An Embarrassment of Riches

I’m not sure where they came from but screen caps from the Digital Theatre production of The Crucible hit the fandom sometime over the weekend (no, I generally don’t pay attention, why do you ask?) followed shortly by a predictable dust-up about them. A fan page that posted them to Twitter had to explain themselves on Facebook yesterday because, gasp, the screen caps were of a half nekkid Richard Armitage and didn’t they know that was “objectification” and “disrespectful”?

Uh…come again?

You do realize that he took his shirt off approximately 101 times during the run of The Crucible, right? And you further realize that HE’S AWARE he took his shirt off approximately 101 times during the run of The Crucible, right? And you further realize that HE WAS AWARE that he was being filmed, right? He was also aware that he was baring his assets during Spooks, Strike Back, and Between the Sheets, AND I’ll bet it didn’t get past him that he was wearing a Speedo in Cold Feet. He’s smart like that, you know.

Richard Armitage is an adult and as an adult he gets to draw boundaries around what he does and doesn’t do professionally. In the past, this has included roles where he drops trou. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt — the respect, if you will — that if he’s willing to do these roles that on-screen or on-stage nudity doesn’t bother him as much as it does some of us.

Over the summer I got a note from someone I didn’t know who was really upset that Armitage was being “treated like a piece of meat” in a particular Facebook group (not the same one as the one above). Aside from the fact that Armitage wasn’t actually being treated in any way at all because he wasn’t there, this is one of those statements that always makes me roll my eyes because it’s my opinion that it’s just as easy to make a fetish object out of John Thornton as it is Lee Preston. I don’t think that a romantic fantasy is any more moral in itself than a sexual one, it’s still just a thought in your head and still a projection of who you are, not who he is. That specific incident had to do with a screen cap of NotLucas North’s bare butt while he was getting changed in Spooks Season 8 Episode 4 and my defense of the person who posted it. I have this admittedly silly notion that if he’s done a piece of work we should be able to talk about it. My correspondent wrote, “This is a public Facebook page and should be given at least the respect of a PG 13 rating[.]” If she’d have stopped there I’d have totally agreed with her because it was indeed an open Facebook group, there are restrictions on what can be posted to those and part of the contention had to do with the fact that the Administrator of the page at that time wasn’t answering inquiries about what was acceptable and what wasn’t. It was still up to the Administrator and Facebook’s Terms of Service, though, and not my correspondent, or me, or the person who posted the screen cap to begin with. However, then she wrote that “…if it would not be shown on public TV, then it should not be shown in other public places where people like myself could be offended.”

Again, uh…come again?

First of all, it was indeed made by and shown on public television. The BBC is not a shady soft porn cable station. For the record, Spooks was also shown on PBS in the US, again, not a shady soft porn cable station. And how, exactly, are the rest of us supposed to be able to predict what may offend someone else? For example, Richard Armitage had no idea that he’d trigger a really negative response in me when he mimicked hanging himself with his tie during the press tour for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. It’s not his responsibility to know my triggers and I made it really clear that it wasn’t the responsibility of the fandom to accommodate me, either. It was MY responsibility to remove myself from places that made me uncomfortable. I had my say on blog because that’s my space. Similarly, it’s YOUR responsibility to remove yourself from places that make you uncomfortable, rather than trying to force the entire fandom to adhere to your sensibilities. If you want to create a space where your morality reigns supreme, knock yourself out, but for the love of Mike can you maybe accept just this once that other people in this fandom are not like you?

We don’t all see the same interactions the same way because we filter them through our own experiences. My filter as a 46-year-old woman is slightly different than it was when I was a 20-year-old. During an interview on the first Hobbit press tour, George Stroumboulopoulos showed a fan made video, including footage of Cold Feet. My correspondent wrote that “everytime pictures like these are referenced in interviews, it is clear to everyone that he hates it. He even jumped on an interview host once because he made reference to women wanting to ‘make love to him’ because of his speedo’s scene.” I’m not really certain how it’s clear to “everyone” because it’s certainly not clear to me.

Surprised? Sure. Caught off guard? Absolutely. Hates it? That’s not how I see that reaction. I see that as kidding, kind of like when he told Kathy Lee and Hoda a few days later that he’d brushed his teeth because he thought he was going to have to kiss them, kind of like when he said during the following year’s press tour that he wanted everyone (yes, including you) to get naked, kind of like when he makes dick jokes. From my perspective, my correspondent was more embarrassed than he is and she was trying to make me responsible for her embarrassment at that moment. Twitter notwithstanding, there’s no way to take it up with him, so who gets the brunt of the discomfort? The rest of us.

