Richard Armitage ἠθοποιοφόρος

In classical sculpture, there’s a lot of “bearing” going on…

There’s the Doryphoros (Δορυφόρος)  – The Spear Bearer (the spear is lost)

More literally, we have the Moschophoros (Μοσχοφόρος) – The Calf Bearer

and the Kriophoros (Κριοφόρος) – The Ram Bearer

As it happens, Richard Armitage emerges as Ἠθοποιοφόρος (eeth-o-poi-o-four-os) – The Actress Bearer in numerous roles…

From Robin Hood S3 E9 we have Meg-phoros…

and Strikeback S1 E2:  Katie-phoros

Last, but certainly not least, there’s Hannibal S3 E11…Reba-phoros (in motion!)

Interestingly, in every instance I’ve seen, Armitage Ἠθοποιοφόρος is carrying the actress in question bridal style…arguably the hardest way to carry an adult human.  It’s fascinating to me that women being ported around is still such a romanticized element in contemporary performance – that it’s also referred to as princess style is plenty telling…the whole “sweep her off her feet” thing.  I’ve been tossing the notion around from a variety of perspectives for a few days.

Even considering the strength differential between genders, carrying an adult is not something most men I know undertake on a regular basis.  I was recently watching a standup routine in which comedian Bill Burr joked about this very topic.  In an extension of a bit about the impracticality of sex scenes in rom-com – you know the ones…where the impossibly handsome leading man sweeps the willowy leading lady off her feet, bearing her effortlessly to the bedroom where she practically floats out of his arms to lay on the conveniently turned down bed – Burr points out to the women in the audience…“You’re heavy!”  At a chorus of female gasps he says something like, “What?  When did you stop carrying your kids around?!”  He goes on to qualify by pointing out that even on the low side, the average adult woman weighs something over 100lbs (45kg) and more to the point, that this weight is not evenly distributed when carrying bridal style – “you don’t go to lift weights with 20 pounds on one side and 80 on the other.”

He’s got a point there…remembering back, I think I stopped carrying my kids around when they reached about 40-ish pounds.  Unless they rode piggyback or on my shoulders, they were just too heavy to lug around – I don’t want to carry the 40lb box of cat litter either, but at least that’s got a handle!  It’s clear that this operation is fairly impractical, yet it is quite common in dramatic performance. I assume dramatic performers learn ways and means to make it appear more effortless than it actually is.  I also assume that actresses don’t just hang there like a sack of potatoes, but actively assist in the carry.  Interested, I reached out to my in house drama advisor regarding actress cartage.

Showbiz Kid is 6’0″ tall 220 pounds and is regularly called upon to lift and carry his female colleagues around on stage.  He confirmed that some of the girls are much easier to lift and carry…even if they are heavier.  For instance Eliza, though very slim, “just schlups about like overcooked manicotti when anyone tries to lift her” while Lily, who outweighs Eliza by 40 or so pounds, “carries herself” and is much easier to lift and carry.   It’s probably worth noting that Eliza has had tap training – emphasis on connection to the floor, while Lily is schooled in ballet.  It’s not a very long leap to assume that if high school performers are schooled in lifting, so are professional actors.

If you watch the above gif again closely (*cough*) it looks to me as if Rutina Wesley is plenty involved in this lift…her feet touch the floor and it seems that she pushes off to kind of “jump” up at the same time as he’s lifting from below.  (I love the repetition of the gif…I wonder how many takes this scene needed- maybe that stomping out of the room wasn’t characterization as much as muscle fatigue?)

Practicality aside, I also wondered about why this is such a persistent image in dramatic performance.  In the images above, two depict Armitage Ἠθοποιοφόρος bearing a wounded character…a woman who could not carry herself from point A to point B…this is self explanatory.  Guy and Porter couldn’t just throw Meg, recently speared by a pike, or Katie with her severed hand, over the shoulder in a fireman carry and be on the way.

The scene from Hannibal where Dolarhyde sweeps Reba off the sofa is something else entirely. Here, there’s a clear fantasy element playing out…the notion of her being so desirable that he can’t wait for her to walk on her own, or risk that she’ll walk away, so he wisks her up off her feet and rapidly bears her away.  I’d be a giant liar if I didn’t admit that this was an evocative scene to watch in the moment.  For me, it’s a weird thing…the “I can do it myself” side of me wants to be in control of my own business, while the fantasy side of me is drawn to the display of power depicted here.

