There's a situation happening all across the world and so far, only the British news media seems to have reported upon it.
Right now there are numerous intelligent women across the land who are presently in crisis mode. It's all due to an actor whom you may or may not be aware of named Benedict Cumberbatch. You'll probably be very aware of him soon. He's currently shooting the new Star Trek movie, he appeared in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and War Horse, and he is the eponymous star of the BBC detective serial, Sherlock.
You also should know that Benedict Cumberbatch isn't a man. He's a situation that me and most of my friends are all having.
Since the last series of Sherlock aired, perfectly nice and law abiding ladies have been feverishly pirating copies of "The Reichenbach Fall" and posting dreamy GIFs of its climatic moments on tumblr. Clips from YouTube of Mr. Cumberbatch reading children's stories, imitating Alan Rickman and dancing to "Thriller" have been flooding Gmail inboxes across the globe. For my part, I actually built myself a "Cumbernest" this past weekend. Instead of leaving the house and meeting actual men, I surrounded my bed with wine, water, and British chocolate all in preparation to watch Cumberbatch star in the BBC movie Hawking. I then sent a friend multiple texts that essentially broke down to "Have you watched Hawking yet?", "Watch Hawking. Watch Hawking. Watch Hawking.", and finally, "MY NERVES."
So what is it about Benedict Cumberbatch that's so alluring? It's easy to see why women the world over swoon over Ryan Gosling (HERE -- I broke it down for you). But Benedict Cumberbatch doesn't burst off the screen in rainbows and moonbeams the way guys like the Gosling do. Firstly, there's his name. It's a mouth full, to be sure, and can easily be broken down into jokes like Benneton Crumblymats or, you know, something way dirtier. He's never wooed Rachel McAdams or recorded a love song. He's pretty much just spent the last decade or so toiling away in the theater and in television productions.
There is, of course, his face. His unusual, striking, fascinating face. As my friend Gaby put it, "He looks like a weird hot alien," to which I replied, "And you know how much I like aliens!"
The thing that makes him look like an attractive extraterrestrial are his now legendary cheekbones. Other cheekbones have come before: Johnny Depp's, Katharine Hepburn's, Skeletor's. However, Mr. Cumberbatch's cheekbones are so high and so valleyed that they've sliced their way not just into the psyches of his fans, but his screenwriters. There's not one, but two, flattering references in the new Sherlock series to his bone structure. In both cases, it's suggested that Sherlock is loved for his face alone, but we know that's not true.
There's also his slanted moonstone eyes. And his mouth. Mouths are always appreciated.
Okay, I kid. (Sort of.)
It's true Benedict Cumberbatch has been snatching the hearts and minds of women with his actual appearance, but he's also been doing it with the level of confidence he has in his own abilities. Let me explain...
Most up-and-coming actors fall into one of two categories. A few of them like the Jesse Eisenbergs and Robert Pattinsons of the world have either ample talent and/or ample charm and are afraid of these things within them. They mumble. They stutter. They feign awkwardness around their legions of admiring female fans. They star in films with Kristen Stewart. However, even more actors fall into the opposite category. I'm talking your James Francos or (shiver) Kellan Lutzes. These guys may have talent, but that talent is insignificant compared to the size of their egos. For example, I know that James Franco went to film school and that Kellan Lutz once read a book in a tree, but I've never seen a film that Franco made or heard Lutz speak an intelligible sentence while standing on the ground.
The most rare and impressive stars in Hollywood today are men like George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Jon Hamm. They're good at what they're hired to do, and mostly importantly, they know they're good. You're not going to hear these guys talk about how good their game is because they can just show it. George Clooney can sell depressing movies as mainstream, Brad Pitt can tame Angelina Jolie and Jon Hamm can just be a goober-about-town. They do what they want -- and don't brag about it -- because they know they can get the job done. These guys exude confidence and confidence is sexy, and confidence is also what Benedict Cumberbatch has. I mean, you'd need confidence to introduce yourself to people as "Benedict Cumberbatch," right?
Watch our dear Mr. Cumberbatch in any role and you'll see he knows what he is doing. He is neither showy nor needy in his actions. He boldly commits to his character and the results are spellbinding. When such a confident performer is joined with a famous character like Sherlock Holmes, whose every thought, twitch and action is executed with superhuman confidence, the result is a veritable supernova of confidence, and soon, typically independent young women like myself are building Cumbernests in their home. We're attracted to the confidence that Cumberbatch is exuding.
Oh, and yes, those cheekbones.
Of course, attraction is all a matter of taste and attraction to Cumberbatch isn't wholly universal.
"I don't know. I just have, like, a visceral reaction to his face," my friend Caitlin said over dinner to me last week.
I grinned. "I know, right?"
"No, no..." she shook her head as she unwittingly and poetically quoted T.S. Eliot, "That is not what I meant at all."
I just sipped my wine and shrugged and counted down the minutes until I could go home and finally start watching The Ends of the Earth on Netflix Instant Streaming. The Cumbernest called.