What I find most disrespectful every single time this conversation happens is this notion that any of us has a better idea of what he should be doing than he does, including taking roles where he’s in various states of undress or less than heroic. Whether he sees these as a means to an end or as being artistically fulfilling in themselves isn’t up to us. He’s walking his own path, carved out by himself and his team. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the nonsense that some of us could somehow do a better job than his agent. The first time I saw it floated that he needed to fire his representation was right before his casting in The Hobbit was announced. Monumental screw up that was, right? Horribly irresponsible waste of his client’s talent, and look where it led? Right to John Proctor taking his shirt off approximately 101 times during the run of The Crucible.

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99 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. richardtreehouse
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 19:58:58

    Hear, hear!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  2. MargotMat
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 20:17:55

    Bravo, for both your points!
    – besides it’s still fun to watch this smart interview. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  3. jollytr
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 20:41:59

    Reblogged this on Just Richard Armitage and commented:
    well said!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. Servetus
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 21:07:52

    Yeah, I’d love it if someone would tell Yael Farber that her stage directions in this play somehow detracted from its “timely message.” What utter tripe. No one would say that to the person actually responsible, though. They save it to beat other fans over the head with.

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply

  5. richardtreehouse
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 21:09:32

    Reblogged this on richardtreehouse and commented:
    Well said!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  6. judiang
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 21:11:23

    Every time this topic comes up, I roll my eyes at the arrogance of it all. APM at its most absurd.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  7. Meryl
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 21:17:22

    Yay -at last someone talking sense! I don’t buy all this stuff about Richard, he knows what he’s got and he knows how to use it! He has said plenty of times when interviewed, he knows what’s “out there”- no pun intended!

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply

  8. Trackback: Jazzbaby Tells It Like It Is | Confessions of A Watcher
  9. Kathie
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 21:21:21

    Neatly sums up why I do not belong to any Richard Armitage groups on FB any more.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  10. June
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 21:30:25

    Great article!. Richard Armitage is a grown man……..oh that his well wishers would stop trying to deliver him from and excuse him from his choices. By the way that wash scene in the play was fabulous. I don’t think that anybody around me breathed at all when it was going on (me included) 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply

  11. zan
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 21:34:02

    Perfectly put, Jazzy!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  12. zan
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 21:35:35

    Reblogged this on Well, There You Go … and commented:
    Nicely said …

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  13. obscura
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 21:40:04

    The kind of wild serendipity of my life never ceases to amaze me. I was just thinking on my commute today, that I need to give the “there is naked art inside” disclaimer to my new Aesthetics class. I don’t usually make much of a deal out of it with the general university herd, but this class is offered at a new site for us where the student body is drawn from a mega congregation of evangelical Christians…nekkid sculpture butts might be problematic.

    I expected to address the issue with that group, where study of the material is not optional, but in fandom? It is not *required content* people…if you don’t care for it, don’t look at it, but save the hypermoralistic lectures about respect and objectification will you? I find a lot of modern art bugly in the extreme, but I don’t presume to tell people not to look at it because it doesn’t appeal to me (or because they are obviously moral degenerates completely lacking in any artistic sensibility)…*obnoxious hyperbole intended*

    Liked by 5 people

    Reply

  14. Sharon (@sl_pruitt)
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 21:50:06

    Very well said, thank you for a bit of sanity.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  15. MaryJaneZigZag
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 22:07:00

    Ding! Ding! Ding!
    Jazz ringing it up from downtown. Right on!
    Look at me, being all grown up and stuff by NOT mentioning the stuff that makes ME uncomfortable in the RA fandom…because I avoid looking at it!
    Yay! Grown ups! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply

  16. KatharineD
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 22:32:34

    Well said- I agree with what you’ve written here. We are each the arbiters of our own boundaries, our own thought processes and justifications, and that naturally includes Richard Armitage.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  17. Perry
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 22:32:57

    Reblogged this on Armitage Agonistes and commented:
    We are not alone.

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply

  18. zeesmuse
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 22:38:33

    Applause. Applause. Applause.

    Richard is quite capable of covering up and he’s quite capable of telling us what he thinks. We do NOT need anyone to interpret for us.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  19. Bollyknickers
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 23:22:38

    This is exactly what I have just said elsewhere.

