A British teenage boy has been deluged by thousands of Chinese netizens after posting photos of himself on a social networking site boasting of his resemblance to Benedict Cumberbatch, star of BBC drama Sherlock.
His account on Instragram, an online photo-sharing site, has since emerged in the last few days as a “must go-to site” for fans of the British actor, who has garnered a huge following in China for his lead role as Sherlock Holmes in the popular detective show.
The Instagram handle and site link for the boy, who describes himself as being 16 and from the UK, quickly spread across Chinese cyberspace as he posted several self-portraits, or ‘selfies,’ on his website, and was not shy about comparing himself to the British movie star.
Some of his photos are composites of Cumberbatch’s stage photos and his own self-portraits, placed side by side. He also uploaded pictures of Cumberbatch which he labelled as ‘selfie’ and labelled another picture of the actor, which appeared to be a screen grab from the BBC motoring show Top Gear, with the comment: “Watching myself on TV”.
Sherlock fans, Cumberbatch admirers and other curious online users quickly logged onto his account to leave thousands of comments, of which the majority were in the Chinese language.
“You should post videos of you pretending to be Sherlock. Say some quotes, please?” one said.
“He can certainly play the role of Sherlock Homes in his childhood,” said another, while a third jokingly asked if he and Cumberbatch were related: “Are you sure they are not father and son?”
As one commentator said: “This is the first time I see so many Chinese comments on Instagram. Well done!”
Apparently overwhelmed by the sudden influx of hundreds of Chinese comments under his previous postings, the teenager bluntly posted an image of a note reading: “Chinese followers. Stop commenting on all my stuff”.
This curt posting quickly saw a backlash from many Cumberbatch fans who, after suddenly finding their attention unwelcome, deemed the note to be rude and offensive. The post itself along drew over 3,600 comments within hours.
“If you really want [the attention] to fade away, maybe you should stop adding tags to remind people of Benedict,” one user commented, blaming the boy for drawing too much attention to himself.
Others urged the teenager to set his account settings to private if he didn’t want comments on his photos, while some sensitive users even took it further, claiming the boy’s response was racism against Chinese.
Similar postings were made by Chinese netizens on the boy’s Facebook account, which is linked to his Instagram handle in his account description.
However not all comments reprimanded him. Many showed sympathy, urging his critics to stop harassing the teenager and infringing upon his privacy.
One user condemned those who scolded the boy, asking “What did the boy do to deserve all the hate?” and arguing that those critical should be ashamed of themselves.
The teenager has so far not responded to the thousands of comments.
The Sherlock TV series produced by the BBC, which first aired in 2010, has become massively popular in China where drama fans have increasingly been drawn to British TV.
When British Prime Minister David Cameron asked followers to pose questions when he opened a Chinese microblog last November, just prior to his China visit, among the most frequently asked questions by bloggers were along the lines of: “Please can you speed up the release of a new season of Sherlock?”.