Life in the Fan Lane

Starting late yesterday afternoon, the Richard Armitage fandom was alight over tweets/deletes by Richard Armitage. Anecdotally speaking,  with a few exceptions, his original tweets (#MuslimBan) were well received. Aside from agreement with his position, fans also honed in on confirmation of his U.S. immigration status, which we assumed, but did not know for sure – at least I didn’t: Permanent Resident Alien, ( who recently stated that he was ready to leave).

And then he deleted the tweet and the extraordinary happened. Some hard core anti-delete fans who had captured and published his tweet as a screenshot, deleted the screens  shot. I deleted it. Why? Because whatever else I think about Armitage’s occasionally political messages and opinions, which he may later withdraw, and the impossibility of erasing them for good, this particular tweet included personal information that might have compromised him – admittedly, it’s a long shot – but who knows these days? There could have been other reasons why Armitage deleted a tweet which announced his immigration status and his feelings about it at that moment that have nothing to do with prudence over his future in these uncertain times. But I worried that it was because he thought better of drawing attention to himself, his status and his opinion. I won’t get into whether this furthered his desire for fearlessness.

Starting late yesterday afternoon, this fandom engaged in practices that it has many times – we were more or less live tweeting, blogging, commenting, on immediate fandom current events. Tweet/delete. But this time, there was a difference in that our fanning was a reaction both to insular fandom stuff – @RCArmitage Tweet/delete syndrome  and a constitutional  /humanitarian, legal crisis in the United States that reverberatied world-wide. That would be Donald Trunp’s #MuslimBan Executive Order.

I can think of only one other time when the real time events within the fandom so overlapped with world events It was another time when Richard Armitage commented on an immediate happening, and that was the Orlando shooting. That time, he tweet deleted two or three times, never quite getting it right. It caused a fandom sh-it storm.

Not so much this time. For one,  Armitage’s comments on the Orlando massacre were his reaction to something horrible that happened – but it was over. We were all left to consider the implications, horror and senselessness of the act, to mourn, to protest – but it was over. We were left with an aftermath, including the aftermath of mulling over Richard Armitage’s motivations for his tweets and deletes; his affirmative actions and his  final failure to act.

This time the “horrible something that happened” will continue to happen, is still happening, and will happen in other forms. Other, different rights will be under siege.  Americans will be ashamed about some other action or inaction taken by the president or his designees. . It’ll all be part of the same problem.

And that’s how yesterday was different, even from the Orlando tweet/delete fiasco, which was when the fandom was communicating in real time about Richard Armitage in the context of immediate current events. That’s why our guy received less flack from the usual corners about his deletions. This time, it was sort of personal, and even those of us who have a very broad view of what is personal for an actor/tweep, I think felt, we ought to respect his position.

Starting late yesterday afternoon, I thought about the fandom and it’s reaction and I continued to think about it throughout the night and today.

Here is a scenario  that would be far-fetched if there were normalcy: Some British actor ticks off Donald Trump with criticism. Donald Trump decides that too many acting jobs that could/should go to Americans are going to Brits instead. Selectively, he chooses a few such Brits and starts putting obstacles in their immigration path, i.e. problems with visa approvals, restricting the rights of green card holders, things like that. ( This was before I read that Homeland Security raised the ban on green card holders from the 7 #MuslimBan countries, but this is a different scenario anyway.) Trump,craftily decides not to go for very A-list – no Cumberbatch, Dench, Mirren or Hiddelston (  certainly not McKellen)  but rather, he focuses on some B-listers with just enough notoriety and fame, but not too much. Among them – one British actor who criticized him, and if one looks further back, made fun of him, Richard Armitage. Denied a visa, or found in violation of his status or whatever.

Would that action get more or less press and buzz on social media than the coverage of Asghar Farhadi, the Academy Award nominated Muslim/Iranian director who can’t come to the Oscars this year on account of the Muslim Ban?.

I don’t know.  Iranian, Asghar Farhadi + Oscar nod + #MuslimBan + Hollywood outrage – but unknown to virtually all Americans vs. Richard Armitage, Brit, not as unknown + maybe a little Hollywood outrage, but with an additional weapon or champion – the fandom that’s broken the internet time and again, or so we say. The Richard Armitage fandom.  Some call it The Armitage Army,

It wouldn’t go away quietly.

Far fetched? Yes, I would think.

And then today, this also happened. I’ve mentioned that in my community here in Mexico, we have an annual Jewish Film Festival. I mentioned it here, but never posted this for some reason. I know I mentioned last year’s festival someplace, because I worked on the selection committee, but I can’t find the post. This year, I did some other work for the general committee.


