Blondes Have More Fun? Shirley You Can’t Be Serious

Does it seem like we are always bitching about things that annoy us here at the Cougar Den? That may be true, but the reality is, being at the top of the human desirability hierarchy means Cougars do not need to be tolerant, so you will either be pleasantly surprised or bitterly disappointed to learn that the upcoming ONE LOVE “Like-In” on February 14th will be 100% Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbow Cougar Positivity! ❤ ❤

And now, back to being irritated

If you are an American, you probably won’t get it.

If you are a Canadian, your mother called you two days ago to ask if you had “seen it,” and you have by now likely had several spirited conversations about it: with a colleague at the water cooler, a family member at the dinner table, the Zamboni driver at the hockey arena, the members of your curling team, or the cashier at Tim Hortons.

If you are Japanese and have already witnessed the blasphemy, you may be questioning your entire childhood.

The controversy I refer to involves iconic Canadian literary heroine Anne Shirley of Green Gables.

My own copy. Every Canadian has one.

My very own copy. Every Canadian has one.

If you are from the USA, you may or may not have read the above novel written by Lucy Maud Montgomery, published in 1908.

If you are from Canada, you have likely read it at least once as a child, wrote a paper on it for your Children’s Lit class in University, watched the CBC miniseries on more than one occasion, and read it with nostalgic pleasure to your own children.

If you are from Japan where the novel has been a part of the national school curriculum since 1952, you have not only read it, but read it multiple times, seen a theatrical version on the stage, own a copy of the 50 episode Japanese anime series based on the book, and quite possibly have travelled to Canada with your hair dyed red and set in braids to visit, or perhaps even to be married at the fabled grounds of the Green Gables farm in Prince Edward Island.

Excited Anne Fan

Excited Anne Fan at the “real” Green Gables

The text has been translated into 35 languages and sold over 50 million copies, but for those that have not read it, the plot of Anne of Green Gables in a nutshell:

In the early 1900s, elderly Matthew Cuthbert and his spinster sister Marilla Cuthbert live on a farmstead, Green Gables, in Prince Edward Island. To assist with the farm work, they decide to adopt an orphan boy. Through an error, they instead receive an eleven year old orphan girl named Anne Shirley. Anne is outspoken, opinionated and stubborn, but she is also kind, good-hearted and bright. She is extremely self conscious of her looks, especially of her freckles and her red hair. She has a vivid imagination tending toward fantasized romance and tragedy, this a mechanism to escape the harsh life she’s endured thus far. Anne’s a dreamer with an unusual point of view, as she falls into a series of scrapes (and off a roof), makes a bosom friend, searches (and finds) several kindred spirits, Matthew and Marilla discover that their lives have become a great deal richer, now that Anne is at Green Gables.

Scrawny, talkative, with a fiery temper, central to her young character is the fact that she despises her “much freckled” face and “very thick, decidedly red hair,” which earns her the nickname Carrots. She longs for smooth ivory skin and golden hair. As she grows older, Anne earns a teaching certificate, a scholarship for top student in English, and her Bachelor of Arts degree. She mellows, her temper improves, she ceases to hate her looks, she appreciates the simplicity of her life and prefers it to the fantasy world of her imagination, finding beauty in both herself and in the common. Not a bad message to impart to today’s generation, which is what makes this most recent version published by American CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, owned by Amazon, particularly unsettling

WTF Eh?

WTF Eh?

Huh? BLONDE, sans freckles, buxom, pouty, provocative, BLONDE, reclined, inviting, BLONDE, ready for action, BLONDE, this must be a mistake!! There must be a mix up, like the one at the orphanage that sent Anne Shirley to Green Gables instead of the farm boy the Cuthberts had originally requested! This photo must have been meant for an Abercrombie ad, or the Country Music Channel, a promo for some kind of hay-ride hoe-down thingy in between My Big Redneck Vacation and Swamp Pawn, but was tragically misdirected? Or, maybe, unlike Canada, where we have an exciting reality show about literature Canada Reads: Battle of the Books (not to be confused with our equally exciting and creatively titled ice skating reality show, Battle of the Blades) American publishers recognize it’s tough to get people to pick up a book these days, so they add some incentive with a cover that hints this turn of the century fox may actually be just a little bit slutty, WINK WINK. Hottie Alert: you know you want (to read) it!

We Canadians can forgive you for repackaging our “Road to Avonlea” series as “Tales from Avonlea” for American audiences, but I’m not sure this is forgivable,

and just wait until Japan finds out.

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25 thoughts on “Blondes Have More Fun? Shirley You Can’t Be Serious

  1. As a father to two daughters, we read the books aloud, and I must admit I enjoyed every paragraph.

    I guess the new picture, which looks like the Narnia movie girl, ( maybe there’s two wardrobes? ) proves publishers will do anything for money.

    And finally, this reminds me of my oldest ,with luscious curly blond locks, came to me one day saying, if I only had straight black hair everything would be alright. I didn’t think if it then, but something along the lines of “Even Ann Shirley learned carrots is just another way of saying auburn, eventually.” would have likely sufficed.

    • Exactly Bill, it’s tough for girls, for everyone really, to love and accept themselves for who they are. There are some great simple lessons in this book. Thanks for your comment.

  2. American, and Texan, but I have been in love with Anne Shirley my whole life. I am OUTRAGED! INDIGNANT! FLABBERGASTED! Why? Because our children are going to have a tainted picture of her. It’s crazy. Madness. Unforgivable. (Sorry I got shouty. It’s just that I’m hopping mad. I need to go channel my inner Anne and find a happy place. I’m chanting as we speak…White Way of Delight. White Way of Delight. White Way of Delight….)

    • It’s okay, we love shouty at the Cougar Den. I wouldn’t worry too much, with more than 50 million other copies out there, the red haired freckled Anne with puffed sleeves will reign supreme!

  3. I’m thinking cougars need their young heroines too. Is it so wrong to give our young icon a bit of ummph, a dye job and some boobs?
    Would she have been endlessly bullied as “carrots” if Lucy Maude had given Anne more, perhaps desirable or distracting qualities?
    What about people like my 48 year old brother, who has just given her two thumbs way up, had never read the book before and is 68 pages in on the new edition?
    Is this a knee-jerk reaction Canada?

    • Yes perhaps you are right denmother. Maybe this new and improved ummphed up Anne will inspire a whole new generation of middle aged men, next up “Anne, the swimsuit edition?” and screw the “love and accept yourself as you are” theme, what is this 1908?

  4. I just have no opinion upon hearing this. Yes, I’ve seen the miniseries, read the book, own a copy and can visualize it now. I wonder, can we not have a roll model for these times?

    • I think updating her image to appeal to a new generation of readers is fine. I know my daughters probably would be more drawn to this new Anne, but it’s a bit of a stretch in my opinion to make her blonde when her struggle with, and eventual acceptance of her red hair was so much a part of her growth. Thanks for reading Gardenlilie.

  5. i might have missed it, but i can’t wait to hear what my boyfriend jian gomeshi is going to say about this. i hope he skewers those american publishers for blasphemy. long live that beautiful carrot-haired girl from PEI!!

    • I totally agree! I didn’t catch it but they did discuss the cover on “As It Happens.” I haven’t heard Jian’s take on it yet, being his girlfriend, perhaps you will be the first to know 😉

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