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Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase Isn’t the Remake We Need

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase Isn't the Remake We Need

New Yr, New Drew!

Nancy Drew, the badass, literary teen detective who solved mysteries and took down dangerous guys, is about to be revamped for the tween set in Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase. The most recent iteration of the notorious teen sleuth, produced by speak present host Ellen DeGeneres and set to hit theatres on March 15, finds Nancy—performed by 16-year-old actor Sophia Lillis—as much as her previous tips: fixing mysteries and being sassy AF, this time with some very Gen Z tweaks. She’s traded in her roadster for a skateboard, her prim clothes for ripped denims and flannel and her trademark blonde locks for a purple pixie reduce.

However the updates finish there. Apart from these very on-trend modifications to Nancy’s aesthetic, most of the tropes from the e-book collection are current within the trailer—as do a number of the books’ inherent flaws.  And in an period of variations, be it stay motion (with the current announcement that Disney will remake The Hunchback of Notre Dame), plastic (with Barbie set to return to the large display by way of actual life Barbie Margot Robbie) or IRL (with the Spice Women allegedly wanting so as to add a fifth, non-Posh member to their tour), this latest one simply appears pointless. As journalist Kate Taylor famous in a June 2007 article for The Globe and Mail: “Nancy, her critics level out, is just too privileged, too well mannered, too asexual and too white.” This adaptation doesn’t appear to deal with, and even study from, long-held critiques of the teenager sleuth’s narrative, so we have now to ask: What’s the purpose?

Illustration continues to be a problem

The Nancy Drew novels are sometimes thought-about feminist due to their plucky heroine, however they’re additionally fairly racist. One particular interplay between Nancy and a Black caretaker within the first novel shockingly highlights the books’ problematic view of race: Whereas following up on a clue, Nancy interrupts a housebreaking in course of at a lakeside bungalow and is thrown right into a closet by one of many thieves. The heroine, often resourceful on her personal, is freed by an African-American man named Jeff Tucker, the bungalow’s caretaker. However, as an alternative of teaming as much as turn out to be a enjoyable, crime-fighting duo (a film we’d like to see), Tucker is infantilized and portrayed as uneducated and drunk—he was fooled into intoxication by the robbers and hds to hose himself off to sober up. As an alternative of thanking him, Nancy scolds him for abandoning his publish. Later, when she and Tucker go to the police station to report the theft, Tucker is ignored by the officers (they take heed to Nancy attentively), and is then “gently” pushed again from the automotive and left behind on the station whereas Nancy and the police go off to apprehend the robbers.

As Andrea Ruggirello factors out in her essay “The Not-So-Hidden Racism of Nancy Drew,” this interplay between Tucker and Nancy, and the next white-washing of the revised 1959 novels (by which Tucker is a white man, and coincidentally, not portrayed as drunk), erases readers of color utterly from the narrative, whereas failing to acknowledge the injury the previous scenes might have had on readers on the time.

Because the 1930s, subsequent iterations of the Nancy Drew collection, in print and on-screen, have made makes an attempt to raised characterize individuals of color and the LGBTQ group—to various levels of success. In June 2018, Dynamite Leisure launched Nancy Drew, a graphic novel re-imagining of our titular heroine, with extra overt feminism and queer characters, an incredible step for the LGBTQ group. However a 2016 CBS pilot that featured Iranian-American actress Sarah Shahi as Nancy—albeit in her 30s and a NYPD officer—was cancelled, after “skew[ing] too feminine” for community execs, based on Deadline.

keep in mind once we needed to get a nancy drew collection with a woc because the lead aka sarah shahi however the community stated it was too feminine or sumn and cancelled it pic.twitter.com/zbbkaKhmL7

— vish (@deadftpool) January 19, 2019

Later in her essay, Ruggirello asks when—or if—we’ll see a Black Nancy Drew. Properly, it looks like it *gained’t* be in 2019. As a lot as this new Nancy Drew seems to scream woke millennialism, it isn’t actually all that inclusive. A take a look at the forged listing on IMBD makes it very obvious that the movie is sticking with custom, with only a few actors of color concerned within the movie (there are two, to be actual). And whereas the movie has made *slight* strides, casting African-American actress Zoe Renee as George Fayne—one among Nancy’s besties and companions in (fixing) crime—it significantly isn’t sufficient. As a result of not solely is that this *very* restricted illustration, it’s a continuation of a tried and true apply that sees ladies of color relegated to the position of sidekick each on-screen and IRL, supporting characters meant to reinforce the inevitably mediocre white lady on the centre of the movie. It’s not true illustration and TBH it’s simply lazy.

