Will Gay Subtext Sink HOLMES Sequel?

Guy Ritchie’s new cinematic interpretation of Sherlock Holmes has certainly gotten fans of the Great Detective debating the last couple of weeks over whether the eponymous film is  true to the spirit of what author Arthur Conan Doyle created over a century ago. One person who is taken exception to how the relationship between Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Dr. Watson (Jude Law) may have been portrayed is Andrea Plunket, who controls the remaining U.S. copyrights to the Holmes stories.

On a recent appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman, Downey stated that there may exist a homosexual subtext to Holmes and Watson’s relationship. This idea does not sit well with Andrea Plunket, who controls the remaining U.S. copyrights to the Holmes stories. According to ContactMusic, she had this to say in response to Downey’s hint-

I hope this is just an example of Mr Downey’s black sense of humour. It would be drastic, but I would withdraw permission for more films to be made if they feel that is a theme they wish to bring out in the future. I am not hostile to homosexuals, but I am to anyone who is not true to the spirit of the books.

(So Holmes fans, shall we parse that statement to mean that she had no other problems with the script- i.e., Holmes as brawler?)

Does Plunket have a serious concern here? I think not. Sure, the script has Holmes and Watson sometimes bickering with each other to the point where you expect a by-standing character to snap “Oh, get a room already!” But I think the same could be said about any pair of people who have been close friends for years, that they can argue in a very distinguishable tone and rhythm. Additionally, though, the tense bickering is there to underline Holmes’ sense of unease over Watson’s upcoming marriage and the dissolution of their partnership in adventuring. Holmes is not the most socially adapt person and Watson is seen as his tether to society, the one that keeps him sane when between cases. And while the pair’s dynamic on screen could be read as latently homosexual, I think to read it only in that light is to do a disservice to what Ritchie is really trying to illustrate.

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About Rich Drees 6950 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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January 4, 2010 11:40 am

Before the film was released, there were articles on this whole subtext of gayness (not that there’s anything wrong with that) between Holmes and Watson. It was with this sense of dread that I went into the film, expecting to despise it for this reason–being very untrue to the characters in the Conan Doyle stories, i.e. the canon. Unless the subtext was so subliminal that one would need Holmes great deductive skills, I really did not notice anything out of sorts with the Holmes/Watson relationship. I was pleased with the film and am quite unsure why Downey needs to harp… Read more »