Thursday, November 06, 2014

"It's just a TV show..."

So Benedict Cumberbatch has announced his engagement to Sophie Hunter - I hope they find happiness. It's hard enough to find happiness in marriage without the glare of the public eye.

What amazes me though is the intensity of his (mostly female) fan base - the 'Cumberbitches', defined so very objectively (and ill-spelled) on the Urban Dictionary as:
1.Any woman who has a deep fasination [sic] with the wonderful, beautiful, talented English stage and on-screen actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
2. A refernce [sic]given to people who admire the beautiful features of Benedict Cumberbatch. ex- his green eyes, beautiful cheekbones, sexy toussled [sic] hair.
3. Can be proper ladies, or "dirty. dirty ladies" and everyone in between.
I will not deny that the man is a wonderful actor - I watched the National Theatre Live's Frankenstein, staring the Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller and thoroughly enjoyed it. The two men switched roles every night on stage for the run, playing both the creator and the creature - an astounding tour de force of talent.

Which brings me to the absurdity...what is it about our day-and-age that inspires such intense fandom? Don't get me wrong - I'm a fan. I will bore you to tears about how great Babylon 5 is, how I wish they'd not cancelled Firefly after a season and how Han shot first. But the vehemence and sometimes venom with which some Cumberbitches will defend their loved one's pre-eminence is truly bizarre.

Let's go back to the afore-mentioned Miller - he happens to star in his own, US-based, Sherlock-Holmes-based show, Elementary. Cumberbatch's Sherlock runs 3 shows a 'season', and they're essentially movies, and filmed as such. Miller's Elementary is a 20+ episode per season police procedural. They're different shows, different formats, with a similar premise. They're both interpreting a fictional character. They're both shows on TV. Can I repeat that? They're both shows on TV.

Why is it then that I've had vitriol and near-spit aimed at me for saying: "I like watching Elementary as well"? I truly don't get it.

To the Cumberbitches: I like him too. Cumberbatch is a powerful actor. He's in a very good TV show.
To the fanatical Cumberbitches: He's just a man, in a TV show. And yes, he's getting married.

To Cumberbatch: Good luck, man, on your marriage. You've done well keeping your private life out of the public eye - keep it up!