In a nutshell, the delightfully insipid Sweet Valley High books that spawned the Sweet Valley Twins and the Sweet Valley Kids series (as well as many many parental headaches regarding “why is my daughter insisting on reading that crap?”) are being updated for the modern generation.
Since the books are dated by being from The Ancient Days Of Yore (the early 80s) they of course have to be systematically changed so as to find a way to resonate with ipod tweener generation.
Small changes are to be expected so that the kids of today don’t get mired down with wondering about old fashioned technology and such and can focus on the trials and tribulations of these beautiful, blond, and practically perfect in every way teen role models. These changes include such things as Elizabeth working for the school’s web page instead of the school’s newspaper (Newspaper? What’s that?) , the twins sharing a Ford Wrangler instead of the oh-so-sexy Fiat,…. and a drop in size from the “perfect size 6” to the “perfect size 4.”
Ok, now I bet you think you know where this rant is going. Give me a break, you are saying, I’ve heard you bitch and moan about body image issues and the degradation of young girls in our culture enough times.
Well fine Mr. Smarty Pants… Actually, I don’t think I need to rant about the obvious insanity regarding the word “perfect” next to a size number anyway. (With the continual changes in what those damn numbers mean in the first place, what was once a size 8 is now anyone’s guess. I, for one, own pants that range in size from 4 to 10 that all FIT EXACTLY the same… so yeah, the number means diddly squat.)
And really, there are many many places where you can read your fill about the issue of this change in size as well as the social stratification of women and size in general etc. (As there should be, its gross)
But what I want to actually talk about to the three of you who have bothered to read past two paragraphs ago, is the idea of adaptable art forms.
Go with me for a second. You write a book, paint a picture, compose a song, make a movie… you have created something artistic. Congratulations on producing a work of art! That particular piece of art is original, new, and completely forever tied into the moment you created it. Yes, my fellow deconstructionists will agree that the biographical information regarding you and your culture etc might not need to be the paramount lens in which to study, work with, or attempt to understand your art at a later date… (some would argue that it should be thrown out the window completely and yes I will write about that some other time)… but the fact is that from a historical point of view what you have created is special in part because it was created by you at that moment in history.
If you had an idea for a book and didn’t create it.. if you put it off for 12 years while getting your degree, getting married, getting divorced, moving 11 times… and came back to the original idea and actually finished it, the finished product will be different in part simply because you as the creator are different. And you are creating it in a different time.
Also, should you write something, paint something, sculpt something, get it to the point where it is finished, and present it to the world as a finished product, part of what it is and how it will forever be viewed is connected to the fact that you presented it to the world when and how you did.
Ok, getting to the point, I promise.
It bugs me when people go back and “rework” art. It drives me up a wall when movie makers re-release something with changes… or when authors go back and completely rearrange the chapters or add an extra stanza to the poem. Because what they are really doing is making a new form of art… and that is all well and good, but at least admit that it is something new and different, NOT the same as it was before.
And if you do that… please do it for a decent reason. A decent ARTISTIC reason.
Note to Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Lucas… making more money is not an artistic reason to do anything… it is a fine and good reason from an economical point of view, but don’t even try to tell me that it was for artistic reasons that I was encouraged to buy not one, not two, but three… four??? “new” and “different” “revisions” versions of your movies.
Getting back to the Sweet Ass Valley Girls and their recent “modernization”… I fail to see the point except for monetary gains. What, does Francine Pascal need more money? Fine… Write a new book! Is our culture really that deprived of modern teen aged literature that we need to introduce plot lines such as “Jessica really wants to go to a rock concert, but it’s a school night and her parents won't give her permission or the cash, so she cock teases a band member into getting her tickets and Elizabeth has a whole series of wacky adventures at home trying to fool her parents into thinking that both their daughters are studying for the SATs while Jessica tries to avoid getting gang banged after the concert by a "modernized" version of Air Supply.” (I kid... the plot lines for these books were never that interesting, trust me -shudder- I read them.)
Because I think our middle school girls deserve better than that.
My only hope is that no one will buy this tripe and Random House will go back to considering new and unpublished authors.
(And can I please please point out alongside that article linked above about the objectification of women and the forced ideals of beauty etc is an ad for the Showtime show “The Tudors” … the image is of a dark mysterious man with one his hands wrapped around the neck of a “perfect size 4” as he holds her not-quite-fighting-to-get-away self against his manliness….. )