(〥) A Strange Yellow Squiggle: Racism in The Blind Banker
The whole episode depends upon the unlikely premise that Sherlock Holmes never noticed the Suzhou numerals on the items he bought at Chinese markets for his experiments. Because, really, what’s the likelihood that OUR Sherlock hasn’t spent time in Chinatown? It’s not like London’s is so enormous that you wouldn’t be able to map it…
What’s more troubling is a Sherlock Holmes who IS flipping oblivious.
This is the crap that Steve Thompson’s script for TBB gave everyone to work with: Soo Lin Yao, a fragile little porcelain Chinese doll; a stupid brute of a Sikh warrior; Japanese geisha nicknacks for sale in a Chinese…not a shop…the script calls it an emporium… The script also tells the production designer to put up images of every non-Western character set that comes to mind (as if Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t know the difference between Greek and Chinese and Hebrew and Arabic and … ancient hieroglyphics!?)
It’s like Thompson got dizzy in the British Museum and every culture kind of melded together then he wrote a script in the
Oriental East Asia wing. In the 1970’s.
I mean if Sherlock can finesse his way around terrorists somewhere in “Arabia” then he must at least have more than a Fu Manchu concept of China. Right?
Not necessarily. Arabia!lock is just as big of a problem politically as the fragile little Chinese doll is.
I’d be happy to explain my position further if this introduction from the actual script to Soo Lin doesn’t speak for itself but if you want to get truly brainy and think hard about the subject go watch Edward Said talk about his book, Orientalism. That should at least explain why the Sikh at 221b is… erm… problematic, and why Arabia!lock shouldn’t be consumed (lusted after) without a certain discomfort. It’s important to be aware of why it’s a problem that a rich white privileged British male is wearing “Arab” garb in an adventure story. In 2012.
As a fandom we get why Sherlock saving the only strong woman in
the entire series Belgravia is a big problem. There is a chorus of Sherlockians ready to call Moffatisson on their sexism but our tormentors almost get a free pass when it comes to race. Let’s be more thoughtful about this issue.
Seriously, everyone should know about Edward Said’s work. There’s a documentary about the late Columbia professor’s work. Here it is on YouTube. It will make you think and you will see our beloved show in a more complicated light. I love Sherlock no less for being able to criticize it. In fact, I actually adore the show MORE.