Benedict Cumberbatch may have fantastic cheekbones and a name reminiscent of fantasy and fairytales (perfect for playing the creations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and J. R. R. Tolkien) but, despite my usual preference for blonde men with amusing names, I was too busy falling helplessly in love with his portrayal of Sherlock to really notice the man behind the superbrain.
The BBC’s Sherlock Holmes is, by his own admission, a sociopath. His hobbies include: playing the violin; narcotic abuse; playing with guns; mocking all other human beings; and putting dismembered body parts in the fridge. Hardly boyfriend material, then. Surprisingly though, the ability to fake your own death does miracles for your sex appeal.
And I am not alone in my intelligence fetish. Britain is aglow with Sherlock fever. In the days after the series finale the phrase, “Have you seen Sherlock?” looked set to replace “Hello” as the standard form of greeting. As Irene Adler mischievously declares in the opening episode of the second series, “Brainy’s the new sexy”. This does not bode well for my future children. They must be fading out of family photographs faster than you can say ‘Back to the Future’. ‘Sexy’ is completely arbitrary, after all: some people really do like incredibly short women who talk a lot about pizza. ‘Brainy’ is sadly much more black and white. Sure, I can use alliteration, but I have as much chance of successfully using my new microwave as I do of performing an emergency landing in a spaceship. More worrying perhaps is that my method would be the same for both – although hitting random buttons and swearing may be an appropriate response in the face of your untimely death but not really when the only thing at stake is Uncle Ben’s express fried rice. (Run, Boyfriend, run! Farewell, future children!) Trying quite hard not to panic, I decided to investigate: is brainy really the new sexy?
The answer? No. No it is not. There is no use arguing: the internet has spoken. As Google so obligingly confirmed, the fashion world has thankfully not backtracked on its recent underwater theme, declared that ‘brainy is the new black’, and sent models sauntering down the catwalk wearing dresses patterned with globules of cerebral cortex. In the murky world of politics we have the US Republican presidential race: unequivocal proof that sexy is the new sexy. (Newt Gingrich and his alleged desire for a polyamorous relationship with his ex-wife have left us all aquiver and seem to have given his campaign the edge: he has just come from behind in the polls to win a decisive victory in the South Carolina primary. Who cares about policy when you can hear about the candidate’s sex life instead?) And a further glance at the world of television does prove that brainy is the new sexy – but only when the brainy thing is really, really sexy. Thank you, Brian Cox.
In many ways I do wish that brainy were the new sexy. I really do. The world would be a much better place. Peace for mankind might just be possible. Capitalist greed would be a thing of the past. Over-application of fake tan would be nothing more than a bad dream, replaced by spectacles and adorable nerdy jumpers. But then on the other hand, I don’t especially want to die alone. I need someone to help me use the microwave.
Six of one and half a dozen of the other, really, isn’t it.