Should We Know About RA’s Private Life?? REVISED

Monday morning: I have a different answer to the question and have edited this post in light of new thinking about the subject. Thanks for your comments. They have helped me revise this post. I have left the original post because I want to leave the comments.

Why do I care about RA’s romantic life? This is not a blog post with pretty pictures.

I know that there are probably good reasons that we don’t know anything about RA’s private life. It’s none of our business in the first place. In the second place, it might change the way some people think about him. Putting information about yourself out in the public can do that.

Writing a blog is a risky business. I thought a lot before I wrote about “obsessing”over RA’s romantic life.  I know the questions I have are questions many fans have, but because we are fans and we don’t want to take the chance that we could hurt RA by speculating, we keep the questions to ourselves for the most part. As of Monday morning I now include myself among them. I decided to take the post down.

Professor Servetus has taught me to look inward to see why I am affected by Mr. Armitage. She is very brave, to me. I think it is hard to reveal personal feelings to an anonymous public, even when you are pseudonymous yourself. Monday morning comment: As you can see by my other comments, revealing my feelings is not hard for me. What is hard is identifying them and being honest about them.

The problem I have with writing about my feelings in relation to Mr. Armitage’s personal life is that it would only reveal more speculation on my part which might not be in his best interests. Not because I think he or anyone he knows reads this, but public is public. As of Monday morning, I think I know what my feelings are and it doesn’t really involve speculation on my part. I was wrong about that.

I started this blog to examine the connections among my various current and past obsessions, particularly the similarities between Hugh Jackman and Richard Armitage. In doing that I hit on what I believed to be a difference between them – how they communicate with the public about their private lives. 

I think I have identified why the lack of information about Mr. Armitage’s private life annoys me. I think it’s because I am a notoriously open person. Obviously I’m hiding my identity for blogging purposes, but other than that I don’t keep much private. I guess that’s why I like Mr. Jackman’s seemingly open style. To me, keeping secrets is unhealthy. Not other people’s secrets, just mine. I acknowledge that other people don’t feel the same way. And I respect that in RL, so why should I not respect Mr. Armitage’s feelings? That is why I took the post down. 

Until very recently I lived in New York City my whole life. I work in NYC. I’ve heard it all, believe me. In my experience there is only one reason that someone doesn’t talk about their private life and that is because the person thinks you could misunderstand it. An adult who lives with her parents and spends most of her time with them might not want everyone to know that. A man whose sex life consists of watching porn, might not want to talk about it. A woman or man who is celibate also might not wish to share that. Although some don’t care and DO share things that are sometimes TMI! LOL! I seriously have heard it all! I’ve had friends come out of the closet to me. I’ve had acquaintances share the fact that they are virgins with me. But these people were not putting the information out in a press release.

However, there is an aspect with a celebrity, a public figure, which the person might want to keep private. When your private life involves another person the celebrity might not wish to make that person’s life searchable on Google. Annabel Capper, for example? Look at how everyone wanted to know about her once she was seen out with RA! Since Mr. Armitage is, by all accounts, a really caring, decent man, he would most likely not want to involve another person in his publicity circus. He probably doesn’t want his parents to see nonsense about him splashed around gossip mags. So I understand why he would want to keep things quiet.

Added Monday:   Thanks to everyone’s comments I see now that I was wrong to make the assumption that not talking about something means you are HIDING something. You might just not want to talk about it. Which is everyone’s right, even public figures. 




From New York City. Anglophile, theater-goer, love books, music and LIFE.
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32 Responses to Should We Know About RA’s Private Life?? REVISED

  1. jasrangoon says:

    Again, well said. Just because we’re curious doesn’t mean we have a right to know.

