(There are my thoughts I just needed to get down. I’m sure this whole analysis/text/whatever has been done countless times already, but I’m new to the fandom and always use the opportunity to get my own opinion down before I read others, since my head likes to be busy 😉 Also, I’m starting from the scratch, have not yet read the original stories by Doyle – have only just started with that – and thus use what I see.)
I’ve never been a slasher, and also not the biggest fan of slash ships where they are not canon. I never actively shipped a slash couple, even though I didn’t mind the canon ones like, for example, Jack/Ianto on TORCHWOOD (and I still shipped Jack/Gwen till the very end).
Now, however, a non-canon slash ship has found me and made me love it from the very first minute on: Johnlock.
I do love squeeing and going wild over scenes with subtext and innuendo, I love looking for shippy hints and spotting them also, even if maybe there never was intended to be any such hint in the first place. That said, as much as I am fangirl, I always try to actually find sensible reason and proof for what we shippers see anyways, and be reasonable in between my moments of fangirl madness.
And Johnlock gives a lot of reason to be, well, reasonable.
So obviously there is a lot of controversy when it comes to John and Sherlock and their ship. I understand that, from TPTB’s side, we have to accept that Johnlock is not canon. As many hints as there are, chances are that nothing is ever going to happen, romance-wise. Which is fine – we should never forget that ever since Doyle’s novels, they were only ever friends, albeit very close ones. May there have been speculations about the true nature of the relationship (where we should never forget that while Doyle was more open-minded than other people in his time, he nevertheless considered homosexuality to be a disease, even if curable – at least that’s what I read), in the end they never were more than just friends. It is most likely that BBC’s SHERLOCK won’t make an exception. What fans see is just what they want to see; it usually is, I think TV has proven this to us countless times over the years. And it’s fine also, because that’s what we are fans for.
Consequently, like with many other fan-preferred couples, Johnlock is a question of interpretation. Actually go deeper into that, analyze shippy scenes thoroughly, and you’ll see that there always two sides to all that. Most of us choose the shippy side – because we love to ship, because Benedict’s and Martin’s chemistry is incredible. My theory is also that it comes from Benedict having some androgynous qualities (don’t kill me for that, I nevertheless find him incredibly sexy and manly). But you can well interpret their relationship and all those moments without having to admit a single time that there is something romantic or such between them.
Having said all that, there’s still another side – the fact that, sometimes, people fall in love and don’t act on it, meaning don’t make it knowingly visible. They are properly in love, but for whatever reason never admit to it. For Johnlock, it clearly would be the fact that they are both not gay. Sadly, society still tends to have a suspicious eye on gay love. Sherlock and John both obviously don’t see themselves as gay – the first is just uninterested, the latter loves the women, even though psychologically one could see an attempt to prove his masculinity because he feels an attraction to Sherlock (and there we go with the two ways of interpretation).
Which is the point. For decades, maybe centuries, there have been friendships between men that just never dared to develop into romance – no matter the potential. How many men kept their true feelings in the dark because they knew society would never accept it? Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that every two guy friends out there are secretly gay. By no means. But I believe that some feel a deep love, maybe not sexually, but definitely romantically (which in our minds for some reason always seems to have be also sexual, but isn’t), for each other.
Sherlock and John live in an environment that would allow them to admit their attraction/love if they wanted to. Given that the feelings are actually there. But that doesn’t mean that it feels or ever will feel right to them.
Two people who fall in love do so because of an emotional bond they share. This bond doesn’t care about any outside factors, like age, skin color, social standing, nationality or – gender. Look at people who fall in love with their siblings – which has to be just the worst of all “wrong” loves. I get why they are not allowed to be together – what with the genetic factor – but at the same time, they are also denied to love each other, all the while their love, their feelings, their heart and soul don’t care about conventions.
We follow these conventions because we are trained to do so. We fall in love, but our training immediately tells us when it is “wrong”, according to whatever we’ve been told and taught as kids, and usually we’re able to simply move on. Shut down the feeling, ignore it, never think about it again. This is the same for women – ask yourself what you really feel for your best friend. I’m most definitely not gay (love the guys way too much ;)), and still I know the feeling in a female friendship when you like the other so much you just want to be with them – not sexually or anything, but there is this painful feeling of someone missing when the other is not around, or even when you can’t touch them. Is that love? I think it is. We have no real definition of love because there is none; love is nothing that can be explained, or defined, or described properly. You just know when it’s there, and sometimes it makes us happy, sometimes it scares us.
