The Who’s Who of Detective Novels

Sherlock Holmes is a classic literary and now filmic character that has transcended not only generally gaps, but also cultural gaps. It has been appropriate into countless different shows and movies, from a series called elementary, appropriated for more American audiences, to “Sherlock”, which was produced predominantly for a British audience.
First novel to feature Holmes A Study In Scarlet published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1887.
3 other novels followed as well as 56 short stories, the majority published in The Strand magazine
The majority of the narratives occur from Holmes’ companion and assistant John Watson’s perspective – hence from the outset Sherlock Holmes was presented to the reader as a series of observations of a peculiarly English character. When the narration technique alters it is usually to an omniscient perspective, so that action outside of Holmes and Watson’s range in the story can be observed by the reader. Only two stories are written from the perspective of Holmes himself.
Sherlock Holmes has been adapted many times, for both cinema and television
The number of these adaptations attest to the text’s popularity and appeal
In part this appeal rests on a desire for a constructed – and nostalgic- ( Victorian) England where order emerges from chaos. The figure of Sherlock Holmes represents an idealised Englishness: one which is imaginary and constructed.
A ‘hard-boiled’ hero, whose capacity for violence matches his adversary’s . Moves in the underworld he investigates, attracts women, is usually damaged or broken( has issues with either drugs or alcohol which also act to imply his masculinity). Works alone by choice, and is separated from his criminals by a moral code
The scope of the crime is more ‘wide-open’ and entails a journey into the underworld by the hero to solve the case.


Cultural Translation: Sometimes Not All It Should Be

Countless times I’ve come across what some would refer to cheap imitations, while others would say were comic refinements of shows as they are transferred from one country or culture to another. This is made necessary but inclusions of societal and cultural references that only viewers with an understanding of that culture or society would find humourous, whilst the basic framework may work on a universal level.
Take for example, any attempt at American television to retrofit British television shows for an American audiences. The Office as a prime example has caused a divide among Australian viewer. Whilst removed from both American and British culture, Australian tend to have strong ties with either, or in some cases, both. Viewers with a stronger association with American culture tend to prefer the American version, aligning more favourably with the rougher humour style, whilst viewers with a more British based cultural understanding would prefer the british version. This is because we view things with a cultural lense, and our understanding of cultural references and even the style of humour varies, and effects what we perceive to be funny.
Any subversion of the cultural lense we tend to find offensive, which is why programs such as Kath and Kim, when appropriated to American audiences, received so much backlash, as by appropriating it to american audiences it lost the cultural frame preferable to us, thus we perceive it as a loss of humour. However American audiences might find more humour in it now they can better associate it and understand the references and humour type available.

Through The Looking Glass

We tend to see things that we deem as ‘other’ in a light or bias, consciously or subconsciously. In the terms of Westerns viewing news programs and aspects of Asian society, we tend to accidentally view them in a view known as ‘orientalism’. This can be seen in the way the Australian media trivialised reports from Indian media about student bashing in Capital cities, or the way we view members of middle eastern countries with a bias we weren’t aware we had.
When thinking of countries such as Iran and Iraq, we automatically resort to what we’ve learnt in the media, which has been predominantly pictures of terrorism, bombings, destruction and extremist behaviour. We view this as threatening to both our culture and own personal safety. However this isn’t at all an accurate representation of the people that populate these countries. This ‘oritenatalist’ view completely ignores the real people living in those countries, experiencing the same fears, emotions, life events and general experience of humanity as us, although in a slightly different cultural reference frame.
Even the reporter on these issues may accidentally exaggerate them. Instead of getting advice from people living in the areas that are affected by wars, that would have first hand experience on the impacts and reasons for occurrence, journalists tend to rely on white, middle-aged, male “experts”. Whilst they might have done a large amount of theoretical, secondary and even primary research, they still are limited or bias to their Westernised view, which has been ingrained in them since birth.
It’s important to always look deeper into news stories, and critically evaluate opinions and view points from every possible outlook.

Cross-Overs: The Key to Cultural acceptance or loss?

Cross-over films can be seen as a physical manifestation of the shift in view of society towards a global community. Cross-over films are films that have multicultural and multinational collaboration and input from initial creation. This differs from the past, in which a movie would be created in a culture or country for that culture or country, and would rarely, if ever, cross the bounds over to non-target cultures. Cross-overs intend to increase their viewing audience by making films that are accessible to a multitude of cultures, rather than specific ones.
However it is possible to argue that this multicultural sourcing has affected the purity of each individual culture’s ability to define itself, and it is this hybrid type culture that viewers may assume is the typical culture type the other countries it is gaining access to. For example, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ was labelled a Bollywood film, despite being produced by a Western country, and as a result, a large number of western viewers believed themselves to be interested in Bollywood films in general, completely ignorant of the act that the cross-over film was not an accurate representation of either culture, little alone the three hour dance and song filled features which are usually the dominating features of Bollywood films.
Whilst it is possible to argue that any interest in Bollywood is beneficial to the industry, despite the that the interest might misplaced or miss-directed, it is also important to remember that Indian culture, as with any culture or society, is most often not accurately represented by it’s film industry. In fact, the prevalence of the more Westernised Bollywood film industry may lead to a greater misunderstanding of Indian culture in Western societies, as they have the tendency to trust film as a reliable source of information on the cultures viewed on screen, instead of experiencing the cultures first hand and gathering real-world understanding of the complexity.