Tag Archives: Anne of Green Gables

Tourist Dress-Up Debate: Is it “racist” to try on a Japanese kimono?

HANDS OFF THE SILK - In a recently canceled Boston Museum of Fine Arts promotion, visitors were encouraged to try on a Japanese kimono and pose with the famous painting, (Source: MFA)

HANDS OFF THE SILK – In a recently canceled Boston Museum of Fine Arts promotion, visitors were encouraged to try on a Japanese kimono and pose with the famous Claude Monet painting, “La Japonaise.” (Source: Museum of Fine Arts)

The Boston Museum of Fine Arts just stopped letting visitors be photographed in kimonos on “Kimono Wednesdays” because of a few protestors charging that the dress-up event is culturally insensitive.

As a lover of kitschy photo-ops at museums and tourist attractions, I’m horrified.

My street cred? I’m the curator and co-founder of “Tacky Tourist Photos,” a travel website celebrating this practice around the world.

I thought the MFA’s promotion was clever and respectful of Japanese culture and would have exposed many outsiders to history and art they might not have bothered paying attention to otherwise. In Kyoto, Japan, there are lots of studios that invite tourists to go through the lengthy process of dressing in traditional Geisha and Samurai garb.

I’ve also met tourists who have had fun channeling Pharaohs in Egypt, Vikings in Sweden and Sumo wrestlers in Japan. I’ve personally had the honor of dressing like a Canadian! While on Prince Edward Island, I met Japanese and Chinese women who posed in red braids and straw hats and said they dreamed of visiting the land of Anne of Green Gables.

Anne of Green Gables costume booth at the Confederate Bridge on Prince Edward Island.

Anne of Green Gables costume booth at the Confederate Bridge on Prince Edward Island.

I share my disappointment in the MFA for not standing up to a few protestors – as well as challenge the idea of “cultural appropriation” in general – in this opinion column for The Globe and Mail (Canada’s national newspaper).

A snippet:

“Only a few generations after the Second World War, when Japan and the West viewed each other through the lens of brutal racial stereotypes, our first impressions are no longer Pearl Harbor and P.O.W. camps. My immediate associations with Japan are anime, baseball, comic books and video games. Go to any comic book convention and you’ll find that Japanese culture is worshipped.

I’d like to think that part of that cultural transformation is due to trying on each other’s clothes.”

I know it’s the journalistic equivalent of smacking a hornet’s nest with a baseball bat, but I also humbly propose 5 objective criteria to determine whether a costumed photo-op is offensive or not offensive.

If you appreciate fun travel photo-ops, whether they celebrate cultural or historical themes or not, please consider immortalizing your snapshots in my “museum.”

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Filed under Excuses to Dress in a Kimono, Journalism Assignments, tacky tourist photos

A modeling career is born…

This goofy Anne of Green Gables costume has certainly been a PR bonanza for my pet travel humor project, earning prime real estate in The Boston Globe, on NPR and the CBC (we’ll have to impress the Canadian media with a Dudley Do-Right tribute next).

But you, Manchester Union-Leader, have won my heart.

It’s my first ever magazine cover!

Thank you, NH Weekend magazine for previewing my “Exploring America’s Tackiest Tourist Photos” exhibit and presentation at the Amherst Public Library. We’re expecting a SRO crowd. 🙂

Here’s what I love about the cover:

1. The Academy Awards are briefly teased, but hey, they aren’t really that special compared to the guy in the green dress.

2. The graphic artist took the time to layer the photograph with the magazine logo. This might seem like a no-brainer with print design, but newspapers are SO understaffed and overworked these days that I’m impressed that someone still cares about the nuances.

3. The photo editor chose not to crop out my favorite KEEN sandals, the most comfortable footwear ever. Though I am wondering if fashionwise, I may have been better off wearing a pair of Vibram FiveFingers?

4. I appreciate that FINALLY the mainstream media is realizing that Tacky Tourist Photos is not just about the chuckles and guffaws. There is a significant educational component, too.

