Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Geek Squad, Part II

To make up for my brain's failure the other day, I thought I'd dive back into the idea of the "sexy geeky leading actor" and attempt to look at this a little more closely in three particular actors: David Tennant, Matt Smith, and Benedict Cumberbatch (I know, I know, it's only a matter of days until the cease and desist order comes; it's getting out of hand. My apologies for the trillionth time).

But first, what makes a guy considered geeky attractive? This website had some thoughts, as well as these Youtube videos:

How does this play out with celebrities? Let's see...
1) David Tennant: This man is ridiculously popular. Ridiculously. Last spring, I saw in person at my university the dismay and upset of a Whovian who had still not gotten over the fact that he is now married (she was actually quite irate about it; it was kind of surprising). He's played one of the most popular (if not the most popular) reincarnations of the Doctor and also has various movie roles (Barty Crouch Jr in the fourth Harry Potter film... I had no idea that was him o.O And he was also epic in Fright Night). But what makes him geeky and attractive to geeks?

Obviously it's Doctor Who. Playing a charismatic and humorous yet darkly tinged hero makes him incredibly attractive (I don't know much about Mr. Tennant  as a person, so this is the best I can postulate on). The Doctor is... but why am I yammering on about the Doctor when Craig Ferguson has a perfectly brilliant explanation of it all? Cue Mr. Ferguson:

"Intellect and romance triumphing over brute force and cynicism" - bingo. That's it. Maybe at the core of being a geek is a little bit of romanticism and characters like the Doctor speak to that. And thus, when actors like Tennant become this character, they appear to express these same qualities from within themselves.

Also the Scottish accent and tight leather pants from Fright Night probably doesn't hurt.
2) Matt Smith: Pretty much the same deal as Tennant. I haven't seen much of the 11th Doctor yet, but I like what I've seen so far. Very excited and curious and child-like, but also angry and dark and wizened. It's pretty epic.

And again, it's speaking to that romantic sentiment. Matt Smith has often been dubbed as fans as acting like the Doctor when he's just himself (like in this post. And a hundred others I've seen and now can't find). It's easy to read a lot of his personality into the Doctor, as it is with Tennant.

Also, the hats and hipsterness doesn't hurt.

3) Benedict Cumberbatch: Somewhere in the infinity that is the universe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is very, very upset with us. For many reasons, especially this:
Oops. (I especially like this ghostbees comic on the same topic.) But in related ideas, Conan Doyle is probably upset with the continual perception of Sherlock Holmes as a sexy crime solver. I mean casting Rupert Everett and Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone and Robert Downey Jr. and now Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller... Oops.

On one hand, it's like trying to cast the role of Mr. Rochester: he's supposed to be unattractive but he's also a romantic lead so it's kind of a Catch 22 for Hollywood (unless you cast Michael Fassbender, of course, and then it's just like well fuck it, it's Fassbender, we don't even care. He was great in that movie so this is not a complaint). So there is a sort of trend towards making Holmes and Rochester (shall we say) aesthetically pleasing.

But, being a Sherlockian since I was thirteen or so, there is something sort of sexy about Holmes which I think Conan Doyle didn't expect modernity (or post-modernity, or post-post-modernity, if you so desire) to fixate on. And that, namely, is:

(Another gif I'm going to end up overusing; I can tell :P)

 Geeks find intelligence sexy. Why? Well...

Yup, American high schools; gotta love them (but, as a wise Youtube commenter said: "Don't blame the kids, blame the schools that educate them". And not all schools are this bad. Well, mine was pretty painful; there was a teacher there that didn't know a squid was an animal. And she taught honors and AP Biology. Oh yes...). This is one reason at least I find intelligence a rather nice trait. Because if I have to spend my time talking with someone explaining that Canada is in fact not a state in the United States, I'm going to be rather put out.

But sometimes I feel rather confused about this whole intelligence thing. Like when people comment that they aren't surprised I'm a book worm because I look like one. Or how someone can look intelligent. But often see Cumberbatch, Tennant, and Smith described as intelligent-looking. And I find myself agreeing with this idea but I don't know why. What does intelligence look like? Is it something about their smile, their eyes, their freaking cheekbones? Who knows?
And it gets more baffling for me. Like the blog that's devoted to words Benedict Cumberbatch has used to and explaining what they mean and where they've used by him (interesting thing I thought of. Isn't it funny how Cumberbatch's vocabulary is emphasized but Smith's and Tennant's aren't? I feel like they could use the same sort of descriptors and terms but aren't recognized for it. Unless Cumberbatch's vocabulary really is that singular; I can't say).  Part of me is quite glad that people are praising high vocabulary and wanting to expand theirs. But at the same time, I'm thinking, "Wait... I use some of these words sometimes. I know what they mean. Is that unusual? Is emulate that uncommon of an English word?" And then I feel very confused as my vocabulary isn't that extraordinary and I can't spell to save my life (thanks for that, Catholic school; phonetic spelling is a FAIL. I will forever sound out Wednesday as Wed-nes-day so that I can spell it correctly. This is apparently a Catholic school method of teaching spelling; two or three other people I have conferred with on this agree. Why? Haven't a clue). Point is, I feel rather odd about people extolling words I've come to see as everyday. But then I'm the sort who'd rather download a dictionary on her iPhone than that flashlight app that Kevin keeps telling me I should get (dictionary app WAY more helpful for classwork bro; just saying). Is that weird? I no longer know (and don't actually care. I like words. Even if I cannot spell them :P).

