Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Cumberbatch & Nudity; Koreans & Wonder Woman

What is it about the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch that the writers and directors surrounding him feel compelled to have the odd actress appear opposite his character in the buff?  While spending the night over at friends’ in Rockville last night, I watched the first episode of the second season of Sherlock, and the lady playing The Woman, Irene Adler, presents herself to our hero wearing nothing but bright red lipstick (her naughty bits are cleverly concealed by artful camera angles and pieces of scenery, much like neighbor Wilson’s face in the old Home Improvement series).  In 2011, I saw The Last Enemy, also staring Cumberbatch, wherein the Big Brotherish technology proponent (a British government official and former girlfriend of Cumberbatch’s character), disrobes in front of him to prove that the bug-detecting device he has is faulty (it turns out the bug’s implanted subcutaneously, so even nude she’s still wired).  Throughout both these lavish displays of female pulchritude, Cumberbatch maintains an exquisite level of detachment, wherein the only stiff portion of his anatomy is his upper lip.  Apparently the actor himself has noted that his upper-class education (the legendary British “public school” system and universities) has led him to be type-cast in toff roles, but I notice that in our day and age the fabled British restraint has unraveled to such a degree in public and private, and being aloof is such a misunderstood notion, in order to show onscreen that someone is outside and above the madding crowd one must put him in a situation of potential sensuality and have him display his uniquely cerebral prowess.  Which Cumberbatch does admirably, his eyes slightly hooded in his angular aristocratic face.

Speaking of cultural tendencies as represented on television, are all South Koreans obsessed with Wonder Woman, or is she simply the only comic book character to which the television producers over there could acquire usage rights?  There must be something of the latter calculus involved, because I have now watched three complete serials (Boys Before Flowers, Twelve Signs of Love, and Prosecutor Princess) and every single one of them references Wonder Woman at least once, as if there is a contractual quota to be fulfilled.  The other explanation is that the whole country has a Wonder Woman fetish, which might be explicable vis a vis the popularity of anime in the area and the seeming emphasis on feminine beauty combined with strength of character—after all, the first Twilight book was transformed into a pair of graphic novels by an artist based in Seoul—but I just don’t know.  Any Korean specialists out there who might be able to explain this phenomenon?

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