Posted in Literature

An Anne-otation of Interpretations

Where have I even been lately?

That’s always the question after a brief hiatus(if you’re someone who even cares, I mean). Let me see: I started a new job, surprised my friends across the state, and, in general, sorted my life out.

I know. I’m genuinely surprised, as well.

But enough of that. Let’s move on to the matter at hand.

Do you ever forget things about yourself? Things you’ve liked, or done, or experienced?

Because I do. All the time.

For example: I’ve had to shoot a bow and arrow onstage live. I’ve met the governor of Michigan. I was, am, and always will be obsessed with Anne of Green Gables.

Sometimes, my condition goes dormant. After all, the last book was written almost 100 years ago. You’d think there wouldn’t be a lot of material for me to binge myself upon.

And you’d be wrong.

Take, for example, the recent addition of Anne with an E, otherwise known as Anne: The Series, to Netflix. One episode in, and my obsession was reawakened.

This is just the newest in a long string of adaptations, of varying degrees of tradition and contemporary issues. And, no lie: I’ve watched pretty much all of them. So, without further ado, and in no particular order, here is my list of top Anne of Green Gables/Prince Edward Island film and video adaptations.

  1. Anne of Green Gables/Anne of Avonlea, starring Megan Follows

The classic; the OG adaptation. What’s not to love about this mini-series from the 1980s (apart from the hairstyles, that is?) Megan Follows plays our intrepid heroine, Anne Shirley, from adolescence to adulthood, opposite the heartthrob of a generation, Jonathan Crombie.

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Don’t talk to me about the other movie set during WWI. We’re not going there.

This is the quintessential Anne, as people often remember her. The acting is superb, the writing is solid, and I honestly don’t mind pretending Megan and Jonathan are teenagers for a couple of hours.

2. Road to Avonlea/Emily of New Moon

This one might be cheating(just a little).

There’s no actual Anne in these series, but they belong to the same world, and were produced by the same company that made the Megan Follows’s adaptation.

And I’ve watched every episode, so I feel like I should get some props for that.

In any case, I like to think of Road to Avonlea as a mix between Anne of Green Gables and Full House.

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Emily of New Moon takes this same magic formula, and adds in a bit of Degrassi drama.

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I mean, it’s still Canadian.

So, if you love dear Anne, but are looking for some new stories in the same setting, you’d might like to give these a try.

3. Anne with an E/Anne: The Series

Now THIS is a controversial opinion!

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A lot of people don’t like this adaptation. Many more are just ambivalent. But I’ll give you three reasons why I, an Anne-obsessed fan, am willing to love it.

First of all, just LOOK AT THIS TITLE SEQUENCE.

Gorgeous. Don’t even get me started.

Secondly, the character work, in my opinion, is phenomenal. Anne finally gets to deal with her abandonment issues. Gilbert is a complete DREAMBOAT. And the drunk scene between Anne and Diana where they start giggling about “bosoms?” Classic.

And finally, even though the plotline of the first season differs quite a few time from the books(housefires, robbers, etc), there’s a lot of details that I’m glad we’re added. Principally, the episode that delves into menstrual cycles is just about the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. And it’s necessary, too: I know that I always wonder how women dealt with those issues no matter what kind of TV show I’m watching(The women on the show The 100, for example, supposedly have a contraceptive implant that obstructs their cycles).

Anyway.

4. Green Gables Fables

Anybody who knows any of my stranger internet habits knows that I absolutely love web series, especially literary ones. This is one of my all-time favorites, complete with an excellent cast, interesting transmedia storyline, and enough modern-day updates to keep this story fresh.

One of the things that sets this series apart, at least in my mind, is how much I really buy in to Anne’s romantic persona. That’s usually the most difficult point of an Anne-adaptation: how to portray a character who is dreamy and daring, naive and knowledgeable. In my opinion, this is the show that takes the cake.

And the banter is tops. Just saying.

5. Project Green Gables

Now, if you’re anything like me, then I know what you’re thinking.

Meredith, this is fine, but it’s all… kinda…white…

I hear you, and I’ve got something else to say.

Enter Project Green Gables, a Finnish web series which recasts the scarlet-haired heroine with a young black girl.

And before you say anything else, let me elaborate on the consequences of such a decision. Yes, Anne Shirley is a character who is deeply entrenched in personal appearance. She’s iconic. To deviate from that mythology is certainly a risky move.

But to their credit, this web series does this well. The cultural implications of being black more than trumps the social anxiety of being a redhead. When Gilbert Blythe tugs at Anne’s braids, his underlying emotion is clearer. When Anne tries to dye/change her hair, it speaks to a culture that glorifies smooth, silky hair over everything else.

Also, this series isn’t finished yet. Season 3 is set to premiere later this month, so if you’re interested, there’s still time to catch up!

