Look, quickly, at the URL in the address bar. If that doesn’t let you know where I stand in the fandom of Doyle, then nothing else I say will convince you.
We’re back in another renaissance for Sherlockians, with at least three flavours of Holmes ascendant in popular culture. Something about the two television adaptations–besides Lucy Liu–has been bugging me for quite awhile but I haven’t been able to put my finger on it. Then over the weekend author Kat Heckenbach mentioned that she was having a problem getting into the Cumberthingy version of Sherlock, which she is now catching on Netflix. She said that, unlike Doctor Who*, Sherlock is just arrogant and mean. And that is, indeed, how they’ve chosen to portray him. My theory for awhile now has been that Moffat and Gatiss decided to go that direction because of the immense popularity of another Holmes pastiche–that ass, Dr. Gregory House.
But it’s gotten me thinking, and then today as I sat down to enjoy Dust and Shadow with my now-getting-cold lunch it all came together.
Holmes is a classic INTJ personality. I blame a lot of my 35 years of devotion to his stories on that fact alone. There are so few representations of INTJ in fiction because it is such a hedgehog personality. (Yes, I also love hedgehogs.) I mean, face it. We are adorable and easy to hold onto, but all people see are the quills. The don’t understand that with the right approach the quills are actually kind of soft.
That’s an INTJ for you. We are logical and not given to bursts of emotion. That doesn’t mean we don’t have emotions. Our frankness is also often mistaken for an unkind disposition, yet if you ask any INTJ we are most likely going to be bewildered by the question. Isn’t truth a greater kindness than falsehood? And don’t we usually end up saying what many people in the room are thinking?**
But there’s a lot of hate out there for INTJs. Some of it is no doubt deserved because it takes us awhile to learn the Lingua Franca of places like the Internet and we don’t frankly think that typing “((hugs))” is a thing that solves any blasted problem. Until someone says “that’s just the way people do” and we realise that “okay. If this is the sociology of the place we will play along.” So I don’t type ((hugs)) but I will try to use a different approach to convey the same sympathetic concern that I really do feel. But really, most of the INTJ backlash is just because we are the fewest and the least likely to really care all that much about which Harry Potter character we are.
That Harry Potter thing, however, is what tipped the world’s hand to me. Of all the characters in Potter (another fictional world I have literally, actually memorised) the most INTJ is Snape. While he isn’t the loveliest of characters he is ultimately a complex fellow whose actions have far-reaching consequences for both good and bad. Yet one of those Facebook memes going around has cast Draco Malfoy as The INTJ in the Potterverse. He isn’t; INTJs do not make fun of people who beat them at sports, they don’t bully and they don’t hatch plans in secret and they don’t lead a gang at school. Those just aren’t introverted characteristics. Yet he is the story’s Bad Guy and so OF COURSE he must be the INTJ.
So what about Sherlock? Well, the writers of the British series have apparently decided that INTJ=Sociopath=Arrogance=Cruelty and so, yet again, we have another (mis)interpretation of Doyle’s quirky consulting detective. Another version of Holmes that is just, frankly, an ass. In a perfect world we could have Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock in a setting that wasn’t so oddly steampunk. That might make me the happiest. Until then I guess I have to live with everyone thinking that I am at heart a sociopath.
*who, face it, since the Tom Baker era has owed more and more of his DNA to Doyle’s Holmes
**An example: A while back an author unveiled on his blog the cover art for his soon-to-be self-published book. It featured a shirtless angsty man. The comments were all along the lines of “great artwork!” I didn’t want to deflate his bubble so I waited and mulled it over and then I went with Honesty Is The Best Policy and said “it looks like gay erotica.” Because it did. And then as soon as I said that, several other commenters weighed in with similar posts. They had apparently all been thinking it but it wasn’t until the INTJ in the room said “weeeelll….” The art ended up being redone into something that was just as skillfully done and a lot more in keeping with the actual genre of the book.