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Dear Hollywood: Please Stop F***ing With My Childhood

Beezus_and_ramona

A new movie adaptation of Beezus and Ramona, perhaps one of the most iconic sibling duos in all of children's lit, is in pre-production, and boy do I have an issue with the casting. What? Snarky Amber is taking issue with something? I know, try to contain your incredulity for a sec. My problem is that, again, Hollywood is glamorizing childhood icons into older, prettier versions of themselves, casting 10-year-old Joey King as 5-year-old Ramona, and 16-year-old Selena Gomez as 10-year-old Beezus.

If you were not a bookish little girl, you may not remember Ramona, but she was a big part of my childhood. We intersected in a lot of ways, Ramona and I. For one thing, I spent much of my childhood in a town called Ramona. I had a Q in my last name and, inspired by Ramona, I would draw it into little kitty-cats when I was perfecting my grade school penmanship. But as much as I really wanted to be like Ramona, I was definitely more like her nerdy older sister, Beezus. Like Beezus, I had a rambunctious little sister who delighted in making my life miserable. She was quite scrappy, a constant pain in the ass, totally way cuter than me, and pushed all my buttons until my fuse went. 

The point of all this seemingly pointless reminiscing is that Ramona and Beezus were REAL, and every little girl I knew who read those books saw pieces of herself in Ramona and Beezus. Now Hollywood is making a movie entitled Beezus and Ramona. They're making a movie of my childhood, but I don't recognize it in the slightest, because of Hollywood's obsession with glamorizing childhood icons.

Selenagomez_2

This is Selena Gomez, cast as Beezus Quimby.

The glamorization of Beezus Quimby is just one in a string of prettified childhood characters. We've written here previously about the glamorization of other childhood icons, like Strawberry Shortcake and Dora the Explorer. While I don't want to jump the gun and immediately insinuate that this casting is an attempt to sexualize the Quimby sisters, I do think it's bad casting.

It isn't the casting of pretty girls that is a problem, per se, though I do think it would have been better to cast more "ordinary" looking girls. But I definitely think it's important to cast kids that look like kids in the roles of kids. I worry about casting 16-year-olds as preteens and the body image messages such casting sends to little girls. I worry that tomboys will not see that it's okay to be a tomboy if scrappy, kindergarten-aged Ramona, with her brown, bobbed hair and her freckles is replaced by a 10 year old, waifish blond Goldilocks.

Joeyking

(Joey King, cast as Ramona Quimby)

But, then again, where are the young actresses in Hollywood that are allowed to look like normal little girls? In the 80s, a short-lived Canadian series featured a very young and talented Sarah Polley as Ramona and Lori Chodos as her older sister, Beezus. Both actresses seemed appropriately aged (the series being primarily based on events in Ramona Quimby, Age 8). They had brown hair and kids' physiques and were each the quintessential Everygirl. When I rack my mental catalog of child actors working today, I realize there is a shortage of girls with similar aesthetics currently working — in fact, the only girl I could come up with is Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl). What does it say about our attitudes towards children, little girls in particular, that the majority of child actresses resemble slender china dolls? No baby-fat, huge doe eyes, plump lips. It's bad enough that women in Hollywood adhere to such rigid standards of beauty — must they also be imposed on the preteen set?

Yes, I am probably totally overreacting to the casting of a movie-version of a kid's book. The fact that they're older and prettier than the Ramona and Beezus I hold in my head does not mean they can't do justice to the roles. I just wish that the Ramona and Beezus I envisioned in my childhood imagination were good enough for Hollywood.

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Comments

blackeyedgurl

How exactly do they think Selena Gomez looks like Joey King's older sister? I mean, really, honestly, there is no way they are related, ever in this universe as we know it.

This pisses me off too. I loved the Ramona books & remember plowing through them as a kid. That and How to Eat Fried Worms (which bombed at the box office, so maybe the same fate will befall Ramona & Beezus).

Wow, I just felt a little bit of my childhood die.

michele

it does all seem pretty wrong. and why SO MUCH older actresses for the roles? they couldn't find anyone remotely the right age?

Hope

I don't think that you're over-reacting at all. Part of the appeal of Ramona and Beezus was that they WEREN'T overly pretty. It made them more relatable. They were ordinary looking girls, maybe even a little plain looking, just like us.

steff

this is sad/annoying. i dont really know anything about either girl they've cast but NEITHER looks anything like what i pictured beezus or ramona looking like during any part of their maturation through the ages. i think what bothers me more than all that is the fact that the movie industry feels the need to take a beloved children's series and turn it into YET ANOTHER tweener movie. can't we just leave books as books sometimes? whats next? betsy-tacy-tib starring the girls next door? (sorry couldn't think of another inappropriate trio)

Maxine Dangerous

Agreed: No overreaction. Some things need to be left the way they are. I wasn't into the Ramona books but would feel similarly if something like Judy Blume's Superfudge was turned into Yet Another Teen Movie.

Karen

Not an overreaction. Even though I read those books, I secretly hated Ramona. I thought she was a brat. I felt sorry for Beezus, not just because she had a lovely name (Beatrice) that got mangled because everybody thought it was cute that Ramona couldn't pronounce it.

Even so, those girls couldn't look less like Beezus and Ramona if they TRIED. And they don't look related, either. Even if you put badly cut brown wigs on them.

Rhonda

Sigh. This is the first I've heard of this movie. I actually have my old books sitting here on my book shelf waiting for my kids. I loved them.

I agree the casting sucks. That little girl from Little Miss Sunshine would have been good in a role - I'm not even sure how old she really is though. I hated Ramona too!

DianaCLT

Agree with everyone else. To put it more into terms we can relate to as far as age and appropriateness, Abigail Breslin from Little Miss Sunshine would actually need to play Beezus, not Ramona.

What ever happened to finding that one unknown? That one diamond in the rough, that could act the lip gloss off of people like those pictured above? PLEASE...do we really need to turn Beezus and Ramona into a tween High School Musical-type of movie?

*Blech!*

keric125

I agree, there is no overreaction happening here. These were definitely favorites of mine, so much so that when my sister moved to Portland, OR, and told me about all the streets and stuff that were named after Beezus and Ramona, etc., I got really, really excited.
I mean, one of the episodes in the book was when Ramona called her sister "Pizza Face" and Beezus got so upset b/c she thought Ramona was making fun of her acne. Think we'll see anything like acne on any of those faces???

Katya

Yeah, this is right up there with casting Michelle Trachtenberg as Harriet the Spy. Sorry, but Harriet played in the mud and was awkward and possibly even ugly as described by her peers. That's part of what made her personality and her preoccupations so real. This is bullshit.

Elaine

No, not over-reacting at all. I'm honestly surprised it took Hollywood so long to make this into a movie. Can you imagine the sequel? A 19-year old Beezus? Just, no. Remember when Drew Barrymore played Gertie in E.T.? She was 6 or 7 PLAYING a 6- or 7-year old. I agree, these casting choices are way off base.

DianaCLT

Um. Can we send e-mails to the studio or something? Telling them their idea is stupid, they need to hire actresses that fit the actual descriptions of the people in the book, and we'll boycott this movie if it's so poorly casted?

Just a thought.

This thing apparently annoys me more than I realized. It worked its way into my dream last night! I was standing in a theatre lobby, grimacing at the movie's poster. Gah!




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