Also, the Tumblr post I included image-wise in my last post gets me kind of confused to:

Intelligence intimidating? Maybe... The only situation like this that comes to mind for me was with a professor who was teaching an upper level undergraduate/intro graduate course who looked like Anthony Bourdain and was very, very intense about everything. As in he spent an hour explaining why he despised Charles Baudelaire and Gustave Flaubert so much and I sat there in class almost cowering because he was so intense about it all, speaking in this really dark, heavy voice and raising his voice but not shouting, like someone right on the verge of getting into an argument. Yes, I couldn't remember a damn thing about Madame Bovary and I hadn't read any Baudelaire yet (they weren't assigned for class; this was actually kind of a tangent on the professor's part) but it wasn't because he knew these things and I didn't that intimated me; it was that he was so fierce in expressing it. It wasn't his knowledge; it was his delivery (and the fact that he really, really hated Baudelaire more than I hate 50 Shades of Grey - and that is saying something).

I kind of doubt that Mr. Cumberbatch is like my college professor (otherwise interviews with him would be very, very difficult, I should think). He seems far more laid back. So I'm rather confused how he could be intimidating. But then maybe I should admit that just maybe I have "above average intelligence" (whatever that means, because now we're getting into the issue of actually being able to measure intelligence with numbers and tests, which I think is just plain silly) and might have at one point or another intimidated people with things I have said. Maybe we're intimidated because we're just afraid of saying we don't know something...

Okay, steering clear of a giant tangent I feel coming on there, I'm going back to Sherlock Holmes. You know who is incredibly intimating? Sherlock Holmes. The bro can deduce where you're from, what you've been doing, and whether you're any good at football in ten seconds. Awesome - but terrifying. So if he's so intimidating, why is he still sexy?

Good question. Guess who doesn't have an answer?

Yup. This blogger.

I will admit, the first time I read A Study in Scarlet, I hated Sherlock Holmes. I couldn't understand why he was so popular; he seemed like a total tool for thinking things were so obvious. I really, really didn't like him. But then I reread the story later and thought he was brilliant. Sarcastic, rude, and brilliant. What changed? I probably started seeing aspects of myself and others I knew in Holmes. I probably figured out that Conan Doyle wrote detective stories differently then we do today (as in there is little chance you'll be able to deduce what's going on until the end because you don't get the clues along the way). I probably enjoyed the fact that Holmes was a bit of a tool (but a clever tool). And I'd probably seen this by that point:
(Ugh. Top hat. I totally forgot he wore that damnable thing in this film.)

This is Rupert Everett as Sherlock Holmes from BBC/Masterpiece Theater's Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking. I get the feeling this wasn't very popular but I loved it. I've realized in retrospect that this is the first Sherlock Holmes actor I encountered that wasn't directed towards kids (ie: The Great Mouse Detective and Wishbone, both of which I adored - and continue to adore) and set me up for a world of sexy, deducing detectives. Thanks for that, BBC.

But why is it sexy? In some ways, Holmes is like the Doctor - deeply flawed but deeply intelligent and using intellect over brute force. And romance... well, perhaps no, perhaps so (I'll let the Johnlock shippers and anti-Johnlock people fight that one out). Regardless, the relationship between Watson and Holmes is crucial and without it, we wouldn't have any of the stories, as Watson recorded all of Holmes' cases and was interested enough in his work to document it and... TANGENT. SORRY. (I like how the bits on Tennant and Smith were all nice and neat and then we get down to Cumberbatch and it's just a disaster. How did this even happen...) Unlike the Doctor, Sherlock Holmes (as a wonderful post put it - which I now of course can't find) is a man trying to be a god while the Doctor is more like a god trying to be a man. Think about it...
So, like Tennant and Smith, Cumberbatch seems to have become very popular (and thus very sexy in the eyes of many) for assuming a role that speaks to... well, geek ideals it seems. Intelligence and intellect and sarcasm and such. But I'm still kind of baffled why I see so much more on Cumberbatch's intelligence than Tennant's or Smith's. Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places. But even looking through posts on Tumblr doesn't generate much help. What is this? I mean, look at this Tumblr post on Cumberbatch: it's a freaking list of merits and attributes. I've never seen anything like this for Smith and Tennant. Maybe Cumberbabes/bros just really like lists. The most I could scrounge up for Tennant was a nineteen second clip of him speaking German and the fansqueeing that follows in comments. And for Smith...
Shut up, Tumblr. It is nearly the premier of the new season of Doctor Who so that's all I'm going to be getting for the time being anyway. But I'm still weirdly baffled by the difference. Maybe it's just the difference in actors, or a difference in fandoms. Or is it also a difference in representing them based on the characters they play? Maybe I just need to diversify my blog following more...

