Tag Archives: Bond

Geek 501 – Sherlock

With our Geek 501 posts, we try to give you a primer or introduction on a topic. For today, it’s BBC’s smash hit, Sherlock. Part of a trend of retelling the Sherlock Holmes stories these days, including the two films with Robert Downey Jr., and the new TV show Elementary. There have been plenty of Sherlock Holmes remakes and stories ever since the books came out… For instance, to reference my post yesterday, there’s Sherlock Holmes adventures in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

With so many retellings of these stories, what makes Sherlock so special? There are all sorts of reasons it might be. The rising star that is Benedict Cumberbatch. The success of bringing the story into the modern age. Steven Moffat. Martin Freeman as the English Everyman. However, I have a different argument.

Rather than tell you every odd and end of the show, I’m going to explore the question that I think answers the success of the show – what do you call Sherlock? If you’re looking for an intro to the show, try this introduction by the folks over at For Human Peoples:

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The Hero’s Progress

The damsel in distress – part 2

Now I get to oversimplify some plots a little bit, and provide a broad stroke for you of what I am calling The Hero’s Progress. I am naming this after the famous Eighteenth Century works, The Pilgrim’s Progress, the Harlot’s Progress, and the Rake’s Progress. I lack the artistic skills to make images for you to match them, however. Maybe one of you can do so.

  1. Something precious is taken (our Damsel, perhaps)
  2. Show up to save it, and find out you are outclassed by the Villain or situation
  3. Find a teacher or Master to train and lead you
  4. Journey around and train up against increasingly difficult situations
  5. The Master is lost or dies
  6. The Hero surpasses the master, kicks butt, and saves the day

So that’s my take on parts that we seem to see a lot in the Hero’s progression, in leveling up, in game story telling, in super hero stories, in a lot of things. It’s certainly the sort of overall story we see with a Damsel in Distress.

Holly argued yesterday about how the Damsel in Distress is problematic because it seems to always be a weak woman and strong man having to save her. From a feminist standpoint, this is absolutely the case. You have a female character who, in the story outline I have here in the Hero’s Progress, shows up basically towards the beginning and then right towards the end.

I am going to take a storytelling approach to the problems here, however. In terms of motivation, we have several problematic aspects to this Hero’s Progress, and ways that they do not match reality – meaning that this story progression ends up making us feel like this is how things should be, without them actually being this way. Like Holly said, if a woman sits around waiting to be rescued, or a man feels he is worthless if he is not the one making more money, we have a problem. And it doesn’t match the reality in front of you then.

So, I am going to mainly deal with the first two aspects of the Hero’s Progress, because that is where there is overlap the most with Holly’s argument – and, as you see from my points, it makes the later stuff kind of moot. Continue reading

Some Problems with Superhero Movies

Reveal Secret IdentityHolly’s post yesterday mentioned something that I complain about: superheroes taking off their masks all the time. We were pleasantly surprised that Dredd did not remove his helmet. Thank you for that, Karl Urban. But that got us thinking, there are some solid problems with what they do with superhero movies, and sometimes they do it right, and sometimes they don’t. So consider with me some good and some bad of superhero movies.

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