Top of this year’s JewishFilm Festival Poster/BillBoard

Today was a showing of a film I’d seen before, but not for ages. Today we saw Judgment at Nuremberg.

Starting late yesterday afternoon,  the ACLU and other groups ( let’s not forget the other groups, who also champion immigration and other civil rights ) got right to work – hitting the courts around the country in short order for immediate relief. Other lawyers converged on airports, sat on the floor, tweeted their activities and rushed to the aid of refugee and other immigrant detainees in airports across the country – and kept the world apprised with tweets and other social media means. Thousands of citizens made their way to airports and other venues to protest. Social media was on fire. World leaders spoke out.

And when the cases went to the courts, it looks like straight down the line, the judiciary involved made the right, the legal, the constitutional call. How their orders will hold up, whether there will be appeals ( it appears not, so far) and what other lawsuits might be brought to cover immigrants and travelers caught in limbo right now, remains to be seen.

I mention this because of Judgment at Nuremberg. The film is worth finding and seeing right now, today, tonight, tomorrow. The You Tube version below cuts off before the very end, so look for it elsewhere, though the end is not the relevant point here.

Judgment at Nuremberg is about the last war trials to take place in Germany after world War II. These defendants were four judges, one, a world wide particularly respected and renowned jurist and author dedicated to civil and constitutional rights and human freedoms. They were on trial for murder based on their sentencing of Jews and others, ordering sterilization, imprisonment, internment, all presumably under German law, sometimes, not exactly.

The film is incredibly acted, especially by Maximilian Schell, Spencer Tracy and Montgomery Clift, among a cast of other notables. It raises legal and moral questions with respect to these defendants that are still arguable today. What hit me today were the descriptions by witnesses about how Germany changed under the Third Reich – why Hitler was first embraced – in other words – what resonated with me today was everything to do with the beginning of the fascism, its blossoming, Hitler’s ultimate power, and how it was allowed to happen by reasonable, law abiding, even constitutional loving, intelligent people.

The testimony of a former judge who resigned rather than be part of the lunacy ( around 00:34:oo, but especially at about 00:43:00 hit home hard. After testifying as to the rise of Hitler, the changes in the judiciary, including his knowledge or belief of what the defendants were doing, and his decision to resign rather than participate, Judge Weick was cross-examined,

[Judge Weick admits he took the Civil Service Loyalty Oath of 1938, which pledged loyalty to Hitler, the Reich, the German people and his country, as well as its laws. Judge Weick took the oath at least a year before he resigned because “everybody did”]

The  German Defense counsel, in response  and enraged by  the admission that Weick took the oath:

But you are such a perceptive man, you could see what was coming, you could see that National Socialism was leading Germany to disaster.  It was clear to anyone “who had eyes and ears,”[quoting Weick’s earlier testimony] didn’t you realize what it would have meant if you and men like you would have refused to swear to the oath? It would have meant that Hitler could never have come to absolute power.

In other words, if the judiciary and others at higher levels had protested, resisted, it wouldn’t have happened.

As others have said, we have to pick and choose our causes, where we will aim our resistance, in the face of Donald Trump and his tight knit circle. We have to pick and choose what actions to resist when it comes to the  federal legislature, which cannot be allowed to move forward with its ultra conservative agenda, unbridled.

I’m choosing the constitutional protections for freedom of the press, religion and association. I’m choosing the first amendment first, – I’m choosing TRUTH first – that’s my major – with a minor in the fifth amendment (Due Process) and electives in lots of other issues, including  protection of fundamental rights and adherence to ethical standards. That takes a lot in. It leaves a lot out, for others.

That’s where I stand.

Below is the You Tube Version of Judgment of Nuremberg that cuts off after the sentences are issued ( you miss one good scene between Spencer Tracy, the American Chief Judge, and Burt Lancaster, the former German Chief Judge, the Defendant – but I think this scene is in the trailer.

Also below is a link to a more recent, miniseries version, which I’ve never seen.

Finally, there are many legal rights, legal services organizations if you want to donate – right now, here’s a link to the ACLU site. Here are some other legal organizations  protecting immigrants, that can use some donations: International Refugee Assistance Project Urban Justice Center , National Immigration Law Center, and also consider  organizations devoted to maintaining and protecting a free press and journalists. More names to come.


I know this is a long, and sometimes rambling post, but here’s one more link for you to check out. This affects me directly.

