I was reminded of John Bennett Shaw today.
John Bennett Shaw, for those newer to the field, was one of the greatest Sherlockians of the last century. A Sherlockian's Sherlockian, an inspiration to every latter day Sherlockian who met him, and a helluva fun guy. And here's the thing about John Bennett Shaw: he was a Sherlock Holmes fan.
I was reminded of this today because someone send me a link to one of those captioned photos on Facebook that people use to make points without having to write a whole paragraph or two. The image contained two photos, one that read "Are you a Fan?" and showed Sherlock panties, and the other that read "Or a Devotee?" and showed a photo of Conan Doyle and some issues of Strand Magazine.
The point of this completely assinine little photo essay is that there are apparently fans of BBC Sherlock out there who only like panties with Benedict Cumberbatch on them and wouldn't care a whit if one of those original Strands fell right in their panty-wearing laps. To which I must reply, "Show me that person." It's really sad that there are some aging "devotees" out there whose egos are still so in need of puffing at this point that they have to pretend that newer female fans are lesser creatures.
Which is why I thought of John Bennett Shaw. The Sherlockian's Sherlockian. And you know what? If Shaw were alive today, he would own a pair of those Benedict Cumberbatch panties.
Just like the chocolate Easter Bunnies in deerstalkers in his freezer. Just like the industrial floor mats with a Sherlock Holmes cartoon and the caption "The Customer Is Our Final Inspector." Just like all those Snoopys dressed as Sherlock Holmes. And just like all those issues of The Strand Magazine.
Shaw was a fan, and fans like all kinds of crap relating to their hero. It validates us somehow. Eventually our houses fill up and we come to our senses, but "fan" is short for "fanatic" and that's what we are about our chosen fandom. Fanatical. You don't do the stuff we do if you're merely "devoted" to something, like a dogged follower of some ritual observance. You don't do the stuff we do because you're one of the "elite." (And seriously, who the hell calls themselves "elite?" Anyone who isn't a narcissist?) You do what we do because you're a fan. And ya gotta love a fan.
Especially one that owns Sherlock panties. I mean really, guys, are you trying to kill the chances that we might get a Baker Street Journal panty issue, like Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit offering? (Sorry, ladies, for the sexist turn, but some of us are fans of things other than Sherlock Holmes, even if we don't write Irene Adler/Martha Hudson slash fiction.)
Whoa . . . totally got away from John Bennett Shaw there. But I think he would understand. He understood quite a bit.