Caught in Richard’s Web – Spider Not Required

Sunday Times 2006, Promo for “The Impressionists.” Image from RichardArmitageNet.Com

This post, begun at 7:30 a.m. , was  supposed to be completed by 10, after which I was going to begin my Real Life job. The post subject was Guy of Gisborne, and I started out by foraging for photos.

Before I knew it, it was noon, I had made way from R.A.Net.Com through a lot of  Pinterest and on to Tumblr. Thirty  days ago I’d never heard of two of those sites.

The odd thing was, I wasn’t the least bit guilty or anxious that I had let the morning fly by, that my post wasn’t written or that I hadn’t earned a dime. I felt good. Really good.  There was a lightness.  And why not? I’d spent the whole morning smiling and sighing.

Mr. Thornton Surveys His Realm, Courtesy of R.A.Net.com

Mr. Thornton Surveys His Realm, Courtesy of R.A.Net.com

I realized that for a number of weeks now, I’d been spending quite a bit of time   gazing at photos of Mr. Armitage. I’d given up Spider Solitaire, my substitute cigarette break for the last five and half years, and instead, I spent my “break-time” in the company of the actor. There are over 1,000 images of Richard Armitage on the web, and each and every one has something to delight.

Courtesy of RANet.Com

Courtesy of RANet.Com

I was mystified by the pleasure I was experiencing since, so far,  no fantasy takes place when I look at these photos. No fantasy that included me,  at any rate. Sometimes I imagine Marian taking it one step further and tracing a fingernail down his chest when she comes upon Guy, shirtless, in his candlelit bedroom, or I picture him giving in to his primal desires, he being shaken and stirred – he leans in …

Go For It (Courtesy of R.A.Central.UK.Com)

For me, looking at photos of Richard Armitage feels like – pleasure – pure, aesthetic pleasure. I’m looking at something beautiful and it moves me. Not so strange considering our ocularcentric culture – where the visual is pre-eminent. Yet, intuitively I knew there was more to it. I went back this afternoon and looked at more pictures. I selected a few of my favorites.  I have maybe 50 favorites, depending on what I’m looking for- the photos when he’s in character bring to mind the character, and it’s as though I’m watching him act. As it is, I frequently stop and go when I watch him act. I love the beauty shots in the fashion shoots and more sophisticated work, Ascroft, Glamour, Project.

Glamour 2011, Courtesy of RichardArmitageNet.Com

Glamour 2011, Courtesy of RichardArmitageNet.Com

I love the candids best of all, since they’re the most like viewing the real man.
I concentrated on what I was feeling, what was happening. First of all, again, I was smiling throughout the exercise. I felt a little spacey when viewing certain favorite shots. I thought my heart rate might be elevated. By and large though, there was not heat.
If I had to guess, I would have said that my brain was releasing endorphins.

Courtesy  of MeandRichard.Wordpress.com

Courtesy of MeandRichard.Wordpress.com

It turns out- I was right. Studies of people looking at beautiful art showed that blood flow to the medial orbitofrontal cortex, the part of the brain associated with pleasure and desire, increased by ten percent— a reaction similar to falling in love. Both experiences trigger the feel-good chemical dopamine.  I see no distinction between looking at visual images someone else thinks are beautiful and images that I think are beautiful, like photos.

Psychiatry has recognized that pleasure is derived from looking at the human form, albeit it’s given the activity a relatively negative connotation. Scoptophilia, a psychiatry term from the Greek, or “love of looking,” is deriving pleasure from looking. It’s the “intermittent desire of gazing at.” Most definitions classify it as a sort of voyeurism, but I’ll credit Wiki here and conclude it need not always have a sexual element.

Photo by Robert Ascroft, Courtesy if RichardArmitageNet.Com

Photo by Robert Ascroft, Courtesy if RichardArmitageNet.Com

Gazing at Richard Armitage is less fattening than chocolate, healthier than Lexapro, easier than pilates and less expensive than therapy. I’m hooked.

Next up- just what can listening to his voice do for me?

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67 thoughts on “Caught in Richard’s Web – Spider Not Required

  1. OH, it’s happened to me far more often than some might imagine. Then again, with thousands of photo edits and close to 150 fanvids, maybe not so hard to imagine. Richard Armitage does a body and a psyche good.

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  2. Ah, yes. The VOICE! Exposure to RA – ocular, audible, whatever is a pleasure. There is nothing about him that isn’t pleasurable to me. However, I think it has a lot to do about sex. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t view RA in the same way I view other “beautiful” images. Yup.

