01 November 2008

Giving Watson his due

Thanks to Gwenda Bond, I read this great post on the construction of female characters over the centuries. This was my favorite bit:
Characters can be awesome in all sorts of different ways! For instance, I am really not sure that Sherlock Holmes is smarter than Watson. (I speak purely of the Arthur Conan Doyle stories here, in several adaptations Watson's obviously meant to be an amiable idiot.) Watson's a doctor, for one thing, which usually indicates a certain amount of smarts. Watson's more socially and emotionally intelligent, for certain. And Watson knows a lot of things Holmes doesn't, like 'The earth revolves around the sun, Sherlock,' and 'THAT COCAINE IS BAD FOR YOU, SHERLOCK.' Watson, being a nice, unsuspicious and not all that observant guy, is simply not as good at sleuthing as Sherlock. Which is fair enough, sleuthing is Sherlock's job. If the Holmes stories focused on a medical practise, Sherlock would be 'Watson's flatmate who occasionally shows up and is a smartass. Plus is on the coke.' If those books were set in modern times, I wouldn't have a problem with Watson as a girl, though occasionally I'd want her to slap Sherlock upside the head.

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