As crazed Sherlock fans continue their fevered countdown to the return of their favorite TV detective, they should take note: Star Benedict Cumberbatch would prefer you direct your attention elsewhere—namely, to the tension in the Middle East.
At least that’s the message he sent to paparazzi this weekend when they stalked him outside a shooting location for the show. Cumberbatch held a handwritten note over his face that read, “Go photograph Egypt and show the world something important.”
It’s not the first time celebrities have used the paps to promote their favorite causes. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone used a paparazzi moment to help support a charity they believed in by holding up handwritten signs urging people to check out the Worldwide Orphan’s Foundation and Gilda’s Club New York City.
Some might speculate that gestures like these do more to enrich the images of the stars who make them than advance the causes they support. Others might note that the paparazzi are simply the unsavory middlemen in a demand-driven economy in which these high-minded celebs benefit rather hugely from their status as relatively scarce product. But we don’t know anybody that cynical.
Perhaps privacy issues are on Cumberbatch's mind more than usual after his turn in the upcoming Participant film The Fifth Estate, in which he plays Wikileaks founder Julian Assange—a man known both for exposing the secrets of governments and individuals and for his own considerable inscrutability.
In any case, using the occasion to draw attention to serious issues and real news stories can’t be a bad thing.