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  3. That’s interesting. I have the same reaction to RA, but I’m not entirely sure why it’s just him and nobody else — no other handsome man — who inspires the same reaction. I like plenty of other guys, but it’s different with him.

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    • Yes. Inexplicable. Maybe it’s because we have an investment in the fandom. But I don’t know. I saw some photos of Hugh Jackman in similar poses and clothes to Armitage, and he was handsome, built, close in age. But not much of a reaction.

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    • Me too…plenty of other handsome actors out there, both pretty boy and interesting face handsome. Not one of them has ever had the same effect on me. Though David Tennant came the closest when I discovered Dr Who in reruns a couple of years ago. Have never read blogs, watched videos, or searched for photos like this.

      I saw The Hobbit in Dec and was somewhat puzzled at my attraction to Thorin. I mean, long hair is NOT my thing, wasn’t really partial to beards either. of course, there was that Voice…

      A month later I randomly chose North and South on Netflix. Mystery solved, then understood exactly why I was attracted to Thorin, lol…

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  4. It a physical reaction for me. I can look at other handsome men and think, very nice. Then go on about my business. RA actually causes a physical reaction. It doesn’t matter whether he’s in character, posed, or candid. Sometimes it’s a pain in my gut, sometimes it’s hard to breathe. It’s almost like that first time you realize you are in love for the first time. I would be interested to see what my own reaction would be to see him live if this is the reaction I get from film and still photography. Would I have a seizure? (I have MS so, yes I do have seizures) but would his physical presence induce a seizure or heart attack #5?

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  5. Last Christmas I asked my family for an iPad- it was the first time I’d had a computer device just for me; no more sharing the family desktop. This coincided roughly with my sudden elevated interest in RA, and it felt like the most wonderful freedom- the ability to take myself off to a quiet spot and lose myself in blog reading, fanfic indulging and photo immersing.
    Never before had I felt a need to save images I’d found on the internet, yet here I was suddenly clicking away, putting together an (ever increasing) album of favourite RA photos. It gives me such a ridiculous amount of pleasure to press ‘slideshow’ and sit back to enjoy the stream of beautiful images.

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  6. How many times have I been told to go to a happy place like say the beach they will say. I don’t swim so the beach not always a happy place. Pictures of Richard are always a happy place and that is what I bring up for my happy place. Just did it again today. So many great ones to think of too.

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  7. “Yes” to this post; “yes” to these comments; “yes, yes yes!” to all of the above and to losing massive amounts of happy time gazing blissfully at The Armitage. I quite consciously use his image and his voice (the poetry is best) to help me reduce stress when the Urge To Hide Under My Desk is strong. :}

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  8. Perry- for some reason I couldn’t post this in the thread we had going before. I understand your ambivalence to RPF, as I felt that way for some time. I guess I see these stories as portraying fantasy versions of people who actually exist. What I really appreciate in the well written ones is the attention to detail- little snippets of info that show a certain knowledge of the people involved, woven in in a credible way. St Germaine has certainly written far less tame stories than the one I recommended!

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  9. You’re hitting it right on the head, Perry. I find looking at those lovely RA shots to be the best kind of voyeurism there is. It’s free, it’s easy, you don’t really have to hide yourself to do it, you are not hurting anyone, and it gives you lots of pleasure. Pictures of RA simply make me smile. They punch me in the guts, in a good way, take my breath away and somehow reaffirm life and all that is good in life. Yes, some of it is about the outward beauty of the subject – easy on the eye is an understatement. But mainly it is about the imagination that gets fuelled by looking at him, setting free creativity. Fabulous. Thanks!

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  10. Great post. I know exactly what you mean. When I first discovered RA through North and South I spent hours each day collecting photos of him. It has been a year and a half since and I still do not get tired of looking at them. Especially if they are of him as Lucas North, Thorin or Harry Kennedy. RA as John Thornton was a big one for me for a long time, but not so much anymore. Certain photos of him at Comic Con 2012 also mesmerize me. Just recently discovered the handsomeness of Hugh Jackman, but that lasted about a month…LOL I am still going strong for RA. 🙂

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    • Oh- I’m glad to hear we didn’t lose you. I visit your site regularly and saw the defection to Hugh Jackman. He is lovely and I like him, but for some reason, it doesn’t go beyond that. I have you to thank that I was one of the very last to successfully order “Staged” on the Monday it was shipped.