Nancy’s privilege seems to be very a lot intact

Whereas we don’t have any information on the brand new Nancy’s financial institution assertion, and the downgrade from roadster to skateboard *might* point out a decline in socio-economic standing, the 2019 model of the character appears simply as privileged as 1950s Nancy. And we’re not simply speaking about cash. Within the trailer, we see Nancy operating round city skateboard in hand, the clear chief of her group of associates and largely capable of do as she pleases. However as Ruggirello factors out, loads of Nancy’s privilege traditionally got here from the truth that she is a white lady, and that continues within the remake.

Whereas 2019 Nancy is labelled as an “outsider” making an attempt to slot in together with her small city, the one true differentiating issue between her and the remainder of the townspeople is that she wears flannel, rides a skateboard and is meant to be outspoken—about what, we’re unsure. Having a protagonist that doesn’t have the identical white/financial/heterosexual privilege as Lillis’ Nancy wouldn’t solely broaden the character’s viewers, it might additionally add nuance to the character, permitting readers—and Nancy herself—to discover and grapple with problems with race, class, sexuality and, finally, energy.   

The character doesn’t want an replace—Nancy Drew must be left in her time

As a lot as we shouldn’t excuse the books’ missteps as being a product of their time, we should always acknowledge that Nancy Drew turned influential and iconic largely due to the time she was created. Many elements of her character might have been unrealistic—significantly, did she ever have homework?—and sexist, with the 1959 rewrites making Nancy much more prim, correct and well mannered than earlier than. However for a lot of younger ladies who grew up studying the collection, a part of the attract was the best way she asserted her independence regardless of these obstacles. She was a badass in a time when ladies weren’t capable of converse up or be autonomous. Positive, that autonomy might have been due, largely, to her privilege. However it was there, and it was inspiring.  And in some methods that may’t be replicated.

NANCY DREW WAS A GIRLY GIRL WHO WORE DRESSES AND DROVE A MUSTANG WHILE ALSO BEING A BAD ASS WHO WENT INTO HAUNTED HOUSES AND HIKED THROUGH CAVES DURING A TIME WHERE WOMEN WERE EXPECTED TO LOOK PRETTY AND NOTHING ELSE. SHE SAID FUCK YOU ILL LOOK PRETTY AND OUTSMART THE POLICE

— dying/dying 2020 (@gaylena13) January 19, 2019

And TBH, it shouldn’t be replicated, as a result of if we’ve discovered something from the onslaught of remakes, variations and revamps we’ve seen in the previous few years within the film business, it’s that we’d like new tales. Particularly, we’d like new *inclusive* tales. To see Ellen DeGeneres, who has a variety of energy and affect, throw her help behind a drained and admittedly not creative remake, as an alternative of supporting new voices, concepts and probably new classics (à la Brad Pitt) is significantly disappointing.

This must stoppppp. With out new tales, we gained’t get new classics https://t.co/gmS9rHB9jj

— Ishani Nath (@ishaninath) January 17, 2019

We *are* shifting in the appropriate path. In January 2018, it was introduced that actress Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani are set to star as love pursuits in Paramount’s rom-com The Lovebirds. The movie, which additionally includes a homicide thriller, is already making headlines for its casting, and the portrayal of an interracial relationship that doesn’t centre whiteness. And again in September 2018, it was introduced that Loopy Wealthy Asians actor Henry Golding would star reverse Emilia Clarke in a holiday-themed rom-com, not solely cementing Golding’s standing as a hunky main man, however additional breaking down the really dangerous stereotype that Asian males can’t be objects of sexual want.

However whereas we’re glad to see extra inclusive rom-coms, we’re utterly able to see the development take off in different genres, too. As a result of we don’t want a Black Nancy Drew. Minority communities, no matter color, faith or sexuality, deserve greater than recycled materials. They need to see their very own distinctive tales and experiences represented on display, not tweaked to slot in to an already present narrative. Giving Nancy the most recent iPhone isn’t going to vary that.

All we’ve to say is:

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