Sherlock Holmes; an ironic name, person, story and idea that has been re-adapted and reinterpreted numerous times reflecting each culture and decade. Holmes was originally portrayed as an Englishman which is evident in the cultural knowledge and background present in the books. This has often been followed through in the television adaptions until ‘Elementary’ was produced. The show was created by CBS and has its own unique twist on the iconic character. It breaks down gender barriers by portraying Watson as a female of colour. Unlike its British counterpart Watson is seen with the utmost respect by Sherlock, who often belittles Watson in the English version (Asher-Perrin 2014). Elementary is also set in an entirely different country, America, specifically New York City. Unlike previous predecessors CBS presents Holmes as a dark character, with severe drug problems, although this is recognised in the original it isn’t as sinister, furthermore in Elementary Holmes is also a sex addict, something that hasn’t been explored before. Below depicts a YouTube video which portrays the trailer for Elementary recognising Holmes as a character like no other.
Due to the popularity of Sherlock Holmes fan fiction has become an integrated part of the show particularly the UK version known as ‘Sherlock’. Sherlock creates a sense of familiarity through the exploration of universal themes including class, gender, nationality and ethnicity making the audience more inclined to invest into the series (Krasher 1997, p. 424).
The latest episodes have now become “blog-aware”, Guardian critic Mark Lawson recognises “a running gag in the script the wild and sometimes lurid online speculation in the real world about the circumstances in which the detective had apparently been able to fake his death in a rooftop fall” (Penny 2014). Fan fiction is far from new, but due to the availability of the internet it has become a more prominent factor as communication and the ability to share knowledge and values has become an important element within society. Below depicts one of many Sherlock fan fiction creations, indicating the influence the show has.
Often Sherlock fan fiction comments on the underlying chemistry between Sherlock and Watson which is never properly explored within the show.
Fan fiction is dominating the web, flowing through several genres including movies, television shows and books. Even some devoted fans have extended these stories by establishing their own ideas, sometimes gaining acclaim for their work. For example “Sherlock Holmes is now in the public domain…any writer may use the characters of Holmes and Dr John Watson in whatever way they see fit” (Penny 2014). This leaves open the ability to recreate the story into various forms without copyright infringement.
Fan fiction engages the audience, it brings fellow followers together, but it can also distress the author, as they feel like the characters are being taken away from them and transformed into people that are completely opposite to what they imagined. Penny (2014) recognises that Time critic Caitlin Moran asked the actors of Sherlock; Benedict Cumberbath and Martin Freeman to read out some sexualised fan fiction that was discovered online to amuse the crowd, however the writer of Sherlock became deeply offended stating that Moran was “humiliating me, taking my writing out of context without permission, belittling it and using it to embarrass actors who I deeply admire” (Penny 2014). Fan fiction has become widespread and transformed itself into a web based prodigy. It is up the writers and actors of these popular forms of art to embrace the fans adaptions of their work, because without them they wouldn’t be successful.
Asher-Perrin, E 2014 ‘Battling Super Sleuths: The Awkward Case of Elementary, Sherlock, and Building the Better Adaptation’ Tor.com, 24 February, viewed 23 September, <http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/02/battling-super-sleuths-the-awkward-case-of-elementary-sherlock-and-building-the-better-adaptation>.
Krasher, J 1997, ‘Watson Falls Asleep: Narrative Frustration and Sherlock Holmes, English Literature in Transition, vol. 40, no. 4, pp. 424-436.
Penny, L 2014, ‘Sherlock and the Adventure of the Overzealous Fanbase’, NewStatesman, 12 January, viewed 23 September, <http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2014/01/sherlock-and-adventure-overzealous-fanbase>.