Call Me Shallow… or What I’d ReAlly Like from a Message

I was excited today to see that Richard Armitage had posted his annual Christmas message to his fans (or well-wishers, as he prefers to call us). It is a really nice tradition, and one that he has maintained since 2004, posting them through various sources and, since 2014, on his own Twitter account. His messages to the fandom have been preserved on, and his 2017 message is below. (Thanks to Servetus for bringing the message to our attention and for providing a forum for some interesting comments.)

On Twitter, many of Richard Armitage’s “well-wishers” have commended him for the content of his message, and I am happy for them that it has touched them emotionally or otherwise fulfilled their expectations. For me, though, appreciation for the annual gesture aside, this is not really what I was hoping for from my celebrity crush at Christmas. Well, in truth, I was hoping that he would appear at my door with some mistletoe strategically placed above his head!

Nor would I personally describe this message as “festive cheer”. I fully support RA, however, in using his celebrity platform in the way that makes the most sense for him. I am not, nor do I want to be, in charge of what he writes. But, at more than ten years older than RA, neither am I here to learn how to behave. For me as a fan, I am here to escape from the everyday problems that impact me and the world around me. I am here to appreciate the actor and to try to catch a glimpse of the man behind the acting. (And yes, I do understand that his opinions are part of that and that he has a right to express them.)

Call me shallow, but in a Christmas message, I as a fan would like to hear about how RA has viewed his professional projects over the year. Reading more about his future or hoped for projects and work also would appeal to me. I would be interested in reading about the movies, plays, and books that he has enjoyed most in 2017 and why. The personal touches he throws in about his family and about how he will spend the holiday are nice too.

In the last few years, though, his messages have contained less of those things and more about the general political atmosphere, problems in the world at large, and how to treat others over the internet. And this latest message was written to his fandom as if we were all members of a charitable organization working towards a common goal. In fact, we are all in this fandom because we admire the work of a particular actor — the homogeneousness of our personal standards and goals has not been established.

In reading this year’s Christmas message, I have tried to focus on how appreciative RA is of the support of his fans and their generosity in giving to the charities that he champions. And I have pondered those little glimpses of who the man is behind the actor. Based on his 2017 message:

  • In terms of “the more brutal aspects of online activity”, he is “sensitive to all these things [himself], even at 46 years old, [he] still feel[s] it acutely”.
  • He considers himself to be “very old fashioned”, in terms of how he conducts himself. This encompasses trying “to be a gentleman, towards everyone. [Trying] to treat everyone as [he] would wish to be treated, with respect and equality.”
  • He tries not to take anything for granted and is cognizant that he has been lucky in his life. He knows where he came from and appreciates how hard his parents worked to support himself and his brother.
  • His phone is set to receive “pinging” notifications every time a donation is made to his supported charities! He is taking the “time to read everyone’s messages”. For any fan who may be so inclined, this may be a way to actually reach the man himself almost instantaneously.
  • At some time in his life, he has been at a point where receiving “a supportive smile” has made a difference in making him feel that he wasn’t alone.

And finally, I appreciate that RA wished us all a Happy Christmas and/or Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. I am happy, too, to hear that he is “full of anticipation, hope, and motivation for a great 2018”.

Remember the days when he used to sign his message, “Richard”? But “RA”, as we affectionately call him, will have to do.

35 thoughts on “Call Me Shallow… or What I’d ReAlly Like from a Message

  1. I hear what you’re saying and, obviously, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to find out about his work projects. My question is, how is he supposed to talk about that without sounding like one of those people who send out an end of the year newsletter listing their accomplishments to their friends and family?

    Although Richard has overcome his near crippling shyness of years past, now he has “well-wishers” from all over the world. That, of course, gives him a broader platform. My guess is, he wants to use it to share a positive message, especially since his visit to the refugee shelter in Berlin last year had such a profound impact on him. He’s always struck me as a sentimental man. How can he not want to help others as much as he can?

    Clearly, a famous person who speaks out is in a lose/lose situation. They either come across as self-serving, self-righteous, arrogant or – worst of all for a celebrity – boring. The man can’t win! I’m just grateful he wished us well and thanked the many who have helped. It shows his good manners. I hope he has a fun, relaxing break; he certainly works hard enough.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year to all of you and those you love! 🎄🎅🎉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, I do have one friend from university days who lives now in England and who sends out one of those long newsy emails annually. I really enjoy reading that. As a fan (admirer), I would LOVE to read something like that from RA. But I am speaking only about what I personally would enjoy.

      As I wrote, I fully support RA’s right to use his celebrity platform in the way he feels is best. I understand that he is not a person who feels right “bragging” about his accomplishments and that he may not be able to discuss many future projects. I’m sure that he wants to use any influence he may have towards creating positive change, if he can. It’s great that he champions certain charities and that so much money has been raised through the contributions of those who admire him and his work. Again, I don’t begrudge him any of that.

