the best friends you’ll never have

This is old news by now, but the REISSUING of BSC books will begin soon. This is not surprising, as you’d hardly expect that they’d go through all the trouble of releasing a prequel when they couldn’t capitalize on either the new fans of the characters that the prequel will bring, nor bring the nostalgia bucks that the old fans whose collections were sold off in garage sales and donated to thrift stores by well-intentioned parents would be willing to spend, once the prequel jogs their memories. Rather than being completely blindsided by surprise (as I was by the news of the prequel itself), it was simply confirming what I knew would happen all along. Sure, they have the graphic novels, but as I learned when I tried to get my stepmother to buy them for my sister–some people just don’t want the comic format, and the four-book option already ended. It’s cheaper just to take the old books, reprint them with a new cover, and send them out into the marketplace.

I have my doubts, though, that the texts will remain untouched. Thinking of other reissues-Sweet Valley comes to mind, although I heard that Saddle Club was reissued as well–as well as updated versions of old classics like Judy Blume books, I am pretty sure that the BSC will not escape modernization. Perms, flop socks, even iconic pieces like Mary Anne’s “Famous Cities” skirt–it’s hard to fathom that they will be allowed into the homes of today’s children, despite the fact that the clothes right now are pretty damn eighties and nineties to begin with.

An interesting cultural shift that begun after I left childhood behind was the idea that kids are really, really stupid became in vogue. Yes, the whole sanitary belt thing in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret confused me, but I understood that it was a story of the early 70s and things were different then, and I wouldn’t have wanted all of the slang and fashions updated. One of my favorite things about Harriet the Spy is the Mad Men-era Upper East Side locale, which is one of the main reasons why I absolutely hated the movie starring Nona F. Mecklenberg/Regina Sparks. But apparently nowadays even things like 1BRUCE1 are just too hard for the kids to understand, too unrelateable. You’d think it’d be the opposite, because now kids can just google that shit. Perhaps this lack of faith and push the modernize things is what made the SVH reissues not very successful: perhaps if they had just retained the corny, tacky, vintage feel that we all know and love, they’d have been more successful. Because I am sure that now it just reads like a less-scandalous Gossip Girl. Would today’s kids live in fear of trying cocaine after what happened to Poor Regina Morrow? Maybe, maybe not, but if it were framed in LOLEIGHTIES! it might seem less lame.

I think that now the entire concept of the BSC is outdated. Even in 1986, it was hard for the girls to compete with the Baby-Sitters Agency, which had older sitters. I can’t see any contemporary parents I know leaving their children in the care of an eleven-year-old, even a levelheaded one like Mallory. Claudia’s voracious appetite for junk food that never results in weight gain would definitely be frowned upon. And obviously, with cell phones, Claudia might even be stripped of her title as vice-president! The books are so firmly steeped in a pre-cell phone, pre-internet, pre-THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN!!!!!!! culture that it is hard to see how, exactly, they’d be able to modernize it without basically having to redo the entire concept. I mean, this stuff DOES enter the series, but only at the tail end, and I doubt that they will even get to the ghost-written books in terms of reissuing the series.

So perhaps, if we’re lucky, they will just leave them alone and reissue them as they are, as a relic of the 80s and 90s.

9 Responses To This Post

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nikki said, October 28th, 2009 at 8:15 am

I’m with you. Please leave their ages alone (though the 11-y.o. babysitter thing always bothered me). Please leave the lack of cell phones alone. And for godssake, please leave the famous cities skirt in!

Sadako said, October 28th, 2009 at 8:51 am

I feel the same way about Harriet the Spy. Hey, wasn’t her dad even in advertising, too? I remember it being a high stress job at any rate.

And I agree that the BSC world isn’t one we could re-enter. In some ways we’re so much more worldly (guys, and dating, and all that), and in other ways the girls were way more responsible–they managed to on a regular basis get toddlers not only dressed/changed/fed bu also dealt with the kids’ real problems. Teased at school, feeling jealous of a sibling, fears of…whatever.

greer said, October 28th, 2009 at 4:59 pm

@Sadako: he had something to do with tv.

Jess said, October 28th, 2009 at 9:36 pm

The Saddle Club is indeed being reissued, and not untouched. They’ve updated cassette tapes to CDs, changed all instances of “Indian” to “Native American” (can’t fault them on that one), and changed namedropped celebrities from Tom Cruise and Princess Di to Nick Lachey (because all 12-year-olds just LOVE him) and Mischa Barton. On the other hand, Stevie’s cat is still named Madonna. You can take the girls out of the 80s, but you can’t take the 80s out of the girls!

karen brewer said, October 28th, 2009 at 11:11 pm

is saddle club and BSC connected in any way. Author of saddle club is an old friend of my husbands.Im just learninbg of the existence of Karen Brewer,Andrew Brewer,stonybrook etc all of which are part of my real life. Would love to hear from someone who can help me learn what this is about.

Sadako said, October 30th, 2009 at 7:59 am

Hehe. I remember when Stacey compared her crush Wes to Tom Cruise and when I reread it I was like, “Oh she’s got a crush on a tiny creepy Scientologist? Nice.” Still, they can’t change that!

dragonzflame said, November 2nd, 2009 at 3:57 pm

This is a little scary for me. I really hope they don’t mess about with it too much, in the later books (which I never read as a kid) it’s just so jarring to hear about emails etc. – I’m not sure I could handle it in the ones I remember fondly!

kylie90210 said, November 2nd, 2009 at 5:20 pm

Very true Greer, it will be hard for them to push the idea of 11 year old baby sitters in today’s world. Although, I’m not sure we bought it the first time around ;)

JemGrrl said, March 13th, 2010 at 11:58 pm

In Claudia’s defense, when I was in middle/high school, I was tiny…my metabolism was SKY high and I literally ate anything and everything I wanted and didn’t even know how to gain a pound if I tried. So it IS possible for her not to gain weight. Unfortunately since then, I’ve “filled out” (I’m not fat, but am currently dieting), so if she’s not getting it now, she’ll get hers later!

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