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  11. Next up – his voice….
    My, oh my – his voice can DO things to you. Give it a try with The Lords of the North (if you haven’t already). His voices will hit directly into your limbic system. Astonishing happening.

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    • I think his voice really helps set him apart. I have all the audiobooks except LOTN. I’ll get to it- I just wish it were downloadable so I could listen on my mp3 player instead of my computer.

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  12. Hi Perry! Very handsome blog 🙂
    For me those were Mr.Thornton eyes and voice, followed by a number of alarming discoveries regarding “the real” Richard Armitage 😉

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    • “For me those were Mr.Thornton eyes and voice, followed by a number of alarming discoveries regarding “the real” Richard Armitage ;)”

      I agree, the characters may catch my eye, but it is snippets that we glimpse of “the real” Richard Armitage from interviews, red carpet footage, fan encounters etc. that really intrigues. And of course, he simply is a beautiful man, hopefully inside as well as out. Not perfect, flawed like the rest of us but beautiful still.

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  13. Yes, spent many an hour downloading images of RA for my screensaver. I won’t even mention how much time I’ve spent on Youtube watching the fanvids. God knows what I could have accomplished in my life with all that time. But he’s been completely worth it given the pleasure I’ve experienced these past six years.

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  14. Finally, my not substantial comment: i`ve known RA for some years now, watched whatever I could get on German TV (the dubbing is sometimes catastrophical), cried a lot as LN died, and bought a lot of DVD´s, but when I saw Thorin´s eyes staring at me (yes, he was staring straight at me 🙂 on the big screen, it was all done. What madness, have so many pics on my notebook, when I first watched the HiRes pics from Robert Ascroft in a slideshow on my TV I really blushed because of thinking “RA is staring right at you and how do you (myself) look like?” …

    This morning, I went to the local photoshop and blushed again when they printed some HiRes photos… (first time ever), and I couldn´t take the pics out of the envelope without blushing more and more. I still wonder, why is he not known in common here in Germany, maybe it´s a gift…

    But you´ve expressed what I´m feeling, if this is madness or insanity or another everlasting desease, I´d never want to be cured from it.

    So, many many thanks to you for your post… I wonder if I can bear to watch the HiRes pics again…

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      • You can find all the pictures on “richardarmitagenetcom”. I don´t have a smart TV, but I can stick my USB-stick in it (oh, my goodness, my English is so bad), don´t think about stick it in it (blushing). That´s good for photos , and my notebook has intel WiDi, so I can watch everything on the “big” screen (my TV) via funk (all yt stuff and vids etc)

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        • Ute–Never be embarrassed by your use of our language. We are terrible at it and we grow up with it. You speak more languages than most of us if you only speak your native tongue and English anyway. xoxoxox

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          • Thanks, arkenstone… I must confess I´m really anglophile, but only depending to the British culture and history. We were tought the “Oxford- English” at school or maybe what our teacher thought it was. I also learned a lot of French and for business and private use some Swedish. But I still love the typical British accent (what is it, a clichee perhaps), that you find in all the BBC period dramas – this leads us still to Mr. Thornton. No, can´t bear to look at the screencaps on my TV (I`ll blush over and over again).

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  15. Pingback: ABSTRACT ON THE INCREASE OF DANGEROUS ARMITAGE MODES IN THE FANDOM POPULATION | Armitage Agonistes

  16. This post is wonderful. Thanks for reposting. It so describes me since the end of February 2014 when I discovered the Armitage <3. Also thanks for all the included links.

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  17. Perry: Thanks for re-posting. This is fab and describes me perfectly. Two years in, I’m still shaking my head at myself wondering, “Why him? Why me? Why now?” I keep hoping one of you erudite bloggers will figure it out (for yourselves and, by extension, for me.) Every now and then I look at a picture and think, “He’s actually not that remarkable looking…” which is immediately followed by “but he’s SO GORGEOUS!!!” It’s the whole package, not just the pictures, of course, but in the meantime…I’ll keep looking at the pictures, thank you. Call me: #stillbesotted.

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  18. so interesting to read that looking at Richard actually activates all the ‘in love’ responses. Now I know why I lost a stone in weight without trying.. because I’d actually ‘fallen in love’ with the man! Couldn’t eat, sleep and felt constantly excited, inspired to draw and write about his characters – wow! No one ever did that to me before!

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