Wednesday 19 October 2011

Fandom and Fellow Fans


Response to Judiang's request and her post about Fandom (October 19th, 2011)

For some years now I am a fan of Mr. Armitage.

It is not, that I am in any way an experienced fan. Even during my adolescence, I never became a fan to experience, as Judiang so aptly describes it, the "giggly, girlish and silly" sensations of fandom.
I had to be the sensible one, the one to look after my older sister to keep in line during adolescence.

Friedrich von Schiller - Source:
The only person, I admired during that time, was Friedrich von Schiller and you will understand, that fandom to him could not easily be described as "giggly, girlish and silly", but rather thoughtful and heavy stuff for an adolescent.
I had a big poster of Friedrich von Schiller hanging over my bed. (Not the one on the right side ;o)
I also was alone with that admiration, so no fellow fans to share this experience with. All my friends and family could not understand, where I had that from ;o)

So my experience with fandom is rather limited, my knowledge about how a fan should behave not really developed. I do not expect anything from my idol - as with Friedrich von Schiller no return action could really be possible. All my fandom consisted of me researching about him, finding out more and admiring his bright concepts of thinking and ideology.
He had quite some influence on how I see the world, religion, politics, observe social behaviour, detect faults and how they could be remedied, how a person should act to better the society. In general he was an integral point in forming my critical abilities.
He was the main reason for choosing the subjects I later studied at university.

When I visited my sister at university, when she just had started studying biology, I recognized, that my approach to examine the world was a completely different one from natural sciences.
When I came to visit her at university, she had a dissected mouse on her table. Not that I swooned, I could stand that at that time. But I felt affronted, that to examine something, you had to destroy the object you wanted to learn from. I felt offended by the for me totally inadequate and stone-age approach to a living creature and research in general.
This confirmed me in my subjects of interest, which research without destroying the object of research, gaining knowledge without destroying the source.

In some way I think, this was a very formative time, also forming the way of approach I have to fandom for Richard Armitage.
I research - in history normally divided from the object of research by time - in fandom by distance to the idol - without trying to destroy, gaining knowledge without hurting, but creating an image, a knowledge, a beautiful ideological concept.
Perhaps I should not add, that my main interest at university were conspiracy theories ;o) Oh, I love a good conspiracy, to explore its foundations, effects, power and influence. This also was centered around Friedrich von Schiller in some way, so I did not really loose him on my way forward.

Source:   Photographer: Joe McGorty
My admiration for Richard Armitage is in lots of ways quite similar to my research approach to Friedrich von Schiller. I never did expect contact or a reaction from him. I even mentioned here once in a comment, that I am quite protective of the concept I built and might even feel the necessity to protect it from the real person.
I know that is ungrateful of me, to suppose I would not like him on closer acquaintance, but I am quite protective of my image of him to be kept pure and intact.
I don't need to know personal stuff. That is his to keep and his to enjoy.

The first year of admiration started absolutely lonely and in secret. I knew some of his films, became interested in him through an interview about Spooks 7 and was irrevocably hooked to come back again and again. I watched fan-videos, avoided everything concerning Guy of Gisbourne meticulously and even had problems connecting him with that role.

I was absolutely content to see my idol from a distance, in film, in interviews, in fan-videos (especially coming from the learning material to do video editing). I knew there were forums about the actor, but I did not really feel intent to discuss him or plunge into learning more. To even be interested in him in such an extent was absolutely new for me. Why did I have to see him and why did he have such a calming effect on me? (I am still not sure about that and why it can keep me hooked so irrevocably, so please do not expect an answer from me here.) It took the discussion concerning videos and especially Servetus' blog, to really draw me into fandom and to discuss my admiration and 'research' with fellow fans. This was the time when I realized, that for the first time I really had developed a complete 'fan'-admiration for someone.

Slowly, I found out more in those blogs, which in consequence drew me into discovering more, about fandom and myself. For a strange reason, the forums and discussion communities never attracted me in the same way, though I registered early on. My first closer discussion and feeling the presence of a community of real people was during the second FanstRAvaganza event this year where I was invited to take part, as I had a fan-blog about Richard Armitage, which I had started in November 2010. The founding of the KingRichardArmitage site was a further main step to connect fandom to reality for me. It was a break through between aspects of my 'real' world and fandom, formerly meticulously kept separate.

Through all the time, fandom still was a rather digital experience for me, as I never met or discussed things with other fans in person. Chats are rather digital for me as well. You do not see the person you 'talk' with, but see your computer screen instead.
Friends even asked me how I could bear to be on the computer for such long times and not feel lonely. (They obviously have not discovered the lovely Armitage fan community online, to ask such a farfetched question ;o)

As I have never met other fans in person, I had no experience with fan-meetings or even the correct behaviour a fan should apply during a meeting.
So you can imagine, that I was utterly nervous last weekend, when all this came to an end and I met 'real' RA-fans. As a kind of recognition sign, I had my RA-bag with me. The funny waiters at the Victorian Tea House in Munich could not even pronounce "Armitage", our reservation name, and were not able to bring our group together, but told everyone who asked, that they had no reservation under that name and accused us that each of us had pronounced the name differently. But that is very unlikely. What real RA fan does not know how to pronounce his name ;o)
So it was a good thing to having had my bag with me to find our group.
The experience to meet people with similar interests, taste, knowledge and the same watched films as background, gave us an immediate topic to talk about, though most of us never had met before.
It was such a homogenous, friendly group, that I - normally a bit reserved and though friendly, sometimes a bit quiet in company and normally a better listener than talker - felt completely at ease in the group and felt as if I met with old friends.
I loved the meeting and now hope we can soon repeat the meeting in the Bavarian fan-group !!!

