damned_colonial: Dr. John Watson (watson)
[personal profile] damned_colonial posting in [community profile] queering_holmes
So, this came up in a sub-thread on the asexuality post, and was threatening to get pretty tangential/deraily, so I thought it was worth creating a new post for it.

Sherlock Holmes fandom goes back a very long way, of course. And people have been writing H/W slash for a long time, too. Now we have this new movie, there's a whole new generation coming to the fandom who don't have experience with the older phases of the fandom, and while there is a lot of interesting stuff coming out of the newer fans' engagement with the canon, there are also older fans shaking their walking sticks at those kids on their lawn.

Personally, I'm fascinated by older Sherlock Holmes fandom even if I don't feel very much a part of it. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who was involved with Holmes fandom in its earlier/older incarnations -- any of the Sherlockian societies, or zine-based slash fandom, or mailing lists, or even LJ/DW fandom prior to the 2009 movie -- about your experiences and the changes you've seen.

And to bring it round to the subject of this comm, I'm especially interested in talking about how different groups or generations of Sherlock Holmes have addressed his (potential) queerness. Obviously it's changed over time -- we can have another go-round on the Watson Was a Woman thing and whether or not Stout was really trying to point out Holmes and Watson's queerness, if you like, and if anyone has any other pointers to older Sherlockiana on gender/sexuality issues I would love to know about them!

As for fic-writing fandom, I know when I read older H/W slash online I find it has a different aesthetic and different tropes than modern LJ/DW-centred slash fandom commonly uses. We're Not Gay, We Just Love Each Other is part of it, for sure. I feel like slash fandom has really changed the way we address homosexuality in recent years, based on the fic I've read. We seem much more likely to show our characters having had previous homosexual experiences, or being happily and openly bisexual, or being connected to a homosexual subculture, or being non-heteronormative in other ways (genderqueer/transgendered, asexual, kinky, etc.) At least, I *think* we're more likely to do that... am I missing stuff from the older fic, and if so, where can I find the fic that talks about these things? And, is this happening because newer generations of fans are more likely to be queer, more likely to be out as queer, more likely to be used to discussing and dissecting queerness online?

Bringing in another post that I found this morning (via), by [personal profile] obsession_inc on the subjection of "Affirmational" vs "Transformational" fandom, do you think Holmes fandom is shifting from affirmational to transformational, and is that a generational shift? (I like obsession_inc's observation that "fixing" the story so that our beloved characters have sex is one of the most common forms of transformation.) I found myself pointing at obsession_inc's post and saying YES THIS and I know I'm going to be pointing to it a lot in future because it resonates very strongly with me, and I'm definitely feeling that resonance in what I see of Sherlock Holmes fandom in its various incarnations.

What do you think?

ETA: I know we're getting linked pretty regularly in LJ comms like [livejournal.com profile] holmesian_news, so if anyone comes in from there and would like a DW account to comment on posts here (or post your own), here are three invite codes:

SYMVMRXY9SGCNAAADRN7
ARHCWS7ZK2V66AAADRN8
3AKGFN8AF8B5XAAADRN9

Date: 2010-06-11 04:22 pm (UTC)
franzeska: (Default)
From: [personal profile] franzeska
In college, I convinced people in my English literature for perverts various Renaissance and 19thC sexualities type English classes who were unfamiliar with the concept of fanfiction to read Holmes fic. (This would have been c. 2001-2002) They thought An Ideal Husband was brilliant but were bitterly disappointed by everything they read after that.

I have a vague memory that I'd also read some Holmes fic online before that, but I've never been heavily involved in the online fandom or had any contact with zine fanfic. (Of course, as a nerdy, Holmes-obsessed kid, it's impossible not to have contact with other definitions of Holmes "fandom".) And for years, I've been using "You know, like Holmes pastiche" to explain the concept of fanfic to family and friends.

Now, I'm not sure what the really old slash looks like or what the gen that might have accompanied it looked like (as opposed to the decades and decades of pastiche casefic), but the main change I noticed immediately post-movie was an upswing in Any Two Guys PWP based around the attractiveness of the actors. (Not that I object--they're certainly very attractive, and I'm not as married to the Jeremy Brett version as most Holmes fans of my same vintage.) Personally, I found myself getting interested in Holmes/Adler romance, which is a first for me (but certainly not a first for Holmes fanfic and pastiche!).

Pre-movie Holmes (online, fanfic-as-fanfic producing) fandom struck me, based on a tiny and probably unrepresentative sample, as being full of queerness. FTM Holmes. Gay subculture-involved Watson. Crossdressing bisexual actresses. Explorations of 19thC sexual identities clearly written by bored students in the same English-for-perverts classes I was taking. A lot of this stuff also struck me as being either more book based or based on a mishmash of many different versions--the expected level of both historical knowledge and Holmes geekery was really quite high. There were footnotes!

I certainly wouldn't say that no book fans like the movies or that no new movie fans are reading the original stories, but newer fans are going to be less burdened by or less familiar with the entire massive Holmes media history since they haven't spent a decade or five reading and watching it.

So, uh, in a highly biased, personal experiance bounded, navel gazing kind of way,

" I feel like slash fandom has really changed the way we address homosexuality in recent years, based on the fic I've read. We seem much more likely to show our characters having had previous homosexual experiences, or being happily and openly bisexual, or being connected to a homosexual subculture, or being non-heteronormative in other ways (genderqueer/transgendered, asexual, kinky, etc."

is the exact opposite of my perception of Holmes fandom. I do see opposing (different? orthogonal?) forces in Holmes "fandom" that consist of taking Holmes pastiche and adding queerness vs. taking slash fandom and adding Holmes and another set of forces that consist of responding to a specific story or a specific adaptation of a specific story vs. responding to the entire history of Holmes pastiche/fic/fandom/analysis, but I don't see either of those pairs as primarily related to the new movie.

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Queering Holmes

July 2010

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