Don’t Mess with Nancy Drew
Previews have started for a Warner Brothers Nancy Drew movie,
opening June 15. The preview suggests that they are going to pull a “Brady Bunch Movie” on her, taking her out of her time (the wholesome 1940′s and 1950′s) and making her a smart, loveable dork in today’s teenage den of hedonism. They will make her the butt of jokes, even as they let her solve the crimes.
Here’s my friendly advice to the WB executives, in the unlikely event that they happen to read this blog: Don’t mess with Nancy Drew. You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into if you do. You see, Nancy Drew is an icon, not only to women my mother’s age, but to women my age and younger women, too. She was was smart, resourceful, with a nice and helpful boyfriend (Ned Nickerson), and two really good best friends (Bess and George), and a loving and supportive father. (Sadly, her mother died when she was three, but her housekeeper Hannah raised her.) Nancy respected adult authority, but not blindly–after all, she knew that adults committed crimes too. And adults respected her in return. She was a role model for lots of young women. She was independent but connected, resourceful, but respectful.
In the 1970′s when I was reading Nancy Drew, you couldn’t get it out of the libraries– they weren’t considered sound good reading material. Ridiculous! As a conseuqence, however, somewhere in Cumberland RI there is a musty stash of about 100 Nancy Drew books, presents for birthdays and Christmas. (Sorry, mom, II promise ‘ll get them the next time I’m home.)
You don’t need to update Nancy Drew to make her relevant–play her as a timeless, period character. I remember being charmed and intrigued by some of the details from my mom’s generation of books–what was a “roadster” –Nancy Drew got a new one ever year, from her well-to-do father, the prominent criminal lawyer Carson Drew. Was there really a time when phone service would go out every big storm? Wow. Nancy went on a plane ride, and wore a “traveling suit”–what’s that? The anachronism was part of the fun. It was not something to mock–it was something to enter into.
I think it would be interesting to see how many women in prominent places today read Nancy Drew–and thought, wouldn’t it be cool if I could be a little like her!