know that pretending to hang himself with a tie would be problematic and even hurtful for a lot of people.

I mentioned to Snickers’ Mom last night that part of me thinks RA is trying to emulate Martin Freeman, at least partially. It appears he might be trying to crack jokes and be more lighthearted and it just isn’t working quite right. I really hope that’s the case, because otherwise there have been some other unkind words thrown around about him in private that I won’t repeat here.

For the most part I really enjoyed the PR blitz this go round. But unfortunately the last few days have seen things that have stolen the joy from fangirling over Richard for me. Someone shared a new pic with me that I hadn’t seen yet last night and there were absolutely zero of the euphoric feelings that always come with  seeing a new pic of the man.

I find this all to be quite the dilemma. I’ve always said that I just want him to be free to be himself. I still want that for him and the more I think on this the more I realize it’s true. For his own sake he needs to be the person he wants to be and is. But it saddens me that it might come at the cost of my enjoyment in this fan thing.

Who knows, maybe by the next PR blitz he’ll have worked out the kinks in this new persona, if that’s what it is. But for now, here I am…Jas, the (very, very reluctant) anti-fan.

 

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The Morning After: A DoS Review

Last night, or to be more exact around 4 this morning, I shared my knee jerk reaction to The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug on ItsJSforMe’s blog. Having slept, I’m more clearly able to see why exactly I walked out of the theater pretty darn pissed off with Peter Jackson.

So here’s my two cents on the movie and I’ll do my best to remain spoiler free.

When I saw UAJ last year, I felt like the movie moved too slowly for the first 45 minutes. That is certainly not a problem this time. The prologue will please Armitage fans and then we jump right into the action. Beorn’s screen time was shorter than I would have liked, but still enjoyable. The time in Mirkwood gave us a chance to see Thranduil in all of his glory. Lee Pace is excellent in this role. The character isn’t even remotely likeable, but Pace’s performance gives him the ancient feel he needed along with a clear disdain for the dwarves that read true.

It’s in Mirkwood that things started to go wrong for me. In general I’m not flat out opposed to the edition of a female elf. I disagree with the oft repeated stance that she was necessary, but I know there are a lot of people who feel such a character was required. So add a she-elf, just give her a decent story. I felt like the writer’s really fell down on the job here. There was nothing relevant about Tauriel’s character. Her story  recycled stuff from other places in Tolkien’s work. Then of course there was the triangle we’d been warned about. Basically it felt like a waste of time we could have been spending with characters central to the story.

Luke Evan’s was enjoyable as Bard the Bowman and if I decide to see the third film, his character will be one of the reasons why. He was a character that I found myself sympathizing with and rooting for, even when and possibly especially when he challenged Thorin. He seemed to be the only clearheaded person in that scene.

Gandalf’s jaunt away from the dwarves was basically what I expected. Nothing spectacular, but I can see how it helps set up where the story is going in the third movie.

I thoroughly enjoyed Bilbo’s time in the mountain with Smaug. The digital artists are truly masters of their craft. The dragon really was stunning. Benedict Cumberbatch really got the voice right too. It just fit so well.

Then we got to the last 30  minutes of the film. I won’t go into detail about what happens, but it was a complete departure from Tolkien’s story. It was not The Hobbit. It was three screenwriters turning badly written fanfiction into a movie. I’ve always thought Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, and Fran Walsh are at their weakest when they depart from the original. If you’ve read my blog long enough, you’ll know that I’m a big proponent of a high level of fidelity to the source material. So I was highly unlikely to like these changes even if they were well done. The fact that there were poorly done made it even more frustrating. Cheesy, hokey, and oh good grief are some of the sentiments that come to mind when I think of some of the things that took place.

As the movie cut to the credits a woman in the front of the theater shouted out, “Peter Jackson, you’re a jerk!” In that moment, I was in total sympathy with her. All I could see was that gawd awful last 30 minutes and the parts I liked about the film were filed away at the back of my mind. I actually wondered if the film ended where it did as a calculated ploy to lure pissed off book fans back for a third film they might no longer want to see.

So to wrap this all up, I think this movie is going to be hard for Tolkien fans, at least those who are purists in any way, shape or form. While there’s a lot of good, that last part has you walking away with a sour taste in your mouth.

This is a Richard Armitage fan blog. And I know that many of his fans see these movies more for him than because of any particular tie to Tolkien’s work. For those fans this movie will go over extremely well. Richard’s performance is what we always expect from him–layered, nuanced. He makes me care about a character that I don’t particularly like.

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Simplistic Armitage

I’m back. At least for a minute. And yeah, not to talk about how gorgeous Richard is, although boyfriend has been working it on this PR tour. Nope, I’m here to pick a bone with the guy.