      I too am happy that RA was very gracious in thanking his admirers for their support and generosity. And of course, I hope he enjoys his time with his family.

      Best wishes to you and yours as well!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree — I am very rarely bothered by friends’ newsy letters of what they and their kids are doing. (And of course these days as everyone gets older, those letters tend to have just as much news of setbacks as they do of achievements.) There’s the occasional exception, but on the whole, I want to know these things. Personally, I think there’s a real difference between any regular friend telling us what s/he’s been doing and a celebrity crush telling us, which relates to the fact that we are not in the same relationship to Richard Armitage as we are to our friends (any fantasies notwithstanding). In particular: I’m specifically following the crush mostly because of what he’s doing. I would have no idea who Richard Armitage even was without the fact of what he does professionally. He’s not my friend; I’m interested in him primarily because of his career. So while it might be dicey for him to write a letter to his LAMDA *friends* that surveyed what he’d done that year, or risk sounding arrogant, news about his accomplishments and his reactions to them is directly appropriate content for fans.

        The reason that it’s inappropriate to write to our friends in a way way is that we believe that our friends, especially those from our former cohorts of school, college, church, other activities, are fundamentally like us. If someone from my Brownie troop in 1975 starts a home business and becomes a millionaire, because we were in the same place at one time, I might be tempted to ask “why am I not in that place? When we were 8 she couldn’t even tie her shoes by herself.” Or if someone from my college cohort has 6 kids and I wanted to have children and don’t have any, that might provoke some kind of resentment, as if she were rubbing it in my face (which reaction, even so, is usually due more to my own insecurities than to what she means to say). None of this really should be occurring with Armitage. At least for me, I grew up elsewhere in a different setting, I was never at school or work with him, and I don’t want the things he wants. I admire him because of what he has done and I would love to know more about that, and how he sees it.


        • Yes, that’s a good point. We want to hear about his successes, and even what he has found challenging. We are not comparing ourselves to him (presumably), but instead are feeling happy (or sad) for him and are remembering his past work or anticipating his future work.

          I think, too, that I generally am interested to read what he thinks about various issues, whether on Twitter or wherever, and whether or not I agree with him. But, speaking only for me, I appreciate it more when it is not mixed in with his Christmas message. And also when it is not prescriptive towards us.

          Liked by 1 person

          • If he had said — this was a challenging year, there’s a lot of abusive traffic on the internet, that would have been his POV (and largely uncontroversial). As you say, when it ends up being about prescription, there are problems. I admit I’ve got zero patience for people whom I’ve seen bully other fans praise Armitage for his Cybersmile support. It ends up being about virtue signaling as opposed to reality.


            • Yes, I actually went back and read the Christmas messages from the last few years. The tone, I find, in this year’s message is different and somehow for me it was off-putting. The prior years’ were more about observations and point of view. And there was the long message in March 2016 about the visit to the refugee centre. I really appreciated that because it was about something that he had been directly involved in through his visit and could tell us about something that affected him through his contact with the refugees. I would love to hear about any volunteer work he is involved in or something he’s experienced in this way. I would also find it very interesting to read what he thinks about all the reports of sexual harassment/misconduct in the entertainment industry.

              Liked by 1 person

              • I agree, this one was really different from the previous ones. There have been so many speculations over the years that someone else has begun to write these, when there’s been a shift in tone. This one feels like him to me, but a very different him.

                re: the refugees, I liked that post a lot, too, but at the time the whole thing stank of publicity stunt, and the fact that they didn’t return this year (or at least didn’t tell us about it) was a serious error. I honestly don’t think he probably has any time to volunteer, but if he does and it exposes him publicly in some way, imo he should keep it secret so he doesn’t get tracked down by fans and get it turned into a photo op. This is a hard issue for celebs; I can totally understand why they donate money.

                re: sexual harassment — if I were him I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole.

                Liked by 1 person

                • It feels like him to me too. Yeah, too bad they didn’t go back to the refugee centre (or didn’t tell us about it). It might have started as a publicity thing, but to me what he wrote sounded very genuine.

                  I’m sure you’re right that volunteering would be near impossible for such a busy actor. And I agree on the sexual harassment issue — anything he would say could not possibly satisfy all readers and would likely be taken in some way he wouldn’t foresee.


  2. ugh. I keep typing, then deleting, typing, then deleting…

    this letter was a pep talk for *him*. he may have had good intentions (which I truly think he always does) but this is not a ‘gift’ to his fans. maybe he feels called to do this sort of thing now, and who am I to discourage someone’s calling? but he set a precedent with his earlier letters that make these ones feel so out of place. I don’t think I’m selfish for wanting some cheer and good wishes, instead I’ve gotten a sick child/abused dog commercial. at least with them I get a t-shirt 🙄

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know what you mean. And yet I did want to write a bit about my reaction to the message without, hopefully, sounding like I don’t support RA’s right to make use of any sphere of influence he may have.