24 thoughts on “Life in the Fan Lane

  1. I love that film, too, esp Maximilian Schell (and oddly, William Shatner is in it). Werner Klemperer is in it, too, himself a refugee from the Nazis, which was a huge scandal at the time because of his father’s fame, but which I think may longer be widely known (so was Dietrich, of course, and people remember that).

    You may know this, and I apologize if I’m running through an open door here. The question of the judiciary is perhaps more relevant to the question of the beginning of the Nazi governmental phase in Germany than is immediately obvious. The German judiciary was traditionally a very conservative crowd (unsurprisingly, given its social origins — it tended to be people who had profited through the general expansion of the German state and the sort of benefits created by systems of law and the educational meritocracy) but / and also very dedicated to its notions of legality and the obligations of being civil servants. The 20s in Germany were violent, chaotic, and economically uncertain; many sitting judges at the time never considered the Weimar Republic a legitimate government and they were happy to render decisions that were unfriendly to left defendants and lenient to conservatives. The problem became so severe that the Parliament demanded the end of judicial independence / authority. When Hitler came to power, he promised to restore this, and in general conservative segments of German society felt that either (a) the NS party was more akin to their own political conservatism, even if not necessarily to their social values; or (b) it was better than the alternative left or even the center — the latter choice was devastating; or (c) the NS party would restore order. So although there were exceptions, resignations, etc., the German judiciary largely jumped into bed with the NS party in return for the restoration of its traditional cultural and legal authority. Of course, as the 30s dragged on many of them realized that the Nazis were not conservative but radical and that they were asked to rubber stamp increasingly horrid and draconian decisions (even more so because the elimination of most jury trials in the 1920s meant that jurists made decisions with each other but without significant challenges either from outside or within their own ranks). But by then it was too late for many of them.

    There’s an interesting memoir that touches on some of this: Sebastian Haffner, Defying Hitler.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t know most of that. A bit of it came up in the film, but I think it passed me by ( makes more sense now, with this knowledge). I don’t think we are in the same position because I don’t think the U.S. is in the same position as Germany was at the time of the rise. I have to digest – I would assume, based on the apparent ages of the defendants and their exalted positions, that they were in the legal system, if not already in the judiciary, for at least some time before the mid thirties, however and by whatever merits or not, they got there. But you raise another interesting historical connection – that the perceived lack of choice made reasonable citizens choose a side that turned out to be more radical than they first believed.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That was the military’s rationale for backing Hitler as well. Duty, confusing National Socialism with traditional German conservatism (and to some extent the belief that implication in the system would tame him — another thing we heard a lot this fall, “he’ll change once he’s in office).

        re: whether we’re in the same situation — I would have said “no” until about July or so. What I always said to people who made that comparison was that at moments of crisis the US voting system moves to the center, hence the focus on the “swing voter” in campaigning; this was in contrast to the Weimar voting system in which the Center was progressively destroyed by Left and Right. I would argue that is one interpretation of what happened in this election — that over the course of the Obama years, the Tea Party destroyed the position of movement conservatives, so that the spectrum of conservatism within the field of candidates this time around very quickly narrowed to the most conservative candidates possible (in the end it was Cruz and Kasich, who were the most conservative of the field). Then, on the other side, you had a meaningful challenge from the Left, in Sanders, who succeeded in convincing many left voters that Clinton (the center-Left) was actually worse than voting GOP. Essentially the extremes destroyed the center, and in that situation (as in Germany in the 30s) there were ultimately numerically more voters who chose Right over Left. (The wrinkle here is voter participation — Weimar Germany had extremely high participation rates, whereas in the US we have historically low rates).

        So while there are lots of other things that don’t fit, the whole voting pattern has become remarkably similar.


      • Excellent speculation on the thought process behind the deletion in this case, going deep into possible personal consequences.


      • I’ve been watching the classic ST episodes again and thinking, yeah, he’s often hammy, but it would have worked better on a stage. He’d started his career on the stage and it kind of makes sense in that light.


  2. From a novices standpoint and not Jewish, as well as from reactions like yours and some other, I have to conclude that the Jews stand to loose vastly from Trump’s victory. One have to wonder why they were so up in arms right from the start, focusing their campaign on him as a person to keep people from taking note of his policies, which obviously they knew would restrict their position especially in business I suppose. Anyway, I won’t rely on actors’ opinions. We all know they’re usually idealistic and not very realistic, and would make the worst of politicians.