  2. Pingback: Should We Know About RA’s Private Life?? | Obsessive Behavior

  3. Servetus says:

    Quick distinction — we’re not anonymous. We’re pseudonymous, and the difference is important. If we were completely anonymous, it wouldn’t matter what we said because no one could meaningfully connect any of these statements to any others we’d made (unless, perhaps, they could read the IP address from which every comment was made, but even that is a problem that’s easy to circumvent). Writing with a pseudonym is a way to have a coherent identity that is not quite the same as one’s own. This makes it easier to write certain kinds of things that one’s RL identity can’t admit to for various reasons, but the stakes are still there. You can’t just “say anything” as a pseudonymous author or you will ruin your own identity. It’s the pseudonymity that makes it scary, not because someone might figure out who the author of “me + richard armitage” is (it’s not that hard, and three or four people have figured it out over the years, and one of them even sent me “fan mail,” LOL) but insofar as “Servetus” — an identity that I created in order to explore particular problems — is necessarily also a personality that can be damaged. If I wrote as “anonymous,” none of this would matter because I would already have decided that my statements bore no connection to each other. I would have no risk as a writer in that case.

    I have to say that I don’t care one way or the other whether we know more or less about Armitage’s life as a function of this information as an index of Armitage’s actual life. (You probably could have predicted that I would say that.) I also don’t care what his reasons are; you have named two of them but I can think of others, one of which is his raising and the fact that he’s British and that the public/private lines are different in those contexts than they might be in NYC. Honestly, as someone who visits NYC happily from time to time and also leaves happily after four days, I also think of it as one of a handful of places in the US where everyone lets everything hang out all the time. The lines about what’s private/public information there are not necessarily valid for the rest of the U.S. We all have different lines about what we think is TMI.

    I think we need in mind, too, that information is always information in context. My parents and close friends know a lot about my romantic history, my colleagues and blog readers know a little, my students know only that I’m heterosexual and currently single, the people I go to synagogue with even less than that. The reason that I don’t tell the vast majority of my students more about my romantic history is that it’s not germane to our relationship. If a student came to me seeking advice, and I felt telling about my experiences would be helpful to him/her, I’d probably say more, but still not as much as I’d say when talking to my BFF.

    I can say in my case that I also occasionally wish that I knew more about his private life and for me it’s definitely a function of wanting confirmation in moments of *my own insecurity* that *he’s happy with his choices.* Insofar as he’s a screen of projection for me, when I fear that I’m unhappy, I experience the need for confirmation that he *is* happy. I frequently wonder, however, when I read discussions about this question on the Internet, how much of it has to do with fan fears that he’s not worthy of their admiration (in part because no human can be) — so that people seek more and more confirmation that he’s “really” what he appears to be because otherwise their fantasies will unmask them as foolish and they will have no exit from the level of embarrassment they would feel. In essence, to me anyway, more information about Armitage will not rescue us from our feelings of embarrassment about having become fans — we have to decide to own the fantasies, which is the only thing that will stop them from being embarrassing. “Who Armitage really is” has little bearing on that problem.

  4. marieastra8 says:

    Yes. And pseudonymous. Thank you!

    Like what you say about discussions on the internet re whether he’s “really” what he appears to be. I have thought about that after saying how wonderful he is because he’s so real and present and shy and..whatever, when we don’t really know if he is. Then what happens if we find out he’s NOT what we said we liked about him.That would be embarrassing! Unless we, as you say, own the fantasy and admit that it’s just that. I don’t think it’s likely that we are so wrong about him, though. Except in relation to his private life, I guess. I admit that I would be upset to find out that he’s been in a committed relationship when I’ve thought, and he’s said, that he’s not. It’s more that he has implied that he’s not which would upset me. I think he’s truthful and it would be sad to find out he wasn’t being fully truthful.