      You put it very well, in that I was hoping for a ‘gift’, similar to some of the earlier messages. But he doesn’t owe me that. It’s nice that he thanked us. I am involved in some charities and I do appreciate the messages they send. It’s just not what I personally was hoping for in this context.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks. I do my best to create a refuge for the alienated fan 🙂 I also thought, oh, yeah, since he said his phone pings now everyone will leave Twitter and start sending him donations in order to know they get his attention. I suppose that is not the worst thing for the charities. Like KellyDS I typed a few responses here and then deleted them and then tried again and then deleted them.

    In conclusion, in interest of being supportive: I’m REALLY looking forward to Ocean’s 8!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s kind of cute that he has his phone set to ping every time someone donates. And it lets us imagine him with phone in hand checking out the messages! I hope the charities do get even more donations.

      Ocean’s 8 looks really fun, doesn’t it? Even my husband wants to see it. And I wonder if My Zoe is still going to happen on schedule? And whether he will be in a play anywhere I might be able to see it? And there is Castlevania and Wolverine to look forward to, too. I hope that he has a professionally fulfilling 2018.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t know this — it’s just a hypothesis — but I think the fact that Delpy stated such a specific date as an ultimatum earlier this month may have to do with the non-private funding. I know she got a German grant, and it’s possible that it required them to begin shooting by a particular date or something to get the full amount. Which doesn’t mean they wouldn’t extend it, or grant it again for a later date, but it’s often the case with projects like this (not just media ones) that when one piece of funding evaporates it messes up other pieces of the picture. I really hope it works out for him; it would get him the kind of indie cred that he seemed to be trying to build for himself in 2014.


  4. I was going to join this write-delete game, too. But then I decided to delete the whole crap. What really gets me about the messages is – they *always* lead to dissent, anger, recriminations, attacks and policing within the fandom, particularly on Twitter. I seriously do NOT understand why different opinions and reactions are so hard to accept – and to ignore. It used to make me sad, but it’s nearing the point where it makes me angry and puts me off a) enjoying RA’s messages and b) interacting within the community. Unlike Richard I do NOT think that there is unity in *our* community.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Damn, and I was trying so hard to not say anything if I couldn’t say something nice 🙂

      I think Twitter has made it worse. There was still policing before Twitter (e.g., when I made a big joke about his punctuation challenges early on, there were people who it angered and who told me I shouldn’t be doing that), but Twitter makes it really immediate. That said, maybe I’m not not looking the right place on Twitter today, but I’m seeing something like 98% agreement with what he says. Maybe people who are policing other fans’ reactions are keeping it out of the tag (in which case: fine, because I don’t go looking for it and if you want to grouse about my non-agreement with your friends, fine). I continue to be puzzled about why, if people have a problem with what others are saying, they don’t approach those people directly. I wonder if that’s something about the medium, i.e., it’s safer to grouse about people than to actually air a grievance with someone, which might lead to an encounter one can’t win. She who grouses as opposed to argues always wins.

      What I do think Twitter does is create the impression that everyone agrees with him (or at least it has today). It’s not just active policing — something about the platform wears me down in terms of wanting to talk to anyone in the fandom. (So I guess I share that reaction — it reduces my desire to want to engage.) But for people whose opinions can be found within the broad consensus that everything Armitage says is wonderful and/or the way that Armitage talks about his own moral strengths is wonderful, it’s probably a great place, i.e., if you thrive conversationally on agreement. I’ve never been in that category. A situation where someone says something and 350 people agree with him and praise him effusively for it is, to me, the height of boredom — even, and this is crucial, if I’m inclined to agree with them.

      I don’t get why we’d want “unity” in our community (or perhaps I understand that term differently than he does). I honestly don’t understand why that would be his or anyone’s goal. Unless he’s planning to start a religious movement or pursue a political goal.


      • I’m all for diversity, rather than “unity”, as to me that is what makes for a vibrant community. Differences (as long as they are expressed respectfully) are what make life interesting. Not that I like confrontation, because I don’t. But different opinions to me are good.

        (And, on a side note, the punctuation is a lot better!)


      • Indeed, Twitter is overwhelmingly positive. At least in reply to his tweet. Although that may also be the case because those who applaud, are louder than those who are critical. Or because those who are critical are voicing their criticism elsewhere. In any case, it’s not a representative as such. However, I have also seen someone who is active in the fandom (but no fan) castigated for not RTing RA’s message.
        As Sue has said – differing opinions are infusing the ‘community’ with diversity, and that is ultimately a good thing. I’m just astounded that that is obviously not what the majority on Twitter think?
        As for community – I don’t think there is *the* community as such. There are several *different* communities, or factions. Which is fine – it is good when people share opinions with a group of like-minded fans, I am all for that. I don’t necessarily need *one* uniform community. But it would be nice if there was peaceful coexistence of different communities.
        Sorry Sue, completely went on a tangent.


