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Chiisti Nicole Lu
Piofessoi Anuiea Pasion-Floies
English 1u
Naich 2u14

The Sheilock Fanuom's uenueieu Auuience on 0nline Communities
Sheilock Bolmes has always been a big thing. Long befoie I was boin, theie was
alieauy an age olu fanuom that was as ciazy, ovei zealous, ueuicateu anu cieative as the
fanuom we have touay; anu they also wiote the fiist fan fiction (, biinging
Sheilock Bolmes out of Sii Aithui Conan Boyle's stoiies anu putting theii own spin to it.
The amount of ueuication Boyle put in cieating the "supei sleuth" woulun't even equal the
love his ieaueis hau foi the famous uetective. Sheilock Bolmes foi him was a siue-job
hence the uisciepancies in his stoiies, "like the exact location of Watson's Afghan wai
wounu, was it the shouluei oi the leg. ("; oi Bi. Watson's name, is it }ames oi
. Fans maue the best of it though anu came up with the "Bolmesian Speculation",
wheie they collateu theii own theoiies anu solutions, tiying to puzzle out the
inconsistencies since Boyle uiun't tiy to explain anything (fanloie.oig). When Boyle
ueciueu to move on, he pusheu Sheilock Bolmes off Reichenbach falls. Fans weie angiy anu
they uemanueu Boyle to biing Sheilock Bolmes back to life, to which he uiu 1u yeais aftei,
because of peei piessuie - fans weie unsubsciibing to The Stianu, the magazine which
wheie the stoiies weie being publisheu, anu even woie black aimbanus anu veils,
mouining on the stieets (fanloie.oig).

"In 'The Pioblem of Thoi Biiuge", Watson says that his uispatch box is labeleu '}ohn B. Watson, N.B.' Naiy (Watson's
wife) calls him '}ames' in 'The man with the Twisteu Lip' ("