Overall, I think this posts demonstrates one of my favorite characteristics of a good story: there’s room for change. Things become remade, over and over, without becoming stale or old. It’s the ultimate form of flattery, and I can’t stop myself from wanting more.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Meredith Investigates: Letter to Self #6, 2012

It’s the final countdown.

Yes, my friends, we have finally reached the last of my letters to self. Years ago, as part of a school assignment, I wrote myself a series of letters, one per year, throughout middle and high school. Then, after graduating from college, I decided it was time to share them with all of you. And this is what we’ve got.

What a wild ride we’ve had.

So let’s get down to business. 2012 Meredith is going through an interesting time, to put it lightly. On the one hand, she’d spent most of her high school career planning to go to architecture school, only to realize that maybe wasn’t what she wanted after all. Her best friend also recently moved away, so she’s feeling a little lonely, a little lost, a little at a loss as to what to do next.

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Please enjoy this picture of me and some beautiful gals before homecoming(and yes, that is a Mockingjay pin on the strap of my dress; fight me).

She had a lot of decisions to make, and not a lot of time to make them.

But she’s still that same old Meredith. Right now, she’s on a quest to watch every episode of Smallville and Degrassi: The Next Generation; it’ll take her another two years to succeed. She’s on a dystopian reading rut, tacking 1984, Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, Anthem, and We the Living in the span of six months. She also managed to persuade her choir teacher to skip a final exam and take the class to Les Mis in theaters instead.

And in terms of handwriting, we’ve reached our pinnacle. My handwriting in this letter is the same now; why try to change perfection? I’m talking full on cursive, folks, like they don’t make anymore. I might be the last of my kind.

For the last time: let’s dive into it.

Dear Meredith,

Already getting those Evan Hansen feels, am I right?

This is the last of the letters to self. You should read this one after all of the rest because its the final chapter. It’s so surreal to think about, and yet it’s undeniably true.

Good to see that denial is already setting in.

Over the years, my writing style and my actual handwriting have both evolved.

Wait a minute – that’d make a semi-good blog series!

Presumably, my maturity level as also progressed, but that might just as well not be.

Yeah, I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one.

I swear, sometimes I still feel twelve years old at heart.

And that won’t change; it’s a good thing.

All that can be said has probably already been written. The only truth that remains is this: live your life as God wants, not as you please. Remember this.

Somebody’s growing up and realizing things, almost like a real live person!

Serious introspection above all else is needed right now, but this doesn’t have to be self-centered. Forget what your parents want and ignore what your teachers say. What does God want you to do?

It’s a pretty short letter, but it’s full of good advice and logical thinking. This is my probably my favorite letter, even though it’s the closest to me in terms of age. It shows 2012 Meredith in a light that’s hard to picture from the mere memories of a teenage girl.

Which brings me full circle back to the reason why I wanted to do this series in the first place.

One of the last classes I took before college graduation taught us that we have always been the people we are now. As in, from childhood to adolescence to full-blown adulthood, we don’t really change. Our character, our morals, our interests, and our talents are all present from a young age.

Not to say that we’re incapable of change. Obviously, we mature. We learn from mistakes. I don’t say the same things I would say or do the same things I would do when I was thirteen.

But I have the same motives. My heart is the same.

I recently did a little exercise in my morning journal based off a prompt. What activities were highlights from each lifestage when you felt pleasure in what you were doing?

Here were my answers:

0-6: playing make believe

7-12: reading

13-18: theatre

19-22(the scale went to 24 but I haven’t gotten there yet so): writing

As you can probably tell, there’s a very clear line of action in what I like to do: stories and storytelling. And it goes full circle: I made my own stories, then read other stories, then performed those stories, and then made my own stories again.

And we’re all making our stories. The things you do today form who you will become tomorrow. Those letters that I wrote to myself, starting almost ten years ago, share smaller, neater versions of the person I was. Stack them on top of each other, and you get a picture of bigger, messier me.

Which is the whole point, I guess. Looking back at who I was to remind me of who I am now, not just to laugh or cringe or whatever, but to really value what I’ve gone through and where I’ve come from.

Thanks for tagging along with me, losers. Next week we’ll dive right back into the multi-layered world of pop culture.

Never thought you’d miss me writing about memes, now did you?

Posted in Meredith Investigates

Meredith Investigates: Letter to Self #5, 2011

No more sadness. No more pain. Let’s look at the letters the way they should be, as journey into awkward, wordy adolescence.

Welcome back to my Letters to Self. If you haven’t been following along, here’s a recap for you. When I was in junior high and high school I wrote myself a series of letters every year detailing my thoughts on my current stage of life. Some have been silly. Some have been sad. Some have spent way too much time to detailing my affection for my dog.

But this one is markedly different.

So let’s dive into 2011 Meredith. Apart from the whole driving thing, she’s having a good year. She’s always lived a little bit out-of-touch with the rest of the stuff going on with the people around her, but at least she feels like she’s doing fine. As always, she reads a lot, but now she calls it “research,” like something she could write off on her taxes. Most of her time is split between putting off her math homework and putting off her Latin homework. She spent the summer watching way too many movies at the theater. Also, she’s finally starting to post things on social media that are kind of funny. For once.