    Only I didn’t say it as well as you do, Jazzbaby.

    Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  20. mujertropical
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 23:34:14

    Thank you! I am so tired of people who think Richard is an innocent lamb who has been forced all these years to get naked in order to get work. Please! The man has a plan to become an A-list movie star and he knows exactly what he’s doing.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  21. Trackback: On Richard Armitage topless: “I have this admittedly silly notion that if he’s done a piece of work we should be able to talk about it” | Me + Richard Armitage
  22. chazak
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 23:44:49

    I thought I was in church, I said “amen” so many times. Wish I could’ve seen this scene 101 times! Will look (and comment) at those beautiful pics as often as I like wherever posted. As someone already said elsewhere, it is “art appreciation” to me! Tired of being “mommied” by people who should just remember that they hold no sway over the entire world. So pompous! So petty!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  23. katie70
    Jan 28, 2015 @ 00:01:01

    Good post, it seems that there are people out there forgetting that he is an adult and able to decide what is best for him and his career. If they don’t like it than don’t look.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

    • jazzbaby1
      Jan 28, 2015 @ 00:05:29

      Thanks, katie, and exactly. There’s this whole narrative where he’s this poor exploited waif and I really don’t buy it. How many men in their mid-40s do you know who don’t have any agency?

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  24. Kathy Jones
    Jan 28, 2015 @ 00:06:07

    Thank you for putting my thoughts into words. It is so tiresome to read yet another “Richard must be protected from prying admiring eyes” opinion. This kind of thinking reduces him to some kind of hapless victim that was forced to relinquish his clothes, rather than an accomplished actor who makes his own artistic choices. The condescension of that kind of thinking drives me crazy.

    Liked by 5 people

    Reply

    • jazzbaby1
      Jan 28, 2015 @ 01:16:07

      I know what you mean, dude. I find it more than a little ridiculous to be lectured about how we should “admire” him by people who apparently don’t think that he can make his own decisions without having his hand held.

      Like

      Reply

  25. Carolyn
    Jan 28, 2015 @ 00:15:48

    Amen! I totally agree with you. Thank you for saying it so well!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  26. stacytomaszewski
    Jan 28, 2015 @ 00:32:30

    Yes! Thank you for expressing this — I’ve been grumbling about it to myself today. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply

  27. sparkhouse1
    Jan 28, 2015 @ 01:53:11

    “Nekkid” LOL. My opinion is that RA likes bein’ nekkid cause seriously, there’s a lot of shirtless RA in his work (including in the book of The Red Dragon and I do believe he likes to refer to the literary source….fingers crossed!). I highly doubt he takes his shirt off and gets tied to that whatever it was as John Porter in Strikeback for purely ‘artistic’ reasons. He definitely makes sure it isn’t totally gratuitous and is part of the plot and all, but I doubt he’s stupid and fully realizes we like a shirtless RA and he seems to certainly work hard to give us a great shirtless RA. I So, thank you Mr. Armitage for caring enough for us all enough to keep working out and eating right; but no worries, I will still appreciate your shirtless efforts even if you slack off a little.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

    • jazzbaby1
      Jan 28, 2015 @ 18:48:38

      The thing he gets tied to in Strike Back is called a St. Andrew’s cross. And I definitely agree with you that gratuitious/artistic can be a fine line. We never really know what he thinks of these roles because if he does hate them he’s too professional to say that, but he keeps taking them.

      Like

      Reply

  28. cRAmerry
    Jan 28, 2015 @ 02:05:56

    You speak directly from my heart. Thanks. It’s such an annoying discussion!
    But mentioning the BBC is NOT a “shady soft porn cable station” makes me grin 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply

    • jazzbaby1
      Jan 28, 2015 @ 18:12:59

      Hi there and welcome to the blog. I generally don’t get into this discussion but the way the FB page I talked about got hammered just got to me. Thanks for your kind comment and I’m glad I could make you laugh. 🙂

      Like

      Reply

  29. Guylty
    Jan 28, 2015 @ 03:04:36

    Damn, I wrote a whole long comment upon reading this post last night – and it’s gone. Anyway, it went along the lines of this:
    Your post made me remember a headline from last year’s Crucible promo season. Never mind the fandoms (unfavourable) reaction to the article in question, but it read “I know what I am selling”. I take that to imply that Mr A is well aware of his assets and wares. His body is one of his instruments. That is why he is looking after it and using it to “sell” what he is offering. Not admiring it, or ignoring it, means taking away one of his tools.
    Granted, not everyone is comfortable with a) looking at (part-)nudity or b) the slightly more earthy parts of fangirling. And sometimes the pure appreciation of beauty gets a bit close to the bone. (At least for me) But I doubt we are doing any harm by expressing our admiration of a body that is hard worked for.

