Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Watson and the selfie

I just can't picture John Watson taking a selfie.

Sure, they had him pretty much inventing it in the movie Holmes and Watson, but that was a comedy, using the most ridiculous concepts they could come up with . . . like John Watson taking a selfie.

Looking through my social media feeds, one immediately notices that the bulk of selfies are done by the young and more female than male. Part of this is, of course, that the selfie came along as something one does fairly recently, so one would expect it to trend younger. John Watson, however, has typically trended older and male. He's quite the opposite demographic.

But it goes deeper than that.

As he writes about the cases of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, John Watson doesn't spend a lot of time on himself, how his own day went, how his breakfast tasted, what he had to do to get the rent together that month. He doesn't write of his new hat, or the vest he's particularly fond of. And even when he's really motivated by a potential romantic partner, he just seems to become more self-deprecating and give us the reasons he shouldn't date.

The more one considers Watson, the harder it is to imagine him taking a selfie.

And take it a step further: By 1894, John H. Watson was a celebrity.

His writings don't reflect that fact in the slightest. Sure, he talks about what a success Sherlock Holmes has become, and how well known he is. But as the vehicle with which Holmes became so popular, and the man portrayed as always at Holmes's side, Watson never seems to be any different than he was in the 1880s, when he was a poverty-sticken, ex-army doctor. While he didn't have social media, or a smart phone ready and waiting to take pics of himself and transmit them, John Watson did have a media platform, and a transmission route for self-display.

And yet, the person he put on display was Sherlock Holmes, and not himself. We even know he had written of his own life, due to that initial subtitle from A Study in Scarlet: "(Being a reprint from the reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D., late of the Army Medical Department.)" But we don't even get shown those.

Sherlock Holmes surely would have taken a selfie, for his own select purposes: "Look at me, I have a horrible head wound and am nearly dead! Guess I'm not detecting this week, villains!"  But John Watson?

Yeah, he'd be sticking to that blog. And still focusing on Sherlock.

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