A rather remarkable little article from a definitely devoted devotee of the few decidedly devoted deducers aka Sherlockians our planet is still blessed in these times of latex and smartphones has recently made its way to daylight on a minor website called tumblr, which only few individuals belonging to obscure subcultures will have heard about. *gasps for air* I would like to
To be honest, that rant is actually tame compared to what you have likely encountered if you are a woman as well as into video games, comic books/cosplay, or if you’ve had glimpses of j-rock fandoms. Just for finger practice though, let's shed some light on the situation - or shred the situation, if you like.
This is only the second draft and will therefore contain inaccuracies and mistakes. I'm putting it here in the hope of some kind beta-readers to help in polishing it up a little. I do not claim that this is anywhere in essay-shape. It is a mere blog post I've whipped up out of nothing, and contains a lot of me. Mostly sore eyes and fingers, that is.
Will contain less rambling about computer programmes and more about differences in codes of behaviour after editing, also bits about that nasty attack on Kristina Manente once I've stopped swearing like an IT student.
The author of aforementioned text, whose name my mental attic will not bother to even keep in the hand baggage compartment, states that the world of true Sherlockians aka devotees is threatened by a new wave of self-proclaimed fans ever since the BBC aired their interpretation of the myth (only preceded by the Jeremy Brett-headed instalment from the 1980s). He then goes on lengthily and widely as to why this development has to be stopped, blue jeans are the source of all evil (obviously), and why women are essentially defecating whenever they open their mouths. I am not going to repeat it all when it is so wonderfully put in front of us, for which I thank both the terribly gifted author and the kind sources who made his devotion a piece of public attention. Bakerstreet Babes, fans, fanciers, and jeans uniformists, this one's for you.
The central thesis of the paper in question is that there are two sorts of people attached to the concept of Sherlock Holmes in this world: the devotee, an elegant and educated creature on top of their manners, always a bliss to look at and listen to - and the fan, essentially the devotee’s unhygienic opposite. The author establishes this comparison most graphically in the way these two fellows dress: one in a suit "or in commensurate attire if a lady" (detail on the latter unspecified), versus the "blue jeans and slogan tee-shirt" of the working class. Fan, I mean. Did I mention the c-word? Dear me, Mr Holmes. Dear me!
Let me dwell a moment on the fashion statement, before we head on to the deeper abysses of elitist bullshittery. Obviously our kind author is serious when he claims to have stayed at the mental level of 1895, given how much he judges people by their outward appearance, except that he did not start about the characteristic physics of either species. Maybe the space was too confined for a detailed explanation of those cunning facts.
Let me tell you a few things about clothes, my most precious reader. Clothes are uniforms and representation, that is true. That is what we want them to be. One dresses in tweeds and ties in order to express their intellect. So do I when I dress in my blue jeans and slogan shirts, if I like them or not, because that is what a programmer in their right mind will wear. If our dearest author looks down at the brightest minds of today's scientific world, lecturers, inventors, professors, some of which will be remembered for centuries to come if humanity makes it that long - if he judges them all as intellectual scum because they stand in front of hundreds of people wearing their jeans and tee-shirts whilst lecturing what is actually important rather than snobbery - then I don't know what he has done to his brain, but as a hobby neurologist I'd love to get a look.
In other words, it should be clear that clothes are not just an expression of the wearer’s self, but also integral part of the culture at hand. What would our author say if a feverish admirer of the Best of Bards, Master William Shakespeare himself, told him down for not wearing pumpkin-shaped trousers which leave nothing to imagination concerning how much a gent he is? Followed immediately by the smelly whole of 17th century, asking how a manly man of manhood who identifies as something better than the rest of creation comes to walk around in anything below three-inch heels? He is obviously breaking with tradition of those fine times, and I hope he is sorely aware of the societal faux pas he is conducting. Come to speak of it, what about the ladies he likes to mention in what looks like the mother of copy-pasted political paper correctness? Is it convention in his circles to dress them up in corset, bustle, and parasol of late 19th century? Does he notice that the formal suit of a lady reveals not just the ankle, but Good Lord, the whole of her lower legs? Doctor Watson would have had a heart attack at the sight (and a few other, more embarrassing medical conditions). As much as I dislike to be strict, my duty as a concerned citizen demands of me to beg attention for these most crucial details of decency.
