Benendict Cumberbatch’s Comments About Autism, 6 Years On: Hey, He Said This
Hey, remember when, in late 2014, Benedict Cumberbatch said a selection of horrible and demeaning things about autistic people, including an implication that we couldn’t be heroes? Well, I do, and I’m here to remind you too.
It’s detailed in this Metro U.S. article written by Ned Ehrbar. And in this interview, in the Irish Times, by Tara Grady, he continues riffing on the theme. I’m going to show you a choice excerpt from each.
“Though Sherlock is an immediate comparison, they’re so different. Sherlock is a sociopathic show-off, and Alan was anything but that,” Cumberbatch tells Metro. “I don’t think he was on the spectrum. I think a lot of people are very lazy with that.”
It’s a suggestion Cumberbatch has heard raised again and again, and he’s frankly had enough of it. “I think it’s a really dangerous thing to toy with that,” he says. “People talk about me doing that quite a lot and that being a good thing for people who are on the spectrum, which is great. But I don’t go into a job going, ‘Is this autism? Is this Asperger’s? Is this some other form of slight learning difficulty or disability?’ I’m very wary of that, because I’ve met people with those conditions. It’s a real struggle all the time. Then these people pop up in my work and they’re sort of brilliant, and they on some levels almost offer false hope for the people who are going through the reality of it.”
It’s lazy to suggest people might be autistic? It’s dangerous? It “Almost offers false hope”? “Sort of brilliant” people being autistic is false hope?
And, as detailed by Grady, this:
“I went to schools and met people, some of whom are very high functioning on the autistic spectrum. I met a 17-year-old who had the mental age of a one and a half year old. Everything was just about bodily functions. Smell. Sexual arousal. Shitting. Whatever. So when I hear people use diagnostic labels casually — Sherlock is autistic, Turing is autistic — it really upsets me.”
For the love of somebody-or-other. Fun fact! That visit to the schools Cumberbatch references wasn’t charity, it was research for one of his roles. What role, you ask? Oh, I’m so glad. Frankenstein’s monster. Really.
Now, I know that recently there’s been quite a bit of debate about “cancel culture,” and people dragging up things people said years ago to discredit or slander them. Good news! I’m not discrediting or slandering Cumberbatch; he did that all on his own. I’m merely reminding you of reported facts, six years on.