damned_colonial: Dr. John Watson (watson)
[personal profile] damned_colonial
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:

damned_colonial: The lamp outside 221B Baker St (221b)
[personal profile] damned_colonial
This post is riffing off [personal profile] wrabbit's suggestion in the discussion prompt gathering thread, which is still taking suggestions for new discussions if you have them.

Holmes and Watson weren't the first detective/sidekick duo, but they were one of the earliest pairs to achieve enormous popularity. Since then, similar pairings/duos have become a recognisable type in pop culture.

What are the distinctive traits of the Holmes/Watson pairing? Who are some of the more recent pairings/duos that draw on H/W? [personal profile] wrabbit mentions House and Wilson, of course, but it seems to me that the very common pairing of an exceptional/brilliant and possibly anti-social hero with a partner who's a stabilising influence or a source of exposition or both, owes a lot to H/W. There are plenty of detective duos, of course, especially on television. When wrabbit posted her comment I thought of Jim/Blair from the Sentinel (a police detective with an academic partner), and then last night, watching Hornblower with a friend, I realised that Archie is a bit of a Watson in a way: he exists in the TV canon to make Hornblower less solitary and internal and help the story move along, is Horatio's best friend with whom he shares everything, and is loyal and straightforward to Horatio's awkward brilliance. C. S. Forester didn't originally write Archie as a partner for Horatio in the book series, and Bush (who shows up later in the chronology of the series) doesn't fit the H/W pairing mold at all, but perhaps by the 90s when the TV writers came to develop Archie as Horatio's partner, that type of pairing had become more standardised?

H/W has also been called the archetypal slash pairing and the first slash fandom (btw, does anyone know whether anyone was actually publishing H/W slash in zines before Star Trek slash came along?) If the H/W pairing is a discernable "type", is that type inherently slashy or queer? How many H/W-influenced pairings have considerable slash followings?


Queering Holmes

July 2010

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