    • Servetus says:

      My off the cuff reaction (and I’ve read this more than once elsewhere), like yours is, I don’t care so much about the content as about the way of dealing with it, i.e., the lying would bother me more than whatever he was hypothetically lying about. However — I also think that reaction’s ultimately about me. I get lied to all the time by students and it doesn’t trouble me further than that it’s annoying — and I have a much closer relationship to students than I do to Richard Armitage. When a lover lies to me, the significance is obvious — because it destroys mutual trust. But I don’t think that really applies to Armitage (or shouldn’t, at least), because we don’t have a relationship of trust. We don’t really have a relationship at all except the one that I build in my head. Why does Richard Armitage potentially lying make me uncomfortable? Because it points out to me that despite my desires, I am not really in relationship to him? Because it’s the definitive proof that all of this is a big picture constructed my benefit, and not real in any concrete sense? Because I need him to be “better” than me, and I’m already uncomfortable about the things I’m forced to lie to hide myself?

  5. marieastra8 says:

    Yes, I think it’s because I need him to be better than me. As a “public” figure, he needs to be honest with me. If you’re going to put yourself out there, it should be YOU who’s out there. It makes me mad when any public figure turns out to be untruthful, so much worse when it’s a “crush” in whom I’ve invested myself. If I find out you have deliberately mislead me, whoever you are, I won’t be happy!!

    • Servetus says:

      But isn’t my disappointment my own fault, if I made the investment? I guess that’s what I’m saying here. I think both things are true — as a public figure of a certain kind one is automatically subject to a certain kind of evaluation and discourse, whether one wishes to be or not — but as a person who makes decisions about her allegiances, I am ultimately the one who’s responsible for my feelings. i can’t put that on Richard Armitage and his personal information politics (or if I do, I’m deluding myself).

      To be fair, I think in this particular case anyway, we get entranced by him on screen for reasons that are not always immediately clear to us, and then we google and find out that he has a rep as a “nice guy” — decent, modest, etc., all the elements of the “virtuous Armitage” trope. That second shot of information then serves as a justification for what we want to feel anyway. I just think we shouldn’t use that second moment as an excuse for a decision we’ve already made subconsconsciously anyway (as if it’s only okay, or more okay, to have these fantasies about an actor if he’s a nice guy).

  6. marieastra8 says:

    LOL, yes! It makes it okay. But to judge by rules I judge people by in RL, it’s not okay to lie. That would be bad, no matter if it’s my fantasy or not.

  7. marieastra8 says:

    Of course I lie! But if I were a public figure I would really try not to. Because the people who believe in us would be so devastated. It’s just wrong.

    • Servetus says:

      I would say that if you’re a public figure you’re constantly under incredible pressure to lie and that you may even have a responsibility to lie in certain circumstances. I won’t flesh that out, but I can see multiple reasons why politicians, pastors, teachers (professors), etc. would lie for the good of their audiences and we would urge them to.

      To take this particular case, and let me stress that the formulations in this sentence are hypothetical, it’s hard for me to see a different in potential devastation between Armitage telling the truth about something/anything that a significant proportion of his audience might be likely to find problematic or disturbing, and lying about it and being discovered in a lie. Both of those outcomes would lead to the devastation of the audience. Given the equal likely consequences of those decisions, it only makes sense to lie or at least not to say anything. Because then at least people have the chance to be happy.

    • As a public figure, he is entitled to keep certain things to himself and that would include whether or not he is in a relationship. Just because he is a public figure doesn’t mean that he has to tell the truth about certain things, and him saying he is not in a relationship when he probably is doesn’t make that “lie” inexcusable just because he is a public figure – compared to, let’s say, someone we know personally who lies about it.

      I honestly believe he is not entitled to tell the truth every time he is asked that question by the media, as if he is answerable to everyone outside of his own private space about everything that is very personal to him. I would rather he lie about that aspect of his life because it is his own business, and not anyone else’s.

      Will lying about it make you less likely to see his movies or admire his work? In the end, it’s up to the person who feels slighted by the lie, but not to someone to whom such thing does not matter because it has nothing to do with the work that he does – which is acting. And that’s what he is – an actor. He puts on a mask and acts out a role and after that gig is done, takes off the mask and returns to his own private world.

      And he is entitled to that private world, just as you and I return home and find solace in being ourselves, when we remove the mask we put on for our friends and coworkers and even our own partners and our children.