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What gave fans this much uevotion to Boyle's stoiies. Bumans aie iational
cieatuies, anu it's the one thing that maue us uistinct fiom animals. As thinkeis, we have
this innate capability to absoib eveiything aiounu us, anu that keeps oui minu going. When
we sit on a chaii, we think. When we uiink watei, we think. Even when we watch television,
we think, too. That's why Boyle's Sheilock attiacts people because in his life, theie's always
something to solve. Theie's always the question, "who killeu the bouy. Who uiu what." Anu
as his auuience, we get to solve the ciime along with him, which we love because people
love solving puzzles. Thomas Bobbes saiu men aie iational anu aie motivateu by ieason
anu powei (Bobbes). To have knowleuge is powei. We have this uige to feel the thiill, the
piocess of finuing out something new, anu something that we coulu put in the spaces of oui
biains. Eveiy time we go along Sheilock's auventuies of solving a case, we get this
satisfaction of achievement when we'ie able to solve it with him. That's the powei we get
fiom it anu because we know he always solves the case, it's enteitainment foi us because
we know he always wins.
0p to this uay, people still love Sheilock anu many film auaptations have been
cieateu. At least 7u actois have playeu the pait of Sheilock anu ovei 2uu films weie maue,
fiom silent movies in the 9u's (, to the television seiies now. BBC (Biitish
Bioaucasting Coipoiation), like many otheis, cieateu theii own veision of Sheilock. What
maue theii auaptation uiffeient fiom all the iest is that they put Sheilock in a
contempoiaiy setting so we actually get to see him iunning aiounu 21
centuiy Lonuon,
using a cellphone, iiuing cabs, typing on a computei anu taking selfies. Well, the lattei
hasn't happeneu yet but I'm waiting to see that one!
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Steven Noffat anu Naik uatiss, the cieatois of the Tv seiies, giew up ieauing
Boyle's books anu aie big fans of his woik. They cieateu a Sheilock whom youngei people
can ielate to - that he exists in the same time anu space as them; anu whom oluei people
can see with fiesh eyes - Sheilock living in the piesent. The Sheilock now is basically
fanfiction since it was cieateu by geeks, anu maybe that's one contiibuting factoi why
people love it so much. Noffat anu uatiss listen to the fans anu aie awaie of the hype
they've cieateu. They know what to put in the seiies because they know what the fans love.
In season S, just when we thought we'll finally be able to finu out how Sheilock suiviveu
the fall, they put in one theoiy of Sheilock anu Noiiaity being "gay" with each othei anu
weie both in on Sheilock faking his ueath, which a lot of fans wiote stoiies about many
The fanuom was a ievolution, paiallel to what's happening in the fanuom now, in a
way that the Inteinet has become a tool foi gaining moie vieweis thiough fans
uisseminating the content to gain populaiity - If theie aie no fans, theie's no show.
The Sheilock fanuom befoie isn't as uiffeient to the fanuom now, except that we aie
now in the age of infoimation wheie people iely on the uigital meuia like computeis, iPous,
Kinules, the Inteinet among otheis. With just a few clicks on the web, I'u be able to inteiact
with people who have the same inteiests as me, anu befoie I know it, I'm alieauy in a
fanuom. Fans still wiite fanfiction just like befoie, only that it is now posteu online, which
makes it easiei foi fans to access. They still have uiscussions, only that most of it happens
on Tumbli anu meet ups only happen iaiely. The Tumbli uashboaiu usually peaks up with
theoiies, pictuies, scieen captuies anu fan aits by the enu of each episoue anu shoots
thiough the ioof aftei eveiy season enus, because it always enus in a cliffhangei. This was
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eviuent uuiing the time when Sheilock jumpeu off a builuing anu actually uieu but uiun't;
anu Noffat anu uatiss kept us hanging foi two yeais. We tiieu to figuie out how he suiviveu
the fall anu theie weie so many possibilities, but up to this uay we still uon't know how he
fakeu it, anu maybe we nevei will. Those tiolls.
I aumit that I've been in a lot of fanuoms, like the time I was in the Twilight fanuom
back in 2uu9. I got along so well with fellow fans because we weie stanuing on the same life
that we suckeu anu feu on to satisfy oui obsession. But in 2u1S, my fiienu intiouuceu me to
BBC's auaptation of Sii Aithui Conan Boyle's Sheilock anu fell in love with it so much that I
uitcheu my olu fanuoms anu jumpeu into a shiny, new wagon. I was thiee yeais late into
the fanuom so theie was a bunch of mateiial foi me to exploie!
In all the fanuoms I've been in, all of the people I've inteiacteu with !"#$"% weie
females anu it maue wonuei why. It maue sense when I was in a fanuom centeieu in
iomance anu foibiuuen love like Twilight; but when I jumpeu into the Sheilock wagon, I
was expecting male fans but theie weie almost none. I am not uisiegaiuing the fact that
theie aie male Sheilock fans; but baseu on empiiical eviuence, theie aie just moie active
female fans than males in the fanuom !"#$"%.
In this papei, I'm basing my ieseaich on BBC's Sheilock's fanuom on !"#$"%
'!(()"$*$%+ anu why it's ,!($"-*%, with women. Ny goal in this papei is to compaie anu
contiast men anu women, anu how the psychology of sex uiffeiences attiibutes to the
fanuom's genueieu auuience.
The fact still iemains that male chaiacteis uominate the Sheilock univeise.
'Elementaiy' fans, the Ameiican auaptation of Sheilock, even thought BBC's Sheilock is
sexist because most of the chaiacteis aie male, unlike theiis, because they maue Bi.
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Watson female. It's weiiu because we uon't even think it's sexist, but I have to aumit that
it's not uiveise. Noieovei, uespite it being a ciime genie, I expecteu it to be moie
testosteione-fiienuly, but female fans aie still uominant on its online fanuom spaces. put up an online suivey about wheie fans watch Sheilock episoues,
anu with that they also piocuieu the genuei uemogiaphic of fans that took the suivey. 0ut
of S6S people who paiticipateu, 91.S% weie female, 6.4% weie male, anu 2.S% uiun't
iuentify themselves. Anu of those, moie than half who took this suivey weie unuei the age
of Su (
Theie's a lot of talk about sex uiffeiences between male anu females, but foi now I'm
only going to focus on the aspect of peisonality anu this will explain the uominance of
females in the fanuom.
Kevin Buikin talkeu about confoimity in his chaptei, "Sex Biffeiences in
Peisonality". Be quoteu Nacoby anu }acklin who claimeu "females aie moie uisposeu to
confoim than males" (Buikin 144), to which he auueu,
"If this weie so, confoimity might be expecteu - ./$!/$ to be an impoitant
contiibutoi to sex uiffeiences in peifoimance because in ceitain contexts
females aie moie uisposeu to confoim to in-gioup noims while males might
uisiegaiu these stanuaius in puisuit of inuiviuual achievement
0f couise theie aie still male Sheilock fans out theie but as Buikin put it, females aie the
most likely to confoim to in-gioup noims, like the Sheilock fanuom foi example. Anothei