Our dearest author describes himself and what he defines as his social group of like-minded mummies as an elite. Just to let the poorly educated rest of the world know, this is not necessarily connoted downright positively anymore. In modern use the word may describe someone so stuck-up in their thoughts, so terribly determined to express their superiority, so terribly snobbish and small-minded that finally their once-maybe-present enormous skill deteriorates, gets outdated, overrun, and eventually shrinks in size and quality until what is left is laughable at best, and boring at the rest. I am quite afraid that this is what we see in our example at hand.
According to the author, a fan is nothing but a dull, dumb, and 'poor' fanatic, while the devotee keeps hold of the world the way it was in 1895, or even 1934, and all its values and ideas. First of all, 'fan' and 'fanatic are not etymologically related. Look that up. Second, and quite scarily, holding up the societies of 1895 and 1934 is not just rather complicated in terms of their huge historic differences on a complex base of interweaving global levels, but also means we should return to the mindset of the times immediately before the two biggest and most terrible wars the world has seen so far. 'Always 1895' to me implies that we should return to times of colonialism, where the most brutal and disgusting racism was seen as common sense, a time of gender discrimination, a time when the suspicion of engagement in homosexual activities could get you into prison, a time of child labour and the beginning of wide-scale pollution, and exploitation of the majority of society. Where exactly does this represent the 'gentler, more civilized [sic] world' the author dreams about paragraph upon paragraph? To top this even, 'always 1934' implies a return to the world of the Nazis, for lo behold, their ideas were popular enough beyond the borders of Austria and Germany. Fascism rose years before World War II, in many places of the world, and in the heads of many people beyond those places. Thank you, Sir, but no. We have worked hard enough for the exact opposite of what you proclaim, to make sure that these times do indeed not return. I, personally, will do what I can to ensure that nobody has to suffer the way my grandparents had to suffer. Oppose me in this, dear author, and we can discuss times of persecution and organised mass-murder. Maybe I can give you an idea of what it was like to live in a society that sought the 'others' and got rid of them the murderous way. But hey, that is what you'd like to do with all those 'fans', too, don't you? No, do not deny now. This is where your logics lead. By stating that there are two kinds of people, and only one of them worthy, only one of them valid, that is exactly what you do. That is exactly the logics the Nazis used, and every genocidal force before them. Do not accuse me of exaggeration, Sir, for logics purely exist outside exaggeration. We are talking numbers, Sir. Numbers never lie. They show exactly how your mind works, easy to read for anybody who cares to look.
If the article quoted was a thesis and I had to grade it, I would mark it a fail. Not because I oppose the views expressed, an abuse of position in education, but because it is a poorly written rant that lacks example and proof in almost every paragraph, and provides rather feeble attempts of reason in whatever remains. There is no objectivity in the structure - actually there is no structure to talk about, only repetitions of the same word clusters over and over. Apart from a number of contradictions in the content, this stands vividly against the claim of 'verbal grace' and 'reverence for the printed word' supposedly natural to the one and only Sherlock stan in the world. Again, dear author if you don't know what a stan is, look it up. This is not primary school and I am not expecting you and your superior intellect to be in need of spoon-fed information, Sir Writalot.
This brings me to the next point, which is facts and accuracy. I mentioned the false etymology of the term 'fan' before, being just the first of many more or less gross mistakes in way too few words. There are large gaps in knowledge concerning fandom itself, fandom activities, and subculture in general. Steampunk, for example, which combines manners and looks of Victorian and Edwardian times with Jules Vernes's grasp of technology (if you'll forgive my crude summary of this complex movement), is often referencing to and actually playing the Holmes universe. What about these people who largely use the internet to communicate their thoughts, nourish their activities, who behave and act just like the author would love as all to do, but add touches of fantasy and science fiction, meeting at - add as gasp here - conventions, of all places? How does that fit into the strict black and white world of our by now surely beloved and cherished inkspill?
Watson himself and his list of Things Sherlock Holmes Doesn't Know would agree that the sleuth can hardly put forth anything called a 'superior education'. He knows very little compared to a lot of geniuses in the world, but that bit he does know. The great difference is that he puts it to use, that it is strictly practical knowledge, acquired to have a purpose instead of being there merely for the love of learning – or showing off, call that as you might. He spent the whole of two years at university, never stating as to why he left, how he faired, and if it was with a degree or any other kind of closing point. Holmles keeps whatever information becomes redundant after a case has been closed in an overflowing archive, so as not to fill up the precious space of his memory. This method has relatively little to do with education, it largely consists of former patterns of crime applied to fresh situations. He would make a remarkable librarian, that much I will admit. Whatever claims he has for an education though, I find rather esoteric, or maybe we should call it fictional.
