Sunday, April 14, 2013

Paradigm shifts.

I have dear friends who will never read this.

I say that to start this post just to demonstrate the size of the paradigm shift I'm talking about. This blog might as well be written in Russian as far as certain people are concerned. And the fact that those folk will never read it has nothing to do with their opinion of me  -- were these words printed in The Baker Street Journal, or on any other piece of paper I'd print up and snail mail to their home, they'd see my name and happily look to see what I was writing about. Why?

Well, hard as it is to believe, there are people out there who aren't Amish and still don't quite get this internet thing. And a few of them are old school Sherlockians. Traditional Sherlockian culture has always been a slow moving thing, given to looking back lovingly at a pre-tech era, but the last ten years have really put an exclamation point on it. I give a lot of admiration to Scott Monty, who has devotedly tried to drag cranky old geezers into the modern age, including trying in vain to get me to do RSS feeds, and fought an uphill battle the whole way. If it were up to Scott, the Baker Street Irregulars would have been the premiere web Sherlock group, I'd wager, but there was a lot of self-proclaimed Luddite stuff among old school Sherlockians that it was plain he couldn't get around.

Of course, nobody foresaw how much human culture would change as a result of the technologies the internet brought us. Unless maybe they looked for it, like Scott did. And even he probably didn't get what would happen when new generations grew up with this stuff.

Well, boys and girls . . . and especially you girls . . . there's another paradigm shift going on that you might want to pay attention to. Sherlockiana is trending female. It has been for years and years, since the Jeremy Brett era, just like the mystery genre itself. In the 1960s, when the little group of college girls who later called themselves "the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes" tried to get into the annual dinner of the Baker Street Irregulars, women were seen as complete outsiders to the hobby of Sherlock Holmes. The Adventuresses had all the spirit and Sherlock-joy of the Baker Street Babes, but with one key difference. They began their Sherlockian voyage in the shadow of a male dominated culture.

Which is the main thing I love about the Baker Street Babes. They didn't ask anyone's permission to become a "scion society" when they started up. They weren't burdened by all the old baggage. They just went, "We like Sherlock. We're gonna have some fun. GO!"  And boy, have they gone. The Adventuresses would surely have done similarly, but they really didn't have much of a choice in the matter.  The 1960s kind of sucked. I was there. I know. (The 1960s, not the Adventuress thing. I was only ten or so.)

And look around. Do you see a male equivalent of the Babes anywhere on the Sherlockian scene? Matt Laffey of Always 1895 puts on a pretty good one man show, but he's just the one guy. Of course, that said, I barely get Tumblr, so maybe I'm missing something.

The culture of Sherlock Holmes is changing. More and more, we're seeing Watson more as Holmes's nurturing caretaker or lover, taking on a little more feminine approach to their relationship. Some might argue that it was always there, and maybe it was . . . for women . . . Doyle had a great sympathy toward the opposite gender, but at the same time he was all boy. His characters can be seen in a lot of different ways by a lot of different people, which is part of the reason they're still with us and kind of timeless.

I don't know what the female-to-male ratio is at 221B Con this weekend, but men are barely a blip on the radar here. And one can't help feel that we're looking at the future of Sherlock Holmes fandom, because we most certainly are. Not one doubt about it. Some geezer sitting in some men-only club in Boston right now may cry, "No! We are the true Sherlock Holmes fans, as we've always been!" But as with so many other folks in (and sometimes ignored by) history, the world moves on as it will. How does the saying go? "Man plans and God laughs."

And I know She has been laughing her cosmic ass off at the goings-on in Atlanta this weekend, just at some of the Tweets. We are having such a good time here. All historical paradigm shifts should be this much fun.


  1. THANK YOU for this. This paradigm shift has been approaching ever since the first Robert Downey Jr movie came out. Before then online fandom was mainly a few blogs, websites and the few fanfiction outlets. And we were a niche fandom in a tiny corner of the internet but that movie started the snowball rolling and then *BOOM* BBC Sherlock blew the roof off the joint. And if the scion groups don't get smart and start courting and embracing these new fans they are going to die out.

  2. A little late to this post, but I have to thank you for it. It's refreshing to see someone who "gets" it - and gets it so well. While I will be sitting in a club in Boston with a bunch of other guys tomorrow night, I'm a big cheerleader of the Baker Street Babes, and I'm glad they're having fun the way they want to have fun.

    As you know, there are people who want to take the fun out of this little hobby. Thankfully, their numbers are low and dwindling still.

    Keep up the shifting.