We all adore Benedict Cumberbatch for his talents and of course for his looks, but even a poised, Oscar nominee can make a simple mistake. During an interview with PBS’ Tavis Smiley, Cumberbatch made racial remarks by referring to black actors as “colored” during a conversation about the inequality in the British film industry.
After viewing the interview, people angrily took to Twitter to express their opinions. One user tweeted: “Benedict Cumberbatch used the term “coloured” to describe black actors. What year are we in?” Not everyone was quick to take down the actor. Smiley, who is black, defended Cumberbatch by tweeting: “Those who saw Benedict Cumberbatch on @PBS, know he feels persons of color are underrepresented in #Hollywood.” If the man who interviewed Cumberbatch can defend his mistake, that definitely sends a strong message.
On monday, Cumberbatch released a statement to People Magazine:
“I’m devastated to have caused offense by using this outmoded terminology. I offer my sincere apologies. I make no excuse for my being an idiot and know the damage is done. I can only hope this incident will highlight the need for correct usage of terminology that is accurate and inoffensive. The most shaming aspect of this for me is that I was talking about racial inequality in the performing arts in the U.K. and the need for rapid improvements in our industry when I used the term. I feel the complete fool I am and while I am sorry to have offended people and to learn from my mistakes in such a public manner please be assured I have. I apologize again to anyone who I offended for this thoughtless use of inappropriate language about an issue which affects friends of mine and which I care about deeply.”
This apology is great in my mind. He’s taking full responsibility for what he said and he’s not putting any blame on anyone else. You can also tell that someone didn’t simply write it for him and then he delivered.
It’s a little ironic that he would me making such an apology due to the content of the interview, and he definitely knows that. In the United States especially right now, it doesn’t take much to set off anti-racism groups with everything that has been happening. A group of anti-racism campaigners in the UK praised Cumberbatch for bringing to light “a very important issue within the entertainment industry and within society.”
I believe that it also has to be considered that Cumberbatch could have used other derogatory terms to describe black actors and that in the situation, using the term “coloured” might have been the best thing that could have come out of his mouth.
“The lack of representation of people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds within certain industries in the UK is an issue which needs addressing, and we are pleased that Benedict has spoken out in support of more appropriate representation and of the views of actors and campaigners like Lenny Henry,” a spokesperson from Show Racism the Red Card told CNN.
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