Admitedly 2008 Shortcake still has a sensible sun hat, but where are the cute pigtails? The indie striped tights and the frilly knickerbockers that would whip any vintage junkie into a frenzy? Where is the goddamn pink cat?! HMMM? I guess new Strawberry would have a lapdog in a deisgner bag. Bratz would not be amused by her cute ballet shoes (oh my god, hooooow pedestrian, and self-respecting 8 year old has pointed stilettto boots) but let's just not even go there. Or let's. We went to a birthday party last week, for an 8 year old, and while I had a grand time in Diva picking out sparkly accessories for the gift, I was astonished when the birthday girl opened present after present of Bratz accessories. I was completely lost. And even more dumbfounded when the girls decided to name each of the adults in the room after one of the characters. I, apparently, am Jasmine. I didn't know whether to be offended, embarrassed or amused. I decided to be none of the above and thanked my lucky stars for an innocent, late-80's childhood where the most sinister and badly-dressed character was Tex from SuperTed.
It's not just ol' Strawberry that has had a makeover though. It was heart-wrenching to discover that the Sweet Valley High books have been revamped. No longer are Jessica and Elizabeth "perfect size 6's" (AU10) who wear brandless yet creative outfits - now they are an even more perfect sz 4 and as Sarah Weinman of nymag.com says, "the bid for modernity now has Elizabeth blogging, her boyfriend Todd joking about the ESPN highlight reel, Jessica hunting for Roberto Cavalli dresses, and rich bitch Lila fishing in her Louis Vuitton backpack for a pot of Sephora lip gloss." Bah. Where are sweet Liz's wholesome barrettes and Jessica's flippant overpart? Is Winston Egbert now completely cool a la geek chic? If my daughter ever reads this new SVH in say, ten years hence, she'll just laugh at the blatant mid-noughties dagginness of it all. The whole point of the originals was that they had no specific timeframe: every teenage girl could delightedly imagine her own Dairi Burger, cheerleader competitions and apparently gargantuan local mall. Are they going to "revamp" the books every time a trend changes? I still have most of my SVH and Sweet Valley Twins books, and I'll guard them with my life. I did however, sell the majority of the BabySitter's Club set that I owned. A complete set, mind you. A few more years and I could have gotten a small fortune for those. There are still a few classics on my bookshelf in my room at mum's house - but God help you and your spawn, Ann M. Martin, if you ever "modernise" those enterprising and creative 13 year olds from Stoneybrook. Much in the same way we can never, ever let the Stone Roses reform and ruin the memories of what is simply the most brilliant debut album ever and a not-quite-so-brilliant-but-better-then-most followup; so must we never "cool-ise" the innocence of those characters who taught us so much in about matching outfits, stereotypes and milkshakes.
Any marketer out there with their eye on the Enid Blyton boarding school books: piss off. Quickly. I will thump you heartily with my tuck-box and delight in bludgeoning you with my lacrosse stick if you touch so much as a hair on the pretty little heads of the Twins from St Clare's.