I am thinking now about all my fears beforehand with a smile. It was such an absolutely lovely experience to meet fellow RA-fans, that I can only recommend that ;o)

( I don't think we Bavarians are the only friendly exception, but the lovely rule of RA-fans ;o)

As I did not check with my fellow fans, I do not name them even with their fan-identity. Please understand that. I am always of the opinion, each fan has the freedom to reveal as much about herself as she likes and feels comfortable with. That I bubble about this lovely experience, does not mean everybody else attending the meeting needs to do the same ;o)

< < This article came into life because of a request from Judiang. She wrote, that surely I would write about this fan-experience and though that idea had not occurred to me before, when I came to think about it, it really made sense to me and is something to encourage other fans to meet as well. Also after just loosing a dear friend, it also became more of a conviction for me, to live friendships while we can. > >


  1. Thanks for writing about your experience. I approached meeting fans in a different fandom with great trepidation but had so much fun with them that later I couldn't remember why I was so nervous. :)

  2. @jazzbaby1
    Thank you very much for sharing your own experience. In hindsight, I cannot understand my fear as well, but before the meeting ... ;o)

  3. Wonderful post - Great that you had a chance to meet with other RA fans and that it was a fun experience.

  4. @Fabolaktuko
    Thank you very much, Fabolaktuko!
    It really is a pity, that we cannot meet. I would very much like that! Perhaps some time in the future? e.g. Munich is a nice town ;o)
    What a wonderful medium the computer is to connect (Even when sometimes I get a bit mad about my computers, I very much cherish that ;o)

  5. That's a great story, CDoart. I'm so delighted your meeting went well. I laughed about the pronunciation of the name "Armitage!" Your cloth bag is truly inspired and a great conversation starter I'm sure. I hope you continue with your quest and research into this fandom. I'm still mystified myself! :D

  6. @CDoart
    Who knows! Maybe one day in the future. Would love to meet. If RA ever appears on stage in The Rover maybe we can meet in London. The computer and the Internet make the world a much smaller place, in a good way :)
    I've actually been to Munich, twice, but that was 20 years ago so I'm sure it has changed. A beautiful town.

  7. I think I am still nervous, having met Judi notwithstanding. Hopefully I'm getting more courageous.

    I think the matter of Schiller is interesting. I had preoccupations like that too as an adolescent (in fact, in response to one of them, my mother told my grandmother that it was a normal developmental stage and she'd rather I'd be fascinated by whatever it was than by drugs or something). I hadn't thought of calling that "fandom." I'll have to think about this some more.

  8. @bccmee
    Thank you so much, bccmee. Yes, fandom is a great quest to be further explored and I am so glad we are on the exploration journey together !!!
    I think the best part of the conversation starting was, what I had inside the bag. There was a bottle of red wine and thinking about RA scenes where he is drinking red wine ;o))))

  9. @Fabulaktuko
    Oh yes, a meeting in London at one of RA's plays. That would be a dream come true ;o) Sighing happily ... ;o)
    For the while, digital meetings are lovely too ;o) I very much enjoy our's ;o) and I am so greatful for the computer development to make that possible and for us to have met.
    You have been to Munich, that is lovely. At some time I must ask you more about that ;o) I am curious now ;o)

  10. @servetus
    You are courageous, Servetus, and a great inspiration for me in fandom. One reason for me that I did so willingly plunge into contact and meeting other fans was your sensible and analytical attitude towards the topic. You and your blog showed me what great persons are around in fandom !
    With analysing fandom and its implications, at the moment I am comparing it most to "Minne Lyrik" of the high time of the Middle Ages. There the poetry was created to show the brilliance of the person it was directed to, but also of the creator, and the person it was devoted to sometimes even went into the background. The most similar part to fandom was, that it was not meant to gain the direct attention of the person it was written about, but to gain attention for the brilliance of this person in society.
    In some way I think, fan-art is quite similar to those efforts of bards in the Middle Ages by creating art around a worthy cause. I am still exploring that, as I have forgotten most of my studies ;o)

  11. That's a nice parallel, actually, a bit like the writing of the Renaissance is supposed to display sprezzatura of the author. It does a lot to explain what's going on with me, anyway. Thanks.

    I may be verbally courageous but really I am a dormouse otherwise :)

  12. @servetus
    Verbally courageous is perfect, as the mind is in what one does. I often made the experience that courageous (and forceful) people in daily life are so, because they do not get the implications of the risks they meet and often are very one dimensional persons without regard for their fellows. They are able to flatten others verbally without hesitation, because they do not even see his/her point, their only attention is set on enforcing their own power. They often get ready followers and that makes them really dangerous, as nobody dares to oppose them. (You see I have met enough of those people, to really resent them.)
    I value bravery in the full awareness of the risks and a full evaluation of a situation much more.
    For a long time, I hesitated to accept my love for writing, as I feared my stronger ability to express myself in written form would make me a more deadly opponent (which sometimes I had to be in business letters), whereas I am quite 'harmless' in real life ;o)
    I needed RA to bring me to accept that part of me and find a comfortable balance to try and spread my wings in writing.
    So I am really thankful to RA for a great deal of personal developement, I think I would not have made without him or without discovering his fandom.

  13. Nice post, I've been a fan (having in mind that although fan is a general known concept, each lives it differently) of shows or actors practically all my life, sometimes more effusive (as with RA) and sometimes at a much-much lesser extend and so it's very interesting to read about different experiences with fandom.

    It's great to know you had so much fun, maybe sometime in the future we can do a european reunion or something :).

    OML :)

  14. @onemorelurker1
    Thank you very much!
    A European reunion really sounds lovely. Perhaps one day at a play (with a certain actor) in London ;o)
    I would very much enjoy to meet you!
    Till soon ;o)