Monday, July 12, 2010

Stop The Presses! Nancy Drew Cusses!

UPDATE - Nancy Drew Cusses No More!

This was not any kind of policy to make Nancy Drew edgy has some have theorized at discussion groups online and Facebook, which I really didn't think so myself. It was simply an editorial mistake that will not happen again. It will be corrected in future printings. They aim to keep Nancy Drew cuss-free as well as drug/sex/et...c. free as is the usual, so that should take care of that!


It was brought to my attention by fans that the latest Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys paperback Super Mystery Gold Medal Murder which just came out, has Nancy Drew cussing. I was really surprised! I feel a mixture of very mild amusement (as in could have been worse the word she said!) and yet at the same time I'm kind of saddened and shaking my head because bottom line, it's just inappropriate for a children's book--most of all, it's inappropriate for Nancy Drew. And fans are really unhappy across the board from what I can tell from younger ones to the older set. Over the last few years I've heard people mention a typo or a grammar error that slipped through and then more recently a few continuity errors (River Heights suddenly becoming River City and Ned Nickerson's name changing/etc.) that had me shaking my head a little, but this latest one with the cussing seems to have really crossed a line.

In all of 80 years since Nancy Drew debuted in 1930, she's never cussed. She's always been polite and skilled in etiquette and even when she's been frustrated or upset, she never cursed, nothing like that, some times she held back retorts and just put a smile on her face instead to irritate the criminals. The Stratemeyer Syndicate who created and produced this series for 54 years until it was sold to Simon and Schuster had a police of "safe and sane" books for kids - wholesome fun entertainment which never crossed a line into politics, social issues, drugs/alcohol, overt romance, sex, or any of those kinds of subjects. These are kids books after all ;) Simon and Schuster has had the series in it's ownership since 1984 and has towed the line with some minor exceptions--Files series and On Campus for older teens--but for the 8 to 12 set they've kept the books wholesome.

When parents and grandparents think of Nancy Drew, they know these books are good wholesome entertainment for kids. Nancy Drew is supposed to be a role model for girls and boys. People don't expect to see cussing, they don't expect to see social issues that can be controversial, drugs, sex and those kinds of things. These things may be deemed OK for other children's books (well, not really in my opinion), but never for a Nancy Drew book.

In the latest, Gold Medal Murder Super Mystery, Nancy says the word "damn" in the 2nd to last chapter (pg. 163) and here is the context - Frank is chasing the culprit and talking to Nancy on the phone--things aren't going right and Nancy thinks to herself:

"Damn! I thought. If [he/she] got out of the house, our
chances of catching [him/her] were slim."

In most circles, the word "damn" is considered profanity and is not appropriate for children especially those in the 8 to 12 set to which these books are targeted for. Regardless of the fact that at least she didn't say the F-word or the S-word or something to that effect, she still cussed and no one that's speaking out about this so far finds that acceptable. We've had discussions at the discussion group online and at our Nancy Drew Facebook.

What you find in a children's book, should be something that a mature and responsible adult, who should know better, would find appropriate. "Damn" is really not. And parents, teachers, Home-Schoolers, librarians, etc. shouldn't feel like they have to censor a Nancy Drew book or keep it from a child.

I'm not sure if this is an issue where an editor missed this or actually thought it was reasonable and let it slide, or if this was a new policy instituted to make the books more "edgy." I hope it's not the latter and that it's an oversight.



A said...

So sad to hear it. I am troubled in general by the direction Nancy has taken the past few years. I'm sure it's just another attempt to be popular. What should be the focus is a good, engrossing mystery - not being cool.

Jenn Fisher said...

I do think it definitely should be an exiting mystery in these books--more thrills and suspense would be better for the series.


Wirt&Tandy-fan said...

I agree with both of you. It is entirely inappropriate to introduce/allow cussing in childrens' reading material. Though it would be kind to give the publishers the benefit of doubt in thinking the editing team overlooked this faux pax, I cannot do so. Evey single word in print is money spent, so I am thinking it is intentional. Sadly, this just opens the door to permitting that kind of verbiage. What next, the s-word, f-word or others just as offensive and inappropriate. As Amanda and Jenn stated the books should be about the mystery Nancy is trying to solve not a mystery to her fans as to why Nancy suddenly has a potty mouth.

Dawn said...

Just curious, when quoting the offensive section, why quote it as - "Damn! I thought. If [he/she] got out of the house, our chances of catching [him/her] were slim." The book does not actually say (he/she) or (him/she), it simply says he and him. The villian is a him. The correct passage as printed in the book is - "Damn! I thought. If he got out of the house, our chances of catching him were slim." Why not quote exactly as it's printed in the book. Dawn

Jenn Fisher said...


I just quoted what Todd said at the discussion group--his quote. I hadn't seen the book yet. So I'm not sure why Todd quoted it that way.

Maybe Todd did that because he didn't want to give away that the villain was a male :) I haven't ready the story yet myself so I'm not sure, but that' my guess, he didn't want to give it away.


Anonymous said...

You tell about Nacy Cussing. But Frank and Joe do too. I dont see whats that big a deal.

Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Fan