Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Sherlockian politics.

Apparently my Monday's post had a little too much "vaguebooking" to it, and a few folks would like me to get a little deeper into the subject of Sherlockian politics. While I don't know the incident that originally caused the topic to show up in my social media, it is a subject that I have no end of thoughts on, so let's go for it, shall we?

Politics, as we are currently experiencing it in the larger world, is candidates trying to make the rest of us happy enough so that they can have a position in the government. In some elder parts of American Sherlockiana, it works in the opposite direction, where folks try to keep the gatekeeper(s) happy enough so that they can get an invitation or some other recognition. You can make a case for politics being about power or strategy or whatever, but I tend to think it's basically about keeping somebody happy.

It may be the aged leaders of some older group. It may be some faction of attendees at some newer con. But Sherlockian politics, when it comes up, always seems to be about mollifying somebody . . . and sometimes that comes at the expense of someone else.

Take the Baker Street Irregulars of New York, for example, an easy target when it comes to Sherlockian politics. They have an exclusive membership and invitation list with some actual gatekeepers picking and choosing who gets in. And that is being done to appease somebody, somebody who get anxious at the thought of letting just anybody into their annual dinner, for fear some quality of that experience might be ruined.

While most of us have been to a lot of open Sherlockian dinners and can't recall seeing one ruined by some hobos or gypsies or unwashed Sherlockian masses turning up, the history of the B.S.I. does include something one might call "tourist attendees." Without getting into a "who is a real fan" argument, back in the 1980s, they did have some people showing up that actually didn't give a crap about Sherlock Holmes, just coming along with a friend to see the celebrities there. So one could say open invitation anxieties have some roots. Doesn't mean they might not be as valid as they once were. Doesn't mean they're necessarily a good plan for the future. But there are fears that some feel must be appeased.

The cost, of course, is inclusiveness, acceptance, and a level of interaction with the average Sherlockian. Which is the other side of the political fence . . . almost literally in the case of a barriered group . . . in order to keep some happy, a lot of folk are just expected to suck it up until their turn comes around and the high lords of invitation and investiture reach down and pluck them from the masses. Which doesn't make anyone on the outside really that happy, until they're on the inside.

And even on the inside, to be fair, that business can grate a bit.

Sherlockian politics is a lot like regular politics in that there are liberals and conservatives, hot-heads and apathetics, and opinions and opinions. The new generation of Sherlockians has a few contentious issues of their own, and the deeper any of us get into this hobby, the more opinions we're going to have. And you can pretty much find a jerk or two on any side, if you're looking for one, along with some decent folk who just have a little different view than yours. The jerks can really color our views of things if we let them, and at the same time, we can't always go, "La la la, Sherlockiana is the happiest, problem-free place on Earth!" We're not Disney. (Oh, but if we were . . . sigh.)

One of my favorite Sherlockians once compared our stodgiest Sherlockian institution to a train -- very slow to turn (and you definitely have to pick the right place on the tracks!). That person's happy involvement always cheers me, because I can see a bit of the future in them, and  it gives me hopes it will all work out. At least for the most part . . .

Because we're always going to have some Sherlockian politics to stir us up, being human and all. Some people are going to be made happy and some people are going to keep pushing when things get a little too unhappy. Others were just going to be jerks no matter what. Change happens, and we go through it all again.

Yet overall, we seem to have some fun. And so on we go.

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