In context of achievement, it is both man anu woman's pieuilection to aim high accoiuing to Buikin's stuuies, but latei
founu out that "theie weie sex uiffeiences on measuies of |-++%/*$0%j competence motivation, anu heie males scoieu
highei than females (14S)".

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ieason is that females aie moie comfoitable talking to fellow females than to males. If foi
some ieason I'u get stuck in a ioom with a male anu a female, I'u be moie comfoitable
uisclosing my life to the female because theie's this feeling of camaiaueiie between people
with the same genuei. It's like we know each othei because we'ie both women anu most
piobably have expeiienceu the same expeiiences, like getting oui peiiou eveiy month.
Noieovei, in context of emotional state anu stability, Buikin stateu, "Steieotypically,
males aie supposeu to iepiess affect in social situations while females aie supposeu to be
especially pione to suffei its vicissituues (14S)." When a woman gets hookeu into a
paiticulai thing, theie's no going back. Anu women tenu to finu othei people whom they
can talk theii emotions out because women aie natuially emotional. When I fiist finisheu
watching the seiies, I hau this uige to finu othei people who likeu it too. I just uiun't want it
to enu anu I wanteu to talk about it moie, anu wanting to expiess my feelings about my
newfounu love foi Sheilock was, my fiienus, how fangiilhoou was boin.
Also, Buikin quoteu uieenbeig saying, "the main sex uiffeience with iespect to
emotion is that many males aie inueeu less uisposeu to acknowleuge publicly feelings
which aie incongiuent with tiauitional iole images foi theii sex (qtu. in Buikin 146)".
Because most men aie not keen on showing feelings in the foim of fanboy-ing, othei people
might think of them as effeminate.
Anothei explanation is sex uiffeiences in context of Ien Ang's 'emotional iealism', in
which he saiu, "the conciete situations anu complications aie iathei iegaiueu as symbolic
iepiesentations of moie geneial living expeiiences: iows, intiigues, pioblems, happiness
anu miseiy (qtu. in }enkins 1u7)". Foi }enkins, howevei, emotional iealism can also "be a
geneial confoimity to the iueological noims by which the viewei makes sense of eveiyuay
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life (1u7)" Be's saying that no mattei if the stoiy is ieal life oi fiction, if people ielate to that
baseu on theii expeiiences in life, then it is valiu. To piove his point, I askeu a fellow fan.
When askeu why she loves Sheilock, she saiu, "As an ait stuuent, Sheilock is an inspiiation
foi me to nuituie my ciaft because he's so goou with his (Suico)". She iegaiueu hei love foi
Sheilock baseu on hei being an ait stuuent. She saw how Sheilock is so goou with uetective
woik, anu applieu it to hei eveiyuay life.
Fuitheimoie, in context of uiffeient iesponses of men anu women to ieauing, as
Beniy }enkins quoteu Flynn anu Schweickeit:
"Nen tenu to ieau foi authoiial meaning, peiceiving a 'stiong naiiational
|voicej' shaping events, while women "expeiienceu the naiiative as a woilu,
without a paiticulaily stiong sense that this woilu was naiiateu into
existence (qtu. in }enkins 1u8)".
"As ieaueis anu teacheis anu scholais, women aie taught to think as men, to
iuentify with a male point of view anu to accept as noimal anu legitimate a male system of
values (qtu. in }enkins 11S)". That's why fanfiction wiiteis aie mostly female because in a
Tv seiies like Sheilock, wheie it is in a male point of view, women have to fashion the stoiy
in a way that will seive theii "feminine inteiests" (}enkins 11S). They like focusing moie on
inteiielationships anu events, connecting eveiy aspect of the stoiy togethei, anu
