With the arrival of Guy Ritchie’s 2009 film adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, much hubub was made about the possibility for homoerotic tension between Watson and Holmes. Again, with the BBC’s modern day mini-series, Sherlock , bloggers and columnists went to work on the new take on hinting at a romantic relationship between Watson and Holmes. Notorious gay celebrity blogger, Perez Hilton posted on Ritchie’s first film speculating on the idea of having a “gay Sherlock Holmes”:
“This ain’t going to be your Grandpa’s version of Sherlock Holmes. In the flick due out on Christmas Day, Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes will have the famed detective and his side-kick sharing more than just a love of mysteries. They’ll be sharing a bed!”
Ritchie’s film hinted at flirting between the mates and conflict of jealousy surrounding Watson’s marriage. Watson seemed to have an understanding of Holmes that only a partner would have of their significant other. In Ritchie’s film, Holmes and Watson to share the same realm of understanding and mutual love as Sam and Frodo in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Two single men share their time and living space, with no interest in women, until one decides to settle down and marry, leaving the other seemingly depressed and heartbroken…makes sense doesn’t it? However, I do think that this take on the famous sleuths is a purely modern invention. After reading the stories and coming to understand the characters as very different from Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, there seems to be no evidence of textual support in this interpretation of the characters. The two don’t share as much intimacy or understanding in the text as they seem to in Ritchie’s or other contemporary adaptations. The temptation toward dubbing Sherlock Holmes as homosexual most likely stems from the sex-symbol-actors who play their modern interpretations and the budding trends of homosexuality in the media. There is also a trend of outing men and women from previous eras as gay and lesbian to promote identification with a younger audience (“…did you know Socrates was gay?”). However, with a basic knowledge of Gender studies, one must note that “being gay” didn’t exist until much much later; people had same sex relationships and had no sense of identity tied to them. Therefore, the idea of trying to figure out whether or not Conan Doyle meant Holmes and Watson to be homosexual is pointless. In addition, the woman in charge of the Conan Doyle literary estate was recently quoted by Perez Hilton in reference to the consideration of a sequel to Guy Ritchie’s adaptation:
“It would be drastic, but I would withdraw permission for more films to be made if they feel that is a theme they wish to bring out in the future. I am not hostile to homosexuals, but I am to anyone who is not true to the spirit of the books,”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would most likely cringe at Guy Ritchie’s adaptation of his stories in Sherlock Holmes, yet let’s not deprive ourselves of a few hunky gay detectives for the adherence to accuracy alone!
Perez Hilton: http://perezhilton.com/2009-08-05-sherlock-homo