I'm asking this specifically about BBC Sherlock, in regard to John and Sherlocks relationship. As a queer person, and as a fan of the show, I've been seeing a lot of complaints about 'Johnlock,' and how Moffat/Gatiss had the opportunity to make John and Sherlock a couple, but didn't. I'm aware what "queerbaiting" is-- It's defined on fanfare as
In a fannish context, queer baiting (or queerbaiting) is a term used to describe the perceived attempt by canon creators (typically of television shows) to woo queer fans and/or slash fans, but with no intention of actually showing a gay relationship being consummated on screen.
However, do Moffat/Gatiss have an "obligation," to romantically develop Johnlock when the show is an adaptation based on two straight men who are not interested in each other?
What I've seen online, specifically on the Johnlock tag on Tumblr and on slash communities on Twitter, is that everybody is let down after this season because the writers heavily implied that there would be a m/m relationship and that their relationship was headed that way, and then it didn't happen. Fandom is upset that nothing was followed through with, which is where the queerbaiting part of my question is.
In the first episode of the show, John says he isn't gay, and Sherlock is heavily coded as asexual (until, I acknowledge, Johns wedding when he meets Janine). In addition, most of the 'proof,' that John and Sherlock are interested in each other is sourced from fan theories, dubious interpretations of interactions (I call such because and this is a slight generalization most of the shippers I've seen are straight girls), fandom projecting what they want to see onto the characters, and slowed down gifs. While I 100% agree that it would be awesome to see Johnlock, there was nothing in the canon that suggested to me that it would be followed through with.
Is it still queerbaiting if you know going in that it'll never happen? And does that change if the writers are very much aware that there is a queer interpretation of the the material (which, I believe, Moffat and Gatiss are)? I'd like to know if the treatment of the show by the writers creates queerbait if the show itself does not.
The Daily Dot writer, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw wrote an article (http://www.dailydot.com/parsec/sherlock-not-gay-steven-moffat-mark-gatiss/) that relates to this topic.
Speaking to the blog With An Accent, showrunners Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss tackled the long-running rumor that John and Sherlock will soon be a couple on the show. They sound pretty tired of the speculation, following a Comic-Con panel where Moffat spoke in general terms about writing gay characters on mainstream TV—which some fans then misinterpreted as a veiled hint about Sherlock.
“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,'" said Moffat. "Very explicitly it does not. We are taking a serious subject and trivializing it beyond endurance.”
"[Sherlock] explicitly says he is not interested," Gatiss said, referring to Sherlock's implied asexuality in the show. "Doesn’t mean he couldn’t be. Doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it. I’m a gay man. This is not an issue. But 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] and Benedict [Cumberbatch] going off into the sunset together."
These quotes are a clear-cut denial, but some fans didn't just disagree with the interview—they doubted that it was even real. In the end, Mark Gatiss had to confirm on Twitter that no, the interview wasn't an elaborate fake.
One of the things that adds to the dubious treatment of John and Sherlocks relationship-- and this is discussed in the Daily Dot article I just referenced-- is the promotional strategy that BBC Sherlock adapted. Viewers are constantly encouraged to not overlook any detail, make their own conclusions, and read as much as possible into any situation. While this has been controversial in fandom (I remember when everyone lost their minds after, "Many Happy Returns," because Anderson, who obviously represented fandom, was mocked by Lestrade, who obviously represented the show) it also provided a sort of 'false hope,' that Johnlock might happen.
In summary, I'm hoping somebody can definitively tell me whether or not Johnlock is queerbait, and if so, is it because of how the show was promoted and how the writers encouraged fandom responses, or if it's because of content within the show itself.