Sunday, March 1, 2020

Multi-fan versus Mono-fan

It was a good Sunday for a long walk today. It was also the first day of the month, when the Three Patch Podcast comes out.  And with such a long podcast, freshly delivered, it made for good company during a nice Sunday stroll. Alone with a good podcast and my thoughts, I always have more thoughts, and this month's episode "Once and Future Fandoms," was very thought provoking.

Now, one might take a look at TPP episode guide and go, "Hey, you're a Sherlockian! Why you wanna listen to some segment that's half an hour on the TV show Merlin?" My first response would be, "Hey back! Merlin was a good show! I watched every episode!" Being a Sherlockian doesn't mean you're just a Sherlockian. In my early days as a Sherlockian, I remember so many of my favorite Sherlockians also being self-professed Trekkies. Or Whovians. Or all, woo-hoo, three.

Sherlockians who grew up in the TV generations liked television. Sherlockians who grew up in the radio generations liked radio. Sherlockians who grew up literate like reading. And whatever medium you like, you tend to enjoy the best content in it, in addition to the Sherlock Holmes parts. It's the sign of a fine and active mind.

A goodly number of new Sherlockians we gained in the BBC Sherlock wave came with another fandom already in their pocket. That was seen as one more reason to build walls by the older Sherlockians who were a little afraid of this influx of TV-inspired fans, conveniently forgetting how many of their number signed up due to Basil Rathbone and Nigel-effing-Bruce (whom I dearly love as one would a dotty old uncle, but come on!). There was some notion that there existed pure Sherlockians, superior to these adulterated multi-fan Sherlockians.

But if you look back at the founding fathers of Sherlockiana, they were also fans of many another thing. Fine and active minds, as I've said. John Kendrick Bangs was doing Sherlock Holmes crossover fic in 1897, and folks have been mixing their other loves with their Sherlock fanning every chance they've gotten ever since.

And say what you want about the past, our future as humans is definitely not going to be single-minded. Done binge-watching a favorite show on Netflix? Guess what? Next Friday is an entirely new series you just might come to love. Choosing where to invest your fannish time becomes a major life skill, as we have such a bounty of entertainment riches now, with so many that are really, really good. The days of going, "Well, I guess I'll watch TekWar because it's the only genre thing on," are far behind us.

Mono-fanning didn't even exist when we thought it existed. In the 1980s, once you ran out of Sherlock Holmes material to collect or read, you'd find yourself suddenly picking up the fiction of Christopher Morley, just because he liked Sherlock Holmes, too. Soon, you might find yourself with a small collection and visiting a Morley-related site, neither of which activity really had to do with Sherlock Holmes. You could evolve a side fandom of the Baker Street Irregulars society, of Conan Doyle's non-Sherlockian work, of Vincent Starrett bookishness, the list goes on and on, but those growths only came from attempting to stay within close contact with Sherlock Holmes.

Not to say any of those subjects close to Sherlock Holmes weren't of quality, or worth of study, but at close inspection, they don't have that much more to do with Sherlock Holmes than the TV show Merlin. And all it takes is for someone to write some really popular Sherlock/Merlin crossover novel that the copyright gods approve of, and suddenly Merlin has a lot more to do with Sherlock Holmes.

Does mono-fanning, "pure" fanning really exist at all, or is it just a concept for when we want to do a little gate-keeping or find an excuse for our disapproval of something? Or is it just something we see when we look at a human who has passed on so long ago we don't see what a multi-faceted wonder they truly were?

I don't know. But when I take these long Sunday walks, I tend to think about a lot of things I tend to do a lot of wondering as I'm wandering. Thanks, Three Patch, for your latest efforts.

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