Cumberbatch Meets his Cumbermatch

Cumberbatch Meets his Cumbermatch

Celebrity obsession: We love them, but do they know who we are?


Benedict Cumberbatch, star of the critically ac­claimed BBC television series “Sherlock,” as well as 2015 Academy Award nomi­nee for Best Actor, married theater director Sophie Hunter on Valentine’s Day of 2015. But, instead of cheers for the happy couple, his adoring fans around the globe shed tears, begging the question: Why do people feel personally attached to ce­lebrities—especially when they don’t know them personally?

Upper School counselor Dr. Margaret Morse believes that with the rise of social media and celebrity engagement in platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, people can catch a glimpse into their idol’s per­sonal life with just the click of a button. Such daily interactions could give a sense of intimacy.

“When we are constant­ly seeing someone everyday, even if it’s just on a screen, it’s like they are a part of our lives. When we read a celebrity’s tweets or see an interview, we feel like we’re seeing the real them, as opposed to a character they play in a show,” Morse said.

As an avid fan of Cumber­batch, junior Walker Tindall first became interested in the actor when she saw his per­formance as the titular char­acter on “Sherlock.” She was drawn to him by his good act­ing and intelligent, down-to-earth personality.

“It’s kind of weird that we get obsessed with people we don’t even know,” Tindall said. “But once you start to watch someone’s movies or interviews or read things about them, you feel like you know them.”

Tindall suggests that read­ing news about celebrities could also have something to do with celebrity culture. Reading about celebrities makes people feel in­vested in those celebrities’ lives, almost as if they’re friends with them. So when something big happens to them, they feel per­sonally affected because it’s like it’s happening to a friend.

But the way the media features celebrities might also contribute to why we feel so close to them.

The way stories are written and celebrities are featured af­fects the way the public relates to these stars. And often, the headlines used to gain reader­ship make the reader feel like they know intimate details about these personalities.

Zoë Ruderman, features editor of People Magazine, is fa­miliar with the use of keywords to gain readership.

“Whenever we have exclu­sive content, which is frequent­ly at People, we make sure to tout that word. Exclusive access is a huge part of what the brand offers its readers, and we’ve found that they’re especially compelled to click on a story or buy an issue when or People Magazine is the only place they can get it,” Ruderman said.

However, writers need to have caution when creating headlines; words such as “shock­ing” and “reveal” are extremely marketable, but if the content is not actually as surprising as proposed, readers can fall prey to false advertising.

Ruderman agrees that so­cial media influences the pub­lic’s obsession with the rich and famous.

“Being able to follow Beyon­cé on Instagram and see inti­mate photos from her vacation only gives people the feeling of being even more connected to her. It gives us an inside look at their lives and makes us want more,” Ruderman said.

Being so easily connected to today’s stars puts their lives at a personal, reachable level for their fans, possibly explain­ing the recent increase in the public’s interest in celebrities. While these connections can manifest themselves as nega­tive emotions, the seemingly personal bond between celeb­rities and their fans can be ex­pressed positively.

“Being a fan of someone or something is definitely not unhealthy,” Morse said. “Un­less you’re truly delusional and think that a celebrity is actu­ally your [soul] mate, then that could be a problem. But every­one has crushes on celebrities. It’s completely normal.”

Tindall herself reacted positively to the announcement of Cumberbatch’s engagement and subsequent marriage.

“I was really happy for him,” she said. “He’s been single for a really long time, and I know he really wants kids. I think he’s go­ing to a be a great future dad.”