Fandom is not “weird,” Katie Couric

Again, a talk show host has managed to discredit the fandom by publicly asserting their opinion that we’re “weird” and kinda nuts, and really not worth anyone’s attention — despite the fact that they apparently need us to fill their vapid segments.

You can watch the video of Benedict Cumberbatch answering fans’ twitter questions here, on Katie Couric’s website.

She actually starts off by listing the various names the Cumberbatch fandom has come up with over time nicely enough, but then when she begins reading out the questions fans had tweeted her before the show, she started off by calling @Cumberbuddy “weird” — but not just her, but the fandom as a whole, completely invalidating the purpose of this entire exercise.

Couric: “Cumber… buddy. You’ve got a lot of weird fans out there–”
Ben: “A lot of Cumbers.”

Seriously? It’s just a username. But, well, I’m not getting on my soapbox to defend Cumberbuddy specifically, she has voiced her displeasure herself. But Couric calls us weird, the fandom, all of us. First, we’re petitioned — one might say, pestered — for days to submit tweets and questions for Benedict to answer, and then we get this. Discredited and dismissed ten seconds into the show.

Dear Katie Couric,

We’re not weird. We’re enthusiastic and passionate and outspoken. We don’t always agree with one another and fandom has as many different sides and facets as an insect’s eye, but before you do your research and understand that, here’s the deal: next time you need something from us to keep your show going, don’t use us as a stepping stone and a cheap joke before even starting. Embrace the fandom. Be the fandom. We’re not nuts or perverted or not quite right in the head. We’re not dangerous. We’re not crazy. Ok, crazy about Ben’s cheekbones (and his acting, and his chameleon hair, and his voice, and the scope of roles he has taken on and delivered beautifully in the past three years), but not clinically disturbed. We’re people, ordinary people, who pay homage to someone we love and admire in a lot of ways. We name our twitter handle after him, or our blog, or perhaps we put a bumper sticker on our car. It’s the way we identify with each other, it’s the way we build community. Being engaged in fandom is one of the biggest social experiments of our generation, and we’re handling it just fine — including the conflicts. Needlessly perpetuating the media’s favourite myth that fans are bonkers and need to be touched only with a ten-foot pole, when the actor in question himself has indicated on numerous occasions that he does not feel that way about the majority of his following, is insulting and incredibly ignorant. So please get off our backs and never, ever call us weird again to score points with your uninformed audience when only pretending to want to foster a dialogue between an incredibly skilled actor and his fans.

Love,

Me.

Thankfully, that’s where Mr Cumberbatch’s class becomes obvious: he first deflects her gaffe politely and without sparking a confrontation, then says it’s a great question and answers it — as well as all others — seriously and with consideration. He’s one of the most respectful and patient and sweet-mannered actors out there when it comes to fandom shenanigans, and I love that even when tempers rise, he defends us implicitly and explicitly.

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