As usual, I haven't the foggiest. And I'm also running out of Martin Freeman-hedgehog photos and have given in to making a few myself :P In the meantime, enjoy this comparison between Sherlock-Cumberbatch and Toothless from How To Train Your Dragon:
That should only take about a day for people to start making Smaug references with that...

Ooh, and one last thing before I meander off here - I've been getting some really good ideas/submissions from talking to my friends Ashley, Bridget, and Sarah, and from emailing with my penpal Paulina. But if you happen to have some sort of recommendation, submission, idea, more pictures of Martin Freeman and hedgehogs, or you're Mr. Cumberbatch's lawyer sending me the cease and desist order, feel free to send them my way, either in email or comment form. Or if you're also confused as hell because you ended up here just looking for a photo of Matt Smith on a dinosaur, that's okay too. :D


  1. I wish I could think of something smart and post-related to say, but I'm ill and tired and therefore can't just at the moment, so I'll just say that I think this blog is amazing. It's fascinating, just the sort of thing I'm interested in at the moment and I've been keeping it open in my tabs generally at all times so that I will never miss when it updates. Keep up the great work, and once I feel a bit more with it I might be able to make [a] topic-related comment[s]!

    1. Oh my goodness; thank you so much! I'm so happy to hear you think it's so interesting. Feel better and thanks for following! :D

  2. Would you be interested in writing an article about the fickleness of fandom? After all these recent controversies involving various members of the Sherlock cast, I've noticed it's become quite a common thing for people in fandom (especially on tumblr) to put actors on a ridiculous pedestal. One minute they're full of love and adoration, the next they hate the actor with a fiery passion because as it turns out, he/she is just like the rest of us and not in fact free of flaws.

    It honestly really bothers me, haha, because I see actors who seem like genuinely lovely people (such as the Sherlock cast) get accused of the nastiest things. Their whole reputations are ruined because of a bad choice of words (often on twitter), a misquote or even a simple rumour. This can apply to comedians and musicians as well.

    Sorry for rambling away like that, haha. I hope it made sense.

    1. I would LOVE to write about this; awesome recommendation! I as actually just sort of thinking of this with the misquotation of Mr. Cumberbatch about the show Elementary, so that'd be a perfect tie-in. Thank you so much!

    2. Well, I've been reading this blog like nonstop for the past couple hours or so (I got here by googling "fangirls.") ....Anyway, let me just say that I've really been enjoying it so far.You've given some interesting insights, made me burst out in laughter several times, and just overall have piqued my attention. Anyway, while I was reading this (I have been reading up on what little information I can find on fangirls recently) I was wondering if you could explain why there are so many yaoi fangirls? I mean, I myself am a fangirl, and have been for several years, but I just don't get it. I even recall a comment on some YouTube video where someone started that usually when they are attracted to a guy they start picturing them with other guys. And then another person was like, yeah, my sister does that too. I just don't really get it, and kinda wonder why, and when you mentioned stuff about suggestions, I decided this is totally the perfect time to ask. So, I'm wondering you would possibly explore this topic sometime in the future? I'd really like to read some about that... But if not, I totally understand. And this is random (but sorta fangirl-related). Why is there the frequent use of cat ears in Japanese anime? I mean, seriously? Hahahaha,--just fangirl to fangirl. :) I'm curious and always seem to enjoy reading your opinion on things. Keep on blogging!

    3. Thank you so much for reading! I'm humbled and grateful for your kind words. I will definitely work on a post on yaoi fangirls; it's a great question and one that deserves to be looked at. I'm a little less familiar with anime than I am with TV shows, so I might make more references to slash fiction and "shipping" on Tumblr, but I know a little bit about yaoi and will look into it further. Unfortunately I haven't talked about anime fangirls out here much, mainly due to my own lack of knowledge, but they definitely are part of the fangirl community and deserve some posts on my part!

      As for the use of cat ears in Japanese anime, I'm as clueless as you are :D I've wondered that myself when I looked at the manga my friends read in high school and I simply don't know why that usage exists. But now I'm curious about it and will have to do some looking into it!