    Liked by 5 people

    Reply

  30. Carolyn Westfall Masini
    Jan 28, 2015 @ 04:15:54

    Great post. I saw The Crucible three times, and never did I think that Richard was being sexually objectified with the removal of his shirt. I saw a man who had come in from a long day working and was cleaning up. I did feel uncomfortable, in the fact that, I was witnessing a very intimate scene between a husband and wife. So much was being said in that scene without words. Some people also forget that Richard is playing a character.

    I was raised if you didn’t like something, don’t watch it, don’t look at it, or don’t read it. Everyone has different tastes and beliefs. But over the years our society has become so self-centric that some people believe their opinion is the correct one.

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply

    • jazzbaby1
      Jan 28, 2015 @ 18:57:16

      There seems to be a knee-jerk reaction that any sort of nudity for any reason is automatically sexually exploitative, regardless of what the actual context is. And if I or Zan or anyone else finds shirtless RA hot, so what? How does that hurt him, exactly? Thanks for your comment and welcome to the blog, Carolyn. 🙂

      Like

      Reply

      • Carolyn Westfall Masini
        Jan 28, 2015 @ 19:52:08

        Thank you for your reply. It wasn’t uncommon when I was growing up in the 70’s and 80’s to see men without their shirts, or their shirt opened to their navel. I would never consider a man nekkid without his shirt. I did see someone zoomed in on his backside and made a picture of it. I really don’t like it when people do this as I find it very juvenile.

        Liked by 1 person

      • jazzbaby1
        Jan 28, 2015 @ 20:06:36

        Right, but would you go to them and tell them that? That’s what I’m objecting to here. I do have scruples and there are things I don’t like to see so I just don’t go to those places. I would never tell anyone that they couldn’t have that space or do that thing, though, you know?

        Like

      • Carolyn Westfall Masini
        Jan 28, 2015 @ 20:52:01

        No, as I would just keep my thoughts to myself and think how juvenile they are.

        Liked by 1 person

  31. Joanna
    Jan 28, 2015 @ 04:18:03

    You know what? I agree with you completly,Jazzy 🙂 Thanks!….but what if??
    Well, maybe all those super short and tight leather jackets and those painfully tight jeans are just a form of mortification of the body of Saint Richard?

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  32. crystalchandlyre
    Jan 28, 2015 @ 05:12:54

    Is all this really about shirtlessness? By a man? In this society?! Are they really condemning the objectification of an attractive man who puts himself purposefully in the public eye? Have these people been on Tumblr lately?!

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply

    • jazzbaby1
      Jan 28, 2015 @ 19:01:56

      Right? Like, I get it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and that’s fine but really? Are we all supposed to held hostage by someone else’s conscience? And why, exactly? Thanks for the comment and welcome to the blog, CrystalChandlyre.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  33. Hariclea
    Jan 28, 2015 @ 06:18:49

    Reblogged this on Opera is Magic and commented:
    Too busy to clock on that there was a new discussion going on. Always amazes me how much time people have to get bothered about stuff that actually was never taken out of context, is perfectly artistic and well thought of in terms of the play itself. It is/was beautiful and made total sense and was great to look at, as was the rest of 99% of the play. Farmers wash after hard work, get over it! I can’t believe in this day and age still think we shouldn’t look or talk about this but it’s ok to look at the news for example.. Besides, a play is a reflection of an artistic concept and it is put on stage to be watched, heard and talked about! That is what all good stage work aspires to, it is there because it has meaning, because it was intended to be presented and make us watch and think. Don’t like the play or any of its parts or the way it represented John Proctor, don’t watch it. But make the choice for yourself, not for others.

