Bonnie Burton quite likes Benedict Cumberbatch…
Celebrity is the kind of phenomenon that can change a marginally successful character actor into a demigod in just a few years. Such is the case with actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who is so popular that the blog site Tumblr included him in its User Guidelines: “Don’t impersonate anyone. While you’re free to ridicule, parody, or marvel at the alien beauty of Benedict Cumberbatch, you can’t pretend to actually be Benedict Cumberbatch.”
Cumberbatch earned his theatre cred in dozens of roles in plays since 2001, as well as TV work like Heartbeat, Silent Witness and Hawking, playing Stephen Hawking himself. He also appeared in films like Atonement, The Other Boleyn Girl and War Horse, collecting acting awards like a man with unlimited mantel space.
But it was his stellar performance as Sherlock Holmes in the BBC’s Sherlock in 2010 that truly catapulted the actor into the upper stratosphere of fame. People around the world were wondering where this guy with the name like a Charles Dickens character came from. Legions of fans began to line up with signs and hopes for selfies with the actor everywhere he went.
Blogs by the thousand dedicated to him popped up overnight and social media was all a- buzz of his every move. His fans were known en masse as Cumberbitches and then the Cumbercollective, as the actor thought bitches was derogatory.
This is where I come in. I’m one of those Cumberbitches. I have a blog dedicated to Cumberbatch holding photoshopped cats. No really, I do. It’s at BenedictCatbatch. tumblr. com. I’ve written Sherlock fan fiction. I own the Benedict Cumberbatch colouring book. I own every audio book and radio production he’s lent his voice to. My Pinterest board looks like grounds for a restraining order. When his name pops up on my Google News Alert about his latest movies like The Imitation Game or Doctor Strange, I’m the first one to pitch my editor at CNET. com an article. I even begged my lovely SFX editor here to let me dedicate at least one column completely to the Batch.
So yeah, I’m a fan. Cumberbatch is the closest thing my generation has to a Beatle or Elvis. He ranks right up there with Hollywood royalty like James Dean or Cary Grant. He’s an actor’s actor. He’s not in movies, TV, radio and theatre because he wants to be famous. He’s doing it because he loves acting, and it shows.
Any actor who throws himself into a role without turning into a real- life jerk gets my respect. Cumberbatch always takes time out for the hordes of fans who stand outside in bad weather or stay up all night in line just for a glimpse of him. He takes selfies with fans and gives them his autograph all with a smile.
The best part of being a Cumberbitch isn’t that one day I will eventually get to shake his hand and say thanks. It’s the friends I’ve made from our one common interest. I’ve bonded with so many fans through social media and waiting in lines at his appearances. These aren’t creepy stalkers who make secret bubblegum shrines to him in their closets. They are creative, talented and dedicated fans who make being part of the Cumbercollective like a family.
We happily worship Cumberbatch in a way that makes it fun to gush over a celebrity without having to be embarrassed. If we want to make puppets that look like his various acting roles, who cares? So what if I have written fan fiction of him as Darth Vader’s long lost brother? The Church of Cumberbatch is open all the time, and none who enter ever feels ashamed for being a goofy fan. I’m already working on my Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange fan art of him holding a cat.
Cumberbatch is up there with James Dean or Cary Grant
And yes, Bonnie does indeed own a pillow with Benedict’s face on it.