Sherlock fans outraged at “hurtful” reading of fanfiction at Q&A

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Screenshot of a video recording of the reading (Image: Terence Huynh/TechGeek)

Two days ago, several fans and journalists were lucky enough to go and see an exclusive screening of the first episode of the new season of Sherlock, The Empty Hearse, which will go out on New Years Day in the UK. However, fans of the show are now angry after the Q&A’s host decided to embarrass a fan by having her fanfiction work read publicly.

Caitlin Moran, a controversial opinion writer in the UK and the host of the night’s Q&A, had the two lead actors – Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman – read excerpts of Tea, a fanfic written by the author ‘mildredandbobbin’. According to London Reviews, the excerpt included:

Sherlock studied John. John, with his nicest button down shirt, plain cardigan, grey-shot hair, bags under his eyes and lines on his face. John who was standing, tense and agitated. John, who cared about Sherlock and was more important than comfort or reputation. John, who right now needed caring too. Sherlock felt something unfurling within him, something he’d kept ruthlessly tucked away for a very long time. Hope was the least of it.

He closed the space between them and leaned his forehead down to John’s. John’s eyes remained shut but his breath quickened.

“John,” Sherlock murmured and he grazed his fingertips over the buttons of his cardigan.

After finding out that her work was read out in public, by Cumberbatch and Freeman nonetheless, the author responded on Tumblr, “I hope Caitlin Moran understands that she was hurtful and unprofessional, that in fact she used her position of privilege to belittle and humiliate, and that she leaves us in peace to enjoy what we enjoy.”

“Thank you for spoiling something I found joy in. Thank you for humiliating me, taking my writing out of context without permission, belittling it and using it to embarrass actors who I deeply admire,” she continues.

Fanfiction (and fanart) often gets a bad reputation from the public – and that’s largely due to how it has been publicised in the media. From Graham Norton showing smutty fanart of Sherlock and Holmes, to Fifty Shades of Grey (which was a piece of Twilight fanfiction) – to many people, it is essentially poorly-written pornography.

However, fanfiction isn’t just about the smut. It can be about anything – from new adventures with the characters, romantic tales between two characters, or even placing them in a brand new setting like a high school. The most important thing is that they are written by fans of the series for the fans. And not all fanfiction is poorly-written, there are many that are brilliant pieces of work.

There has been an outpouring of support for ‘mildredandbobbin’ from Tumblr Sherlockians, with one slash fiction writer even outing herself and declared that she was proud of what she wrote. Another supporter has written an open letter, attacking Moran and saying that she has helped perpetuate a misogynistic misrepresentation of the fangirls.

“Making fun of fangirls for being too emotional while giving sports fans a free pass is misogyny. Using the same glass-wearing, inhaler-wielding, plain-looking stereotypes of nineties sitcoms on fangirls while geeks are hailed as the new hipsters is misogyny. And passing off erotic fanfiction or fanart as immature and grotesque in a society that still struggles to accept female self-stimulation as normal and natural, as opposed to male masturbatory practices, is misogyny,” the user fireplum wrote on Tumblr.

“I don’t care if you  were just trying to be funny and clever. I don’t care if you supposedly read fanfic yourself. I don’t care how bad you thought that particular extract was. If you had picked the most gag-worthy example of weeping cock purple prose, I wouldn’t have cared either. That is not the point. The point is that you just added a nice shiny brick to the wall of dumbing down, stereotyping and ultimately undermining female assertiveness and desire. Congratulations.”

There hasn’t been an official response from the BBC or from the creators of the show. However, according to London Reviews, the BBC’s drama controller was reportedly angry at Moran; and the BBC has asked fans to take down the footage.

via The Daily Dot