It’s funny to see when certain fandoms finally get recognized by the mainstream. A few months ago, we first learned of the term “Cumberbitches“ — fans of Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch – but only now are they getting an extensive write-up on The Daily Beast. (Of course, according to one tweet quoted in the article, the @Cumberbitches Twitter account has been active at least since 2010.) Kevin Fallon worked alongside Cumberbitches on Tumblr and Twitter to construct the profile, which teaches us a few new things about the very passionate fanbase.
For one, I didn’t realize that they were quite so ranging in age! “College kids are as loopy about him as women in their 60s,” says author Alexandra Sokoloff. She cites a mix of sexual attraction but also his unconventional looks; George Clooney, he ain’t.
But Sokoloff’s quote that most intrigued me came at the end of the article:
“The Cumberbitches thing will go away. Sherlock will go away. But he will be astonishing on the level of [Laurence] Olivier and Maggie Smith. We’ll be enjoying his talents for a long time.”
I jokingly called this quote “controversial” in the headline because I’m sure that there will be some Cumberbitches upset at this notion. After all, many of Benedict’s fans came to know him through his fresh portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. A lot of that sexual energy goes into ‘shipping him with John Watson (Martin Freeman).
I wonder if they’d feel threatened at the notion that the word they use to describe themselves may one day be obsolete. After all, while Benedict is flattered at the attention — joking that he wishes his 15-year-old self could’ve seen his future as a sex symbol — he’s also expressed that the term makes him uncomfortable. “It’s flattering, though I worry about what it says for feminism, it’s quite a pejorative term,” he confessed when asked a few months ago. “Cumberbabes might be better.”
But it’s encouraging! Because even though Sherlock will someday end (sob), Benedict has smartly been taking advantage of his hiatuses from the series by embodying a bevy of characters. (Rumor has it he could even play a Bond villain in the near future.) Sokoloff adds that many of the fans “don’t like to share him,” though I wasn’t sure if she meant with each other or with the mainstream now that he’s getting attention for movies like The Hobbit and Star Trek Into Darkness.
The point is, he’ll be OK. And his fans will be just as loyal — and sexually attracted to him — even if they end up changing their names. In the meantime, however, Cumberbitch Problems still cracks me up.