“New neighbors are arriving. Once again the popular zeitgeist has discovered Sherlock Holmes.
“The two lavish Guy Ritchie movies with their adventure-Holmes and the BBC’s modern-day scary-smart Sherlock, combined with the easy interchange of the Internet, have created an unprecendented popular appreciation of Holmes. This current group of enthusiasts is by far the largest ever seen by those of us who pilgrimage to Baker Street — beyond anything experienced during the 1970s revival brought on by the Royal Shakespeare Company’s resurrection of William Gillette’s Sherlock Holmes, beyond the rising tide caused by the book and movie of The Seven Per-Cent Solution, beyond even the wave of fans of the Brett years.*
“Many in today’s audience are almost aggressively passionate in sharing their affection for Holmes and Watson, and do so in ways unimagined even ten years ago. The new social media allow international, immediate, and wide-ranging conversation encompassing words and pictures both moving and still. Those conversing especially appreciate the relationship between Holmes and Watson (or Sherlock and John, as they usually call them), one of literature’s greatest friendships.
“Yes, many are and will remain fans - just like their predecessors. But also like their predecessors, some will stay to become Sherlockians, possibly a larger number than ever before owing to the size of this newest wave. Already we are seeing scholarly appreciations for the Canon from new perspectives informed both by the newcomers’ enthusiasms and the depth of materials immediately available courtesy of the Internet. Things will change, but it is always 1895.
“And so we say to all of them: Welcome to your new home! We look forward to getting to know you.” (BSJ, Spring 2012, Vol. 62, No. 1)**
Steven Rothman’s above piece - fittingly entitled “Consider Yourself at Home” - will be remembered as one of the most relevant and forward thinking Baker Street Journal editorials published in the venerable journal’s existence. Mr Rothman has constructed a thoughtful, open-minded and, perhaps most importantly, non-condescending ‘welcome letter’ to the myriad novice Sherlock Holmes-enthusiasts clamoring quite politely (for the most part) at the gates.
Rotham’s editorial also doubles as a sincere olive branch to the next generation. How many great movements, clubs or ideologies disintegrated because their leaders not only rejected the weatherman sent to point out which way the proverbial wind blew, but in a suicide dive of reactionary insanity, laughed in the face of, and hid from the agents/representatives of change?
I am thrilled and happily reassured to see that elder statesmen & stateswomen of the Sherlockian world are flexible enough to imagine a world that might be ‘just slightly’ different than the world they thought would continue unchanged forever; and as these things usually turn out, “There is nothing new under the sun. It has all been done before” - which in this case is truly a good thing. As long as experienced Sherlockians embrace and shepherd the ‘next generation,’ Sherlockian culture will continue with it’s core priorities and values intact.
P.S. In a cosmic display of symmetry, Baker Street Babe Kristina Manente gave a speech entitled “The Validation of the Internet Fandom: Bridging the Gap Between Traditional Fandom and the Age of Tumblr” at this year’s Scintillation of Scions V, just a short time after the publication of the Spring 2012 BSJ, which serves as a wonderful ‘reverse perspective’ to Rothman’s editorial.
* Click for a list of actors who have played Sherlock Holmes over the last 100 years. A game Sherlockians love to play is “who is your favorite Sherlock Holmes” in regards to TV and film adaptations. Just the other week I was asked on Twitter who my top 3 Holmes adaptations are; for those interested, they are: 1) Jeremy Brett (Granada), 2) Vasily Livanov (Russian Sherlock) and 3) Douglas Wilmer/Peter Cushing (BBC - late 1960s). I encourage any and all burgeoning BBC Sherlock fans to spend some time between now and the premiere of season/series 3 (c. mid-2013 according to Moffat) exploring other Sherlock Holmes TV/film adaptations.
[Vasily Livanov as the Russian Sherlock Holmes.]
** Subscribe to the BSJ today!! Information on subscribing can be found here - one of the best Sherlockian decisions you can make is subscribing to the BSJ! Also check out the BSJ Facebook page for up-to-the-minute Sherlock Holmes information from the best and wisest Sherlockian publications in existence.
[One of the highlights of each season is finding one of these yellow guys in my mail box.]
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