While I was pondering this whole question, I also wondered if petite women get tired of people (particularly men) trying to carry them around.  On some level, it seems like it could be perceived as infantalizing.  Truthfully, I’ve known more than a few petite women who’ve complained that they hate it when people pick them up and move them from place to place – that they may be small, but they are not children who’s will is often subordinated to that of an adult.  Conversely, I’ve also known many non petite women who would cheerfully elect to be boiled in oil before having anyone lift and carry them anywhere.  Curious.

Carry On Armitageworld! 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Seduction…

I hope 2016 is progressing decently for everyone in Armitageworld…  Personally,  I have decided that in 2016, we will be postponing Christmas until after Christmas.  Honestly – the holiday season was just this side of grueling.  On the plus side though – my iPad has been emancipated from MiniMe’s clutches since Santa delivered her new Chromebook.   Hurray – I can watch Netflix in peace again!

With all of my current TV streams on winter hiatus, I returned to an old haunt – Robin Hood, and was struck again by how effectively Richard Armitage (as Guy of Gisborne) can deploy full scale seduction.  I just finished Season 1, and am again left wondering how Marian resisted a couple of those seductive salvos.  For me, the most effective persuasive instrument that Sir Guy utilizes is his voice.

Don’t get me wrong…the physical package is plenty potent, overwhelmingly so in some instances.  In combination with an almost groaned syllable or a throaty whisper?

 *Boom*  

Robin Hood  S1 E11 Source

Robin Hood S1 E11
Source

Here, having declared himself to her, Sir Guy presses his suit…his voice becoming deeper, but softer

“I want to know you.”

Before groaning,

“Marian!”

and then a barely audible,

“be with me!”

*Ahem*

For all that Sir Guy, especially under the influence of the Sheriff, is often brutal, and perhaps even dishonorable, Richard Armitage brings a seductive force to him that is impossible to overlook.  Even the unyielding Marian seems to be wavering in the last few episodes of Season 1.

Robin Hood S1 E13 Source

Robin Hood S1 E13
Source

A breathy

“Stay!” 

after another declaration of passion and a brief kiss hit me straight in the feels

maybe it affected Marian similarly and she fled for self preservation…

In his pursuit of Lady Marian, Richard Armitage’s Sir Guy seems to be compellingly channeling more than a bit of Πειθώ.  Peitho, the personification of persuasion and seduction, is a rather shadowy figure in the Greek Pantheon.  Although she also appears as a rhetorical concept, in myth, Peitho is most commonly understood as one of the daughters and frequent companions of the goddess Aphrodite.

In this marble frieze, Peitho, seated a top a column, directs the discourse between Aphrodite and Helen, seated beneath her, and Eros and Paris.  The seduction of Helen, she who launched a thousand ships, by the Trojan prince Paris is one of the “great” love stories in classical myth.  (if one discounts that it was all set in motion by a sneaky goddess to win a bet with two other goddesses and resulted in a brutal war that lasted 10 years) 

Seduction/persuasion are rather interesting concepts in ancient Greek.  That is, there is a VERY fine line between seduction and rape in most literary accounts.  In fact, in many cases, the words are used interchangably in a context where women had almost no power to object in any meaningful way.  Equally interesting is how Peitho, seduction personified, is depicted in myth.

#seductionfail Source

#seductionfail
Source

When the allure of seduction fails and gives way to force, as in the above scene, Peitho is typically depicted as fleeing the scene…that is, at least to some degree, the Greeks recognized the difference between enticement and overt force.  So too did Sir Guy…for the most part.  In both of the scenes above, Marian rebuffs Guy’s tempting advances, and in each instance, Guy resists the urge to force her.  He is definitely trying to win her over, he is frequently coercive, but he stops short of force.  It seems that Peitho is still hanging around.  For now…

Hair’s to you Richard Armitage! (I’m sorry – I had to do it!)