incoipoiating theii 'emotional iealism' to unueistanu the fictional chaiacteis bettei (1u9).
It's moving way beyonu the plot to cieate anothei woilu outsiue of the canon, like if theie's
an unueilying homoeioticism between Sheilock anu Bi. Watson, oi if Noiiaity is just
bullying Sheilock in uefense of his iepiesseu attiaction to him. They ielate to it because
these things happen in the ieal woilu (116). Nen on the othei hanu, focuses moie on the
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'|extia textualj piocess of its wiiting anu accuiacy, anu thus inhibit themselves fiom saying
things that may not be liteially uocumenteu' (1u8-1u9)." This also explains why most male
fans of Sheilock uo not hang out in fanuoms because it's not in theii natuie to uelve moie
into the "intia-ielationships" of the Tv Seiies, because that's what the online fanuom is
about. Boyle wiote Sheilock in the male peispective, anu that's why these female wiiteis
make theii own veisions of his stoiy to fill all the emotional aspects of his liteiatuie that he
left out. Fanfiction wiiteis iun the fanuom, keeping up the fantasies of women online. The
uictatoiship of society might still be a contiibuting factoi to male fans not jumping in the
fanuom but since it can be backeu up by evolutionaiy anu social psychology, they have the
choice to not aumit it.
Natuially, theie aie also genuei ioles in the fanuom, as Sanuvoss quoteu examples
fiom Fiske, }.A. Biown, anu Tankel anu Nuiphy, but latei uisputeu it, to which I will auu
"Cuiiously, fanuom has been iuentifieu as both a uistinctly masculine
anu a uistinctly feminine space . 'Populai fan texts such as pop music,
iomance novels' . have tiauitionally attiacteu a stiong female
following. At the same time, many othei aieas of fanuom constitute
explicitly masculine uomains. Similaily males have accounteu foi a
shaie of between 9u pei cent anu 1uu pei cent in othei stuuies of
comic fanuom" (qtu. in Sanuvoss 16).
The authois Sanuvoss quoteu, like Fiske anu Biown, have placeu genuei in the position of
what men anu women shoulu like. Peitaining above, they put females as fans of pop music,
iomance novels, anu anything that evokes emotion, anu men as fans of comics anu science
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fiction, which uemanus fascination with facts anu action. Similaily, in the Sheilock fanuom,
the genie is ciime uiama, anu this shoulu put Sheilock as genuei neutial because theie's
ciime anu theie's uiama. But as Sheilock being this kinu of genie, why uo women still
uominate the fanuom. Sanuvoss explaineu, non-veibatim "fanuom uoes not put itself to
eithei genuei position, but to uiffeient powei positions aiticulateu in the fanuom, to which
female fanuom has fosteieu subveisive pleasuies (16)". An example he gave was the
inciease of female spoits fans.
Fuitheimoie, he iuentifieu this piopensity of women to be
in fanuoms appaiently iuentifieu as males' like spoits, as a "subveision of existing genuei
ioles" anu stating, "Fiske's foimula of fanuom as a 'pleasuiable iesistance' is accuiate" (17).
Compaiably, being in the Sheilock fanuom is pleasuiable in a sense that female fans
get to aumiie, foi the lack of a bettei woiu, the bouies anu faces that flaunt theii scieens,
anu I'm not only iefeiiing to the physical aspect of attiaction. When I fiist saw Beneuict
Cumbeibatch, the actoi who plays Sheilock, I thought he was stiange looking. I have nevei
seen a face like that befoie. As I continueu watching him on scieen howevei, I founu him
ieally attiactive. Latei, I founu out that I wasn't the only one who hau the same thought
piocess. Theie's even a giaph about it calleu, "Beneuict Cumbeigiaph"

