Friday, September 23, 2011

"Sherlock" (I)

Agora que acabou a primeira tempora da série Sherlock, um artigo crítico sobre ela - "No Shit, Sherlock", publicado no New Statesman por Laurie Penny, a 03/08/2010 (imagino que após a série ser transmitida na Grã-Bretanha):

And since everybody's talking about it, and since it's a terribly clever update of a traditional British adventure with saucy gay innuendo and phones that do the internet, Sherlock has become rather more important as a cultural barometer than 90 minutes of Sunday-night crime drama would normally suggest. Most of the commentariat has decided that Sherlock is a good thing, but I beg to differ.

It's not that Sherlock is a bad show. It's beautifully shot, with a lovely suggestive rapport between Martin Freeman's cantankerous Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch's rakish, manic Holmes, who seems so taken with his own genius that he can barely keep his balance. Gatiss and Moffat clearly have a great deal of affection for the original books, and the scripts are stuffed with the sort of throwaway quips designed to please Sherlockian geeks, of whom I happen to be one -- as a child, I read every Holmes story over and over again until my charity-shop paperbacks disintegrated. Nonetheless, the series has failed to make a case for why yet another dramatisation of the exhaustively adapted Holmes tales is really worthy of BBC licence money, only six months after the latest big-budget Hollywood retelling, much less a version implausibly set in modern London.

On a number of levels, the adaptation simply doesn't work. The real fascination of Holmes and Watson's puzzles was always that they could only be solved by rigorous forensics, by using reason over superstition, a method that set Conan Doyle's icy protagonist at odds with the law enforcement of the day. The notion that today's force would need the help of a wayward genius to solve forensic puzzles is more than a little clunky.


In the books, the maverick detective's deeply felt superiority to women, to people from other nations and to the "criminal classes" is an intrinsic part of the stories, as is the fetishisation of the British empire as a place full of bristling, hostile natives, rum deeds and murder most foul.


Sunday's show, moreover, was less of an update than a direct transposition of British Sinophobia in the late-Victorian period.

In précis, the plot of The Blind Banker was booga-wooga yellow peril exotic chinky slaughter emporium: an exhilarating romp through nearly every hackneyed orientalist cliché going. There were improbable and sinister circus contortionists, ersatz torture devices, yellow-themed cryptic writing, keepers of dusty Chinatown shops attempting to peddle curiously significant pieces of ethnic tat, a submissive and inevitably doomed eastern maiden pouring tea in traditional dress, and even, for Christ's sake, ninjas.


The racism, sexism and imperialism that are fundamental to Conan Doyle's stories do not mean we should dismiss Holmes out of hand, but they do raise the question of why, precisely, Sherlock Holmes still means so much to us, and why we're so anxious to rehabilitate him to the modern world, as it's highly unlikely that this will be the last BBC dramatisation of the books.

Holmes has enduring appeal because he's the original brilliant outsider, the lone maverick who wins every time, simply by being cleverer or braver than everyone else. The formulation appeals particularly to teenagers -- all of whom are brilliant outsiders -- and remains an enormously important part of pop culture, particularly in crime fiction and especially in Britain, where we just love an oddball. Harry Potter, Gene Hunt, Jonathan Creek, Inspector Morse, John Constantine, even Doctor Who -- all are brilliant outsiders with rich interior lives. They are all also always male, always white and always western.

I'm getting bored by stories about posh white men and how much cleverer and more special they are than everyone else.
Atenção que o facto de eu linkar um texto não quer dizer que concorde com ele - nomeadamente o argumento de que os "brilliant outsiders (...) are all (...) always male, always white and always western [-] posh white men" foi bastante desmontado nos comentários:
- The Doctor may be white and male along with the others on the list of oddballs but Western? He's an alien, from the planet Gallifrey!

- As for being "cleverer and more special...than everyone else" - most of these people are seriously disfunctional, and acknowledged as such. Focusing on one aspect of that (whether mysogyny or racism) is missing the point, as is making it a "class thing" (Gene Hunt? Morse was formed in part by feelings of class inferiority, not by a privileged upbringing).

- Isn't that because all the stories you're considering were written by white males? Go beyond the Western canon: there are maverick geniuses galore in manga and anime and more often than not they're generally 10 year old Japanese girls. With tentacles or something. But you get the point.
Já agora, este comentário também é interessante:
- The resurrection of Sherlock Holmes has less to do with pandering to enduring stereotypes than another disturbing trait in modern crime drama i fear. whereas many dramas of the 80s and 90s would spend time on finding the reason for the crime - and possibly admitting that class, money, race etc play a part in crime, todays' detectives follow the CSI route: bad guys are evil because they are evil, so what is exiting is the deduction - not the reason.
Teremos aqui uma docotomia entre duas escolas da história policial? Sherlock Holmes como o antepassado do CSI e programas similares, em que a investigação anda à volta de "como o crime foi feito", enquanto Poirot e Miss Marple serão os fundadores das histórias que giram à volta de "porque o crime foi cometido"? As histórias escritas ou adaptadas da escrita tendem a cair sobretudo no segundo tipo, já que não exige grande cinhecimento técnico da parte do escritor (em compensão, um programa feito para a televisão pode dar-se ao luxo de contratar consultores técnicos).

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