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Benedict Cumberbatch Has a Point About Posh-bashing

Posted on the 17 August 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Benedict Cumberbatch is tired of all that posh-bashing. Benedict Cumberbatch is tired of all that posh-bashing.

This week, actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s declaration that all this posh-bashing was getting so tiresome that he was considering emigrating to America (a decision that clearly has nothing to do with the pursuit of Hollywood fame) had the commentariat and Cumberbatch-bashers all up in arms.

But what if Cumberbatch had a point?

Hannah Betts, writing at The Guardian‘s Comment is Free, didn’t exactly come out guns ablazin’ for the actor who resembles an otter, but she did concede that posh-bashing is the “chink in our collective PC armour”.

Happily, we are no longer permitted to discriminate against gender, sexuality, race, religion, disability and the like, but it is still deemed acceptable – obligatory even – to toff-bash. Those who blanche at ridiculing Essex girls and Gypsy weddings are happy laying into the la-di-da.

Obviously, the reason why toff-toppling has been viewed as fair game is that the posh boasted a perch from which to be toppled. Many still do, as statistics bear out. This is one of our society’s great projects.

As in all matters of class, the issues are intricate. Poshness is, by its very nature, relative, and toff-bashing is frequently the preserve of people who have led extremely comfortable lives, with middle-class parents who propel them up the property ladder.

Besides, we Brits love a spot of class voyeurism, not least when in economic straits – witness the success of the crashingly cartoonish or, according to Cumberbatch, “fucking atrocious”, Downton Abbey.

What do you think? Is posh-bashing usually done by those solidly in the middle class? Does it matter?

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