Back to SherlockPeoria front page

The View from Sherlock Peoria
No. 500, January 29, 2012

The Bleeding Coolest Thing In Decades

"I believe in Sherlock Holmes."
"Moriarty was real."

If you don't know what those two powerful statements mean and you call yourself a Sherlockian, I'm done talking to you this week. Come back when you know something.

There's a movement out there. At colleges. On the web. And it's like nothing the old Sherlock Holmes fandom has ever seen before. It's the first true upsurge of Sherlockian fervor of this millennium, and it's being done in the way things are done this days, with a hashtag, potential memes, and some pretty neat Photoshopping. And it's sneaky.

When I first saw glimpses of the movement on Facebook, I didn't even know what I was seeing. Since it was triggered by a Holmes event that hasn't even officially occurred in the U.S., that's to be expected. But then, while fishing for comic book news, I ran into a blog on the Bleeding Cool website where some comic geeks were trying to figure it out for themselves, trying to solve a growing pop culture mystery.

I'm not going to explain it any more than that, as the air of mystery surrounding this little grassroots movement is part of the fun. But I will talk some more about their core words, as they have some great mojo behind them:

"I believe in Sherlock Holmes."
"Moriarty was real."

Those statements worked in 1892, and they work again in 2012. And, oh, my stars and garters, is that a glorious thing! I've seen a lot of love for Sherlock expressed in the last thirty years, but this . . . this is different. It's not the same-old, same-old fans with a new idea. It's not some weird insurgent faction of pastiche fans. It's a pure expression of understanding and identification with the basic Holmes/Moriarty conflict.

"But in calling Moriarty a criminal, you are uttering libel in the eyes of the law . . . . Foul-mouthed doctor and slandered professor -- such would be your respective roles!" Holmes counseled Watson in "The Valley of Fear." And even after Holmes and Moriarty die together at Reichenbach Falls, Watson calls at least one public account "an absolute perversion of the facts." Moriarty is the criminal so skilled that no one can even conceive of him in that role, the ultimate twister of truths, a devil-grade lord of the lie, with a powerful syndicate at his disposal. Holmes, the ultimate seeker of truth, with only one friend who believes in him and a brother too cloaked in shadow politics to shine a light himself.

"I believe in Sherlock Holmes."
"Moriarty was real."

This isn't just the kiddies clapping their hands to bring Peter Pan back to life. The question of what is true and what is lie has become a fundamental part of living in the information age. Marketing companies and politicians try to shape our view of reality to their liking, turning and tainting facts every single day. Knowledge is power, and controlling what someone thinks they know is the power to control them.

"I believe in Sherlock Holmes."
"Moriarty was real."

When you think about it, those two lines strike much deeper than just being an expression of fandom.

"I believe in Sherlock Holmes."
(I want to seek the truth like Holmes does.)
"Moriarty was real."
(Those who conspire to make us believe in lies do exist.)

There's a resonance there that's worth spreading in this day and age. And the fact that a modern production company can take a hundred-and-twenty-year-old story and make it so fresh that a completely new generation of fans is moved to campaign for no other cause than expressing their love . . . that is something very special. As an ancient Sherlockian who has grown tired of the old rituals, I am just loving the hell out of this.

It really is the bleeding coolest thing in decades.

Your humble correspondent,
Brad Keefauver

Archives for
2002 to 2008

2009 Archives

2010 Archives

2011 Archives

Past 2012 Columns

January 1, 2012
A League (Out)
Of Her Own

January 8, 2012
Why I Hate PBS

January 15, 2012
'Tis Done

January 22, 2012
The Sherlock Bomb

January 29, 2012
The Bleeding Coolest Thing In Decades