It occurred to me this morning that I was acquainted with an unusual amount of doctors long before I worked in the medical field. And a lot of lawyers, though I rarely did things requiring same. And academics, long after I was out of school.
The commonality that I first hit one was that these were all fields that required study. We always think of Sherlockians as readers, but could it be that, beyond that, Sherlockians like to study?
Not the simple memorization that some test prep involves -- though I've see a lot of that when quiz time comes in some societies. But in the actual going-in-deep study of a subject. I suspect this aspect is why some parties object to the word "fan" being cavalierly applied to Sherlockians. We are definitely fans of Sherlock Holmes. To those who dive deepest, however, we are students of Sherlock Holmes.
I mean, I am a big fan of Star Wars. Saw the original film in theaters thirty-two times the year it came out. Saw all the other movies the day they came out, including the latest. I love the universe of Star Wars and love being in that world, at least for the length of a two hour movie. But I don't really care to learn more about Star Wars. What's in the movie is enough.
But when it comes to Sherlock Holmes, I don't just want to read fiction, watch movies or television, and get another hit of that media drug. I've always wanted to learn more about Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, Victorian London . . . all the things that make up those stories. And that requires research and study. Almost immediately after becoming a fan of Sherlock Holmes, I became a student of the Great Detective. My entire college career included one subject I never got credit for, nor attended classes for. Sherlock Holmes.
In order to be a lifelong fan of anything, you can go down two paths, I suppose. With one, you just keep repeating an experience over and over and over. My fandom of the movie Xanadu is like that. Even though it gets a little worse with every viewing as the years go by, I still love all its silliness. The other path is to dig deep into the subject you're a fan of. Become an expert.
And, lordy, do I know a lot of Sherlockian experts, and I don't use that term lightly. I would wager that Sherlockiana has more real experts in it than any other fandom. Experts in Doyle, experts in Victorian culture, experts in certain actors . . . and every one of them became experts in their field just because they began with a love of Sherlock Holmes. A man who was certainly an expert himself.
When BBC Sherlock first exploded, we saw a few Sherlockians pooh-poohing the newbies because they weren't yet experts, and could certainly never be, based on a mere TV show. But, oh, how that quickly changed. The deep cavern that is Sherlock Holmes draws people into exploring, no matter where they come from. And an expert in Cumberbatch has no less merit than an expert in Gillette or Rathbone. There are fan fiction experts out there that hold more knowledge of Sherlock in that field than much of the Original Canon devotee population.
Sherlockians study in Sherlock Holmes. And even if they don't at first, we'll take 'em. Because they may get there eventually. Stay in the fandom long enough, and most of us do.