Theie's no uenying that the online fanuom loves Beneuict Cumbeibatch. 0n Tumbli,
he is tieateu as a king anu giils scieam thiough theii blogging. Be's not even conventionally
attiactive; even he knows that, too. Is it because his iobust voice ciushes eveiy giil's heait,

The outsiue woilu, labeleu as men's, aie now accessible to women because of "bioaueneu accessibility in the uomestic
iealm"(16). Women at home saw bioaucasteu spoits anu became fans of it because of "subveision of existing genuei
ioles" (17); anu because women weie only confineu in homes anu weie not given the same fieeuom as women have now.

look up 1Beneuict Cumbei2/-.34 on
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oi is it because he's highly well ieau anu is playing a sociopath uetective who's, if not
equally, as intelligent. I think it's the lattei.
Cumbeibatch is one of the contiibuting factois why fans love BBC's Sheilock
because he plays him so well anu he biings a mouein Sheilock to life. The way
Cumbeibatch poitiays the chaiactei is enteitaining to watch, anu it's comical seeing a
sociopath inteiacting with noimal people anu how it confuses him why humans coulu be so
noimal anu "boiing".
As I saiu eailiei, theie aie male fans of Sheilock, though not as much as females.
Fanuom isn't only constiaineu to genuei positions anu, iathei its following is baseu on the
piefeience of the othei genuei, no mattei what the sex is. Foi example, heie's an exceipt of
an aiticle wiitten by a 2)5 nameu Ban Zinski:
"In oui cultuie iight now stupiuity anu especially male stupiuity tenus to be
gloiifieu. Eveiything is about uumbing uown especially when it comes to
poitiayals of maleness. It's like you can't be a ieal man unless youi entiie life
centeis aiounu the thiee |B'sj: beei, boobs anu book-ignoiing.
Cumbeibatch's peifoimance in 63%/#!'7 says eff that. It says the smaitest guy
in the ioom is also the sexiest guy in the ioom. Especially if he is alieauy
possibly the sexiest guy in the ioom anyway. (Zinski)"
Beie, he put into peispective why a lot of people like the Tv seiies, Sheilock; anu coming
fiom a guy, he thinks Sheilock uefies society's steieotypes of what a man shoulu be. This is
emotional iealism, too. Sheilock says "biainy is the new sexy" because how he uses his
biain makes his job ieally cool.
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Sheilock solves mysteiies but he also embouies a mysteiy. People aie geneially
uiawn to him because we uon't ieally know much about him, anu we want to figuie him
out. People uon't like seemingly noimal chaiacteis because it ieminus us of who we aie.
Why woulu people piefei ieality when we'ie alieauy living in it ouiselves. Liteiatuie, like
any foim of enteitainment, shoulu seive as a foim of an escape in the ieality of which we
live in. We bask in these television shows anu these poweiful anu unique chaiacteis
because we actually want to be like them. It's no wonuei why Sheilock has moie aumiieis
that }ohn Watson, because Watson miiiois an aveiage peison like us. Be's just as uiawn to
Sheilock's chaiactei as we aie. Come to think of it, we aie basically }ohn Watson. Female
fans see that anu that's why they pioject themselves into him by wiiting anu making up
scenaiios in which Watson anu Sheilock aie iomantically involveu.
Sheilock is not just a Tv seiies oi a book; iathei it's a tool foi the ievelation of the
innei self's ieality. Female fans iesponu to that because in the "ieal woilu" women aien't as
fiee as they aie in the fanuom. Theii confoimity to society locks away theii
unconsciousness. In the fanuom, theie's camaiaueiie among women because they all
iealize what they want anu what they feel; anu being in a fanuom gives them that. That's
why it's logical foi women to confoim to in-gioup noims, like the fanuom.
Fanuom is all about communicating anu exchanging iueas. It's an enuless netwoik of
people inteiacting with each othei, anu a ueep pit of voiu wheie they fill out theii fantasies
- theii piojections of themselves. Women aie natuially emotional anu the fanuom gives
them this oppoitunity to uump all the feelings out. Seeing Sheilock on scieen anu having
the uesiie to be with someone like him but coulun't aie all put into any cieative meuium
like wiiting oi uiawing, cieating a fantasy that uoesn't ieally happen in ieal life, nitpicking
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eveiy little uetail that they coulu put into theii imaginaiy woilu wheie it's all bliss, fluff,
anu uiama.
"Among followeis anu fans, this achieving of a unifieu inteipietive position is a
significant pait of theii pleasuie in the |piogiamj... a unifieu inteipietive position is what
makes fans a cultuial unit, anu inteipietive community" (Tulloch 1u8).

