Tumblr’s relationship with “healthy relationships” is very unhealthy.
If I see one more “character x is bad for character y, but you all just conveniently ignore that because you want them to fuck” I will do nothing worse than write an angry post about it, but you can be…
Here, here. I mean, author tracts being voiced by a fictional character can be a thing, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that that’s the default relationship between an author’s opinions and those of their characters. I certainly don’t think that’s true of Sherlock, which doesn’t really get more partisan than having John be a Guardian reader.
If the Johnlockers are so hell-bent on “queer representation,” then why don’t they focus on canononically queer characters like Irene Adler? Or the heavily queer-coded Jim Moriarty? Or the, as far as we know, asexual Sherlock?
Speaking as a queer person myself, I’d rather not Jim and Irene be the only options to choose from, given that they are, in some ways, pretty regressive with regards to the depiction of their sexuality. Irene sadly falls into the whole “lesbian-who-falls-for-a-man” characterisation, which is one of the oldest and most tired writing tricks from the gay stereotype playbook. She doesn’t do anything to subvert or repurpose that trope either. She does nothing but perpetuate the myth that lesbians are only lesbians until the “right” man comes along. She explicitly says that she’s gay and yet the episode shows that she falls for Sherlock. This doesn’t lead to her considering the possibility that she may be bi or pan.
Even though Jim said he was only playing gay to get Sherlock’s attention, let’s assume that it wasn’t just an act since he continues to flirt with Sherlock after revealing the con to him. I don’t say this as a Jim hater, but you can’t deny he’s cut from the cloth of effeminate villainy. I’m not saying that no queer character can be a villain, but they have to be fleshed out and go beyond stereotypes. Jim does combine the Depraved Homosexual and Sissy Villain tropes, but the way I look at it is that these actually end up becoming incidental to his character when we see how Sherlock responds. Usually, your typical alpha-male, heteronormative protagonist finds the idea of an effeminate man flirting with him threatening, but Sherlock is completely unfazed by Jim’s overtures, so at least the writers are taking a new approach to an old stereotype. Still kind of regressive, but at least they’re trying to do something different with it.
There’s more than one way to be queer. You don’t have to be as obvious as Jim or direct about it as Irene. Sherlock doesn’t have to say he’s gay for the audience to infer it from his words and actions. Think back to ASiP. The people who know him well - Angelo and Mrs. Hudson - assume he’s gay and he doesn’t correct them. When John asks him if he has a girlfriend he answers without really thinking, but the moment a boyfriend is mentioned, he’s on the defensive, ready to jump down John’s throat at the slightest whiff of a negative attitude. By that point in the story the audience has been made to see that Sherlock is very self-centred, so he’s hardly going to criticise John for the sake of doing the right thing, therefore it stands to reason that he has a personal stake in the matter. That definitely felt authentic to me. I’ve been super-defensive with people about being gay even when I know the people concerned don’t have a problem. I think if we were meant to have read him as asexual then he would have voiced equal disinterest in having a girlfriend or a boyfriend.
Maybe certain queer viewers identify more strongly with Sherlock than with Jim or Irene. Who are you to say we have to stick to a specific set of characters marked “designated queers” in order to see ourselves? Why shouldn’t we be striving for more?
John’s entire proposal is basically “Mary I really like you because you were there when I was sad because my flatmate died. I really loved him so it was rough. Thanks for being his replacement. Will you marry me?”
Truly an offer no woman could refuse.
"I’m not misogynistic" they say "I just hate Mary because she shot Sherlock and lied to John"
"I love John" they say "It’s so cute when he shoots that cabbie for Sherlock"
"I love Sherlock" they say "It’s so cute when he lies to John for two years"
"I hate Mary" they say "because murder is murder no matter who she’s married to"
"but it’s okay if it’s John and Sherlock holding the gun" they say
Don’t you think you’re oversimplifying these acts by divorcing them from their contexts? We need to understand the characters’ motivations to see why people will condone John and Sherlock’s actions but not Mary’s.
John shot the cabbie to defend Sherlock’s life. He may not have known the cabbie’s exact methods of murder, but he knew Sherlock was alone with a known serial killer and no-means of self-defence. He had to act immediately. I can see why people might want to romanticise it a bit because it’s John doing something heroic for Sherlock at such an early stage in their relationship. Trying to avoid going through a court case isn’t exactly kosher, but the implication is that a trial would ultimately be necessary because the court’s would find in John’s favour.
Might as well tackle Sherlock shooting CAM as well while we’re at it. Now, CAM wasn’t immediately endangering anyone’s life. However, he was threatening to expose Mary. Sherlock recognised this and was afraid that John would shoot CAM in order to protect Mary, so he took it upon himself to kill CAM before John could. It was murder, very few people would argue with that, but it was also act of sacrifice. This was Sherlock giving up his freedom, for most if not all of the rest of his life, to pre-emptively save John from himself.
Now that I’ve dealt with the killing, I’ll move on to the lying.I don’t think there’s anyone who’s saying that the necessary deception needed to make The Fall work was cute. However, I think people do recognise what a huge undertaking it was for Sherlock to fake his own death and then take it upon himself to almost single-handedly dismantle Moriarty’s network and expose himself to the risk of torture and death. While he was also saving the lives of Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson, saving John’s life was his primary motivation.
Mary’s lie to John was motivated out of nothing but pure self-interest. If John had found out about her past, he wouldn’t have killed her, but he probably would have left her. She deceived him and denied him vital information that would have heavily influenced his decision to form a relationship with her. Everything she has told him about herself has been a complete and utter falsehood.
Mary shot Sherlock because he threatened to expose her lie, and possibly because she perceived his and John’s closeness as a threat to her marriage in and of itself. Sherlock wasn’t threatening her, in fact he was offering to help her.
This is why people will defend John and Sherlock, but not Mary. John and Sherlock were acting in each other’s interests. Mary, on the other hand, has always been out for no one but herself. Her selfishness goes far beyond what the average person considers a reasonable sense of self-preservation. She’s killed people for money, and freely admitted that she shot Sherlock because she didn’t want John to leave her.
None of this has anything to do with Mary’s gender. If John had married a man who lied to him about his identity in the same way that Mary did and then went on to shoot Sherlock, I’d refuse to defend that character too. Moreover, how can you hope to accurately discern that someone is a misogynist if you only know their opinion on one female character? Misogyny doesn’t necessarily have to be wholly pervasive to a person’s sense of judgement, but wouldn’t you need to know more about someone’s opinions in order to establish a pattern?
Tbh in terms of narrative ambiguity the Mary/Snape analogy would work better but it was obvious that Snape would have a redemption arc and that Mary won’t
Here, here. To me, what really separates Snape from Mary is that Snape was capable of sacrifice. He chose to act in someone else’s interest besides his own.
Also, I’m curious as to what you would have preferred for a redemption arc for Snape instead of Lily being his motivation. I don’t mean this in a sarky way, I genuinely want to know. I get that doing it for someone you love isn’t the most ideologically pure of heel-face-turns, but I suppose most people can relate to it more than a straight-up Damascene conversion.