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The way Sherlock creators told fans Sherlock & John aren’t gay is so rude

Listen up, Sherlock fans. Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, co-creators of the BBC hit, have something to tell you: John Watson and Sherlock Holmes are not, and will never be, in love. That’s right, Johnlock shippers, you’re out of luck. And not only are Sherlock and John never getting together, Gatiss and Moffat are sick of even talking about it.

After a successful appearance at San Diego Comic-Con to tease Sherlock Season 4, Moffat and Gatiss sat down for an interview with With An Accent, where they dismissed any hope for Johnlock to be canon in the series. “We’ve explicitly said this is not going to happen — there is no game plan — no matter how much we lie about other things, that this show is going to culminate in Martin [Freeman, who plays John] and Benedict [Cumberbatch, who plays Sherlock] going off into the sunset together. They are not going to do it,” Gatiss said.

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If Gatiss sounds fed up with addressing the topic of John and Sherlock’s sexuality, it’s because he is. Both Gatiss and Moffat come off as extremely frustrated throughout the interview, mainly because they feel that their words are constantly being twisted to confirm a John/Sherlock romance. Moffat was especially enraged after his comments on minority representation in science fiction during a panel appearance with Bryan Fuller were taken by some as confirmation of Johnlock. “It is infuriating, frankly, to be talking about a serious subject and to have Twitter run around and say, oh, that means Sherlock is gay. Very explicitly it does not. We are taking a serious subject and trivializing it beyond endurance,” Moffat said.

While I understand why Moffat and Gatiss are frustrated, getting angry at fans is not the answer. In fact, some fans’ desire to twist their words is, honestly, a good thing. Fans care so much about the show and the Johnlock ship that they will look for any clues, no matter how minor or convoluted, to prove their fan theories. That means that fans are involved, they are dedicated, they are engaged. To complain about fans twisting your words seems small and petty, especially considering the amount of money Sherlock is most certainly earning for Gatiss and Moffat.

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Moffat and Gatiss also blamed the press for perpetuating this twisting of words. By trying to make the most out of any and all Sherlock coverage, they said, media outlets will make entire articles out of nonstatements, which, again, is an extremely shortsighted critique. Sherlock, with its long breaks and short seasons, would not still be in production today if it weren’t for a strong fandom and, yes, the press. Make no mistake: It’s the fans and the press that keep the show alive for the years at a time when Sherlock is not on the air.

Furthermore, for Moffat to say that fans are trivializing his very serious comments about representation in science fiction is absurd. It is not entirely ridiculous for fans to take his desire for more diverse representation on the screen to mean hope for John and Sherlock. Suggesting that Johnlock could become canon in Sherlock’s fourth season does absolutely nothing to belittle the importance of representation. And, frankly, if Moffat cares so much about the representation of minorities in science fiction, he could stand to actually include more minorities and women in his shows — including Sherlock.

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The bottom line is: When they call out overenthusiastic fans for shipping Johnlock a little too hard, Moffat and Gatiss aren’t setting the record straight or protecting themselves from future fan rage. They are telling viewers and fans to not be as engaged with the show.

To be fair to the creators, in that same interview, Moffat and Gatiss both made clear that they supported fans and other creators having different interpretations of the Sherlock story. “We’re not telling anyone what to think. Mark isn’t saying other people can’t write that version of John and Sherlock getting together. We’re not [writing that story],” Moffat added. Unfortunately for Moffat, to fans, it really does feel like he is trying to tell them what to think.

Explicit or not, the message Moffat and Gatiss are sending is that fans who ship Johnlock in the context of their show are wrong and should simply stop hoping for it. As if it were that simple. As if those fans didn’t have a real place as part of the series. Like it or not, fans are what keep television shows alive. However fans twist their words or interpret their teasing about future episodes does not, and clearly will not, affect the show Gatiss and Moffat are writing. So maybe, instead of complaining about it, they should just accept it as part of the love and adoration Sherlock has received and move on. And if they can’t do that, then maybe they just shouldn’t go blabbing about it to the press.

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