Yesterday I received that question, and my answer, as usual, got a bit longer than intended. But once again I think this is universally relevant, thus repost here. The post referred to is Defending John Watson.
Anonymous asked you:
January 13th 2014, 6:56:00 pm
Ok girl, I agree so much with your post about John and it hurts me because even if I think it’s true, I still feel like that, in 2014, people aren’t ready yet for m/m explicit relation in TV show and that all we can dream of is subtext.
Thank you, Anon!
Yes, it is a huge problem, even when one of the showrunners is openly gay and the producing TV station rather open when it comes to this (just look at Doctor Who and Torchwood).
My first reaction is – you’re right, people aren’t ready. Some may be – we here on Tumblr, there’s so many of us who would love to see that – but the general TV audience is and will for a long time to come, as I predict, be a problem. It is strange; media is what brings such topics closer to the people; it always has. But on the other hand they also have to be so careful what they do, how open they are, because as many people as may ever agree with it, there are still be those among them who will never (openly!) agree. That is something that has been shocking and confusing me for a long time now.
But, here’s the thing: if you ask me (I work in media business), people could be ready. Ready to be confronted. Why? Because they need to be confronted. First time always hurts, they say, and someone will have to take that step. Take something very popular and include the (seemingly) unpopular. From my experience, there are many people out there who are afraid to admit that they don’t mind (not that they like; just plain “it wouldn’t bother me”). But just as many think that if they admit that openly, society will think bad of them. This is the biggest issue. Not the opinion of one person – the opinion society could have of that one person if he/she decides to be honest. How often does one of us rather keep their mouth shut before they can voice an unpopular opinion? It’s what we are taught, conditioned even to do. Keep quiet, or people won’t like you anymore. On the other hand have many of us already experienced those moments when we indeed said something out loud that is unpopular, and whispers and gasps where heard, and then – there’s a nod. And another. And humming, and suddenly a yes. Someone says it out loud, someone dares to, and so many are happy and relieved someone finally has, has taken that burden of being the first upon them. And the rest can agree, knowing that they are not alone, that they don’t have to fear remaining the only one.
To my mind, Sherlock would be a perfect “first timer” – even though, or especially because, it is such a popular format with so much history.
For decades people have been talking and speculating about Watson’s and Holmes’ relationship, what they are really to each other. And with them, it would be even a rather gentle step. Because they have that relationship already, it is canon that they are so incredibly close (and if only as friends), and in my opinion taking that one step more would shock and/or alienate less people than it would with other programs. Because what would you do? You could explain that you didn’t turn the character(s) gay – it’s just two souls who found each other and fell in love, and who happen to be men. Holmes/Watson was always a love story, just not a romantic one in the classic sense of romance/love stories. Still it is canon. They never admitted it in canon, and of course they never crossed the line to the physical side.
In BBC’s Sherlock, we have a modern adaption, is set in a time where it would be “allowed”, as far as the in-universe society is concerned. In the 21st century, two men can be together with considerably less problems than they would have had in the 1890’s. I won’t go into issues of homosexuality and how it is perceived by our society nowadays, that we all know about. Generally speaking, though, it is much easier today, and in-universe, no one would think less of John and Sherlock.
That this season has given us the clear indication of that love between the two men, and maybe even a deeper love than friendship per definition allows, makes me hopeful that, sooner or later, they will just do it – take that step, cross that line, and show John and Sherlock in love, with all aspects that romantic love includes. I think we’ve gone past subtext this season; and as long as this all wasn’t just one big ruse and tease, they will continue that. Thus, the logical consequence would be to one day bring John and Sherlock together as a couple. Might not be next season, or the season after that. Might not be 2014, 2015, or even 2016. But when we get there, people will be ready, because every single one of them (yeah, bit hopeful here, but I’d say a bigger part of the audience than on other shows) will want to see them together, because they don’t see the gender anymore, but only this fantastic, almost epic love story.