Saturday, August 3, 2019

The circle of Sherlockian life

Comedy is always good for insights, and this morning one came along from Amber Ruffin, who, among other things, does the "Amber Says What" segment on Late Night with Seth Meyers. In her most recent bit, Amber made a point about diversity casting of Marvel movies and those who consistently whine about change. Her point? It's the circle of life. You know, like the Lion King song.

This really hit home with me from a Sherlockian perspective, as in any fannish community, we're often hit with people's personal favorites as decrees from on high about mandatory Sherlocking. Especially from those older members of the community who have locked in their favorite lists from constant repetition so much that the words almost come out on autopilot. The enthusiasm is understandable, but the expression of it often gets a little too "qualification for being a proper Sherlockian."

We all have our lifelong favorites. For me, it will always be The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, whose movie trailer I saw in a theater just as my newborn Sherlockian eyes first opened wide enough to understand who Sherlock was. My inner baby Sherlockian stared at that movie screen, went "Mommy?" and the bond of attachment was set. So many of us latch on to our lifetime favorites around the time of the onset of puberty, even those things that we might later view and go, "Oh . . . that wasn't really as good as I remember." But if we're lucky, the work holds up.

Every generation has its Sherlocks to attach to, determined by sheer availability as much as anything, and as the years pass, those Sherlocks change. If William Gillette were to take the stage today, most of us would probably go, "Yeah, he's okay, but I like Benedict Brett Junior." Yet there might be a thirteen-year-old in that audience for whom the reincarnated Gillette becomes their Sherlock. The circle of Sherlockian life continues. Nothing stays the same.

The circle of Sherlockian life is one of those undeniable forces of nature that just needs to be accepted at some point, if you love the community. It's easy to lock yourself in with a few buddies of your generation and fight the "Rathbone is king!" battle until you slowly get picked off by death like characters in an Agatha Christie classic that was remade as a Sherlock Holmes movie and called A Study in Scarlet and at least one Sherlockian falls asleep while it's on TV.  (Ramble much, Brad?) But at some point, you have to just accept that they didn't make Sherlock Gnomes for you, and that somebody had a great time with it.

It's an easy subject to discuss using single movies or Sherlocks as reference points, but the larger, cultural changes in Sherlockian culture can be a little more challenging. Even what it is to be a Sherlockian shifts over time. As much as some elder Sherlockians pooh-poohed online fic with the rise of BBC Sherlock, you can't separate the wave of online fic from the massive rise in pastiche publication and Sherlockians writing fiction over scholarship or quasi-scholarship, however those things are defined in Sherlockian circles. The number of writers in our numbers has risen remarkably, and that is undeniably world-changing.

Podcasts, cons, art forms we never saw coming . . . and along with that, enough of us to treasure it all. We aren't going to lose the Old Series Baker Street Journal just because some Sherlockians never come to even know it exists -- we have those Sherlockians already, and will surely continue to have enough of them -- we love finding a niche and burrowing into it. Sherlockians to whom Three Patch Podcast holds a core place in their downloaded digital library can be here as well. Share what you love, discover those who love it as well, and delight in the fact that Sherlockians with other loves are holding their particular plot of Sherlock-land with just as much care.

There's a reason the ear-worm that is The Lion King song "The Circle of Life" gets stuck in our heads so easily. We all have our time. Others will have their time as well. And our Sherlockian life, well, as any Sherlockian will tell you it's definitely life.

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