Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Winner Sherlocks and Loser Sherlocks

Sometimes, when you look deep inside, you see something in yourself less than admirable, even in Sherlockian terms.

I was pondering, as pondering often happens as the warm water of the morning shower hits my sleepy head, why it is that I like this Sherlock over that Sherlock. Instead of just pondering why this Sherlock is better than that one, I dug a little deeper and wondered what was different in my reaction to each one. Whether that reaction was valid in the rest of the universe's eyes or not, what was that gut-level response that set the tone for a portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in my mind?

The answer, I was horrified to discover, sounded a lot like words out of the mouth of someone I really, really despise.

"I like winners."

It's not about the looks. It's not about the Watson. It's whether their overall status in life projects "winner" or "loser." As well as the status of those around them. "A high tide raises all boats," and a winning Sherlock usually brings success to all those around him, especially the Scotland Yarders. And I don't mean just a high-solve rate. A winning Sherlock gets actual fame for his friendly neighborhood officers of the law. His brother, when he deigns to show up, is second only to the Queen as "God over Britain." And even Watson becomes well known to the general public in his wake.

A winning Sherlock is a Sherlock to whom "Norbury" is the biggest wound in his own confidence, because it's the exception, the one thing he doesn't get away with. Even a bit of drug addiction doesn't seem to slow some Sherlocks down, and certainly doesn't lessen their lifespan. A winning Sherlock can be as obnoxious as hell, too, which is part of why we having losing Sherlocks.

Sherlock Holmes as a character, has been winning for so long that his basic public image has a certain infallibility that a loser Sherlock story gets to play against. Conan Doyle probably couldn't have popularized Sherlock Holmes as a struggling loser in The Strand Magazine. But as the amazing, outside-the-box specialist who was better than anyone in the world at what he did? That Sherlock sold magazines.

Winner Sherlock versus Loser Sherlock is a pretty binary breakdown, however, and we live in a world that's just complicated as any before us, but I think we're just a little more aware these days of just how complicated it is. Sherlock is becoming more complicated. I don't think I could even begin to classify Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock as a winner Sherlock or a loser Sherlock. ("Weird as hell Sherlock?") And all Sherlocks have their purposes. All Sherlocks have their meanings, to someone.

Which gives all of us a little more Sherlock to explore these days. The game never ends.

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