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probability in fandom, + Holmestice fics

Over at Tumblr, Tiger in the Flightdeck pointed out that there are a lot of things from Sherlock's third series taken directly from fanfic and fan-art. There's a whole genre of Sherlock being a ballet dancer predating the show, and the bit from TSOT where Sherlock stuffs a dozen or so cigarettes in his mouth is almost an exact match for a particular fanfic, to give two examples.

Now, I'm not going to say Team Moffat is stealing or not. They lie so much, I don't want to try to parse anything they say. But even if practically every fun moment from the show matched up with a particular fanfic or fan-art (and I don't know the fandom anywhere near well enough to make that call, though I do see a fair bit of overlap). I don't think that proves they were copying. Consider an analogy. Say someone's throwing darts against the wall and gets within 3-4 cm of the only bulls-eye target. It's safe to assume the person was actually aiming for that target. Why? Because the chances of hitting that precise spot by accident is very unlikely. Now imagine there are loads of targets, one every 10 cm or so, and say again someone threw a dart and it came within 2-3 cm of one of those targets. This time, it may mean someone was aiming for a certain bulls-eye and did a good job of aiming for it – but in this case, there's about a 50/50 chance that if you throw a dart blindly, even without aiming, it will be within 2-3 cm of some target. If you focus on the fact that it came within some small distance of this particular target, that may seem like the thrower was aiming; but it could also be dumb luck, because there's a high chance that any random throw will come close to some target. It only seems like you've got evidence the thrower was aiming.

From where I'm standing, the Sherlock fandom seems like that second scenario. There's so much fan creativity, it's pretty likely that if Team Moffat picked out some trope or other, there's going to be some story or artwork with the characters in question doing that activity just that way. And if you only focus on the fan-work that's so similar to what later shows up on the show it can seem like taking someone else's idea. The tricky thing is that whatever other idea the show would have chosen, there's probably a fanwork painting a very similar scene. I think it's a matter of it seeming like the show-creators were aiming for a certain target and not seeing a wall cram-packed of other bulls-eyes. And because the similarities between the scenes they gave us and certain fanwork scenes will seem much more noticeable than the equally precise similarities we'd likely get if they'd given us a different scene. Those similarities are real, but what it looks like they show us can be more than a bit misleading.

Don't get me wrong, I think Team Moffat is very much aware of what the Sherlock fandom is up to. They deny they take their plot-lines from Twitter, but on more than one occasion Steven Moffat has shown a familiarity with what interpretations are popular, what people seem to be interested in creating. If you think they don't know about the most influential movements in fandom, that's insane. My point is, just because there are a lot of ponits where a fan-creator did something first, that doesn't mean there was copying going on. At this point, there are very few ideas that hven't been done by someone.

To be brutally honest, my bigger gripes are, first, that Team Moffat chooses such bad fanfic (a crackshot assassin wife who's pregnant and shoots a major character in the name of True Luv, and has her victim urge his best friend to forgive her? That's not just fanfic tropes, that's the stuff of bad fanfic). But on top of that, I'm also really bothered by the way Team Moffat has been dismissive toward fan-creators. Steven Moffat in particular – there's an interview where Moffat said fandom was great because it was where you get your next generation of scriptwriters and so on, but that it was a one-way street. And as a description of how show-creating (or at least this show's creation) works, that may be a fair point, he may just be saying that any similarity is incidental. But this has come up often enough that it makes me think he only sees fanfic and fan-art and the like as practice for "real" art, professional art, like getting paid to create the next generation of Doctor Who or the next incarnation of Sherlock Holmes by the BBC or Hollywood or whomever else. And I've always found that a bit insulting, as a fanfic writer, because what I do isn't practice for real art, it is real art.

So, yeah. Lots of reasons why I disagree with the Moff and don't like how he interacts with fandom, particularly the female-dominated world of fanfic as opposed to the male-dominated world of scriptwriters and show creators of the actual shows. Not defending him, and not saying he doesn't actually steal from the fan-creators. But I find it interesting (understandable, natural, even foreseeable) that people would look at those similarities and miss how likely it is in a fandom as productive as ours, that the show would resemble someone's personal theories. I think you see it between fan-creators as well, when we have to parse whether another creator is copying from us or whether it's coincidence. And maybe I'm the only one interested in this kind of thing; I can be a bit odd like that. But the way the human brain works like that has always thrilled my inner-philosopher.

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Speaking of fandom and Sherlock, Holmestice authors + artists + etc. were revealed a few days ago. That means I have a new story to share for the interested. I need to track down one or two things to clear up the notes (*le geek*) before I post it over at AO3, but I think this is definitely polished and readable.

Summary: Sherlock's smirk, the arched brow, the teasing humor suffusing his every word: these were chess-moves in a game the two of them have played for long years now, one Mycroft had initiated years ago but which Sherlock had long embraced as well. Mycroft was not bitter, did not wish things could have been different, save perhaps in the way God might move Aquinas's immovable boulder by rewriting the laws of reality. So he had always insisted, to himself most of all.

If that doesn't make it clear, this is Holmescest (Sherlock/Mycroft) and there are brief flashes of sexual imagery though there aren't any actual sex scenes. (Whether it counts as UST or actual incest is a... grey area. Whether John and Sherlock are romantically involved is also a grey area. That's kind of the whole point, actually, or at least a large part of it.) It's essentially my attempt to write a story about two men who were long devoted to the idea that sentiment was a chemical defect, as they try to work out what it means to love and be in love. Also more than a bit of RL philosophy and discussion of The Hobbit. Also also, an account of how Sherlock learned how to handle a gun, and why his gun-safety behavior was so attrociously wrong at the pool and elsewhere.

==> Read Getting Involved, my story for dioscureantwins
==> Read Trimurti, the really exceptional story I received as a gift from hitlikehammers
==> Read (or look at) all the fic + art + videos + etc. created for this exchange. So many treats.

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