I was finally able to watch “The Imitation Game” without getting mad at Benedict Cumberbatch last night. Forgiveness and perspective are the reasons.
First, forgiveness is an essential. You need to forgive who you hold a grudge against. It’s really unhealthy to focus on something so negative, to let someone live rent-free in your head unless they give you something positive. Besides, what is the reward for holding a grudge? Stress? That will age your system faster than weight supposedly does. It will lead you to an early grave. Besides, people who hold grudges are more likely to drink, smoke and do drugs, I think. It can even develop into something that drives you out of your better judgment. Who wants to be there?
Also, there is perspective to handle. Is Benedict Cumberbatch a real expert on autism, like Temple Grandin? Of course not. As far as I know, he does not deal with autism on a daily basis and is unlikely to do it in the future. He may not know all the traits he portrayed add up to autism. When he visited the school for autistics, he probably did not study for all the signs, so he does not know them. I am simply going to list these traits and present the evidence in the movie.
1) Social Struggles – Examples of this are given several places in the script. Here are a few:
- Trouble with jokes and idioms
- Remember the “are you hungry” scene?
- Joan Clarke had to explain to him this: “They’re not going to help you if they don’t like you.” Turing genuinely did not know that.
- Accused of being a Russian spy for being a loner who does not socialize
2) A need for organization – remember separating the peas and carrots in school?
3) Extreme focus and drive – who else but an autistic could keep their focus on an early computer under those circumstances?
4) The mental skill for and interest with various puzzles for mental stimulation – crosswords, coding, mathematics
These are only a few of the traits for autism. I am not saying Benedict Cumberbatch is autistic personally, nor am I saying such a thing alone. For one, I received my confirmation recently from my mother, who is, naturally, an “autism parent.” I think that means “parent of someone with autism.” Also, independent of the film, Dr. Tony Attwood, Henry O’Connell and Michael Fitzgerald give light to this as well, similar traits detailed through a blog Here. There is more detail over there, but I believe Alan Turing was autistic.
I seriously do not think Benedict Cumberbatch is educated enough on autism to detect it in his characters, but I think it’s rather suspect to get offended at various characters being called autistic, especially when you think autism affects personality – it does not, and I myself was corrected for thinking this. It’s not like Benedict Cumberbatch has autism bleeding through into his work – or is he? As a former theater major, I can see how the focus and drive given to the autistic helps when you’re memorizing major blocks of lines, working through stage movements, and doing various tasks with getting a production up and running.
Of course, I do not think Benedict Cumberbatch is autistic himself. I think he is a very gifted actor whose talent can literally make him disappear into a role. I just don’t think he is as educated on autism as he thinks. As far as any of us know, he has only met a few of them in one age group. A school-age person with autism can be very different from one who is pushing 40, for example. Autism does not affect personality as much as persons on the outside looking in think it does. For example, I took the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, and I got ENFP – Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Prospecting. This is how I act when I am comfortable, with the people I know. I know autism might seem introverted, but I’ve also known autistic people whom I can’t get a word in edgewise around.
So I decided to forgive Benedict Cumberbatch’s autism statements. Yes, they hurt me. No, it does not mean I let things slide. What it means is that I can separate his statements from the person, from the way I really feel about them.