Benedict Cumberbatch would have a really hard time making anyone hate him. Now, Benedict Cumberbatch’s rabid fans, that’s another story — some call them Cumberbitches. But Mr. Sherlock himself is pretty much universally loved.
So how did Benedict Cumberbatch end up pissing off people of color recently?
Oddly enough, the whole thing happened when Benedict Cumberbatch was actually bemoaning what he saw as a bad situation in his home country vis a vis actors of color getting work. He spoke with Tavis Smiley about it.
Benedict Cumberbatch told Smiley: “I think as far as colored actors go, it gets really difficult in the UK, and I think a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here [in the U.S.] than in the UK, and that’s something that needs to change.”
And it was that “colored actors” line that started the blowback, which is 50 shades of ironic.
@CookiesandCREE "colored actors" like what year are we living in oh my god
— jasmine (@aphroditemars_) January 26, 2015
Cumberbot still learning to speak human; forgets they stopped saying "colored" 40 years ago http://t.co/d2eC3acbp0
— BlackBroDude (@CraigSJ) January 26, 2015
Tavis Smiley ran to Benedict Cumberbatch’s defense.
“Those who saw Benedict Cumberbatch on @PBS, know he feels persons of color are underrepresented in #Hollywood.” – Tavis Smiley
— Tavis Smiley (@tavissmiley) January 27, 2015
Others back Smiley up.
Benedict Cumberbatch referring to black actors as ''colored'' was no where near racist, some people just be doing the most.
— THE PINKPRINT °•○● (@TeamBarbzUK) January 28, 2015
And what Benedict Cumberbatch had to say, in context, certainly does not sound racist.
“Something’s gone wrong — we’re not being representative enough in our culture of different races, and that really does need to step up a pace,” Cumberbatch said. “It’s clear when you see certain migratory patterns that there are more opportunities here than there are in the UK.”
Nonetheless, Benedict Cumberbatch heard the outcry and responded like a gentleman. He did not plead ignorance based on being from a different country and culture, as some might have. He manned up and delivered an apology that could never be described as cursory. He nearly groveled.
“I’m devastated to have caused offense by using this outmoded terminology. I offer my sincere apologies. I make no excuse for my being an idiot and know the damage is done.
“I can only hope this incident will highlight the need for correct usage of terminology that is accurate and inoffensive. The most shaming aspect of this for me is that I was talking about racial inequality in the performing arts in the U.K. and the need for rapid improvements in our industry when I used the term.
“I feel the complete fool I am and while I am sorry to have offended people and to learn from my mistakes in such a public manner please be assured I have. I apologize again to anyone who I offended for this thoughtless use of inappropriate language about an issue which affects friends of mine and which I care about deeply.”