Thank you, Jimmy Fallon.
Last night, while watching Benedict on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy started talking about #letsdrawsherlock, and I was immediately wary. I’m sure any fan watching was expecting a repeat of the Graham Norton fiasco, where Norton pulled out explicit Johnlock fanart to show Martin on the show, clearly making fun of the art, the artists, and the ship.
Instead, Jimmy was nothing but respectful and impressed with the fanartists’ talent. As you can see in these caps, that’s even the title of Benedict’s segment on Fallon’s website - “Benedict Cumberbatch Has Talented Fans.” Let’s count the things Jimmy Fallon did right that are in direct opposition to what Norton did wrong:
- He chose art that would be easily recognized as “good” by non-fans. This isn’t to say that the art Norton showed was bad, but there is a lot of fanart that is less technically skilled because, well, it’s done by non-professionals who are still honing their craft. Other fans appreciate it because we understand the intent and emotion that went into it and often watch artists develop over time, but a non-fan mainstream audience might not see anything special. Jimmy chose pieces that are technically awesome - he put fanart’s best face forward, so to speak. Nobody can use the technical skill as something to laugh at here.
- He kept shipping out of it. I ship johnlock as hard as anyone, but a non-fan mainstream audience doesn’t understand ships, much less slash. Regardless of the fact that there are some technically awesome and beautiful johnlock works in Let’s Draw Sherlock, much of Jimmy’s audience would laugh at them instead of appreciate their beauty. Again, Jimmy is specifically avoiding works that would be easily laughed at.
- He showers them with praise. They’re awesome, the fans are great and talented. Not once does he encourage either the studio or home audience to laugh at either the art or the artist. He is impressed, he wants his audience to be impressed. The studio audience responds in kind - they seem to come into it expecting to see things to laugh at, but are startled and a bit quiet when Jimmy pulls out the Van Gogh. They do laugh with Rosie, since that one clearly has a bit of humor in it. And they cheer for King Tut.
This is how you present fan art on your show respectfully. There was still a little humor with Rosie, it didn’t get overly serious. The studio (and likely home) audience were clearly entertained. Benedict wasn’t embarrassed. Hopefully the artists are pleased with how their art was presented (I haven’t seen anything from any of them).
I’ve often been lukewarm on Jimmy Fallon, but this earned him a new fan.