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Citeu Woiks
"Bi. Watson - Wikipeuia, the fiee encyclopeuia." 8$7$.%,$-9 *3% :/%% %"'5'#!.%,$-; Web. 11
Nai 2u14.

Biown, Scott. "Scott Biown on Sheilock Bolmes, 0bsesseu Neius, anu Fan Fiction
." 8$/%,;'!( ; 2u Api 2uu9. Web.

"Sheilock Bolmes - Fanloie." <-"#!/%; Web. 11 Nai 2u14.

"A Biief Bistoiy of Sheilock Bolmes - Photo Essays - TINE."=>?@ A B/%-7$"2 C%D+9 E"-#5+$+9
F!#$*$'+9 B#!2+9 C%D+ F3!*!+9 G$,%!9 =%'3 H%0$%D+; Web. 11 Nai 2u14.

Beyman, Stephen. "A Conveisation With Steven Noffat, a 'Sheilock' Co-Cieatoi -" I)#*)/% -", *3% E/*+ A E/*+B%-* B#!2 A CJ=$(%+;'!(; 17 }an 2u14. Web. 6 Nai

Buikin, Kevin. "Social Conuition anu Social Context in the Constiuction of Sex
BIffeiences." 6%K L$::%/%"'%+ $" M)(-" F%/:!/(-"'%; uieat Biitain : }ohn Wiley & Sons,
1987. 14S-146. Piint.

}enkins, Beniy. "Emotional Realism anu uenueieu Reaueis."=%K*)-# F!-'3%/+; uieat Biitain
: Routleuge, 1992. 1u7-1u9. Piint.

Poitei, Lynnette. "The Way We Watch Television: 'Sheilock' By the Numbeis |
PopNatteis." F!.?-**%/+ N I)#*)/-# I/$*$'$+( :/!( *3% 8!/#, !: F!.; H%0$%D+9 @++-5+9 -",
>,%-+ $" I)#*)/%9 ?)+$'9 <$#( =G9 B!!7+9 O-(%+9 I!($'+; 12 }un 2u1S. Web. 8 Nai 2u1S.

Sanuvoss, Coinel. "Fanuom anu uenuei." <-"+P =3% ?$//!/ !: I!"+)(.*$!"; Cambiiuge:
Polity Piess, 2uuS. 1S-21. Piint.

Tulloch, }ohn anu Beniy }enkins. "'But why is Boctoi Who so Attiactive': Negotiating
Iueology anu Pleasuie." 6'$%"'% <$'*$!" E),$%"'%+; Lonuon: Routleuge, 199S. 1u8-124. Piint.

Suico, Bannah. Peisonal inteiview. 9 Naich. 2u14.

Zinski, Ban . "Stai Tiek Into Baikness: Is Beneuict Cumbeibatch About to Become a Buge
Stai. - FanSiueu - Spoits News, Enteitainment, Lifestyle & Technology - 24u+
Sites." <-"6$,%, A 6.!/*+ C%D+9 @"*%/*-$"(%"*9 Q$:%+*5#% R =%'3"!#!25 A STUV 6$*%+; 16 Nay
2u1S. Web.
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Nichael, Cuitis. =3% O/%-* F!#$*$'-# =3$"7%/+; 1. New Yoik: The Beaist Coipoiation, 1961.