About Representing and Lessons Learned…

Let's talk seriously for a moment...

Let’s talk seriously for a moment… Photo: Robert Ascroft

Troops, let’s talk seriously for a moment.

I feel the need to comment on our responsibilities as members of the RArmy, and the gift of virtual access that we have been given by the “Urban and the Shed Crew” producers.

I am privileged to be the admin of a FB page that has the most wonderful, generous, remarkable people as members that I have ever encountered. While we may tease each other (and RA), usually the person we laugh at the most is ourselves. And there is a lot of laughter and fun on our page. No discourtesy, much less viciousness. Everyone seems to enjoy everyone else’s comments, point of view and, of course, RA. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we all indulge in a little of Alice Roosevelt Longworth’s “If you can’t say something nice, come sit next to me” attitude. But even then, the comments are based on humor, not spite. All in all, I can’t imagine any of the RA US members being unkind or disrespectful to each other, much less a stranger.

Yet some of the RArmy are being unkind to a stranger – in the form of the “Urban and the Shed Crew” project – that is just making our acquaintance.  We’re see far too many RArmy members being disrespectful to an entire production. I find this amazing and, frankly, appalling.

The people behind RA’s latest project are generously reaching out to us – fans of RA, fans of the book, fans of Bernie Hare and all the kids in the crew, fans of the other actors (yes, there are others in this film with followings) – every day. I use the word “generously” advisedly. I’m sure we remember the lack of similar communication from another recent RA film project.  But with “Urban and the Shed Crew,” we see regular tweets, and – so far – daily updates of the the Facebook page, usually with a photo.

All of these posts, tweets, photos – all of the information we’re seeing about this project – are gifts, not rights.  We didn’t earn this. We aren’t owed this. The people behind “Urban” could just as easily think of us as more trouble than we’re worth as a potential audience worth cultivating.  Because in the end, no matter how they treat us, we’ll go see their film.

So before we make another insolent comment or insulting post, please, let’s think twice. Not to be prosaic, but please be nice.  We’re representing RA as much as we are ourselves. And, to put it on a more pragmatic level, now the “Urban and the Shed Crew” producers are still choosing to include us in their project. Let’s not make them think twice.

Now, what is essentially an incident from Internet ancient history – i.e. yesterday:

Yesterday the RA Universe exploded with a snapshot from the “Urban” set of <correction> Fraser Kelly (Urban) and two older boys mugging for the camera; it was a cute photo. In the background – way, way back in the background – who could we spot? Waldo!  That is to say: RA. Within minutes of being posted, it was all over Facebook and Tumblr.  I’m not trying to sound or be sanctimonious – because I succumbed in the end – but I had a bad feeling about it. First, it featured a child; it is a movie about children, but still, child actors have specific rights. Second, it appeared to be someone’s personal Instagram page. In the end, I was also greedy for new content. Although I did ask the owner for permission to use it, I didn’t wait for the owner’s okay. I was impatient. After a couple of hours, I took the word of the original poster that it was public and then posted it.

Big mistake. What’s worse is that I knew it.

A fan site and blog have to have some boundaries and ethical standards. I have a journalism background and I try to run my sites using certain specific editorial integrity guidelines. But this time, I ignored not only my training, but also my instincts.

Big mistake.

So, what are the lessons?

  1. We cannot just purloin photos for our pages/blogs without the owners’ permission, particularly if the appear to be or are on an individual’s personal FB, Twitter or Instagram account (as has been the case before with RA content, and was in this the latest case).  And,
  2. Once the owner asks for the content to be removed, it must be removed immediately! No prevarications, no rationalizations. It has to come down. Further, if you are the fan site contacted, it is your responsibility to let others know of this request and urge them to comply.

RA is not the only private individual in the RA Universe. And if it’s one thing we can and should respect it’s privacy. In light of all RA gives us through his public appearances, or how generous a production may or may not be, he and his colleagues deserve our respect for their privacy!

