Sunday, January 10, 2016

Hate-watcher on trial.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client has been accused of the crime of hate-watching.

You might not be familiar with the term "hate-watching," as it has not been long on the books. Wikipedia describes it as "a neologism for watching a television show while simultaneously hating its content or subject." Google, on the other hand, describes "hate-watch" as follows: "watch (a television program) for the sake of the enjoyment one derives from mocking or criticizing it." As you can see, since this is a fairly new term, we, as a culture, have not completely settled on its definition yet.

My client, as you see him here, is a lifelong follower of Sherlock Holmes, raised among the Sherlockian faithful during a time before expressing a negative opinion upon a particular theatrical adaptation of that classic character became a hurtful attack upon anyone who stumbled into a critical review that disagreed with their own opinion. He also came into his Sherlockian majority during that era when the followers of Sherlock Holmes took great pride in considering Holmes as a real person, a historical character if you will, who existed before any actor took the stage endeavoring to counterfeit that illustrious personage.

A more political man might describe a particular Sherlock-related entertainment as a "boring example," one "that painstakingly want(s) to be original Holmes, but are made with such a lack of love that they surely miss the goal" and is "mainly just constructed mystery plots with an investigating cliche duo in the middle." Such a critic might wisely not identify the source material he is speaking about in the middle of broadly expressing his love of another Holmes adaptation and go scott-free of any accusation of wrongdoing. But my client, ladies and gentlemen, my client is no such wisely political man.

He once described being a Sherlockian collector as using a "vacuum" approach -- taking in anything that came his way that had anything to do with Sherlock Holmes. Yes, my friends, there was a time in our distant past when a man or woman could do that on a middle-class income, as hard as that is to imagine now. A time when a Sherlockian expressed his or her love of Holmes by gathering up any item with a deerstalker or featuring a character named "Irene Adler" or "Grimesby Roylott" despite the quality or actual pertinence of said thing to Sherlock Holmes. It was a different time, a time before the world-wide popularity of the legendary Cumberbatch, before Etsy, before CafePress, before all those T-shirt sites started producing items custom-designed to stimulate fannish cravings.

As a Sherlockian collector used to taking in all things Sherlock-related, what was my client supposed to do when a particular television company began to air a show with a character named "Sherlock Holmes" featured throughout? Plainly, the makers of the show wanted people who loved Sherlock Holmes to watch their show, to give them a ready-made audience, or else they wouldn't have named their main character "Sherlock Holmes." If I give a child a kidney pie and tell them it's a doughnut, I'm probably trying to get that child to eat a kidney pie knowing they like doughnuts. And that child, that poor innocent child, will trustingly take a bite before realizing that what they've been served is not a doughnut at all.

"Ah, yes," you might say, "but once that child takes a bite, they realize the ruse and will cease to eat the kidney pie."

But what if the world only has real doughnuts once every two years, and the kidney pie is served weekly, being called a doughnut every time? Will not this poor child who loves their doughnuts so, try that faux doughnut a second time? Might he not continue to eat the kidney pie as research to prove to that this so-named "doughnut" is kidney pie after all?

Ladies and gentlemen, we live in a time when the term "hater" is thrown around as commonly as references to Adolph Hitler when differences occur. And as with the Hitler references, using the word "hate" in reference to another is typically an attempt to villify them, to make the "hater" a villain who is predisposed to the practice of evil. And once something is tossed in that "evil" category, we no longer have to consider its merits, do we? It's evil and will one day burn in hell, so we no longer have to consider that said point of view might just have a valid point or two.

We all watch plays, movies, or television shows that we find fault in, even after we spot the faults sometimes. The kids want to watch that silly cartoon. The spouse wants to watch that over-the-top drama. One's fellow Sherlockians want to watch a dull procedural. No one is stopping any of those folks we care about from watching their favorite shows. And occasionally, we might find ourselves in a situation where we watch along with them, out of concern for what they're taking in.

Does that make us Adolph Hitler for not enjoying said thing as much as they do?

Of course not.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I'm asking you today to throw out this ridiculous charge of "hate-watching," for not just my client, but all of the accused. Perhaps I have gone overlong in my remarks, perhaps I have strained a metaphor, or overcomplicated my arguments. But in the end, I hope you have seen the simple, even elementary, reasons for a verdict of innocent.

I rest my case.


  1. We consider the client Not Guilty.
    Due to the scarcity of really tasty and satisfying doughnuts there are many bakers seeking to give addicts their fix. Some of these bakers produce filled potatoes or sandwiches - a case filling between two slices of friendship - using an old recipe. Some street bakers produce fillings which are extra and very different flavours to the original product, and some fix any perceived deficiency in the doughnut too. If the client cannot find a doughnut to satisfy the craving then s/he is forced to survive on kidney pies or wait for doughnuts to appear. An alternative is to become a baker, though, make one's own potato and hope that people like the filling. Discussing recipes is essential and so the client cannot be found guilty of 'hate-watching'