Disclaimer: this rant is written for a specific group of people. If you don’t belong to it, you already know that you don’t, congratulations, great shall be your reward in the afterlife.
DEAR [PEOPLE WHO DEBATE ABOUT SHERLOCK HOLMES’ SEXUALITY],
Right okay so! I was going to let this go. I really was! I am not feeling well today, and I saw this, and I was irritated as all fuck, and I thought to myself “No, no, do not. Do not! It is not worth it.” And then I found this, in which the author of this post responds to a “Why can’t you just let people have fun,” criticism with the following: “My family had to flee our native home of Disneyland during the Fun Pogrom of the 1990s. Our Jumpy House burned to the ground and I’ve avoided fun every since.”
As it turns out, pogrom jokes? Yeah, they’re my breaking point. Who knew, right? So…
Here are some things I’m not going to do. I’m not going to talk about the queering of literature, and why what you’ve said in this post shits all over the rights and realities and histories of an entire population; my dear friend Postcard has done that better than I ever could right here. I’m not going to go through your entire post point by point and illustrate each and every way in which things you’ve stated as “incontrovertible fact” are, in fact, anything but (and I’m putting that in quotation marks, by the way, to illustrate my careful reading, since you’re so quick to point out, in your replies post, that “This is why reading frequently is important, btw, so you catch things like this”). I don’t have all day, after all. I’m certainly not going to get into an argument with you about the various and assorted reasons I choose to read the text as queer, because, quite frankly, I don’t need to justify myself to you, and neither does anyone else.
What I am going to do is talk about your tone. The sidebar of your tumblr advises me that you “do teaching,” so consider this some constructive criticism of your presentation method, hmm? Because between you and me, buddy, I’ll tell you what: you could use some work.
I, myself, have read the entire Sherlock Holmes canon. I read them as a child, and reread them a few years ago, when I first fell into the practice of reinterpreting them in my spare time. I know, I’ve admitted it! I am ~disrespecting the work~ by continuing to be invested in it, and by trying to get others invested in it with me, and by spending time and energy analyzing it and absorbing it and trying to rework it in new contexts, oh, god, the shame! Because, as everyone knows, these are the worst things you can do to show your respect for a piece of creative work; I know I, as a writer, would be deeply appalled if I wrote something that people still felt a strong intellectual and emotional connection to over a century later.
Still, despite this great shame, oh the horror of my ancestors etc, I am capable of recognizing it when I am being talked down to. You see, pal, there is in fact a large difference between having an opinion (which is what you claim this post was, despite, again, the words “incontrovertible fact” coming into play) and being actively, assertively, unnecessarily condescending to anyone who disagrees with you. I hate pickles, but it would never occur to me to suggest that those who enjoy them are “terrible terrible people” whose “ridiculous, stupid, shitty theories” deserve my “utter disdain” ; I do, in fact, often ship Holmes and Watson, but you’ll never see me making a post lambasting those who don’t. You are entitled to your feelings on any given topic; you are not entitled to dismiss differing views out of hand, and you’re certainly not entitled to be pointedly insulting in the process.
Is this really how you imagine you’re going to convince people who haven’t read the books to pick them up? By talking down to them, shaming them, and throwing their interests in their faces? Because I’ll tell you what, the people who enjoy the derivative works and haven’t read the books, I bet you dollars to donuts they have their reasons. Maybe they are busy, and haven’t had a chance to pick them up; maybe they read them as children and don’t see the need to go back; maybe they aren’t typically big readers, and find the modern versions or fanworks more accessible, in which case shame on you for trying to send them away. Maybe—and this one is going to be hard for you, maybe you should make sure you’re in the vicinity of your fainting couch, just in case—maybe they just don’t like Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing style.
That’d be an opinion, by the way. Figured I should stop and say that, since the concept seems to give you such trouble. Saying “I don’t like Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing style,” is having an opinion; saying “Anyone who DOES like Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing style deserves to be verbally flogged,” is being an asshole.
I genuinely have no problem with your lack of interest in a sexual relationship between Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. I genuinely have no problem with you expressing that lack of interest—you have every right in the world to do nothing with your tumblr but fill it with posts about how Holmes and Watson do not read as intimately involved, though I think you and I would both agree that that would be a waste of time. I do have problem with the suggestion that, because I find the parameters and boundaries of a romantic relationship between these characters an interesting avenue to explore, I am “putting my crotch in front of my brain” ; my crotch has always been about two feet below my brain, and barring some kind of disastrous car accident, I imagine it’s going to stay there. I have a huge problem with the idea that viewing these characters along or within any one of the thousands of paths that are available within a romantic or sexual attraction is automatically invalidating my ability to view them as full, rounded people; to say that would be to suggest that Holmes and Watson would have been somehow less, as characters, if they had been canonically intimate, which would be…awfully problematic, pal, I’m just saying.
Holmes is more than a series of books, and it’s more than the books written about those books, and it’s more than the movies and the many television series and the various and sundry characters and relationships in other media based on those books. It’s a piece of cultural vernacular; there is no one who responds to the words “Sherlock Holmes” with “Who’s that?” regardless of how well-read—or not—they are. You might consider accepting that, as it’s certainly unlikely to change for your sake.
And, finally, bit of advice: treating people who disagree with you like peons? Isn’t going to motivate them to do what you want. You are not the only intelligent person who has an internet connection and an interest in the works of ACD, and your opinion—while it is your right to have it—is hardly revolutionary. If what you really want is for people to read the books, as opposed to an excuse to call a body of people that stretches to include historians and scholars a bunch of idiots, I’d try sticking to talking those books up, instead of rutting out on talking everyone else down.