What happened? The owner contacted me – I had left that information when I requested permission – told me that I did not have her permission, and asked that I take down. I did, and spread the word. The top admins immediately removed it. With others, there were some discussions about its public vs. private nature. In the end, I hope the RA Universe proves itself, and the photo disappears from every public site.  

As for me? I won’t make that mistake again. Any photos or content that have any appearance of personal or private nature will require the owners’ explicit permission to post. That will mean that here, our FB page, Tumblr and Twitter accounts will not have content you may see elsewhere.  I am not about to go through this kind of “photos used without the family/owner’s permission” situation again (especially when, in my heart and mind, I know better).

Personally, I hope this – and the previous situation – would be a lesson to all of us.

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Thanks to Emily’s Quotes for the image!

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About Richard Armitage US

Richard Armitage US is a respectful US-based blog with a sense of humor and POV, and is designed for fans of British-born actor Richard Crispin Armitage, star of – among other productions – North & South, The Vicar of Dibley Wedding Special, Robin Hood, SPOOKS (MI-5 in the US), Chris Ryan’s Strike Back. He also starred as Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit trilogy, and was nominated for an Olivier Award for his work as John Proctor in Yael Farber's production of The Crucible at the Old Vic. Upcoming films include Urban and the Shed Crew, Sleepwalker, Pilgrimage, being released in the US in August (2017) and Brain on Fire, based on Susannah Cahalan's memoir. He recently completed his arc on the NBC series Hannibal as Francis Dolarhyde, also known as "The Red Dragon" and the first season of the EPIX series "Berlin Station." He is currently in Europe shooting S2, which premieres October 15 in the States. Next, "My Zoe" with Julie Delpy directing and co-starring Delpy and Daniel Brühl. Although this page is US-based, we encourage RA’s fans from across the globe to enlist in the RArmy, and join us here, on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter!

21 responses to “About Representing and Lessons Learned…”

  1. Tamara says :

    I have yet to understand why people are so upset because there isn’t a constant barrage of photos of RA from the set. They are making a MOVIE. It isn’t a Richard Armitage photo shoot. Yes, I would like to see more pics, but the anticipation makes everything sweeter. The filmmakers have been more than accommodating, IMHO. Thank you for taking the high road in all this drama. Hopefully it’s over and we can concentrate on His Royal Hotness!

  2. saraobsessed says :

    I’m sure many people were excited to see Richard as “Chop” and just did not think about anyone else in the photo. I assumed it was an actor over 13 playing younger. The issue becomes serious because of compliance with COPPA, which was amended last July. A photograph or video image is considered personal information, and parental consent must be obtained before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children under 13. There is up to a $16000 civil penalty per violation. (http://www.business.ftc.gov/documents/0493-Complying-with-COPPA-Frequently-Asked-Questions#General Audience)
    Basically, if it’s not the parents posting the photo, don’t let it past your gate. Protect kids (celebrity or others) from the paparazzi. #NoKidsPolicy (I am not a lawyer, nor is this meant to be legal advice. Just bringing awareness to the issue.)

    • Richard Armitage US says :

      Thank you for that information, Sara. I was aware of using images of children – in general… and again, I knew better – but not of COPPA specifically; that is incredibly useful to know. Do you think it’s safe to assume – as we all have – that the images on the “Urban” FB page are for public use? It seems obvious that they would be, doesn’t it? But as my first editor told me “Never assume anything: it makes an ass out of you and me.” (Those were words to live by as a journalist… and now, I will have to remember, as a blogger as well.

  3. PreferNot2 says :

    The use we make of the images found in internet is always a delicate issue, and you have summarised it brilliantly. Although I don’t define myself (yet) as an army member, I’ve been gladly surprised by the respect all of you show to Richard, something that he sincerely appreciates. Even though those kind of comments you mention are the exception, it’s something good to say out loud and clear that they must stop.

    As Tamara says, let’s concentrate ourselves. since I read this morning that BBC is preparing a new Hollow Crown series with, among other plays, Richard III, I can’t stop thinking what a gift would be seeing RCA playing Gloucester.

