Saturday, December 1, 2012

Just a show. La la la.

"If you're wondering how he eats and breathes, and other science facts (la la la), then repeat to yourself, 'It's just a show, I should really just relax . . ."
Those lyrics, written by Joel Hodgson and Josh Weinstein for Mystery Science Theater 3000, are always a happy reminder of one of the basic commandments of enjoying movies, television, and fiction of any media type. But as anyone who has seen a movie whose characters work in your very own profession knows, it can be a very had mantra to live by. If you're a plumber and the characters are slapping pipes together in some manner that would never work in reality, you're going to have a much harder time with the "relax" part than someone who doesn't know a thing about pipefitting.

As a regular moviegoer, that fine line that demarcates an individual's suspension of disbelief has always fascinated me. And it isn't just in movies that the line fascinates me. The act of writing "tongue in cheek" is always an interesting exercise in playing on the border of reality and fiction, as one writes something as if it's their true belief, yet is obviously pulling the reader's leg. Sherlockian scholarship has always been chock-full of such essays (including a notable recent piece by Lyndsay Faye at on the difference between a fandom and the Baker Street Irregulars of New York), and I have written more than a few myself.

One of the things I love most about Sherlock Holmes's long and storied fandom is that, in it's own way "it's just a show." There's a meta-fandom element to Sherlockiana that is where I've always had the best time. There are enough serious parts to our lives. Our hobbies are the places where we relax, kick back, and let the wine and words flow freely.

At least for most of us. As with professional wrestling, there will always be some fans that think the show is real, and that the wrestlers really have melodramatic feuds being played out in the ring. New folks, just walking into the arena, are always sure to make that mistake at first, but they usually get the in on the fun before too long.

So let's get back to my favorite topic this year, CBS's Elementary, and the seething rage that often gets played out on these blog post pages. Elementary is just a show, right? How can a person get so incredibly worked up about a silly Thursday night detective show, when he should really just relax? (La la la.)

Well, the thing to remember is this: when you come right down to it, a blog is just a show as well. It's kind of a lame reality show, with truthful moments edited and tweaked for maximum effect, but in the end, it's just a show. You can take it or leave it, and it really doesn't have anything to do with our everyday duties to society and keeping reality functioning smoothly. (You are keeping up with your duties to society, aren't you? Tsk, tsk.)

I do, really and truly, believe that Elementary is a mistake of a TV show. Does that keep me up at night? No. Do I enjoy poking it with a stick? Yes.

We can't fire missiles at cars that cut us off during rush hour. We can, thankfully, lob verbal hand grenades at silly TV shows, especially if we're objective enough to see how silly that we can be in doing so. Too many folks with media platforms these days take themselves too seriously and then get upset when their fictional realities don't play out in real life. But the Sherlockian world, with its convictions upon things like "Conan Doyle was Watson's literary agent," is a handy place to occasionally go on a pointless crusade just to blow off steam.

And boy, am I steaming about that Elementary . . . yeah, it's just a show, but then, aren't we all? (La la la.)

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