      • marieastra8 says:

        Of course finding out he’s lying doesn’t take away his acting talent! But actors that I obsess over have to be more than good actors. If I only was interested in acting I would obsess over Daniel Day Lewis, for example. But it’s more than that. It’s physical attraction as well as feeling a psychological/spiritual connection to the person. There is something about Richard Armitage that attracts me and that is more than his physical beauty and acting ability. I relate to him. He’s a LoTR fan, he loves NYC, he loves his family, so many other things. Plus I relate to his sense of humor. I would love to laugh with him. I don’t really care about laughing with DDL. My relationship to RA FEELS REAL to me, even though it’s not, of course. When I find out that someone I care about has not been truthful with me, it hurts me. Sure, it’s their right to not say something, but if it’s something important it might change the way I think about the person. I might no longer feel like I can relate to that person in the same way.

        For example, my cousin was have an affair with a married man for years without telling me. She always was taking trips and I thought she was going on her own, which I admired greatly because I dislike traveling alone. Then I found out that she wasn’t alone – she was traveling with him! Changed the way I thought about her. I didn’t hate her, but I didn’t admire her quite as much.

        Thank you, morrighan’smuse for your comments. You made me rethink my whole post!

      • I apologize if my comment made you rethink your whole post. I wish you could have kept the original post up because this is your personal blog after all and that’s what makes reading blogs really interesting to me, and I hope you didn’t take my comment as passing judgment over your own feelings and opinions about Mr. A.

        In my years working with people who work in Hollywood (whether they’re actors or musicians), I’ve always been struck at how majority of them are very humble and self-effacing, especially when the on-camera persona is switched off. Of course, not all of them are like that and there are times you just roll your eyes and wish you could tell them that there are no cameras around, or how I wish there were cameras to document how outrageously they’re behaving.

        But with those who are of the former make above, I’ve seen how private they are with their lives, and it’s made me understand that for someone whose every move may be documented by others, the only thing they have left is themselves and those they hold close to them. Some of them simply treat acting as a job and it becomes a double edged sword because of expectations heaped upon them that they should be upfront in everything in their lives, simply because of their choice of career.

        There are those who will argue with me and say they are not entitled to a personal life because of their choice of livelihood but that’s them. I’m only stating my opinion based on what I’ve observed in my limited interactions with them, which may also, most definitely, mirror my own feelings on the subject. I am, of course, like everyone else, projecting my own feelings about him.

        I hope my comments do not make you change the way you feel about the man, nor lessen the connection you have with him. I understand where you’re coming from regarding honesty on his part about his private life and definitely respect your feelings about the matter 🙂

      • Servetus says:

        I don’t think all too many people would argue that celebrities are “not entitled to a private life,” although perhaps some would and perhaps even more people than I realize hold that position, and probably definitions of what constitute a private life differ. It’s easy to poke holes in that argument, I think. I suspect that more people think that if you are a public figure, you have to take into account that some things that would always be private for individuals who are not public figures are going to become public knowledge, and that curiosity about such things will be more intense and seen by some as more legitimate. I don’t care who my neighbor is sleeping with (much), but I might care in varying degrees or be interested about who my pastor, my senator, my celebrity idol is sleeping with. That may not be fair, those questions may not be legitimate, but dealing with them is a known consequence of doing business in those spheres.

        I remember when the Monica Lewinsky thing exploded; my first thought was, when I was that age I made stupid decisions about who I slept with, too — it’s just that my sexual partners weren’t public figures. I was sympathetic to her at the time and remain so; at the same time, at the age of 22, one can assume, she had some cause to know what she was doing.

        In other words, I think both things are true: it’s legitimate (if to some extent unrealistic) for celebrities to want to keep their romantic lives private — and it’s also legitimate for fans to wonder about these things. My only point in keeping this discussion going so long is to say — let’s figure out what our implication is in this. The celebs can take care of themselves.

