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Reblogged from shallanelprin  57,704 notes

tabbystardust:

I made this graphic because some people like to complain that changing the gender/sex of the characters somehow “ruins” or “desecrates” Arthur Conan Doyle’s legacy. Funnily enough nobody ever complains when they are turned into mice, dogs, etc. (Presumably because they are still male.) As you can see there have been several female versions of these characters in the past, and they have hardly ruined anything.

Some of the oldest adaptations only had the actor info for Holmes on IMDB, so either Watson didn’t exist in those films at all, or the actor is unknown. (If he did exist it’s pretty safe to assume he was male.)

I excluded incarnations where Holmes/Watson only appeared once as guest stars in unrelated tv shows. (There were lots.)

Reblogged from great-work-begins  213 notes

Dear Victoria Coren…

great-work-begins:

I’m a big fan. I once briefly chatted to you during the Edinburgh Festival. I usually love your articles and adore Only Connect. I have always particularly enjoyed your calling out of the more sexist elements of panel shows you’ve been on, such as Have I Got News For You.

There are no words to describe how offended I am by your latest Guardian article, decrying the new show Elementary and its race-gender flip for the character of Watson.

I won’t dissect the entire article because I’m too tired and angry, but this part in particular deserves attention:

Meanwhile, Lucy Liu is worried that people will see only the gender change to her character and miss another excellent improvement to the rubbish old original story, telling the Times: “It was a very big deal for me to play an Asian-American in Charlie’s Angels; Watson’s ethnicity is also a big deal”, as if someone had bet her £100 that she couldn’t cause at least three Conan Doyle fans to suffer a pulmonary embolism.

Personally, I’d like to press Liu’s face into a bowl of cold pea soup for that statement. It’s not just her failure to distinguish between creating a new character and mangling a beloved old one (Tread softly! You tread on my dreams!), but the triumphant tone over such an appalling and offensive racial change. Let me be clear: I rather like the idea of an Asian Watson, but American? God save us all.

I’m still looking for more recent figures but a study from 2009, only made available 2 years later, showed that black & Asian representation in UK TV dramas stood only at 8.3%. This site here, while a little outdated, gives some important facts on how “Asian American women carry[ing] the double burden of racial and gender stereotyping” and some examples of said stereotyping. Racebending has an interesting review of the pilot that emphasises just how big a deal Liu’s casting is, and I also heartily recommend a general browse around the site, particularly when it relates to the lack of non-stereotypical casting opportunities for Asian actors. I don’t have figures but I don’t think this really needs them - turn on the TV and count the Asian faces in US and UK drama and comedy. Count any non-white faces in speaking roles. Count any non-white faces in speaking roles that aren’t massively stereotyped. 

This is why Liu’s casting is such a big deal, and this is why she’s allowed to brag about it. 

Appalling? Offensive? Just like the Orientalism that went on in Stephen Moffat’s Sherlock adaptation? Or was that okay because it was loyal to the 200 year old source material? Is it only offensive and appalling when it ruins the biases of a middle class white writer for the Guardian? Was the Americanism offensive in House, essentially Holmes and Watson in a hospital? You start the article with a hollow disclaimer that you’re a feminist who’s happily a member of the boy’s club, but yet you seem entirely unwilling to engage with the issue at hand. You didn’t even watch the pilot before making an informed decision on the show. If you had watched the show or done any research into it then you would be aware that the relationship between Holmes and Watson is entirely platonic, and the creators of the show have promised that it will remain so. You also seem to have a selective mind when it comes to adaptations of Holmes.

The real problem, though, is that the people involved in the series think they are doing something good for women by castrating detective fiction’s greatest sidekick. And this is stupid. There is a massive logical flaw they aren’t spotting – which does not bode well for an interpretation of literature’s most logical mind.

Watson has been figuratively castrated and turned into the bumbling hero worshipping fool long before he was ever turned into a woman. Joan Watson is certainly no fool - she is on an equal playing field of respect with Holmes, doesn’t stand for his arrogance or show-boating, and as his sober companion, re-introduces an element oft-forgotten from the Watson/Holmes dynamic. Remember, Watson claims to have weaned Holmes off of cocaine and helps keep him on the straight and narrow. 

I could go into this more but honestly, I feel like I’m just going round and round in circles. I urge you to look into this issue and understand just why a female Asian leading character on a major TV show who isn’t a ninja, hooker or crook is such a big deal, and why sneering at it and “jokingly” threatening violence against her is such an awful thing. I also urge you to watch the show. It may not be your thing, and that’s fine, but give it a fair shake before you go off on it. Re-imaginings of public domain material have been going on for quite some time now, and Elementary brings something a little new to the table. 