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Look how young and fresh we look(And yes, my jersey is a different color; I don’t have time to explain the rules of volleyball to you. Google it)!

Handwriting-wise, we’ve almost reached the stopping point in terms of evolution. The cursive looks good and clean; I like to leave the ends of some of my letters unfinished, like my ms and ns, so that they trail off the edge of the lines like little ribbons or something. We’re getting there, folks.

This is probably the most normal letter to self that I wrote in high school, full of all the insights and details you’d expect from a teenage girl. And after the emotional turmoil that was from the letter of the previous year, it’s a welcome change.

Let’s jump into some fluff, shall we?

Dear Meredith,

Promising!

It’s the beginning of another year again, so you know what that must mean: time for another letter to self! Honestly, I’m getting pretty tired of these, but I’ll bet you don’t want to hear that.

Dang straight! I’m milking this for all it’s worth, kiddo.

Mrs. Williams always wants us to put in personal information and stuff, but I have never really liked doing that.

We can tell, Meredith. We can tell.

To me, that stuff has never seemed that important because it’s so likely to change?

I think that’s kinda the point.

Why should you care about my latest obsession song(Timebomb by All Time Low) is or what the last book I read(Gone with the Wind) was? You already know this.

Actually, I don’t. But these are still two definitive favorites of mine, so I’ll give you a pass. Fun fact about the music I listened to in high school: I really liked emo and pop punk bands, which is hilarious given what a square I was and still am. I never dressed like the stereotypical “teenage rebel,” but I definitely had a thing for the music.

More on Gone with the Wind later.

So I guess I’ll just write about whatever’s on my mind.

That moment when you’ve been an aimless blogger since 2011.

The first thing I want to tell you about is Gone with the Wind(you see, now I sound like a first grader).

Hello, class! My name is Meredith Sweet, and I like big books; I cannot lie.

This was my first time reading it and it took me the entire summer. But it was so fantastic! It really broadens my view of the Civil War era and the Reconstruction. For some reason I’ve always had an overly romantic view of it, but I think I’ve been cured of that.

Love how the only way I described one of my favorite books of all time is through these two measly sentences about historical perspectives.

So let me elaborate now, six years later.

I’ve always loved reading. That’s no secret. I come from a family of book lovers, which only served to fuel my personal obsession. But for my most of my life I read books featuring good people: after all, I was a child, and children need role models. Heroes save the day, villains get their just desserts(speaking of which, I would also like “just desserts,” if you know what I mean), and good girls who read grow up to get nice jobs(who’s gonna tell the kid about the recession now?).

That’s the way that fables and fairy tales work.

But the real world doesn’t work like that.

The first time I read a book that really changed me was To Kill a Mockingbird. I was in ninth grade(this is right after the dog letter; you know the one I’m talking about). There were so many different motives in this book, so many different perspectives. “Right” and “wrong” weren’t subjective, per se, but every person had a different take on what seemed “right” to them.

And I’m not just talking about theories of postmodernism. I’m talking about the gray areas of literature, the spaces in between, the moral indecisions we are faced with daily. Unreliable narration, three-dimensional characters; these were brand new worlds that I was learning to explore.

Enter Gone with the Wind. Now, I wasn’t unfamiliar with the storyline; I had seen the film with my sister several years earlier. To be honest, I hated it. There was no hero; there was no happy ending. The main character, Scarlett O’Hara, had absolutely no admirable qualities. In short, I was disappointed.

But then I read the book, and I understood.

The point is not a happy ending. There are lessons to be learned in lack of character studies. The great tragedy of stories like these lies not in the “morals” of the tale, but in the futility. As a reader, we follow Scarlett through decades of failed relationships, only for her to lose the one that truly matters. By reading through her experiences, we are cautioned about our own.

As a young person, this type of advice is life-changing.

But it looks like I didn’t know quite how to express that yet.

We were just reading an article in class about finding your distinct voice. I wonder if you’ve found it yet.

This is one of my favorite writing myths.

And by “myth,” I mean “stereotypical piece of advice that isn’t necessarily true.”

Allow me to explain.

Watch any movie with a writer. Read any book. There’s always some older, wiser guru who tells the aspiring author, “This doesn’t seem like you. It’s too generic. Where is your voice?”

Never in my life have I heard a writing teacher tell me this.

I’ve never heard anyone been told this. In all honesty, “voice” is just a fancy way to say, “Hey, you’re an individual with enough opinions and unique experiences to make people listen to you. Say what you want to say.”

Don’t worry, 2011 Meredith. You’ve already found your voice. You’re using it right then, with the blue pen in your hands. It’s all you, baby.

GTG – Meredith

Look who’s down with the kids’ lingo.

Guess this is my sign-off, too, at least for now.

Later days.