Bendedict Cumberbatch, one of the most eminent British actors of the moment caused a furore recently by mistakenly referring to black actors as ‘coloured’.
In an interview on Tavis Smiley, a US chat show, he was discussing the lack of diversity on British television screens saying, “ I think as far as coloured actors go it gets really difficult in the UK, and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here (in the US) than in the UK, and that’s something that needs to change”.
In the current climate of overzealous observers among proponents of political correctness and the media in general, this was homed in on and criticized relentlessly.
Cumberbatch was of course hauled over the coals by the media. Cue the customary PR exercise to rectify the damage caused by the poor incumbent’s innocent mistake.
The terminology used was obviously incorrect and deemed offensive, but who is fuelling it?
The media as usual were quick to get in on the act, behaving more like mischievous school children delighting in the misfortune of others, particularly in the case of celebrities who are deemed fair game, with the absence of any genuine concern for anyone effected.
It would be good to see them cut him some slack, and realise that the correct terminology when describing other races of people is ever-evolving, and allow for the fact that there are bound to be mistakes and unfortunate errors of judgement along the way. What is important is the intention of the individual and what’s in their heart and not necessarily the spoken word. As Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character”. Well this cuts both ways in my view.
Cumberbatch did not mean any disrespect, any reasonable person could see that. As his friend and fellow actor David Oyelowo said, “To attack him for a term, as opposed to what he was actually saying, I think is very disingenuous and is indicative of the age we live in where people are looking for sound bites as opposed to substance“.
Maybe we should endeavour to take with a pinch of salt any further sensationalist, unfair and opportunistic brow-beating from media sources, which are often worthless and wholly without merit anyway, and get on with the job of living our lives and dealing with what really matters.