Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Nobody hates bland pastiche

After the latest little round of "hate" versus "why you gotta hate" on Sherlockian social media, it struck me that the biggest thing BBC Sherlock ever did to contribute to the hatred was just getting popular. So popular that even people that would never like such a thing noticed. So popular that it had devoted fans with expectations. Do we ever see such venom targeting a little show called Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century? It went a lot further off the rails than BBC Sherlock ever did. But no.

Because some people just don't watch cartoons. Or we have different expectations of cartoons. Or maybe less people simply cared to comment because it never rose about a certain level.

That thought reminded my of the legions and legions of simply dull, actually-published novels of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson out there. The books you never make it past a few chapters on. The books you dutifully read all of, but forgot the minute you put them down. The books too generic looking to even pick up.

We've had those for decades, and only a few rise to the level of having haters. Take Sherlock Holmes's War of the Worlds, for example. As an early mash-up of Doyle and H.G. Wells, it attracts attention and gathers a few haters. Since I read it in my omnivorous early college years, I loved it, as well as things like Hellbirds and The Holmes-Dracula File. (Though not The Adventure of the Peerless Peer by Peoria's own Philip Jose Farmer, and that has always made me a bit sad.) Most of those haven't remained in the public eye long enough to make hating on them noticeable after all these years, but every now and again, someone discovers Sherlock Holmes's War of the Worlds and takes another shot.

There were even books that were universally hated the year they came out, like Sherlock Holmes in Dallas, back in the days we were desperate for anything to read about Sherlock Holmes. With all the options available now, I'm sure only Dallas natives or Kennedy assassination fans attempt that one, so its dull retread of the details of a president's murder don't get the hate they once did.

Dull just doesn't get haters anymore. It used to inspire those who hated Sherlockian pastiche as a whole, I think. And you really have to be a book to get the full experience of dull in that marathon trudge through hundreds of pages. While a movie can seem dull in its two hour run, you can actually fall asleep during a movie. No pages to turn. But to read a book, you have to stay awake and keep experiencing it, even if you momentarily get into a two-page loop and keep re-reading the same dull two pages. And we've gotten enough Sherlockian video at this point, you don't have to read any Sherlock at all if you don't want to.

I'm not saying that people should hate bland pastiche here. Choosing hate is such a dark road to go down, as I learned with a certain show I try not to mention any more. One of my favorite Sherlockian causes of the last decade was when a goodly number of Sherlockians decided to love Asylum Films' Sherlock Holmes (a.k.a. Sherlock Holmes and Dinosaurs). They looked at flaws and saw fun, found enjoyment where one could easily have found disdain, and actually decided to love it and everything about it. That inside-the-cult fan cult didn't catch on with everyone, but it was one of the most joyous movements we have had of late, simply because people decided to find the things to love in what might have been otherwise decided to be unloveable.

Sherlock Holmes and Dinosaurs wasn't exactly bland, though. I don't know what we're ever going to do with bland, but there surely is a ton of it out there.

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