When John and Sherlock met, they quite quickly became friends. This most amazed me because for one, I think it is rare that two people click just like that, and two, well, Sherlock is not actually the “friend of the year” type – remember how he even claims repeatedly that he doesn’t have any friends before he, in a touching moment, states that he only has one – John. To my mind, the quick development of a relationship – friendship or love – requires a certain kind of attraction, emotionally.
John is attracted to Sherlock’s skills, and maybe also his whole way of living, even if he sometimes scolds him for things, whereas Sherlock is attracted to John not just running away screaming after their first encounter. They take a liking to who and what the other is, right from the very first moment, and you ever wonder how it comes that it is just the two of them, and no one else – or more precisely, that it is just John for Sherlock.
Their close association – friendship – and the things they go through together, especially everything that puts them in danger, is something we easily accept to lead into love for a male and a female character. Look at Tony/Ziva from NCIS, look at Jane/Lisbon from THE MENTALIST, look at Scully/Mulder from X FILES – the list is endless. But for two male characters (or female, though it doesn’t happen that often, at least not in fandoms – which is a whole other analysis), this seems improbable and not right to many people; first and foremost to producers and TPTB who have to consider public opinions and what society dictates us is right.
John is constantly correcting people, defending himself against anyone who thinks he is/they are gay – why would he do that if he didn’t care? What harm does it do to him what other people think of his sexual orientation, especially since the others wouldn’t seem to mind him being gay? My mum used to tell me that people will only talk about something – someone – as long as it is interesting, because the subject in the matter reacts to whatever is said or thought. If John would just ignore people, they might stop. But his permanent negation of the others’ opinions gives an impression that there is some truth to it, after all.
On the other hand we have Sherlock who never reacts to all of it in any way – neither denying nor confirming it. Is it that he just doesn’t care, or does he secretly agree? For all we believe we know about Sherlock, there really isn’t that much, especially not when it comes to his previous relationships, if he ever had any.
In the show the only reaction he ever gives regarding this issue is when he and John are in the restaurant in 1×01 and John basically asks Sherlock about his relationship status (no, we don’t go into THAT now – or more, into how awkward and embarrassed John appears during what is a perfectly normal conversation between flat mates), to which Sherlock at first gives a simple “no”. The topic is closed then, they could have moved on. But this is not what happens – instead there is a pause, then Sherlock considers John for a moment, before he tells him that he is flattered by John’s interest but married to his work.
Now, for one: The girlfriend question he answers with “not really my area” – the boyfriend gets a no, where that could have gotten the same answer to emphasize that he’s not into anyone (proving his asexuality many people see in his behavior – I don’t, btw), that he “isn’t interested in the field of (romantic/sexual) relationships because they are at best distractive, but of no use otherwise” or something like that. The “no” can very well be seen as an equal to “a possibility, but not right now”.
And the second thing is: He starts again. He actually goes back, not to the question in general but only the part where it is asked about a boyfriend. He acknowledges John and his question that could also concern him whereas else it would have been completely in character to dismiss it and the topic in general. Is it because he thinks John is gay and tries to gently explain to him that the two of them won’t have any romantic relation with each other; tries to not hurt John’s feelings? Could it be that Sherlock, without any experience whatsoever (it is possible, that doesn’t make him asexual though), doesn’t know who he’d be into, but is open to at least the possibility in theory, even if he won’t pursue any romantic relationship? Or is it a sign of him being interested in men rather than women, if he would have a love life?
I’d very much like to have that explored, and I mean really explored, with them questioning their own behavior and closeness, and not just have others tease them about it while they only insist on it being not true or don’t react to it at all.
SHERLOCK is perfect to go into that because its two leads already have the chemistry, and people love them together. Most of us see the love, the deep bond; a bond that can easily develop into more, if it hasn’t already. To my mind, Sherlock and John are two friends who share an exemplary bond of emotional attachment that absolutely offers the possibility of them being in love – even if they don’t admit it.
Effectively, that sort of makes Johnlock canon, if we consider these two to be in love already as a state of mind – there is hardly another explanation that fits their level of closeness that obviously never needed a second thought. There is an acceptance of everything the other is and does (I wrote about that earlier in “Study in Pink – moving in”), even though they are so different and in theory maybe shouldn’t get along at all.
Still they do, and do so better than probably many of us out here with their friends – because this behavior they show isn’t normal for friends, it’s too advanced. It is instead the result of an immediate emotional attraction that can easily lead to a physical one. They may not act on it because they don’t dare to, they may not talk about it, and thus shut down ways of them becoming actual romantic/sexual lovers – but I think emotionally they definitely are lovers, and sex and physical needs aside, at the end of the day this is all a (romantic) relationship really needs.