        • Ok, so based on this I went looking and found what I assume you were referring to, which then led me to another thing referred to in that conversation. But both of these are entirely routine / expected by now, no?

          I don’t think that there’s any hope of peaceful co-existence of different fan communities. Indeed, from what I’ve been told, feuding between different fan groups goes back to the end of the BBC board, when the fans split out into different venues, and was the origin of his decision to give the messages to all three of the then-existing sites (now all unfortunately defunct or not updating in their original forms). To some extent this situation mirrors the historical development of toleration more generally. When initially formulated as an idea in the 1560s, religious toleration meant putting up with people you couldn’t afford to eliminate from your society. (Speaking of old fashioned — diversity as a positive value is a much newer idea.) That’s the position that I’ve come to take on nowadays in fandom as well. In a way it’s liberating. Seven years ago I would write with the idea that I should try to appease or please everyone in mind; then I learned about the conditions for that, and so I don’t do it anymore.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Tangent’s are welcome, too! It’s a good point, that there are different sub-communities in the fandom. We hang out where we feel most comfortable and hope that we are welcome to visit other corners as well.


          • Yep, that’s my impression – we are looking for and then making ourselves comfortable in a niche to our liking. That’s fine. You put it very nicely – hoping to be welcome when we visit other communities. That’s what I want.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Maybe. I’m really mixed on that question. Welcome is as welcome does. There have been plenty of people who have come to my blog over the years, and refused to obey the rules for participation, and after having been the object of a campaign to get me to block people so they could whine about it elsewhere, I really am not that optimistic that all newcomers are good actors. Many are and I give people the benefit of the doubt, but there are people who are simply not welcome on my blog, and I make no apologies for that. I try to obey by the rules in other places I go (and/or not participate), but I don’t think all fans do that.

              Liked by 1 person

    • I hope that we can have civil discussions about this, which so far does seem to have been happening on this blog and on Servetus’ blog. I think we are all entitled to our own opinions and it is fascinating to me how different all of our perceptions can sometimes be depending on our backgrounds, circumstances, and personalities. As long as we are not attacking or criticizing people for what they think, then we should be good to disagree… and still enjoy the conversation! (I’m not on Twitter very much, so I guess I don’t see a lot of the not-so-fun stuff.)


  5. I would not call you shallow. It is alright to like some aspects and not others, and those aspects not in agreement. I had a rotten day and it made me smile. I am sentimental that way. Everyone takes away something or nothing. As for the cacophony on Twitter, what is the visual equivalent of ear plugs.🤔

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on his Christmas message. Personally, his message came in at a painful time. I am also into other fandoms, and this will probably give away my age, but I have been deeply affected by the death of a Korean fallen star. I have not been actively following this star or the group he was in (i’m actually more updated with Richard’s works!), but I was a big fan at the beginning of their career and was looking forward to them celebrating their 10th year next year. Sadly this fallen star did not make it to 2018. When Richard’s message came out, out of grief I was touched with his gesture and message of spreading kindness. This has also made me reflect a lot on kindness and reaching out as well.

    I am aware that his message did not please everyone. Even I felt that his message felt distant. Still corteous, but it did lack personal touches like parts of his family or career, as you’ve said. I can only speculate why he wrote his message this way, and I’ll respect that of him. I also respect people who did critique his message, as I did find them valid. There are better ways to be good than just be kind.

    In the end, I am just grateful that he still thought of making a message. I am grateful that he has allowed us to see his work. For all of the support that I cannot show to those that have passed, I am just happy that he is still there that I can support his work. Perhaps maybe next year, he should add a selfie with his Christmas message as a reward for letting us read his ramblings.

    Forgive me for rambling here too. I don’t have a lot of friends I can talk to about this, and I saw this post. May you have a good holiday and a wonderful 2018.


    • Hello Nix and welcome. While I don’t know his music, I have read about the death of Kim Jong-hyun at 27 and feel sad for him, and also for those who feel strongly affected by his death. Depression can be devastating and it sounds like the pressures on Korean pop stars are very brutal. Maybe there will be some positive impact in South Korea through the sharing of the moving and insightful words he left for his friend to release.

      One of the charities Richard Armitage champions is Young Minds, which helps young people in the U.K. deal with mental health issues. Different country, but a worthy cause.

      I’m glad that you found some comfort in RA’s message. I too really appreciate that he takes the time to pen one every year. A selfie reward would be a fine idea!

      Take care and I hope your holiday and new year will be joyful.


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  8. Pingback: Christmas 2018 | I'm Feeling This

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