You feel it, I feel it, everyone who has seen five minutes of BBC’s “Sherlock” feels it. There is something a bit… odd about Mr. Benedict Cumberbatch. Ladies adore him, gents like him too. He’s talented and intelligent and it’s generally agreed that he occasionally says things that are charmingly awkward yet ill-advised; for instance: asking Sir Patrick Stewart if taking a role in the “Star Trek” reboot would damage his career.
But dagnabbit… what is the thing with his face?
The gamut of intense reactions to Cumberbatch’s preternatural mug reveals our unconscious psychological bias toward certain facial patterns. Like a computer missing a chunk of software or the rioters at Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” we simply have no idea what to make of something so familiar yet… so odd. People become fixated on Benedict Cumberbatch’s face and can’t seem to talk about anything else. Some ladies clutch their pearls and declare him an ovary-annihilating “life ruiner,” while less enthusiastic observers (usually accompanied by a string of disrespectful jabs at his name) see him as some kind of freakish extraterrestrial. Ocassionally, detractors act as if they are uncontrollably repulsed by some aura of Das Unheimliche that apparently floats, miasma-like, around his head. For an actor with a rapidly exploding body of work and the potential to break out as a huge international star, that’s a pretty bizarre public response. The way some people go on, you’d think there was something fundamentally backwards about him.
“In 1963 we made 59 cents for every dollar that men made. Now it’s 77 cents. What does that mean? It means every five years we make an advancement of one penny. Oh no. No more. We’re not just going to take it anymore.”—
I haven’t been following this too closely, but enough to notice that the fundamental disagreement seems to be not whether women deserve to earn the same pay for the same work, but that in fact women are incapable of performing the same work as men. Full stop.
That’s why this is even an issue. These opponents, these Republicans who voted this down, believe that given the same job, a woman will always perform worse then a man, and therefore do not deserve to be paid the same. We’re not even arguing about the same point- proponents of equal pay for equal work are dealing with people who believe there is no such thing as equal work.
Comedian Jason Alexander last week repeatedly joked on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson that cricket is a ‘gay sport.’ He went on to mimic cricket bowlers in a stereotypically gay fashion. When Twitter followers called him on it, he told them they have no sense of humor. Reversing course, Alexander has reflected and issued a deeply instructive comment that goes miles beyond the simple “I apologize to anyone offended” that we usually get. From Alexander, via GLAAD:
A message of amends.
Last week, I made an appearance on the Craig Ferguson show – a wonderfully unstructured, truly spontaneous conversation show. No matter what anecdotes I think will be discussed, I have yet to find that Craig and I ever touch those subjects. Rather we head off onto one unplanned, loony topic after another. It’s great fun trying to keep up with him and I enjoy Craig immensely.During the last appearance, we somehow wandered onto the topic of offbeat sports and he suddenly mentioned something about soccer and cricket. Now, I am not a stand-up comic. Stand up comics have volumes of time-tested material for every and all occasions. I, unfortunately, do not. However, I’ve done a far amount of public speaking and emceeing over the years so I do have a scattered bit, here and there.
Years ago, I was hosting comics in a touring show in Australia and one of the bits I did was talking about their sports versus American sports. I joked about how their rugby football made our football pale by comparison because it is a brutal, no holds barred sport played virtually without any pads, helmets or protection. And then I followed that with a bit about how, by comparison, their other big sport of cricket seemed so delicate and I used the phrase, “ a bit gay”. Well, it was all a laugh in Australia where it was seen as a joke about how little I understood cricket, which in fact is a very, very athletic sport. The routine was received well but, seeing as their isn’t much talk of cricket here in America, it hasn’t come up in years.
Until last week. When Craig mentioned cricket I thought, “oh, goody – I have a comic bit about cricket I can do. Won’t that be entertaining?”. And so I did a chunk of this old routine and again referred to cricket as kind of “gay” – talking about the all white uniforms that never seem to get soiled; the break they take for tea time with a formal tea cart rolled onto the field, etc. I also did an exaggerated demonstration of the rather unusual way they pitch the cricket ball which is very dance-like with a rather unusual and exaggerated arm gesture. Again, the routine seemed to play very well and I thought it had been a good appearance.
Shortly after that however, a few of my Twitter followers made me aware that they were both gay and offended by the joke. And truthfully, I could not understand why. I do know that humor always points to the peccadillos or absurdities or glaring generalities of some kind of group or another – short, fat, bald, blonde, ethnic, smart, dumb, rich, poor, etc. It is hard to tell any kind of joke that couldn’t be seen as offensive to someone. But I truly did not understand why a gay person would be particularly offended by this routine.
