When Dr. Sheldon Cooper found his girlfriend Amy a lot of fans of the sitcom Big Bang Theory were pretty upset. Sheldon should not have a girlfriend. In an interview with one of the main writers of the show, Eric Kaplan, I read that his initial response was something like: “Are you crazy? It’s just a story. If you don’t like it, go and write your own sitcom about a Sheldon without a girlfriend.”
How I met your mother
This story is somewhat similar to the one about the last episode of another popular sitcom “How I met your mother”. A lot of fans were more than a little unhappy about the way in which the writers chose to end the series. They were angry, some even outraged. They were personally offended, some even in tears. The adaptations George Lucas made a couple of years ago, when he digitized the original Star Wars trilogy also caused a lot of controversy among fans. Star Wars fans were so displeased that some are even making their own digitally enhanced versions without Lucas’ help or permission.
Is Santa Claus real?
The reason for the interview with Eric Kaplan was his philosophical book, Does Santa exist? In this book he raises serious question about ‘what’s real and what isn’t?’. Can someone be real even if he/she has no (and never had) physical presence? He decides it’s possible. I haven’t read the book myself yet, but my guess would be that Kaplan argues that, philosophically, we make Santa Claus real ourselves. In a way that I’ve always thought that Kermit the Frog is a real character. Kermit is not just ‘one muppet’, but he exists of several puppets (I merely use the word ‘puppet’ to explain myself Muppet-fans) and several muppeteers have been responsible for his movements and voice. But he is always Kermit. Even when he portrayed Bob Crachit in ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ he was ‘Kermit acting to be someone else.” Kermit, as a person, is more dominant than the muppeteer. Therefor, Kermit is real.
But is Sheldon mine?
So, coming back to Dr. Cooper. The question I raised about him is not whether he is real, but whether he is mine (and, therefore, yours). Can Kaplan, as a writer of the show, decide what happens to doctor Cooper without giving any thoughts to the fans? Obviously, legally he can. But the law only tells what is allowed, not what is –ethically- right. And ethically, I guess it’s a different story. Fans have invested in Sheldon. They have invested time and, more importantly, they have invested emotionally. Sheldon has become a figure of importance in their lives. So yes, Sheldon has outgrown his writers. Sheldon does not just belong to them, the actors, or the producers of the show. Sheldon is also ours. The fact that Sheldon, much like Santa and Kermit, can also be perceived as a real person makes this realization even more important.