We aren’t the Gatekeepers of Green Gables

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

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By now you should have heard that there is a new Anne of Green Gables series that will appear on the CBC and Netflix entering production. This, is good. But the thing about Anne is that she is a national treasure, and talking about her brings out some passions from many of us Canadians.

Not surprisingly, there is skepticism surrounding this series. How can it possibly match what we’ve already been given—the books, the movies, the Road to Avonlea?

Well, it can’t. And it shouldn’t. And we should be happy about that and also happy that we’ll get the chance to see someone else take up the role and have new people tell these stories.

I’m excited for a number of reasons. Like these:

This will not feature Megan Follows as Anne of Green Gables. Megan Follows also isn’t Anne of Green Gables

This is a large point of contention. Because the Megan Follows version of Anne is pretty much the best version anyone has ever been of any single character in the history of stories being made into movies. When we think of Anne in the middle of the day as we’re biting our tongue to not say something we might regret to someone who is making us think things we might regret saying, we conjure up Megan Follows. We see her face when we see the red sand of PEI. We see her face when we drink raspberry cordial. She’s who we picture when we draw up memories of our bosom friend.

Even still, she is not Anne of Green Gables. Soon we’ll find out which other young woman will take up the mantle of our beloved Anne. And while she also won’t really be Anne, if given the chance, we will love that person too.

Megan Follows is perfect. Anne of Green Gables is perfect. We picture them exclusively together, but re-casting for Anne opens up all kinds of opportunity to make sure we all identify with her as well.

“We are curious to see who responds to this open call and hope that it reflects not only Canada’s diversity but also the world’s,” said de Pencier.

The de Pencier being mentioned is producer Miranda de Pencier, and that kind of diverse thinking in this casting call has me all kinds of excited. The next Anne of Green Gables WILL NOT be Megan Follows. The quicker we realize this, the better this series will be.

We aren’t the Gatekeepers of Green Gables

the girls with anne

We aren’t quite at Ghostbusters level gatekeeping but we still have a lot of people talking about how they can’t dare touch the 1985 version we all love. But, we don’t really get to choose how other people should experience this Canadian treasure. Our kids (and, let’s be honest, parents too) won’t lose access to all the older iterations of Anne just because new stories are told.

Naturally, we gravitate to what we grow up with. Some people probably love the books the most. Others likely can’t imagine going without the movies. More still (maybe me) think of Road to Avonlea as the great tale of Canadiana. We are all right favouriting whatever we do. But, there’s room for more people to change it up.

Our girls have met Anne a couple of times. They walk away a little bashful, but thrilled that they met her. We all wear our pigtails and swing picnic baskets at one another for a few days. It’s not just that my girl deserve their own memories, I need them too. Selfishly, I want to memorize more lines and have more scenes to fist punch to.

We can still picture her walking on the roof. We can still picture her getting Gilbert good. These moments of Canadiana don’t vanish because new memories are created.

Girls whose stories focus on “reflecting timeless issues including themes of identity, sexism, bullying, prejudice, and trusting one’s self” are always in need

There are 1, 332,456,789 things I’d rather never see be made into movies than Anne’s story. My family, your family, the family down the road, the family you’ve never met but would like to, we all need more people like Anne being profiled in movies.

We need girls like her who are superheroes without superpowers. We need boys and girls to watch strong kids stand up for what is right. Grownups need to see how smart young people are. We need to see someone like Anne over and over again.

We need more:

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

and,

“People laugh at me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas, you have to use big words to express them, haven’t you?”

and,

“Oh, it’s delightful to have ambitions. I’m so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them– that’s the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.”

Women acting in movies that are written, directed, and produced by women are all the rage

And if it’s not the rage, it should be. There are so many women playing key roles in this series and that’s how it should be. We don’t just need more women in movies, we need more women every step along the way. Writers, producers, actors, directors: all women.

IT’S MORE ANNE OF GREEN GABLES!

Netflix is an absolute giant and for them to house Anne’s story is huge. The CBC has shown it knows how to handle Anne’s stories. I hope Anne shows up around the globe.

Her story is Canadian but her message isn’t. Be big, be bold. Be Anne.

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