Posted by: mzbitca | August 4, 2009

Sherlock Holmes controversy.

I, for one, am excited for the new Holmes movie starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law even though I’ve yet to read any of the Holmes noves by Sir Doyle.  Apparently the movie is stirring up recent controversy due to a few comments by the two leads.

Downey: “We’re two men who happen to be room-mates, wrestle a lot and share a bed. It’s badass,” 

Law:  “Guy wanted to make this about the relationship between Watson and Holmes. They’re both mean and complicated.”

Now, notice there is nothing in either of these statements explicitly stating a homosexual relationship but the shit storm has already begun.  Conservative talking heads have stated that noone wants to see that.  (obviously by noone they mean themselves and anyone like them who hate what they refer to as “alternate lifestyles”).  Here’s my question, what’s the big deal.  At the beginning of filming Rachel McAdams said that although she’s been portrayed as the “love interest” the movie is about Holmes and Watsons’ relationship and it was more a love story about them.  Others that have read the novels state that there has been theories about how much of their relationship was more than friendship and that it is not necessarily true that either of them were strictly heterosexual.

All of that aside, why is it suitable to add random heterosexual relationships to stories that never happened but if it’s a homosexual relationship it’s wrong and perverted.  In the Illiad Achilles was not in love Briseis and sure as hell didn’t go into Troy to rescue her.  Yet that was considered valid writing.  This is just one more example of how it is unacceptable to have characters in a movie be gay and the leads unless the movie is therefore about them being Gay.  See: Brokeback Mountain, The Birdcage, the new Jim Carrey movie: I love you Philip Morris.  Otherwise how will good heteronormative people bigots know to skip these movies, they can’t have homosexual relationships just popping up like they’re “normal”, it totally fucks with their tunnel vision world view.  

I don’t know if Doyle ever intended his story to be interpreted this way but that’s besides the point,  what changes the story if instead of just a tormented and twisted friendship there is also sexual tension thrown in there as well?  If Holmes partner was a woman would we be as upset if the writers decided to be more liberal with interpreting a sexual relationship?


I know there are more examples of romantic story lines being thrown into movies but I was blanking cause I’m tired. Feel free to throw more examples into comments.



  1. The funny thing is that, in the era in which the Sherlock Holmes stories were written, I’m pretty sure that love and intimacy between two men was NOT considered automatically homosexual and in fact was lauded as one of the ultimate expressions of masculinity. Back then, men hung out with men and women hung out with women; anyone who did differently was considered beyond weird and definitely subversive, so the more “in love” you were with the gender to which you had been assigned, the better.

    Which just goes to show that these conservatives don’t even know what the hell they are talking about, let alone what they are actually trying to achieve.

  2. Holmes and Watson shared rooms only for the first series of short stories, and 2 novels (I forget whether or not “Hound of the Baskervilles”, which was written rather later, was set at a time when they were still both at 221B or if Watson had to make an excuse to his wife so he could go to Dartmoor). After that, Watson was married and operating as a highly successful doctor in a general practice. The love interest in the novel “The Sign of Four” is the woman whom Watson ends up marrying.

    Holmes, on the other hand, is revealed in the original works as being very much a misogynist.

    All of which does nothing to alter the evidence that Holmes and Watson would have been seen as a perfectly normal form of closely-bonded platonic friendship in the time.

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