However, troubled by the reaction of some, I asked a few of my gay friends about it. And at first, even they couldn’t quite find the offense in the bit. But as we explored it, we began to realize what was implied under the humor. I was basing my use of the word “gay” on the silly generalization that real men don’t do gentile, refined things and that my portrayal of the cricket pitch was pointedly effeminate , thereby suggesting that effeminate and gay were synonymous.
But what we really got down to is quite serious. It is not that we can’t laugh at and with each other. It is not a question of oversensitivity. The problem is that today, as I write this, young men and women whose behaviors, choices or attitudes are not deemed “man enough” or “normal” are being subjected to all kinds of abuse from verbal to physical to societal. They are being demeaned and threatened because they don’t fit the group’s idea of what a “real man” or a “real woman” are supposed to look like, act like and feel like.
For these people, my building a joke upon the premise I did added to the pejorative stereotype that they are forced to deal with everyday. It is at the very heart of this whole ugly world of bullying that has been getting rightful and overdue attention in the media. And with my well-intentioned comedy bit, I played right into those hurtful assumptions and diminishments.
And the worst part is – I should know better. My daily life is filled with gay men and women, both socially and professionally. I am profoundly aware of the challenges these friends of mine face and I have openly advocated on their behalf. Plus, in my own small way, I have lived some of their experience. Growing up in the ‘70’s in a town that revered it’s school sports and athletes, I was quite the outsider listening to my musical theater albums, studying voice and dance and spending all my free time on the stage. Many of the same taunts and jeers and attitudes leveled at young gay men and women were thrown at me and on occasion I too was met with violence or the threat of violence.
So one might think that all these years later I might be able to intuit that my little cricket routine could make some person who has already been made to feel alien and outcast feel even worse or add to the conditions that create their alienation. But in this instance, I did not make the connection. I didn’t get it.
So, I would like to say – I now get it. And to the extent that these jokes made anyone feel even more isolated or misunderstood or just plain hurt – please know that was not my intention, at all or ever. I hope we will someday live in a society where we are so accepting of each other that we can all laugh at jokes like these and know that there is no malice or diminishment intended.
But we are not there yet.
So, I can only apologize and I do. In comedy, timing is everything. And when a group of people are still fighting so hard for understanding, acceptance, dignity and essential rights – the time for some kinds of laughs has not yet come. I hope my realization brings some comfort.
Just saw this in an email from one of my professors who is an adviser for the Lesbian and Gay Vet Med Association at school. Target’s website says it will donate 100% of T-shirt sales from customers during the month of June to Family Equality Council.
See the t-shirts
Signal boost. Target appears to be working on some pennance for past transgressions. Good on ‘em.
Quick let's get the BBQ, paddling pool and deck chairs out, let me go get my shorts and flip flops oh and don't forget the sun tan cream factor 50.
What is this strange, bright light? Oh my God, get inside children, get inside, it could be dangerous, have we got anything to protect ourselves, no, only raincoats, oh help, what's this odd feeling, I'm not cold, it must be what we've read about... warmth.
WIT THE FUCK IS THAT
Oh God. OH GOD. WHERE DID THE WARMTH GO? JESUS SAVE US ALL. HURRY TO CHURCH AND PRAY, CHILDREN, PRAY THAT THIS FROZEN LANDSCAPE SOON THAWS.
QUICK, EVERYONE WEAR YOUR COLD WEATHER CLOTHES WHILE IT LASTS! IT'LL PROBABLY BE OVER IN AN HOUR, MOVE MOVE MOVE!!!
Unless You Live in Humboldt County, CA, where it's:
SPRING IS HERE! QUICK LET'S HAVE A KINETIC SCULPTURE RACE AND PLAY THE GUITAR OUTSIDE ON THE GRASS! (though do bring a tarp, because the grass is still wet)
THIS IS NOT FAIR WHAT DID WE DO? IT'S BEEN FREEZING FOR ALMOST A MINUTE, THIS IS PROOF OF THAT GLOBAL WARMING CRAP GET EVERYONE INSIDE; EVEN THE DRUGGIES, NO ONE DESERVES TO BE THIS COLD EVER
“I love writing but hate starting. The page is awfully white and it says, “You may have fooled some of the people some of the time but those days are over, giftless. I’m not your agent and I’m not your mommy. I’m a white piece of paper, you wanna dance with me?” And I really, really don’t.”—
“They love each other very much. The whole story is that, always has been - these two unshakeable friends who complete each other, and redeem each other. It’s a story over a century old, and we show no sign of getting tired of it, and why should we? Some people want that love to be, well, more romantic, and good luck to them. Everyone should enjoy the show the way they want to and all interpretations are equally valid - I’m only a writer. Personally, I thought Charlie’s Angels all lived in the same jacuzzi - I was happyl”—
In the same chat, Moffat dodged a question about whether Sherlock’s tears on the roof were real. “He’s Sherlock Holmes, he knew exactly what he was doing. Sentimentalise him at your peril” is not an answer. But in light of this quote coming later, I think that Moffat’s interpretation is no more valid than any of ours.
