Monday, November 2, 2015

Spinning sexual revolutions.

Sometimes when two thoughts love each other very much, they crash into each other and make little baby thoughts. I hope this doesn't come as a surprise, and that your parents fulfilled their parental obligations and didn't leave that education to the school system, because I'm going to relate a tale of idea intercourse in the following paragraphs.

I was reading a review of some published Johnlock fanfic by one of my male Sherlockian peers, who expressed that same curiosity that most of us boys have about the genre. (As in, "What the . . .?") And then I watched the past week's episode of South Park, in which two of the boys found themselves being drawn in a gay Japanese romance art created by girls for girls . . . which made one immediately think of actors Freeman and Cumberbatch. And as I watched the lads, Craig and Tweak, coming up with their own solution to the problem, it came to me: The conservative Sherlockian male's fanfic counter-move.

Let's face it, guys, the internet fanfic repositories are filled to the brim with guy-on-guy Sherlockian action these days. Metaphorical tons of it.  And it's not going anywhere, nor should it. People are gonna like what they're gonna like. But here's the way fanfic, the black market of stories, works: If you aren't getting what you want elsewhere, you write it yourself for you and your friends.

"You know, Sherlock," John said one eve, looking at his friend over a cuppa, "You'd probably be someone a gay matchmaker might pair up with me, but I am just inordinately fond of knockers."

"And said matchmaker would be hard-pressed to make a living, because I can't see myself carnally engaged with anyone who'd wear a jumper like that," Sherlock retorted. "Have you seen Irene Adler?"

Yes, just as Craig and Tweak had to fake a break-up to get out of their imagined gay romance on South Park, the answer for those who disagree with the entire premise of Johnlock fanfic is equally simple: Break 'em up. Or ever pre-break them up, writing a million variant scenes in which Holmes and Watson express their disinterest in each other. Create a new fictional multiverse in which our two heroes care more about solving crimes -- any crimes, no matter how dull -- than having sex. Publish a vast legion of books with that premise, to counter the tide and . . .

Oh, wait, that already happened once. A full century of it, actually.

And after that century of fairly sexless adventures, a sexual revolution came to the world of Holmes and Watson as they were pushed ahead into the modern era, and suddenly fanfic told us they were gay, very gay, and even mutatedly biologically gay sometimes . . . it's almost as if they're trying to make up for lost time, going at it like rabbits.

Yet the one exception to that tide, that one powerful opposing voice in the wilderness, that one corporate conservative punditry that has stood up and shouted the message "NAY! Sherlock Holmes is a heterosexual male who will have sex with almost anyone who has the appropriate opposite sex parts! And Watson? Sure, Watson wants to have sex with men, but because she's a woman, as God meant her having-sex-with-men desires to be directed!" to ten million Nielsen families on the CBS network . . . that one great defier of the fanfic weather is . . . is . . . .

And people wonder why I seem to be supporting the endless creativity we're seeing in Johnlock, etc., fiction these days.

It's a funny old world.


  1. Why do you suppose these unnerved conservative Sherlockian males feel the need to articulate their vision of Sherlock Holmes in opposition to that of slash fanfiction?

    Fanfiction is not telling anyone that a text's characters are gay, to any degree; it isn't intended to be an argument about canon. Most readers of fanfic are comfortable entertaining many different versions of characters, from ace!Sherlock running around on cases with his important friend, to DFP Sherlock using prurient urges to all kinds of ends, and along any number of non-sexual spectra. Writers of fanfiction are indeed writing what they want to write, and their stories are not attempts to discredit the characterizations presented elsewhere. The practice of tagging fanworks in archives like AO3 is a direct expression of this accepting culture. Tags and other descriptors help readers choose according to their own interests, and there is no judgement on those who prefer something other than what looks to be particularly popular. In other words, we care no more than Canon-Doyle about what people want to make or see these beloved characters do: it's all fine.

    Those wanting a discussion on the possible identities of Holmes and Watson suggested in the "original" stories (or some recent high profile reincarnations) should look at the plethora of critical essays and meta in circulation, a distinct type of fanwork. Although most of these creators are also quite tolerant of disagreement; fights about who is right aren't half as interesting as the puzzle of trying to understand yet other interpretation.

  2. Just read a heated debate on tumblr where it seems to show that people aren't quite as accepting as you make them out to be. Many Sherlock fans *insist* that Holmes and Watson are gay, have been gay and were meant to be gay from the start.

    "...tell that to literature academics who, for the past century or so, have written hundreds of articles, papers, theses, books about why Holmes and Watson are queer. this isn’t some niche tumblr or fandom idea, their queerness has been the topic of serious academic publications for decades."

  3. I hope that CBS keeps SH and JW professional and non-sexual. I think of SH as asexual which isn't what Elementary has displayed.
    I'm not sure about the whole fanfiction phenomena and especially the slash. I don't consider myself conservative and work with the LGBT community with our special collection. In the past, patichers have given SH characteristics that they have, everything from asthma and diabetes to autism. The early gay SH was written by gay men. The new phenomena is women writting about gay SH and JW. I'm ok with transformative literature and do not object in anyway with their right to produce works of art. I even understand that it is not written for me. I'm just trying to make sense of the phenomenon.