    • Richard Armitage US says :

      Thank you, future RArmy recruit PreferNot2. I am thrilled to hear this news about Richard III! My PBS station doesn’t air the Hollow Crown, so I’m waiting for S1 to come to Acorn or Netflix. My friends in other parts of the country rave about it.

      I recently re-read RIII, and worry that RCA – by his own admission – it too tall and too old to play him (ducks). But what a delight it would be! RA said in the recent Anglophile Channel interview that he can see himself as RIII on stage, which I would never be able to see, so I will await casting news with the traditional and cliched bated breath!

      • PreferNot2 says :

        Thank you for your kind reply. Well, Ian McKellen filmed a version of Richard III in 1995 when he was 56 so maybe he said that in a “propitiatory” way? (I mean when you say that something won’t happen hoping that it will happen) 😉

        As far as the stage experience is concerned, “never say never”. 😉

        • Richard Armitage US says :

          Touche! And Sir Ian was brilliant (well, of course he would be). And you’re right: RA is so terminally, endearingly self-deprecating that sometimes it’s difficult to tell what he’s really saying. (I mean, honestly, does he really believe that face isn’t suited to romantic roles? He has to be a realist about his strengths, all actors must.) While I think he’ll be terrific in just about anything, I confess I’d like to see him follow his “Urban” choice with something equally fresh and new and intimate. Or 007. 😉

  4. micra1 says :

    It wasn’t a small girl in the photo but the lead actor performing Urban: Fraser Kelly, officially introduced by Urban and the shed crew FB Page.

    • Richard Armitage US says :

      Christ. THAT is FRASER? Yes, it is. Well, in any case, its owner requested that it be removed. And that – I think – is the most important issue. (Besides my clear and embarrassing inability to recognize the gender of children.) Thanks for the correction.

      I’m curious: do you think that should invalidate the decision and policy?

      • micra1 says :

        My opinion is – without any polemic (I hate polemic) – is that the pic was posted by a PR of the movie, on her public twitter that states her PR figure for the movie itself. Linked to her public Instagram. That pic was public and no restrictions listed. This is the reason I think we had the “right” to post it. Of course, when she asked to remove it I did it immediately. The will of the owner of the photo is law. But once again, I find myself repeating my mantra: never put online what you don’t want to be seen. No privacy settings are secure. Simply don’t do it. We know you can’t stop the consequences.

        • morrighansmuse says :

          While I see the “right” you allude to in being able to post it because she happens to be PR for the film, the way it was “used” by the RA fan community made it inappropriate, and she had every right to request to have it removed by RA sites because the whole focus and intent of the picture lost its context (the child actors – it is called “Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew” not Chop and the Urban and the Shed Crew) to something that was, for the purpose of the picture, unrelated to its original goal.

          It brings back Jed Brophy’s tweet when someone asked him whether he hung around with Richard at all because they never saw pictures of him whenever Jed & company posted pics of their nights out during the pick ups last year. Jed responded that Richard was a private person and “we respect that as should all.”

          In a way, the way RA fans gushed about this picture because of him primarily was inconsiderate to the three child actors in the foreground. No one really cared about them at all; in fact, people even asked her to show Richard because even if they enlarged the pic, he was still small and blurry. It would make anyone who happens to be in the foreground of any photograph – it could be any one of us or our children, let’s say, seem inconsequential. How do you think RA would even feel knowing that his fans barely registered the three children and only saw him? It’s like you having a picture taken at a job that you’re really proud of, and in this case three child actors in their first movie where they are the stars, only to be completely upstaged by another actor, not on purpose by him himself, mind you (he’s minding his business in all the shots) – BUT by his fans. When they posted a picture of Bernard Hare, the writer, on FB, someone even asked bluntly, what about the fictional Bernard? Chopped liver, I guess…

          These kids are proud as heck to be in this movie – that was the intent of the photograph which for that reason showcased them in that shot – an intent that was instantly lost on RA’s fans the moment it was unleashed on the internet.

        • micra1 says :

          I agree with your analyses. Indeed I was only expressing my personal opinion about her posting the pic as public image and not about the use that was done of it. That’s the reason why I asked in many instances to RA fans to appropriately comment on Urban movie official pages. In my opinion (and mine only) some comments were far more offensive than the use of the pic.

