Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The silo versus the whole farm.

In contemplating the possibilities for the "Fandom Generations" panel at 221B Con, one starts noticing some very pronounced differences in the way Sherlockian fandom as a whole is discussed.

The first way is that oldest sense of Sherlockiana, one that comes from entering Sherlock Holmes love as a first fandom. Before Trekkies, before comic cons, before most, there was Sherlockiana. And to many a first-fandom Sherlockian, being a fan of Sherlock Holmes seems as unique now as it was then.

The second way is that of a Sherlockian who may have migrated into Holmes world from another fandom, with a strong awareness of the fan universe that Sherlockiana exists within. Sherlock Holmes exists in a personal fan pantheon . . . a "fantheon" of favorites . . . and even though he may be atop it all, the knowledge of those with similar passion for other characters cannot be denied.

It's not a binary system of course. There have been Sherlockian Trekkies, Sherlockian comic book fans, Sherlockian Trekkie comic book fans . . . but a few decades back, side fandoms were not nearly as much in  the foreground as now. The thought of a Sherlock Holmes weekend like 221B Con having an hour devoted to Hannibal or British quiz shows in the programming was unheard of . . . programming time was limited, so the focus had to be entirely on the guy who brought us all to the party.

To say a being a Sherlockian in 2017 is the same as being a Sherlockian in 1977, even for those of us who existed as Sherlockians in both years, is, to steal a term from data management, to silo Sherlockiana. Siloing Sherlockiana away from other fandoms, isolating it in its own private fan sector, was a lot easier for someone coming into the hobby in 1977. In 2017, Sherlockian doings happening at something like Comic-Con in San Diego make one very aware that it exists in a much greater fan world these days.

That's not to say the followers of Holmes don't have their own special spin on things. But the tools we use, the methods to our madness, the resources we use, all can oft be shared with other fandoms, giving us bleed over in both directions. Much like Sherlock Holmes gathering his detective tools from every discipline he came in contact with, the modern fan has a goodly array of potential ways to express their fandom, which makes for more enabled Sherlockians. One might argue that it waters down "pure Sherlockiana" slightly, but everything has a price.

Sherlockiana has been around a very long time now, and has been touched by every era in which it has existed, which is part of its allure. What comes into it from the current generation is something well worth discussing . . . even if it can be hard to wrap one's head around, as this wandering little essay might show.

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