    And now i’m going to see if i can make it to any of the 2,3 re-runs of this in the cinema still available around me which continue to remind me that i am undeservedly and incredibly lucky to experience this! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply

  34. Hariclea
    Jan 28, 2015 @ 08:01:28

    ah and meant to say (but added it in the post in the end) for whatever it’s worth this scene is key for me in many ways because it is precisely this moment when i realised that besides being an amazing actor he is also a very attractive and beautiful man 🙂 I might have always had my doubts about the latter otherwise, who knows 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • jazzbaby1
      Jan 28, 2015 @ 19:23:05

      Yes, exactly. And the other thing that I didn’t get about this dust-up, and I know a couple of other people have mentioned this, is that photos of these moments have been floating around the fandom since the summer. So why the freak out now?

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  35. april73
    Jan 28, 2015 @ 08:06:40

    Well said, thanks for this great article. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  36. Trackback: I like looking … | Well, There You Go ...
  37. simplegirl
    Jan 28, 2015 @ 13:53:02

    Delightfully well said.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  38. Loakenshield (Girl of Gisborne)
    Jan 28, 2015 @ 14:34:59

    Loved this! I completely agree with every single word! I always hate when people complain that Richard is “over exposed” in some of his roles. Boy, if people are complaining about his roles in The Crucible, Between the Sheets, Spooks, etc… I’d like to see what they think of his new role as Francis Dolarhyde in Hannibal if they follow the book!!! LOL It’s HIS body, HIS life, HIS career…who are we to tell him what he should or shouldn’t do (or wear)? Besides, he’s got a great body and if the man wants to show it off…he’s a grown man and he can if he wants to!! That’s the bare truth! 😉

    Thanks for writing this article! If I ever get anymore people complaining to me about it, I’ll send them the link to this and say “Here…read it!!” 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  39. linda60
    Jan 28, 2015 @ 19:26:46

    Actually words fail me!!! For heaven’s sake! What else is there to add? Consternation? Still, after all this years? Surely not. Just complete bewilderment that this behaviours and hassles obviously cannot be overcome. Fatigue for that reason? That for sure and therefore it’s quite perfect to stay away from all this facebooks and twitters who generate such a needless noise and unease.
    I’d say, l, by all means, enjoy looking at this beautiful man. Isn’t it the most exciting thing to oggle his sheer perfection?? ….and let us just grin about his existing unperfection… (which is (I have to admit) not so easy to detect!!) 😉
    BTW it irritates me a little that when I saw the film “The Crucible” last month one could very clearly see a thin wire glued along “Proctor’s” upper body and his neck. I remember having read about it, that they couldn’t avoid the microphone in this particuar scene and of course they didn’t want to cut it from the film. Thus, were is it in this pics???

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • jazzbaby1
      Jan 28, 2015 @ 19:35:34

      He is indeed a looker. I suspect that his looks are actually part of the problem, in that I think there are people who have a hard time reconciling his extreme beauty with his talent. People of taste are supposed to be interested in talent rather than physical charms, after all, and we all want to think we have taste. Except for me, I don’t have any. 🙂 Thanks for your comment and welcome to the blog, linda60.

      Like

      Reply

      • linda60
        Jan 29, 2015 @ 13:32:29

        Dear me! Have I never commented on your blog before??? Mmmmhhhhh….. 😕

        Like

      • jazzbaby1
        Jan 29, 2015 @ 13:55:10

        I know you commented at the old Blogger blog. This comment came through as needing to be approved, though. Have you changed your email or something?

        Like

      • linda60
        Jan 29, 2015 @ 19:54:09

        No…not really….Probably it’s mainly because I apparently often comment in my mind only…..:oops: … and then that one gets lost in the procedure of making my mind up and in constructing longwinded sentences ……..you know….
        However I remember having had problems ever so often with your Blogger blog, which was an “awful greedy one”, swallowing quite some of my lines…. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • jazzbaby1
        Jan 29, 2015 @ 19:58:47

        Yeah, Blogger ate a LOT of comments. One of the reasons I switched. Glad you stuck with my nonsense, linda60. 😉

        Like

  40. sparkhouse1
    Jan 28, 2015 @ 20:31:24

    I just got the meaning of your title An Embarrassment of Riches. Very good! (I’m a little slow).

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  41. austoz
    Jan 28, 2015 @ 21:57:23

    Very well said Jazzbaby, and as I wrote elsewhere, I reserve the right to appreciate something beautiful and he IS beautiful. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  42. suse3
    Jan 30, 2015 @ 01:37:38

    Well said! I have nothing to add to your post because you’ve said it all and I couldn’t agree more! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  43. phylly3
    Jan 31, 2015 @ 19:26:47

    You Go girl! I love it when you get all worked up. (Especially about something that needed to be said). 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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