I just think that having to convince his best friend he is dead is a painful thing for Sherlock to do. It seems reasonable that his tears were exaggerated, given that he only recently learned that he feels anything at all.
Trying to decide how hard work would judge me if I just made my desktop background Beach!Benedict.
I can’t have sexy Benedict backgrounds at home because then Remington just frowns and sighs a lot and I think he’s legit concerned I’m going to leave him for my fictional romance with Benedict Cumberbatch.
I had that picture of Benedict wearing nothing but the Financial Times as the background on my iPad for a while until I realized it was legitimately upsetting my boyfriend. He’d never admit it, though :)
“It’s sad to think what the state of rock and roll will be in twenty years. It’s already so rehashed and so plagiarized that it’s barely alive now. It’s disgusting. I don’t think it will be important any more. Kids don’t even care about rock and roll as much as they used to, as the other generations have. It’s already turned into nothing but a fashion statement and an identity for kids to use as a tool for them to fuck and have a social life. At that point, I can’t really see music as having any importance to a teenager, really.”—
I hate to be a killjoy, but seeing as how the Sherlock fandom is generally very thoughtful and kind, I feel the need to throw something out there that’s been nagging at me a bit.
There are a number of pictures out in the world that I’ve seen members of the fandom rally around suppressing because they were stolen or leaked from the actors’ private lives (think pictures of actors’ children, video from a wedding reception, etc). People have been really good about respecting that these people are people, and deserve their privacy.
The photos of Benedict Cumberbatch at the beach that were in the Sun yesterday were taken by paparazzi. They’re not official, and nobody gave consent to be in them. Instead someone whose privacy we as fans claim to respect was stalked and photographed, and those photos were sold to a tabloid, where a story was written about Benedict Cumberbatch “showing off his body.”
I think that the practice of stalking and photographing celebrities for money is pretty despicable. I think actors deserve to have private lives. I think that if you’re going to spend the better part of a year in my native Southern California you should be able to un-self-consciously spend some time at the beach in a bathing suit.
I looked. It was kind of hard to miss them; my dash was flooded yesterday. But I knew they were coming from a paparazzo (I can’t find the post now but the guy who took the photos bragged about selling them to the Sun on twitter, and someone posted a screenshot to tumblr), so maybe I shouldn’t have. It’s not really my style to reblog celebrity photos anyway, so saying that I won’t isn’t very meaningful. I do think it’s worth thinking about in an age where pageviews and trending topics are treated as currency- what we choose to look at matters. What we choose not to look at also matters. I’m going to try to make a choice that’s more in line with my values next time.
Moreover, for anyone who defends the Obama administration here and insists that the U.S. Government simply must have access to all forms of human communication: does that also apply to in-person communication? Should home and apartment builders be required to install monitors in every room they build to ensure that the Government can surveil all human communications in order to prevent threats to national security and public safety? I believe someone once wrote a book about where this mindset inevitably leads. The very idea that no human communication should ever be allowed to take place beyond the reach of the Government is definitive authoritarianism, which is why Saudi Arabia and the UAE — and their American patron-ally — have so vigorously embraced it.
Greenwald points out that the FBI does not need this, because they can go to a judge, get a warrant, and use traditional surveillance when it’s necessary. “But what about encryption?!” Well:
the problem cited by the FBI to justify this new power is a total pretext: “investigators encountered encrypted communications only one time during 2009′s wiretaps” and, even then, “the state investigators told the court that the encryption did not prevent them from getting the plain text of the messages.” As usual, fear-mongering over national security and other threats is the instrument to justify massive new surveillance powers that will extend far beyond their claimed function.
I’m profoundly disappointed in the Obama administration’s record on civil rights and privacy. I expected better from a president who is a Constitutional law scholar.
tl;dr: The very idea that no human communication should ever be allowed to take place beyond the reach of the Government is definitive authoritarianism
Y’know, I was pretty sure I was born in a country that abhors this sort of thing. I want that country back.