I’ve noticed it before, haven’t you? That Benedict Cumberbatch is patently embarrassed by the name his fan collective has—as he is quick to point out—bestowed upon themselves? He doesn’t even like to say it. Start watching/reading Cumberbatch’s interviews en masse, as I have done over the last week, and it comes up a lot. “Your fans call themselves Cumberbitches! Haha, that’s great!” says one talk show host after another. But Cumberbatch isn’t as enthusiastic. He stammers, he looks away, he doesn’t want to say it. It sets back feminism, he says. Maybe he’s not wrong. Some people object to the word “bitch”, others don’t—I don’t happen to have a problem with it—but Cumberbatch clearly isn’t comfortable with it. And I buy the discomfort; I don’t think he’s paying lip service to an ideal he doesn’t actually hold. I don’t think he likes this term.
Some of that is perhaps because he’s not comfortable with the level of fame that comes with the cutesy nicknames (yet), but he legit seems embarrassed by it. So why not rebrand, Cumberbatch collective? How about being the Cumberbabes instead? (Lainey: still gross. Only a few steps up from an Edward Cullen tattoo.) Maybe then he won’t openly grimace when the name gets bandied about on national television. Check him out on Jimmy Fallon Friday night. He handles the creepy fan art culled from Twitter with aplomb, but the nickname thing is mortifying. Shouldn’t the goal of fandom to be not mortifying to the person you admire?
Speaking of mortifying. Billy Bush, the human equivalent of grass clippings, interviewed Cumberbatch on the Today Show on Friday morning. I don’t watch the Today Show, so I don’t know who the woman is, but I recognize Bush, who is my least favorite person on every red carpet ever. So it’s completely amazing to me the way Cumberbatch and the co-host talk over him. Every time Bush opens his mouth someone else starts talking and cuts him off. And when Bush addresses him, you can see Cumberbatch swallowing his…I’m going to go with impatience, because “hatred” seems a little steep for so innocuous an interaction. But you can see it on his face: I don’t have time for you. It’s not a face I’ve seen him make in any other interview, especially here in America where he’s going out of his way to be pleasant and ingratiating. Given how no one has a lick of interest in anything Bush says, I fully expected the segment to end with a can flying in from off camera and hitting him in the head. You know the crew totally dreams about doing it.
If Cumberbatch can get through an interview without punching Billy Bush in the face, he’s ready for prime time. Now if we could just get him a less provoking fandom nickname, he’d be all set.