  8. marieastra8 says:

    It’s wrong in RL too, of course! But excusable. 🙂

  9. marieastra8 says:

    Yes, believe me, I understand most personally what you mean. I am a labor relations professional. I have to lie professionally sometimes. I know what that means. In order to “keep the peace” sometimes it is necessary to be less than truthful. Still, as a “fan”, I would not like it to find out that the person I put my trust in was less than truthful with me. You have to make a judgement that the fewest people would be hurt.

    • Servetus says:

      I thought you’d get what I meant about public figures lying and the necessity for same. As far as making a judgment that hurts the fewest people: I imagine that’s exactly what he’s doing. If no one knows anything for sure, then no one has any basis for having his/her feelings hurt on the basis of fantasies that s/he has constructed that one must concede are only fantasies.

  10. marieastra8 says:

    Exactly! {{{hugs}}} Thanks, Serv!

  11. guylty says:

    Very interesting and thought-provoking post, marieastra! And I cannot even say where I stand on the question. Rationally I understand that he has a need to keep his private life separate from his public persona – for all the reasons that you (and Serv in the comments) have discussed here. My innate curiosity is probably irrational – a hunger for more knowledge about this person that probably only exists as a construct in my own brain. If truth be told, I am quite happy that there is so much mystery shrouding the “real” RA – at least that gives us the opportunity to use him as a foil for our dreams and desires. He is a projection and a ghost. And maybe that is the best he could ever be.

  12. marieastra8 says:

    I know, guylty! He is so wonderful as a projection and ghost. And I guess you are right, that is the best he could ever be, given that we will never meet him in RL. I guess we are “overthinking'” the situation. We should just enjoy RA for the sexy, wonderful image he is!

  13. bechep says:

    Oh ladies yet again you have made me feel completely frivolous and shallow. What thought provoking, intelligent and profound things you are discussing. My Blog? here’s another pretty picture of Thorin…
    Another great Post Marieastra8. I wont bore you with my thoughts on the matter as I could never say it as succinctly and rationally as you have all done!

    • marieastra8 says:

      Oh, bechep. Do not compare! I LOVE your pretty pictures of Thorin! It would be terrible if all the fans were as boring as I am. 🙂 We love those pretty pictures of all our favorite chaRActers! And as you can see, I think too much. LOL Thanks for reading and commenting.

  14. Servetus says:

    Wow, we all really got somewhere with this discussion. Good for you, good for us.

    One thing I just want to mention — I think you could have left the original post (and kind of wish you would have) in place. I don’t think speculation about this issue by fans hurts his career. I know that people say that, but I can’t see why that would be the case. No one who’s casting him at this point is saying, I won’t cast him because fans or others speculate about his private life. I also find the argument that it hurts him personally increasingly unconvincing. In the end, it’s your choice to do what you think best based on your own boundary issues. If you want to ask questions, you should be asking them. Your needs are just as important as what you speculate that his might be.

  15. marieastra8 says:

    Yes! I love the dialogue! I was feeling unhappy that I raised the subject, even though it is important. I just don’t want to feel bad about anything having to do with Mr. A., who makes me happy!

    I’ve learned a lot from this. Thanks, Mr. Armitage for providing another new experience! LOL

  16. This has been… absolutely fascinating. The original post made me think. The follow-up post made me think some more. The conversations in the comments – I’m still chewing over. SOOOOO interesting. Because, of course, it all relates to me as well. I don’t care, but I do care; but I don’t, but I do. And why do I? But why shouldn’t I? Or ought I? Could I? Mightn’t I, just a little? lolololol I think my brain needs to be unfolded from its current yoga-esque foldover. Good god, we are FASCINATING and AWESOME creatures, women. And men too. Just, Yoomans (as Carl Sagan, my second Geek Crush after Aragorn, would have said) in general.

    Whew. Love you folks. I’ll lift a glass of wine to you at dinner. 😀

  17. Pingback: Richard Armitage Legenda 76: Stuff worth reading | Me + Richard Armitage

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