You’re white, middle class, the daughter of Alan Coren, a writer for the Guardian. While you may not be an actress, I’m sure you have never had to face the level of stereotyping and limiting of career opportunities that someone like Lucy Liu has. If the biggest thing you have to worry about as a white person is a TV adaptation of a book not meeting your preconceived expectations, then honestly, you’ve got it pretty good. 

During the ComicCon Q&A session, tumblr blogger Watermeloncholy approached the mic and decided to ask a question about the backlash towards Liu’s casting. She pointed out that Sherlock Holmes has been adapted multiple times in different ways, and asked about the controversy surrounding the casting of Lucy Liu as a woman and Asian American Watson.

Watermeloncholy: “This is a general question, but it’s mostly directed to Lucy. There have been many many different versions of Sherlock Holmes, including a version where Sherlock and Watson were cartoon mice. However for some odd reason, there seems to be a lot of controversy because Watson is a woman and Asian American. So, I was just wondering how you’re responding to the criticism?”

Lucy Liu: “Firstly, this is the first time I’ve heard anything about criticism–thanks for letting me know. If I didn’t try anything different, I’d still be doing a Calgon ad. You have to be a pioneer, which means doing things that are not schedued and different. When you do stuff, it’s not always to please other people–it’s to please yourself. For me, the more individual you make something, the more universal it can be. You have to be a pioneer.”

Elementary is a pioneering show. It is more than just an American remake of British television. The casting decisions add some much-needed, well-done diversity to the miasma of Sherlock-media out there. Here, Sherlock–a white British man–is the immigrant with the accent. We’ve got Sherlock Holmes and Watson as mice,Sherlock Holmes in modern day UK, and Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century. Now we have Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson.

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Read the full review of “Elementary” at Racebending.com

Reblogged from tvequals  394 notes
tvequals:

[INFOGRAPHIC] Racial Diversity On TV (Fall 2012)
Once again, it’s time for our annual deep dive into the state of Race on TV.
Last year was our first foray into the sensitive topic of Race on TV and this year promises to be another challenge. Why you ask? Well, as much as some would like to think that ever since Obama’s election, race is no longer a factor; others, including yours truly, would beg to differ.
Last year, we discovered that things were pretty bleak out there in the Network TV world. With NBC leading the pack and CBS trailing at the bottom, it was heartbreaking to see that this supposedly “post racial” world in which all races are fairly represented in our five major networks just doesn’t exist yet. For minorities out there searching for someone that resembles them on the small screen, it can be a very difficult feat.
This year, as we wade through this uneasy exercise once more, let us keep in mind that the goal is not to bring affirmative action to TV but rather to highlight a reality that cannot be ignored. It’s one thing to believe there is a serious lack of racial diversity on TV but it’s quite another to see the numbers for yourself……..

These stats aren’t a perfect metric—there is no way the regularly tactless and racially problematic Glee gets an A in my book—but it’s a good look at how there can still be shows that have no people of color in lead roles, how most shows still just tokenize, and how sad that is.

tvequals:

[INFOGRAPHIC] Racial Diversity On TV (Fall 2012)

Once again, it’s time for our annual deep dive into the state of Race on TV.

Last year was our first foray into the sensitive topic of Race on TV and this year promises to be another challenge. Why you ask? Well, as much as some would like to think that ever since Obama’s election, race is no longer a factor; others, including yours truly, would beg to differ.

Last year, we discovered that things were pretty bleak out there in the Network TV world. With NBC leading the pack and CBS trailing at the bottom, it was heartbreaking to see that this supposedly “post racial” world in which all races are fairly represented in our five major networks just doesn’t exist yet. For minorities out there searching for someone that resembles them on the small screen, it can be a very difficult feat.

This year, as we wade through this uneasy exercise once more, let us keep in mind that the goal is not to bring affirmative action to TV but rather to highlight a reality that cannot be ignored. It’s one thing to believe there is a serious lack of racial diversity on TV but it’s quite another to see the numbers for yourself……..

These stats aren’t a perfect metric—there is no way the regularly tactless and racially problematic Glee gets an A in my book—but it’s a good look at how there can still be shows that have no people of color in lead roles, how most shows still just tokenize, and how sad that is.

Reblogged from nomoremsnicegal  240 notes

Blog Post 3: A Watson of Color

raciallygendered:

When the new CBS crime drama Elementary (a modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes set in New York City) announced its cast this February, fans of the original books – and the BBC’s modern Sherlock – rose up in protest. They weren’t upset that white, male, British actor Jonny Lee Miller was cast as Sherlock. Their anger stemmed from another casting: Asian-American actress Lucy Liu as Sherlock’s sober companion, Dr. Joan Watson.