BTW, if you, too, want to look like Anne of Green Gables (there’s no shame in admitting it), the best place to fulfill your dream is the Cavendish Figurines costume booth at the Confederation Bridge connecting New Brunswick with Prince Edward Island.

Be sure to tell Jeannette that Darren sent you!

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NPR explores Tacky Tourist Photos

Click here to hear Tacky Tourist secrets revealed only to WBUR's Monica Brady-Myerov.

Thanks to NPR’s Here and Now program for lending some intellectual street cred to Tacky Tourist Photos, my pet project that documents the goofiest vacation photos in the universe — and the fun people behind them!

Among the FASCINATING tidbits you’ll learn from listening to the interview are:

* Strategies for invading South American countries with pretty college co-eds.

* How French pedestrians reacted to our offbeat Eiffel Tower photo shoot.

* The real motivation behind tourists (like me) dressing as Anne of Green Gables.

* How to take the most creative vacation photos regardless of whether you are visiting an exotic tourist trap or your friendly neighborhood tourist trap.

* Why Turkish toilet seats are especially funny; and

* Why Tacky Tourist Photos refuses to make fun of our “guests” like many other picture-of-the-day humor Websites.

Click on the screenshot above to listen to the NPR segment. You’ll be thrilled that you did!

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“Little House” actress urges peace between Bonnetheads and Gableheads

Little House on the Prairie actress Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson) Then and Now

PRAIRIE PEACEMAKER -- Little House actress Alison Arngrim, aka "Nellie Oleson," wants to avoid an ugly lunchbox war between American and Canadian braided girls

A CULTURE SCHLOCK EXCLUSIVE

“Little House on the Prairie” star Alison Arngrim still revels in her notoriety as the archnemesis of America’s Sweetheart.

Personally, I love actors who have fun with the roles that made them famous and don’t whine about being “typecast,” as if that were as bad as contracting malaria. Like Barry Williams (Greg Brady) and Dawn Wells (Maryann from Gilligan’s Island), Arngrim doesn’t take her fame too seriously. Why else would she name her one-woman comedy show “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch?”

For the record, it’s called “Confessions D’une Garce De La Prairie” when she is performing in France.

So, when I asked Alison to weigh in on the war between Laura Ingalls and “Anne of Green Gables” fans, I was shocked by her Gandhi-like ways.

Nellie Oleson used to pull braids. Now she believes there should be braid solidarity. Here’s her email:

“Obviously I am totally biased. I will always side with my Bonnet-Headed brethren on this one!

(To be fair, I did do one performance — a buyers’ showcase evening — of a proposed musical of “Anne of Green Gables.” – I played the “Mrs. Oleson” position on the Anne team: Busybody Rachel Lynde.)

It’s true: Laura is a real person, Anne is a figment of the imagination.

But I am somewhat conflicted over this issue as I am an American, but my family is Canadian. “Little House” the ultimate American story by American author Laura Ingalls Wilder VS “Anne” of Prince Edward Island, written by a big old Canuck, Lucy Maud Montgomery.

I can see where divisive issues of the most base nationalism could arise! I have awful visions of braided girls massing along our border to fling little tin lunch pails and slates at one another! We must nip this bigotry and hatred in the bud!

The bonnet heads of both nations must unite! We can look to our brothers and sisters in Japan, who love Laura and Anne equally, without shame or division!

Cannot Laura and Anne be “bosom friends?”

Signed,

Alison (who will no doubt be committed for good after people see this letter!) Arngrim

If you would like to declare your devotion to either Laura Ingalls or Anne Shirley, it is not too late to vote.

nellie-oleson

The many moods of Nellie Oleson, aka Alison Arngrim

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Bonnet Heads Fight Back: Anne vs. Laura debate heats up the Prairie!

Melissa Gilbert and Laura Ingalls fans are making their voices heard in Culture Schlock's exclusive Laura Ingalls vs. Anne of Green Gables Poll -- considered by some observers to be an allegory for American-Canadian relations.

Melissa Gilbert and Laura Ingalls fans are making their voices heard in Culture Schlock's exclusive Laura Ingalls vs. Anne of Green Gables Poll -- considered by some observers to be an allegory for American-Canadian relations.

