Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sherlock Holmes enters politics.

Sherlock Holmes has never been a stranger to politics. Whether it's an appearance in a political cartoon, a reference to "the dog who did nothing in the night-time" in an editorial, or a simple name-drop during any sort of investigative proceeding, Sherlock Holmes has been seen in political circles for quite some time. But he's almost always used to illustrate a point . . . not to be accused of having an agenda.

So when the headline "PC Mindset Dumbing Down CBS's Sherlock Holmes Reboot" appeared in my Google newsfeed today, I had to check it out. What it led to wasn't much of an article . . . a brief blog post, like most of what you'll find here . . . but it took a direction I completely wasn't expecting. There have been political correctness discussions about CBS's Elementary before regarding casting choices, particularly the transgendered Miss Hudson and an Asian-American female Watson. But this reviewer took it down an entirely different road: Elementary's Holmes is apparently a gun control advocate, based on some statistics he cited. (The thought from the headline seemingly being that gun control advocacy is being politically correct, though that really depends upon the political climate one is currently standing in the middle of.)

As Elementary's main character, Sean "Sherlock" Holmes, seems to enjoy hitting people with a stick more than shooting at them, I suppose he is. He's also from Great Britain, which is definitely gun control country. So one could argue that being pro-gun-control is a part of his character. Joan Watson, being an American, might like to tote a pistol just for contrast, but her mentor keeps insisting she use a stick like he does, to bop baddies on the head.

The blog post also considers Sean Holmes to be anti-free-market and anti-businessman, based on some of his actions and statements. But if you consider what a jerk he is to people of all sorts of stations in life, that would also mean he was anti-a-whole-lot-of-professions-and-hobbies.

The original Sherlock Holmes did have some definite, and sometimes curious, political leanings. He was certainly pro-education, seeing a good education as an important part of the future. He thought England and America would make one great country if they came together once more. He didn't seem to think guns should be illegal, and he didn't seem to think drugs should be illegal, but who's to say? One could get into a good debate as to where he fell on the political spectrum, though I'd definitely tend to think liberal, if not radical. But that might be telling more about me than Sherlock Holmes.

As for CBS's Elementary, I suspect its writers are more concerned with their next plot twist than promoting Obamacare, but you never know about that Hollywood liberal elite. They're as tricky as Irene Adler -- and you know what a show biz type she was. But in the end it doesn't really matter what their leanings are, so much as we've hit a level of popularity for characters named Holmes these days that the politics of one can be worth a pundit's time.

And that's a happy little takeaway.


  1. Last year, Burt and I covered the topic on I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere Episode 45: Sherlock Holmes & Politics. If you haven't listened yet, we'd be interested in your take on it.

  2. You, I think if anyone has an ear attuned to politics, it would be I. But I just have not seen it in "Elementary." There are those, of course, who see acknowledgments of the realities of a diverse society as some kind of political statement.