A Fandom Divided: Oglers Unite as Theatre Purists Decry Images of Bare-Chested Actor
The notoriously drama-filled fandom revolving around The Hobbit star Richard Armitage has found another bone of contention to pick among themselves, sources say. Pursuant to the decision to film the British actor’s recent performance as John Proctor, the tortured protagonist in Yael Farber’s critically acclaimed production of American playwright Arthur Miller’s The Crucible (staged at the Old Vic Theatre in London, 2014), many believed that the fandom, loosely known as The Armitage Army, having united its factions with unparalleled success in its efforts to obtain a DVD or other recording of the vaunted Armitage performance, would continue to present a unified image to the world. However, it would seem that The Armitage Army continues to nurse grievances among themselves that periodically explode across social media.
The latest quarrel amongst the ranks appears to revolve around the mysterious release of several images of a bare-chested John Proctor, seen down on the floor washing himself at the beginning of Act 2. We contacted a spokesperson from Puritan Farmers Cooperative, and showed him the images. “I would have to say, I can not object to these images. Without we wash at the end of a long day, we land in the barn for the night. Does not every goodwife say, ‘Come you not to my bed smelling of manure’?” Our contact found nothing scintillating about the images, although he was quick to add that he does not plow on Sundays.
However, it would seem that many members of the fandom did, in fact, find the images to be stirring. One Armitage blogger was swift to share the controversial images, and likened the experience to a hormonal conflagration. “Yes, those images caused a spontaneous ovarian combustion! I’ve seen one of the images, or something close to it, already, but these camera angles,” she said, pointing with trembling fingers to images showing Armitage’s wide shoulders, muscular back, lean torso, and a tantalizing thigh/buttock side view, “Whew. These angles are simply spectacular!” She went on to postulate that the images might in fact be dangerous to reproductive health. “There is such a syndrome as Spontaneous Ovarian Hyperstimulation, you know.”
As of press time, representatives from the National Institutes of Health could not be contacted to answer whether these images might in fact be useful in the treatment of infertility in women, and the Armitage blogger was hesitant to postulate as to the effectiveness of Richard Armitage’s bare torso for the purposes of improving conception rates for struggling couples. “Whoa, now. I’m a veterinarian. I might be able to answer your questions about fertility in bitches, and I may occasionally refer to Armitage images jokingly as good medicine, but I’m not qualified to offer any sort of treatment plan for other women.”
Medicinal uses aside, many Armitage admirers appeared to seek sensual gratification by viewing the images. “It’s a rough job, but someone has to objectify him,” commented a preeminent Armitage blogger, viewing with satisfaction one of her own edits. The busy image depicts twelve locations on John Proctor’s exposed upper body that the blogger would like to kiss, and prompted many blog commentators to point out other areas that they felt were additionally deserving of collective smooching attentions. This post spawned further debate as to the definition of a widow’s peak amongst the fandom, so we contacted the Hairline Consultation Hotline, whose experts were familiar with Armitage’s work.
“While Thorin Oakenshield does show a prominent widow’s peak, it is our conclusion that his hairline was in fact achieved by use of a very convincing hairpiece. Upon review of images of Richard Armitage as himself and as John Proctor, most hairline pundits agree that he does not sport a widow’s peak. The traditional understanding of a widow’s peak is most certainly a V-shaped point in the center of the forehead. I would place celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Leonardo DiCaprio much higher on the widow’s peak spectrum than I would place Richard Armitage.” When asked to discern the V-shaped area of hairline that the blogger wished she could kiss, the hairline expert readily identified the disputed area as a receding temple, and remarked, “Mr. Armitage here is a lovely example of why a receding temple is not always an unattractive feature of a hairline. The sharp, almost dramatic points of his receding temples add interest to an otherwise rather humdrum hairline.”
When the controversial wash basin images were shared on Richard Armitage appreciation pages on Facebook, however, they were met in some cases with derision and incredulity. Taking down the images and citing her reluctance to circulate “beefcake screengrabs” prior to every fandom member first viewing the much-anticipated release of the Digital Theatre download of the Yael Farber/Richard Armitage collaboration, one Facebook administrator pleaded with disgruntled members to show respect for Farber and Armitage. Urging everyone to first watch, and register the pivotal themes and solemn subject matter, the administrator unwittingly stirred the pot in a fandom troubled by fears of internal policing amongst their ranks.
“You do realize that he took his shirt off approximately 101 times during the run of The Crucible, right?” wrote yet a third blogger, incredulous that the images of the “half-nekkid” actor should have been at the center of yet another fandom “dust-up”. Arguing that Richard Armitage not only knows exactly what he’s about, but appreciates occasional raunchy humor, including dick jokes, the blogger opined that Richard Armitage should be allowed to draw his own boundaries. A review of tweets from the actor himself seems to validate the blogger’s assertion. Not only dick jokes, but a flurry of scatological humor was discovered in a review of Armitage’s hashtags, which are widely accepted to have proceeded forth from the actor himself on many occasions, and have resulted in the actor’s followers topping 100,000.
When contacted to ask whether he intended to share scatological humor and dick jokes with his Chinese followers on Weibo, Richard Armitage declined to make any promises, but he did mutter that he didn’t understand how his foreskinned penis had anything to do with any of it. It is surmised that Armitage may have been referring to yet another blog post, whose author chimed in by implicating that the beleaguered anti-ogling faction was in fact akin to Judge Hathorne, the judge who presided over the Salem Witch trials, in their efforts to subdue the fandom’s reaction to the shirtless images of John Proctor. Yael Farber was also contacted for comment, and her representatives categorically denied any knowledge of Armitage’s foreskinned penis, but did confirm that Farber was aware of the actor’s actions while removing his shirt approximately 101 times during The Crucible run, and indicated that this would not hinder her decision to collaborate with Armitage in the future.