Britney Broyles

From Opium Den to Partner-in-Crime... Solving: The Chinese Presence in Sherlock Holmes Adaptations

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Crime Fiction; Adaptation; China; Stereotype.

Sherlock Holmes has been an immensely popular character since his inception in Victorian England. The popularity of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective, far from dwindling over the years, has only grown. Currently, there are two different adaptations of this notorious detective on television, the PBS and BBC joint venture - "Sherlock" - and CBS's "Elementary". These shows need to be examined critically because of their enormous popularity. We need to determine what it is that calls us back to this Victorian detective and what (if any) aspects of the original text are being rewritten. Critics have examined Sherlock Holmes's reliance on physical appearances (his prejudices regarding class and gender) in Doyle's texts but few have focused on the implications of the deductions he makes based on race. My work will examine the stereotypical depictions of the Chinese characters in "The Blind Banker" (2010) - the extremely controversial episode of "Sherlock" - in contrast to Lucy Liu's depiction of Joan Watson in "Elementary". This article will demonstrate how the former show relies upon a notion of racial essentialism to identify and contain threats to national security by recycling the ideology of Doyle's canon, while the latter represents a more pluralistic notion of racial identity and recognises that appearances can mislead through its more liberal handling of the original text.

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