On Saturday Benedict Cumberbatch, the star of Sherlock, turns 38. His legions of fans known as the Cumberbitches would like to declare his July 19th birthday an international holiday. His piercing blue-green eyes, posh British accent, angular features, and charisma have made him an international obsession. He’s the thinking woman’s sex symbol, the celebrity crush for people who thought themselves above celebrity crushes. He gives witty interviews. He’s a classically trained theatre actor as well as a movie star. What’s not to love? But it takes more than mere enjoyment of Cumberbatch’s work to be a Cumberbitch. In honor of his 38th birthday, here are eight essential qualities of a Cumberbitch.
A High IQ
Benedict Cumberbatch launched his career playing Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s smartest people. Then he became famous for playing Sherlock Holmes, one of the smartest fictional characters of all time on Sherlock, one of television’s smartest shows. He has continued to take roles in projects that appeal to more cerebral viewers including 12 Years a Slave and Atonement. He also an intellectual himself, graduating from one of England’s most exclusive boarding schools before attending drama school. It takes intelligence to appreciate the man and his work.
The Internet is the native habitat of the Cumberbitch. In addition to the official Cumberbitch Twitter and Facebook pages, Cumberbitches have created thousands of Tumblrs, gifs, Pinterest boards, supercuts, and memes to honor the object of their affection. If you want to impress your fellow Cumberbitches, use your tech skills and your wit to create a memorable, unique tribute to the man, perhaps a gif in which he morphs from Sherlock to Smaug and back again.
A Fondness for Obscure Films
Benedict Cumberbatch has starred in hit films like Star Trek Into Darkness and The Hobbit. But he’s appeared in many other movies that have not appealed to a mass audience, like The Fifth Estate, in which he played Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and one of his first films, Starter For 10, in which he plays a game show contestant. To be a true Cumberbitch, not only do you need to watch them all, but you also need to get tickets for the upcoming children’s film Penguins of Madagascar, in which he lends his voice to a James Bond-esque wolf named Agent Classified.
A Love of Crowds
Wherever Benedict Cumberbatch goes, he draws a crowd. When he films on location, production has to put up barricades to keep the Cumberbitches from cumber-hugging. If he’s the guest on a talk show, Cumberbitches will line up for hours in the hope of scoring a seat in the audience. The ultimate cumber-queues form when he appears at San Diego Comic-Con. Some of his loyal fans actually camp out overnight to score a seat in the infamous Hall H. (This year’s appearance is in support of the aforementioned T Penguins of Madagascar.) Because the Cumberbitches are one of the friendliest, most supportive fandoms in existence, the long wait to catch a glimpse of the man can be a fun bonding experience. But if crowds make you uncomfortable, you may not have what it takes to become a Cumberbitch.
An Interest in Politics and History
Benedict Cumberbatch is almost as passionate about politics as he is about acting. When he was hounded by the paparazzi while he was filming Sherlock in 2013, he held up handwritten notes suggesting that they photograph Egypt instead and protesting the British government’s detainment of journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner. He has been open about the fact that his wealthy, old-money family made its fortune from slavery. A Cumberbitch doesn’t need to share Cumberbatch’s political beliefs, but she does need to know what he’s talking about.
A Sense of Humor
Unlike some other fandoms, Cumberbitches keep their tongue planted firmly in their cheek. Whether it’s because most of them are adults who recognize that in all probability they are not Cumberbatch’s future wife, or because his sophisticated body of work attracts sophisticated fans, Cumberbitches realize that celebrity worship is kind of silly. A widely shared Tumblr post on the “6 Stages of Becoming a Cumberbitch” begins: “You don’t get it. How on God’s green Earth does anyone find this man attractive?” There are as many gifs of Cumberbitch looking goofy as there are of him looking sexy. If you think of fandom as a fun hobby rather than something that is likely to result in a restraining order, you have what it takes to be a Cumberbitch.
Fans of most television stars get to watch their favorite actor in action for at least 13 episodes a year. Due to Sherlock’s unusual production schedule, there is a two-year gap between the show’s very short seasons. Three episodes aired in January 2014. The next installment, a Christmas special, won’t premiere until December 2015. Granted, Cumberbitches will get to see their man in four films (six, if you count movies where he voices an animated character) in the interim, but Cumberbitches are willing to endure long waits for Cumber-content.
An Obsession With Details
Cumberbitches have an unofficial bachelor’s degree in Cumber-ology. They know when his next film will be released, when the new season of Sherlock will premiere in both the United States and England, and that he thinks he looks like the Sloth from Ice Age. But what separates them from every other fandom is their attention to the minutiae of his life. For example, a photo posted in the Reddit Cumberbitch forum is headlined, “A Shirt I Haven’t Seen Before.” If you’re keeping a mental tally of Cumber-clothes, you have what it takes to be a Cumberbitch.