I know you’re probably wondering what in the world I could have to be annoyed by. So let me tell you: it’s his simplistic division of those who will see The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. I’ve watched two interviews* with him so far where he divides viewers into those who are just along for the ride and those who only want to see the simple book brought to life just as it is from the page.

I get that this is probably a little thing, but as someone who has been a Tolkien fan for much longer than an Armitage fan, it doesn’t sit well with me. The guy has a movie to sell, that’s his whole role in the PR blitz. I get that. But were I not already his fan, it would not endear him to me. Because here’s the thing, it way too simplistic. It basically puts all the blame on the fans who love the books if they dislike parts of the movie, rather than putting any of that responsibility on the filmmakers for possibly having fucked up a beloved story. Oops. Did I just say fuck? Yes, yes I did.

This probably gets to me more, because I was and still am excited about some of the changes we were told early on were going to happen. Tying in parts of the Appendices to make the films more cohesive with LOTRs? Bring it on! Reintroduce Legolas, since the elvenking was his father? Awesome! Most Tolkien fans I know felt that way too.

But then we get reviews from people like  Quickbeam that indicate major changes to the plot. Some of Quickbeam’s spoilers sound like PJ and company decided they’d just substitute fanfic for Tolkien’s work in this expensive flick. Changes like he’s talking about are not something that only diehard purists are going to be upset by. Even those of us who are willing to see the story stretched and expanded upon aren’t going to be cool with such changes.

So yeah, Richard’s simplification of the types of people who will see the film and what their reactions will be is frustrating. And his seemingly dismissive attitude towards purists is to be honest, obnoxious.

Dude, I get you only have a few minutes with these interviewers, so you have to condense your thoughts. But give the book fans a little more respect. They aren’t all already your fans like I am.

*I didn’t save the links for these interview and couldn’t even begin to tell you which ones they are. If anyone knows feel free to drop me a line.

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What exactly is it that we do when we look at Richard Armitage?

After a conversation with a friend last night this post began to percolate in my mind. The more I think about what exactly it is we do when we look at Richard Armitage, the more I come to believe that there are primarily two schools of thought:

Objectification versus Appreciation

Objectify: to treat as an object or cause to have objective reality.

There are those who believe that when we look at fan videos or photographs of Richard, we are objectifying him by reducing him to a two dimensional being. That by looking at him in a context that doesn’t include his acting or his personality, we are somehow dehumanizing him.

On the other hand we have those who see what we do as appreciating his beauty.

Appreciate:

a: to grasp the nature, worth, quality, or significance of<appreciate the difference between right and wrong>

b: to value or admire highly <appreciates our work>

c: to judge with heightened perception or understanding : be fully aware of <must see it to appreciate it>

d: to recognize with gratitude <certainly appreciates your kindness>

As with most things, I don’t think this issue is black and white. There is probably a spectrum between the two categories. However, I tend to believe that most fans fall into the “appreciation” category.

For instance, when we look at a photo, gif or even when we take extra notice during a scene in which Mr. Armitage takes off his shirt, I would say that we are in fact grasping the nature, quality and significance of all of the hard work it took on his part to get his body into such shape.

When something about a particular image grabs hold of our attention, is it not because we in some way highly admire the beauty of it?

In particular I like the third definition of appreciate, along with it’s example…”must see it to believe it.”  I would relate this to the audiobooks that Richard Armitage has read. Numerous times I’ve seen where fans have said that they would love to see Richard play Lord Damerel in Venetia. The ability to watch and see him as the character would indeed heighten the experience.

And the last definition…”to recognize with gratitude.” I would argue that most of us are in fact grateful for the beauty of Mr. Armitage. Sometimes when I’ve had a bad day, just looking at a picture of him smiling lightens my spirits. It isn’t just the image itself that causes me to smile though, it is the fact that when that particular picture was taken, there was something going on that caused him to smile.

For myself, I find, especially after looking at my examples, that I rarely just look at images of Richard without some other thought besides, “ooh pretty,” and I would imagine that the same is true for most people.

Ultimately, I think the perspective one has is a matter of worldview. Those who look upon what we do as objectification probably hold a worldview in which admiring physical beauty is something shameful, something for which they should feel guilt and remorse. When such people speak in absolutes, I find it frustrating, as though they are trying to force their worldview onto the rest of us. However, when I’m able to step away from the frustration, I find that it makes me sad–sad that instead of being able to appreciate beauty, they take something that should be good and instead turn it into something dirty, something objectionable. It seems a pitiable way to live.

*Definitions are from Merriam-Webster
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