In what began as a fun-spirited popularity survey about North American children’s book icons, the Laura Ingalls vs. Anne of Green Gables debate has degenerated into a nasty girl fight.

First, there were the ultra-literate bullies over at the L.M. Montgomery Resource Page gloating that Anne wipes the floor with Laura in a “Google Fight.”

anneofgreengablesvslauraingalls

Then, Christopher Czajka, a historical consultant for Little House on the Prairie: The Musical, launched what may be the most visceral defense of Laura since Ingalls herself tricked Nellie into swimming in a leech-infested creek.

In an exclusive screed for Culture Schlock readers, Christopher writes:

“On any given day, Laura Ingalls Wilder could kick Anne of Green Gables’ butt across the street. First of all, she was a real person. Not an fictional character modeled, physically, after a notorious stripper (really, now, who writes a children’s book and bases the heroine on Evelyn Nesbit?)

“Laura was as tough as nails. . .enduring blizzards, tornadoes, plagues of grasshoppers, near-starvation. . . and all without unravelling a braid. If only we could put Anne and her cunning little hat in a Dakota claim shanty when it’s forty degrees below zero. Then we’d see what would happen, we would.

“I have just returned from a LITTLE HOUSE festival near Mount Rushmore, where I ran a trivia contest to promote LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, THE MUSICAL. There were people of all ages in prairie drag. There’s  a reason why die-hard LITTLE HOUSE fans are called Bonnetheads. . .they show up for events, you see, in their bonnets. And there are legions of them. They make pilgrimages to historic sites. They can recite lines of the TV series. They do in-depth historical research into the people and places mentioned in Laura’s books.

“And there are a LOT more Laura fans than Anne fans, at least in the United States. Trust me on this.”

We’re not educated enough to understand the allusion to the stripper and Evelyn Nesbit — and we feel we’d be deceiving you if we Googled it and pretended we did — but it’s pretty clear that Mr. Czajka is not complimenting the Babe from the Gables.

No matter which side of the Anne/Laura rivalry you come to this blog from, it is your moral responsibility to vote. Here’s where you can take a stand.

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Who’s Cooler: “Anne from Green Gables” or Laura Ingalls from “Little House on the Prairie?”

Tourists of all ages, genders, races, creeds and political affiliations are clamoring to dress as "Anne of Green Gables" in the utopian land of Prince Edward Island

Tourists of all ages, genders, races, creeds and political affiliations are clamoring to dress as "Anne of Green Gables" in the utopian land of Prince Edward Island

Well, now you know my vote. Leave your vote below!

In case you are wondering what I am doing wearing braids and a green dress, explanations can be found below. Not that any explanations are necessary — both Canada and the USA, for the moment, still protect free expression.

READ HOW YOU, TOO, CAN BECOME A CANADIAN ICON!

Boston Herald: For $2, you can be “Anne of Green Gables”

Herald “Working Stiff” Blog: “Dress for Success: Why can’t Lexington and Concord be this photo-op friendly?

Tacky Tourist Photos: Third runner-up in the “Anne of Green Gables” lookalike contest

Little-House-on-the-Prairie

Back to Laura Ingalls… Her dad, Charles Ingalls, a.k.a. Michael Landon, could be one of the coolest TV characters of all time. He was gentlemanly and could kick your ass. He always did the right thing, that Charles.

If you click on the picture, you can see what the real Charles looked like (the beard styles of the time made everyone look like the Unabomber).

My fourth grade teacher gave us extra credit for watching that show because it allegedly taught us about the nuances of being a pioneer.

JAPANNE OF GREEN GABLES

My goofy Anne photo is now being formally shared with the Japanese fan base. Here’s what makes it official:

Japan-Anne-of-Green-Gables copy

Click the picture for Yuka Kajihara’s view of who is the most “charming Anne” of all time.

UPDATE: Bonnet Heads Fight Back: Anne vs. Laura debate heats up the Prairie!

PLUS… Exclusive commentary from “Little House” actress Alison Arngrim, a.k.a. Nellie Oleson: “Actress urges peace between Bonnetheads and Gableheads.

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