#Sherlockian community: we need to talk
I don't usually like to stick my head out like this, but I deem it necessary at this moment to do so.
The past few days have been very polarizing for me being a part of the Sherlockian comunity.
On the one hand it is a very fun space to be a part of, and I've met so many wonderful people during my time as an artist here on Twitter. However, while many Sherlockians claim to be inclusive and diverse, I've discovered that people tend to be the most hypocritical when they're emotional about something.
There's this new show coming out on Netflix called "The Irregulars" (March 26th), and it's been a roller-coaster ride to watch as many Sherlockians reactions to the cast and the series in general. Many have their complaints, which are mostly due to the tone of the series, the supernatural elements, and the lack of Holmes & Watson as the main characters and them having a more antagonistic role in the series. These are critiques that I understand to some extent, and I agree on some of them. But on the flip-side I've also seen some individuals that have taken to criticize the series for casting POC and women in the leading roles. Their reasoning is often that "it wasn't like this in Victorian times", "that's not a role a woman would have" or that it's "forcing diversity" where it's not necessary. This right here is what's making it hard to be a Sherlockian sometimes, because there IS a lack of diversity in the Sherlockian community as a whole. You're not making it easy being either queer or a person of colour when you constantly are bombarded with people claiming that those things aren't "right" or "doesn't fit in". Maybe someone will say that I'm putting too much thought into this. And yes I am, because I'm tired of feeling unwelcome in certain spaces because I'm queer. I mean, God forbid that I view Holmes through a queer lens, am I right? I bet that really ruffles some feathers out there, and that's just sad. You know why? Because we have very few (if any) queer representations, or any representation of a Holmes or Watson that could be POC in popular media. And if just by putting actors that are POC in something Holmes-related makes you not want to give this series a go, I think you have to take a look at yourself and recognize your bias. Because I've seen this before, and it's getting tiring. The man portraying Watson this time around (Royce Pierreson), is a man that hasn't even gotten the chance to shine yet, and he's criticized for literally being a BLACK MAN. I read an interview with, and he seems like a wonderful and capable man, who has a love for the stories and Doyle. He describes his excitement for getting the chance portraying Watson, and describes Watson in very much the same way I do: as a man full of resentment for what he's done, hardened and being more world-weary. He seems to understand the character, which I thought was enough for many Sherlockians. But since he's a black man and portrays a usually white man, people start to claim the series is 'woke' and 'political'. People claim it's historically inaccurate, that there should be a reason for him being a black man. Maybe there's a reason, maybe it isn't. We just have to find out, won't we? And seriously, who cares about historical accuracy when the supernatural is involved? Come on, be honest; some of you just like to have white, cis characters all the time, because it represents YOU. And you can't possibly relate to a black man and the struggles he might face.
I've also seen people criticizing the new Holmes as well (portrayed by Henry Lloyd-Hughes) for being 'scruffy' and looking too much like the RDJ portrayal. And that's fine! You can have a preference in how Holmes acts, speaks or looks, but you haven't seen the series yet. How can acclaimed Sherlockians and Sherlockian authors on Twitter say that Lloyd-Hughes is a 'fake' Sherlock Holmes while they've written pastiches and stories where Holmes literally fights Dracula or are in a Lovecraftian setting? You haven't seen him in action yet, how can you possibly know? And stop using Jeremy Brett as the only Holmes 'worth watching' or hail him as a prodigy. You're using him as an impossible example to follow, as his portrayal was one of a kind. But may I remind you that that role also caused Brett a lot of strain by trying to be as accurate as possible to the character? The gatekeeping many people experience in the Sherlockian community is starting to become impossible to handle for many of us younger Sherlockians.
I'm not saying that all of the people I've seen in Facebook groups or on Twitter criticizing elements of the series are racists or misogynists. I've seen legitimate concerns and critiques which I agree with. This is NOT a personal attack. BUT when being either queer, trans or a person of colour makes you think that the series is 'woke', 'being too political' or 'forcing diversity', I just want to say this: don't watch it. Don't waste your time. It's not made for you in mind. Watch that Peter Cushing film again, or binge the Rathbone film series again (or if you're a sadomasochist binge the entire BBC Sherlock series), but please be aware of the rhetoric your using while discussing the series. You're inviting hateful comments and discussions about a an actor doing his best to fill some impossible shoes from the actors before him. You'll always have the stories and the various adaptations out there, but let someone else have a go before calling it crap or that it doesn't follow the original stories. Did the Rathbone film series do that? No, he fought Nazis (which is still relevant, plz do this.)
I still love Sherlockians and all of those who have supported my art and ideas. But please support the actors in this series for doing their best. If the series is not good, that's fine. But it's not the people's skin colour's fault. Look at the writing or the directing if anything. STOP CALLING OUT A PROBLEM THAT ISN'T THERE. Diversity is good, and I love seeing all the various portrayals out there.
Take care of each other. Please, there's already so much horrible stuff going on. Please do something productive than complaining about someone's skin colour or their gender, or gender identity. Thank you.