Monday, January 4, 2021

Toxically masculine Sherlock offered a curious little piece today on BBC Sherlock and CBS's Elementary and their lead characters' toxic masculinity.

Not a topic I'm usually disposed to discourse upon, but since Doyle's Rotary Coffin has placed an even more dangerous challenge in my path today, it seemed just a part of the day. And, actually, the two themes sort of go together -- Toxic Masculinity Holmes would fit well in the DRC's "Worst and Obtusest Man" theme.

The phrase "toxic masculinity" tends to trigger a reaction, depending upon how one heard it most in being first  introduced to it. Even if one has dwelt among the beastly denizens of a boys high school Phys Ed locker room and knows full well the monsters therein, it can evoke a bit of a cringe for the gender stereotype aspect. (Side note: "Toxic" implies poison, where the worst of masculinity has always been the blunt force trauma. Even as a full grown adult, that's still the part that concerns me most about any problematic member of the sex. But that takes us out of this parenthetical and back to Sherlock.)

In the Salon article, the writer gets into how TV Sherlocks exhibit all sorts of toxic masculine qualities, except violence. They leave Watson out of the piece, and as he seems the more violent sector of BBC Baker Street, given to physically abusing Sherlock off-puttingly much, even in the "comic" moments of Holmes's return from the dead. Watson and the blunt force trauma.

In Elementary, of course, we get a Holmes and Watson where neither of the pair spontaneously beats on people, helped by the fact that Watson is in no way masculine, toxic or otherwise. It makes for an interesting note to compare the two series. While I always felt that the CBS show was the less intellectual of the pair (Sorry, E-fans!), when looked at through that lens it seems a lot more cool and cerebral, leaving the violence to its villains.

Overall it seemed like the Salon article was taking all of Sherlock Holmes's negative qualities and assigning them to his gender, when many of them are non-gender-specific bad behaviours. Which brings me back the upcoming Doyle's Rotary Coffin collection of bad Sherlock.

How bad can Sherlock Holmes get? Well, there were the villainous Sherlocks of The Last Sherlock Holmes Story and The Criminal Mastermind of Baker Street, but one always feels there was something even worse in him. Adolph Hitler loved The Hound of the Baskervilles and had his own adaptation made, but Holmes probably didn't go full-on Nazi for that, and have Stapleton be secretly Jewish or somesuch. There's toxic, and then there's TOXIC. Considering how dark things got for a work or two in the last DRC paperback, However Improbable, one wonders. (A descendent of Sherlock Holmes becomes the unlikely Trumpian President of the United States? Dark! Not writing that!)

Holmes's masculinity is definitely as aspect that might lend itself to such a collection, though, if one is thinking of heading in that direction.

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