Even if they haven’t actually read the classic book by L.M. Montgomery, people who are at all familiar with western literature or culture will know that THIS is Anne of Green Gables:
[If the sexy photo moves you to indulge in some turn of the century Canadian kid’s lit, look no further than right here on Amazon.com!]
I mean, what the hell is going on here? There are two very, VERY big problems with this:
PROBLEM ONE: Anne of Green Gables is a redhead (though amazingly no one at the bookselling giant Amazon.com seems to know it).
Everybody knows that Anne Shirley has red hair. This fact is repeated over and over and OVER in the book. Anne’s redheadedness, and the way she reacts to peoples’ comments about it, is an integral part of who she is. Anne’s red hair is the reason she snaps at Rachel Lynde. It is the reason she cracks a slate over Gilbert Blythe’s head. And it’s the reason she accidentally dyes her hair green (in an attempt to turn it “a beautiful raven black.”). Though in later books Anne’s hair colour does deepen, it becomes auburn, which is really just a fancy way of saying dark brownish red.
Anne was not, is not, and never will be, a blonde.
PROBLEM TWO: Anne of Green Gables is an eleven year old girl.
Anne Shirley is a skinny, poorly dressed, redheaded little orphan girl with big eyes and incredible innocence. She’s also intelligent, studious, and extraordinarily sensitive. She has no interest in the boys in her life except as friends or academic rivals.
She’s certainly no buxom, bedroom-eyed sex kitten leaning on a hay bale.
That any publisher or purveyor of CHILDREN’S LITERATURE would be comfortable with the sexual objectification of the eleven year old heroine of a classic children’s novel is absolutely shocking. It’s like draping Wendy Darling over Skull Rock in a bikini, or letting Alice stomp all over Wonderland in fishnets and stilettos. There are times when adding sex appeal is not the way to sell a product. When the product in question is eleven years old (even fictionally), you know it’s one of those times to keep your sexy thoughts to yourself.
I don’t really have a problem with the young woman in the photo on a personal level. She’s probably just some model who ended up in a collection of stock photos of “girls on farms”. She likely had no idea that her contemporary sexy blonde farm girl photo would grace the cover of a much-loved children’s classic (first published in 1908) about an eleven-year-old girl with red hair who lives on Prince Edward Island.
I do, however, have a big problem with Amazon.com, and their publishing company “CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform“. I find it amusing that in Amazon’s free preview of the first few pages of the book, the words “Copyrighted Material” appear emblazoned all over the place. As if either Amazon or CreateSpace can claim any ownership of L.M. Montgomery’s actual words. It looks more like they just took a public domain manuscript, didn’t read a word of it, and slapped a foxy cover on it in an attempt to make a quick buck. Which seems to be exactly what has happened here.
It is obvious that Amazon.com, despite being a bookseller and controlling a publishing company, has no knowledge of or love for literature. If they did, they would have read the book they published, realized right away that Anne is very vitally a redhead and a child, and put a redheaded child on the cover (if they needed a photo at all). I had always assumed that in order to be a purveyor of books, a company would actually, you know, know/care about books. Apparently not.
Though I am among the many who feel in their bones that a great crime against literature, childhood, and authorial intent has been committed, in all probability what CreateSpace and Amazon.com have done is okey-dokey in the eyes of the law. The book Anne of Green Gables and its sequels have been in the public domain for a long time. If a publisher wants to slap a sexy blonde on the cover of it, they probably can. And if Amazon.com wants to peddle that smut, it’s within their rights to do so.
That doesn’t mean they should. Some things are just sacred, and childhood classics are one of those things. I suppose if representing Anne Shirley as a sexy blonde woman is fine, it’s probably equally fine, in terms of legality, to display her in a Nazi SS uniform, driving an SUV and punching a kitten. I’m sure there are those who would find this hilarious or titillating, but they can find that kind of crap on 4chan or on late night television if they so choose.
They don’t need to find it on the cover of L.M. Montgomery’s beautiful childhood classic. And they don’t need to find a voluptuous blonde there either.