Did I actually mention that Holmes is a fictional character? I'm sorry if it comes as a shock, but he is. Hence my amusement about the remarks of how disgraceful ‘fandom’ behaves, with its 'slapping up [of] signs' for the 'Believe in Sherlock' movement. As far as I witnessed, this was done out of passion and a certain amount of tongue-in-cheek fun, the latter of which a society performing for the sake of ‘parody’ should have a slight notion of. Let us keep in mind that readers once kept wearing black bands at their hats back when good old Doyle decided to kill his nemesis off once and for all, and was pressed so badly by the hungry masses that he had to revive Holmes. There was certainly no harmless fun in that action. Who exactly crossed that border between reality and fiction there? The gentle, superiorly educated Übermenschen of Victorian breed, apparently.
As we mention German, I’m afraid there is a lot of inaccuracy in linking fanfiction with four-letter-words. Accusing the term 'fanfic' of sounding indecent to a German is ramshackly at most. It is a word used in writing - internet, that is - and not so much in spoken language. If it was a German word, it'd have to end on -ck, hence making it a fanfick which does indeed mean 'fan-fuck'. But it isn't, and the final -c clearly marks it an English word, which should not evoke any synapses related to indecent vocabulary unless you go through a certain phase of puberty. Namely the phase when the mentioning of gherkins alone makes you blush, related to fandoms or no. Also, the German word 'Fiktion' means just what it seems to imply, therefore making it possible to translate 'fanfiction' as 'Fan-Fiktion' in German (which is never done, but the linguistic connections work that way), and an abbreviation such as ‘Fanfik’ would account for completely correct grammar. Apart from that, if you want to joke about sex and you can't do it in, say, the United States, do it in Germany. Also, have a look at the culture of swearing, which is a fascinating topic of its own. However, never assume such an innocent words as fanfic would alarm anybody. Not in a country where kindergarten sex education involves cartoon sperms and videos about penis choirs. Oh, and come to speak of stereotypes, what have the French done to you, dear author?
One last remark, before this becomes a monograph of its own: Twitter is the only one of the big social media sites on which the number of characters is numbered. If you have to express something long, use another site, post the link on twitter. That's how it's done. If, however, you want to write a little more, write a few more tweets. Or be actually brilliant enough to express yourself so sharply that it fits into that confined a space. 'Ten words where one would have sufficed' is not always a sign of verbal qualities. It might rather be a sign of verbal diarrhoea, and in dear need of treatment.
Let us take the line above to heart and put an end to the dissection here. I think what it rather obvious to deduce from the source material is that its desperate urge to distance one group of absolutely amazeballs people from the stupid cattle shows nothing but a rather blaring shade of minority complex, one so big it overpowers the abilities of observation and analysis which have made Sherlock Holmes famous. If the BBC interpretation has achieved one merit, it is the truthful update of a universe beloved by many. It has taken the rather dull, easy to solve cases Sir Arthur Conan Doyle put on and updated them to nuts hard to crack, entertaining, educating, and engrossing an audience that deals with a greater brain of both hive-mind and individualism than ever. An audience so adaptive is the equivalent of a software intelligent enough to update itself, and it does so with far less runtime errors than any machine could ever accomplish. This machine-mind is the very audience, the internet fandom, apparently so stupid in the author’s eyes. He might need to see an optician.
At the end of the day, all which matters is that first of all, Doyle's Sherlock Holmes was a modern man. He embraced technology if it helped him work more efficiently. Second, and even more importantly, he showed a level of factual tolerance for each and everybody Watson in his narrow Victorian understanding of what is a proper person (aka a Caucasian adult male) could never follow. Holmes embraced whoever came to him for help with open arms, and protected them from the exact narrow-minded, stuck-up arse we are supposed to look up to in the person of the 'devotee'. Holmes helped the likes of Mary Sutherland regardless of their ways of thinking, he regarded honesty and a straightforward heart as virtues and treated them as such. He would work with homeless children, pay them for their invaluable services, not just in money but also in respect where it was due. Houston, we have a role model.
Oh, and congratulations, Sir Author. Shakespear hates you, Louis XIV wants your head, and Sherlock Holmes will have forgotten about the likes of you once you’ve stepped out the door. It’s over there, in case you needed directions.
© hisietari 2013