    • It’s difficult to say precisely how Jews, as opposed to other groups, are at risk with Trump. He has some on his side, and that’s because of his right wing support of Israel right now. There are, for some Jews, only one issue that matters, and that is the candidate’s stand on Israel.


  3. Si dans les pays GB, USA les dés sont jetés, ici en Europe nous sommes encore en campagne électorale. Les enjeux sont énormes, les résultats incertains, les statistiques non sures, les scandales à craindre. Les spectres du Brexit et de Donald Trump sont à l’horizon, pour certains comme modèles à suivre, pour d’autres comme repoussoirs à éviter. Les médias nous abreuvent de documentaires, de films historiques, commémoratifs des excès des régimes extrémistes: – fuite des réfugiés (boat people en Asie, en méditerranée, camps de réfugiés aux frontières au Moyen-Orient ou en Afrique, juifs fuyant les nazis…) ou – libération des camps de concentration et d’extermination par les alliés, …). L’ambiance est lourde, on frôle la saturation, la manipulation intellectuelle.
    Heureusement, pour l’instant les émissions et les débats politiques sont souvent de très grande qualité, pas de politique spectacle de type Hollywood.
    Par contre ici, la liberté de parole existe encore. La peur d’afficher ses opinions est juste celle de craindre de contrarier son interlocuteur, pas celle de craindre d’éventuelles futures représailles. Les scientifiques aux USA entrent en résistance. Ils protègent leurs données dans des sites fermés, ils développent des alternatives de communications par l’intermédiaire de médias non officiels. Ils craignent l’arrêt de financement des recherches contrariantes pour le nouveau gouvernement (climat, pollution, protection de la nature, santé,…). Ils marquent leur opposition en prévoyant des manifestations, des articles humoristiques,… Ce n’est pas de l’activisme, mais l’instinct de survie en milieu hostile.
    J’espère que nous n’en arriverons pas là. Il faut offrir de l’espoir à nos enfants.


  4. Great post! I haven’t seen the “Judgement at Nuremburg” film in a very long time. The film is excellent as I recall. And once again in our lives, we can see chilling parallels between history then and developing history now.

    And as I had said elsewhere previously, we (U.S. citizens) have to hope *and* advocate that our nation’s “checks and balances”–created as a way to diminish and to disempower any one person’s or organization’s power and influence from corrupting our core values of freedom, decency, ethics, and fairness, etc.–through institutions, the constitution, and carefully crafted laws, that will stem the tide of facism and discrimination (in this case) to prevent history from repeating itself. And this weekend we saw those “checks and balances” work with the new administration’s ban on Muslims from certain countries!

    It is clear that these “checks and balances” will need to keep working for the foreseeable future–with the current U.S. administration ignoring their failure this past weekend, and them trying to co-opt the condemnation and then reversal outcomes as “par for the course”, hinting that this was only “round one”.

    And that *need* makes me slightly wishing for a more British approach to political party *tenure status*. When the Prime Minister of England and his party cannot get approval nor support for their *initiatives*, they resign and the opposition party forms a new government. In the U.S., we have to wait four long years to the next election for change in leadership–unless, of course, the political part currently in power “grows a pair” and impeaches him.


  5. You can watch 1960’s movie: “Inherit the Wind” , with Spencer Tracy as Henry Drummond TOO.
    This reminds me that in a scientific journal I saw a humorous drawing, where Donald trump signed as the first decree: “the earth is flat with square corners”


  6. Great post! That is a film I haven’t seen–must correct the omission. To me the scariest part is the large numbers of people who don’t grasp the threat Trump represents. Not only from his incompetence and lack of stability, but all too clearly now from his dictator-like propensities.
    As for Richard, I am sympathetic to his deletions. I think it’s understandable that he feels the urge to speak his mind, but he does not necessarily want it to be out there in perpetuity. I think it would be interesting if Twitter had an option for “temporary” tweets, ones that can disappear in a day or a week. Of course people would still do screenshots–there is no true deletion of a tweet. But it’s different from something that’s searchable in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is almost 2 years after the fact but I just wanted to add a side note on your A-List commentary on Dench, Mirren, Cumberbatch and Hiddleston. I think Hiddlesty would be immensely flattered that you thought of him as A-list (Go Loki! as my niece would say) Cumberbatch is an enigma to me. Maybe Clooney as A Lister b/c he directs and produces now and has an Oscar or two. Just my two cents. The WW2 discussion is hard for me b/c my mom went thru pre, during and post Hitler Germany and her stories to us are hard breaking to listen to.

    The post you wrote is excellent on many different levels.


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