        • Richard Armitage US says :

          Micra1, I was also shocked by the comments, when my attention was directed to them. Yes. RA fans have to realize that while he is one of the better-known actors cast, he is not the only participant. And the disrespect shown to the others breaks my heart. That is not who we are, the so-called Armitage Army. It’s a damn shame so many have been so vocal in such a negative way.

        • Richard Armitage US says :

          Yes. On all counts.

        • Richard Armitage US says :

          Micra1,

          This may be semantics – or you may be British – but to me PR means Public Relations, aka, a publicity staffer. My understanding is the the person who posted the photo was a PA, or Production Assistant, which is a totally different profession and function.

          I appreciate that you removed it when requested, and respect the owner’s rights. I expect she has learned a hard lesson from this, and will make such personal content more secure in the future.

          Thanks for your response as well. I enjoy a good dialogue.

        • micra1 says :

          She is both, PA and PR (and Social Media Manager!!)
          https://twitter.com/OliviaMeeLDN

          Thanks to you. As usual, please everybody forgive me if my English is not fluent: I am Italian 😉

        • Richard Armitage US says :

          Micra1,

          Your English is perfect. She’s a PA and in charge of their social media? Yes, then as much as I hate to sound as if I’m blaming her, she should have known better… rookie mistake. Thanks for the info!

        • micra1 says :

          That’s why I dare to express that opinion 😉
          Thanks to you.

        • morrighansmuse says :

          I think we’re still missing the point here (or at least the point that I see). Just because she may be the “social media manager” does not mean that she should have known better when she posted that picture.

          The picture, plain and simple, was taken out of context. While it was probably aimed at promoting the young actors of the film, people did not acknowledge that at all, and for that reason, anyone, especially the child actors themselves would have had the right to have that picture removed from sites that were not given the explicit permission to post it.

          The key here is “permission”. The picture can be viewed on the Instagram page and even on Twitter. Permission is definitely a courtesy and I commend people for asking her, but because it was not given, that alone should be respected without debate as to whether it was on a social media platform or not. It should really be that simple, but of course, it’s not.

          This is why social media is such a huge gray area when it comes not just to its legal aspects, but also its ethical and emotional ramifications, which unfortunately, if one only views it for its legalities, is just about nonexistent.

  5. Richard Armitage US says :

    morrighansmuse, I don’t disagree on the big issues at all. But there are privacy settings that can be implemented to make photos private. For someone who has been given the job of Social Media Manager, not doing that was careless, and was, as I said a rookie mistake.

    That said, there were kids in the picture and that ALONE required explicit permission from the owner, and assurances – even proof – that she/he had parental permission to post it publicly. If I had waited for her response, it would never have been posted on my page, and I would have told others that it is not a public photo.

    From now on – as she directed – I will look to the Urban FB page for the official photos; scrutinize any others carefully; and explicitly ask if the poster has parental permission if the younger cast is in the photo.

    • morrighansmuse says :

      If the reason she stated as to not granting permission for the sharing of the pictures having to do with the children’s ages, then yes, I am not arguing that. I don’t know whether she gave you the reason – I only know that she told you that she did grant you permission top post it on your pages.

      However, if no such reason was given by her, and IF all the children in that picture were actors for the film, then their guardians or parents should have already signed an actor/model release agreement which includes their knowledge, approval and release to the production company the use of their child’s image and likeness for publicity purposes – and depending on the wordage of the contract, this would have included social media. She would then not need parental consent to post the picture on Instagram or Twitter if this was done as part of the publicity of the film, and if those said pages are part of the production.

      But I am entering into this whole thing late, and am taking her side of the issue. I don’t know the full story of what really happened, only from reading your post above. My comments may be from an ignorant standpoint, but there are so many IF’s to this whole debacle that as long as it’s resulted in people taking a moment to consider ethical ramifications before sharing a picture that is not theirs even though it’s on social media, then it’s all good.

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