**WARNING** :  There may be an excessive number of alliterative hair descriptions below…

This week’s  “oof” installment, with it’s discussion of Thorin’s luscious locks started me thinking about hair.  Maybe it’s a holdover of my hard rock days, but I have a soft spot for long haired men – in theory at least.  There is just something wild and untamed about a man with a magnificent mane…something powerful perhaps.  There is ample indication from a variety of cultures of the significance placed on unshorn hair.  It had a variety of meanings to different people…To the Nazirites of the Hebrew Bible (most famously Samson) unshorn hair was a source of power and strength.  To the Gaelic Irish, long hair was a symbol of allegiance to Ireland as it was infiltrated by colonial forces.  To the Sikhs it represents the strength and vitality of the whole religious community.   For many cultures hair can be a  “crowning glory” or when shorn, an indication of abject humiliation and scorn.

Although long hair seems to have been common for men in earlier periods of Greek history, after the 6th century BC there are clear indications that shorter hair became much more customary. (the Spartans being the exception to the rule.)  It’s not surprising that the increasingly militaristic nature of Greek culture in the 6th and 5th centuries BC would produce a trend toward shorter male hair…long hair must have been a decided disadvantage on the battlefield.  I’ve always been intrigued by some of the characterizations of the Persians as being overly coiffured and perfumed…for the 5th century Greeks this effeminate characterization of a feared and hated enemy was empowering.   While there are some Greeks who are represented as long haired in this period, the character who most regularly sports long, luxurious tresses is the god Dionysus.  This is doubly interesting to me since Dionysus is one of the gods in the Greek pantheon whose origins are not exactly clear.  There are several conflicting birth stories, and a lot of other stories that suggest at least some degree of connection between this deity and the exotic  East. (the Persians fall into that category as well…the Greeks were at once intrigued and repulsed by various elements of eastern cultures)

Dionysus and a satyr Source: http://www.theoi.com/Gallery/K12.3.html

Dionysus and a satyr
Source: http://www.theoi.com/Gallery/K12.3.html

Dionysus by Kleophrades Painter Source?  pantherfile.uwm.edu

Dionysus by Kleophrades Painter
Source: http://www.pantherfile.uwm.edu

A relative latecomer into the pantheon, Dionysus was established as the youngest of the Olympian gods.  He is associated with the theater, but particularly with wine and reveling.  The vase paintings above show us the typical look of Dionysus.  He is most often depicted wearing elaborate Eastern Greek style robes and is often found in the company of satyrs and maenads.  One other main attribute of Dionysus is his elaborately styled curls and beard.   “Back in the day”  I used to pay big money and sit in the stylist’s chair for hours to achieve the kind of spiral curls that Dionysus wears.  Take a close look at his beard and you will see that some artistry has been applied there as well, to articulate the edges into individual curls.  Dionysus’ whole look is something that would have been a bit suspect to the average Greek, who after the Persian Wars, was inherently suspicious of things with an eastern tang.  The cult of Dionysus was at once a mainstream part of Greek polytheism, and also on the fringe.  There were ecstatic and orgiastic qualities of the cult practice that made more than a few Greeks uneasy…one only needs to read Euripides’ The Bachhae to witness what the cult of Dionysus might get up to.   For Dionysus, long curling locks represented an exotic, mysterious nature.

Love it or hate it, it seems that long hair on men is here to stay (My son is currently sporting a look that is somewhere between Dionysus and Shaggy -*sigh*  there are much bigger battles to be won!)  I love Richard Armitage and his most common close cropped style, but I have to say, the man can certainly rock the wigs and hair extensions…

Whether it is as Sir Guy of Greasy Locks….boozy and tormented in Robin Hood S3 Episode 1…

Sir Greasy...*ahem* I mean Sir Guy Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com

Sir Greasy…*ahem* I mean Sir Guy
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com

Or a gloriously coiffured Sir Guy returned and ready for action after a trip to Price John’s personal stylist in S3 Epidsode 5…

Sir Guy of Gorgeous... Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com

Sir Guy of Gorgeous…
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com

Or Thorin in the moonlight remembering a painful past…

Remembering past battles... Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com

Remembering past battles…
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com

Or Thorin preparing for yet another fight….

Thorin bracing for a threat... Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com

Thorin bracing for a threat…
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com

Or Thorin…who am I kidding?!  There are just way too many examples of Thorin’s uncrowned glory – and with two films still to come – the mind boggles!  Suffice it to say that Richard Armitage can hair act with the best of them!!