Last week, Servetus ran an interview for her Fan Showcase with the irrepressible Jane. Jane is a fan known for her blunt but frank opinions regarding Richard Armitage, his roles and the direction of his career. She presents her views as one of an outsider. She’s aware these opinions are not mainstream, and at times directly conflict with the majority of fandom. I don’t agree with everything she says, but I respect her opinions and guts to stick by them. The commentary was lively and interesting. Unfortunately, the post had to be closed because of ad hominen attacks. I came away with a sense that some people saw Jane as hurtful to fandom and worse yet, not really a fan.
I find such attitudes disturbing. A fandom is not a monolith. We are all different people from different backgrounds, cultures, experiences, etc. We are not a hive mind; we do not think alike. So it stands to reason that there’s a a whole spectrum of fans and a broad definition of what it means to be one. That the crush happens to be Richard Armitage doesn’t change that.
I agree with many of Jane’s core remarks. I’m an outsider looking in as well. I don’t subscribe to the idea that everything I say about RA must be 100% complimentary. I see nothing wrong with criticizing a crush, or pointing out the Emperor is wearing no clothes if that’s true. I don’t think RA is the most special actor to ever come along; he is a very good actor with the potential to be exceptional. Whether he will prove to be so remains to be seen. I am a “polygamist,” in that I also admire another actor and think the same things about him as well. I don’t believe everything he says, being mindful of the public persona he must present and the publicity machine of which he’s a part. I don’t think my remarks mean one jot in the larger scheme of things, can “hurt” fandom in general or RA in particular, or that he need any protection. I can embrace all of these views while still admiring and enjoying his work and respecting him as the person he present himself to be. Oh, and he can take a bad picture. Does that mean I’m not a “real” fan? No, it just means my way of thinking about him may be different from the next person’s.
Last year, I received a private email from a commenter intrigued by this series. She questioned whether there was room in fandom for people like her, who while admiring RA, did not necessarily agree with the consensus opinion. I replied there should be room for everybody; there are different kinds of fans with a myriad of views who need to be heard and respected. It makes for a richer, more interesting and mature fandom. Happily, she started her own blog.
Yes, it’s possible to disagree, analyze, question and still be a fan. Support and enthusiasm for a crush should not be measured by the degree others think a person should squee, gush, and go along with the program, but by that person’s own personal enjoyment. Jane, although at times critical, gave quite some thought to her opinions. Yet she still is an avid fan because her appreciation of RA continues. Likewise, I have disagreed on my blog (albeit wrapped in snark and humor) but that does not diminish my appreciation.
So, there’s no such thing as a “real” fan.