Fans jumped on the casting decision because “Watson is a guy,” but the underlying message was clear. They didn’t like their predominantly white, male TV world being invaded by a woman of color. They didn’t like their view of the Sherlock Holmes narrative being turned on its head—even though, at its heart, Sherlock Holmes is a mystery series featuring two friends and partners. As Rob Doherty, Elementary’s executive producer, noted, “[T]here was no part on the show [casting-wise] that was race-restricted because we all felt very strongly that it was irrelevant and incidental. You find the best Sherlock you can. You find the best Watson you can. We did that, obviously.”

Doherty’s sentiment is refreshing in a world where people of color (especially women of color) are so rarely depicted on major TV networks in a major role. When they are, they are usually relegated to flat, stereotypical characters that have no identity transcending their race. Lucy Liu’s own career reflects that dominant paradigm, through her roles as “chilly Ling Woo on Ally McBeal and O-ren Ishii from the Kill Bill movies.” As Lucy Liu told The Wall Street Journal,

“It’s nice to be able to portray an Asian-American on camera without having an accent, or without having to be spoofy. And I think that’s a big step forward, because there are still representations of people that are more comedic. And that’s not what I’m playing. I’m just playing somebody who represents anyone else who would be living in America or outside of it, who is just a regular person.”

To those who complain that Elementary’s casting decision is irrevocably damaging Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s precious story, remember how many times and in how many ways the Sherlock Holmes stories have been rehashed, reinvented, and reworked. A modern Sherlock Holmes is already deviating from the Victorian source material—why not make Watson a woman of color to reflect the increasing diversity of America and the world in general? What’s so wrong with that?

 

Sources:

Dunn, Gaby. “Dr. Joan Watson, Racism, And The Sherlock Vs. Elementary Backlash.”

Kim, Sylvie. “Elementary Racial Privilege, My Dear Watson.

Radish, Christina. “Executive Producer Rob Doherty Talks Elementary, Casting a Woman as Watson, Changing Moriarty for the Modern-Day Setting, and More


Bonus:

Elementary Trailer

Reblogged from captaindoubled  3,260 notes

kyssthis16:

pocketofhours:

Reason #898457 Elementary is already better than all your faves:

Can I just say how fucking refreshing it is to see this type of character actually apologizeTo a WOC of all people? Like, that shit is fucking miraculous. And it wasn’t the infamous non-apology in which characters like him will use every other word in the English language just to avoid actually apologizing. He said the actual words and meant them. Better yet, he was specific: “for the way I spoke to you earlier”. Just - ugh, the appreciation I feel for this show knows no bounds.

Because we live in a culture that consistently glorifies these type of characters. Assholes (almost always male and always white) who are vehemently unrepentant in their cruelty and borderline sociopathic/sexist/racist tendencies and comments, but also happen to be a “genius” of some sort. And everyone (including the audience) is supposed to forgive them, even love and admire them, because we are conditioned to believe that this character is just misunderstood. That it is our fault (as females, as POC) they’re jerks. That we’re not appreciating their genius enough. That they don’t ever need to apologize. That they’re intelligence matters more than our mental health and even our physical safety.

And Elementary busted through the sea of bullshit and told this tired ass trope to gtfo. Nobody gives a fuck how white intelligent you are, they’re telling us. You’re still going to be held responsible for your actions and words, especially when you’re a dick.

So four for you, Elementary, four for you.

It also helps differentiate the show from House M.D., another Sherlock Holmes inspired show where the main character was unrepentantly jerkish to all of his compatriots and sexist to the women around him, as part of his “quirky” character. If House had been say, portrayed by a woman of color, the character would most likely have been described using some sexist or racist choice words, instead of seen as charming by viewers.

It feels really good to be always breaking down walls and starting something new and trying something new. You never know – it’s hit and miss. It’s nice to be able to portray an Asian-American on camera without having an accent, or without having to be spoofy. And I think that’s a big step forward, because there are still representations of people that are more comedic. And that’s not what I’m playing. I’m just playing somebody who represents anyone else who would be living in America or outside of it, who is just a regular person.

By Lucy Liu on playing the genderbent and racebent Joan Watson in “Elementary.”
The gender-swapping role has generated some controversy among Holmes devotees, but for Liu, “changing it up is a good thing. … If you look at the percentage of ethnicities and the percentage of women on television now, it’s such a different time. That’s how you keep things current. You update and you change them accordingly. … People probably thought the same thing about the president of the United States, how is it possible that you have someone who’s not Caucasian, in that vision. I think things are shifting quite a bit.”

Casting an Asian-American actress for the role also goes against tradition, though Liu says she doesn’t think about what ethnic category she falls into. But she concedes that it’s nice she can represent a certain group of people.