Friday, June 13, 2008

Bring Back Queen Frostine

While surveying the blogs and information sites I often find to be most thought-provoking, fun, or just plain ire-inducing, I found an interesting entry on Feministing (a site helpfully linked on the side of this very blog page) about Strawberry Shortcake -the cartoon character, not the food item. The blogger was lamenting the changes wrought to a dear character from her childhood. The impression I got by looking at the pictures side by side:

was the Powers That Be saw fit to age her from what I would assume to be around five to preteen/young teen, got rid of her Raggedy Ann hair style, gave her one hell of a nose job (in that she no longer has one), slimmed her down, hipped up her outfit, and made her incredibly pink.

I personally like Old Strawberry Shortcake (OSS). First, she was cute as a button. Secondly, she was more recognizable as, well, a strawberry when she had some red to her. Now, she's more of a postmodern or ironically named character than an actual allusion to a piece of fruit. And she didn't seem as "cool"; more lovable, more squeezable, more fun. Feministing focuses on the fact that she's been made thinner, which is a bad -especially when toys and characters and images are marketed to pre-teens. But what about the fact that she's in a passive pose? OSS looks ready to take on the world. New Strawberry Shortcake (heretofore known as NSS) looks like she's prepared to gossip about boys and paint nails. Plus, she's just so incredibly pink. But I don't have a huge attachment to OSS, or NSS, so the distress this particular blogger felt over the change was a little silly to me. Distress over the message being presented, sure. Distress over the bastardization of a cartoon character? Not so much.

But after chuckling slightly about the description provided about the blogger's OSS bicycle, it suddenly hit me. A jolt, a shock, a realization: months and months ago, I was reintroduced to Candy Land, the game of my childhood. And they friggin' changed Queen FROSTINE! Queen Frostine was my favorite! The point of Candy Land for me wasn't to win but to get Queen Frostine's card. And apparently, I'm not alone in that sentiment. She was pretty and regal and oh so adult. She was powerful and blue:

She was, in short, perfect. She was Queen; she was cool. She ruled the Ice Cream Sea. I remember a very deep attachment to her; one I apparently still have because I threw a fit when I saw what she had been turned into, what all of my characters had been turned into:
First, she's apparently been downgraded. She's now "Princess Frostine", which works because she's been made younger -quite the opposite of OSS. And Princess Frostine just isn't attractive. She is like a demented barbie-doll. There is no sweetness, no serenity, no regality. The nature of the game has changed, my friends, from winning Queen Frostine to getting the hell away from her usurper. And she's friggin' PINK! Frost isn't pink! I have never once seen pink frost in my life. But although the box is now more multicultural than the original two little blonde children, the colors for its female characters appears to have become more rigid, gender-wise. Princess Lolly used to wear an orangy-yellow number; now renamed just "Lolly" (and aged just like NSS), she's in purple. And while I like the inclusion of a red-head, I do kind of wonder about her anime appearance.

In fact, every single character's appearance has been changed drastically. Go to Milton Bradley site that reintroduces the characters, and then go to see the original characters here. The change is startling. Poor Plumpy didn't make the cut and instead was replaced by Mamma Gingertree, who isn't nearly as cute. King Kandy lost, like Queen Frostine, all sense that he actually is royalty, and instead looks like a perverted Santa Claus. Lord Licorice, so delightfully sinister looking in the original game, is made to be less so now though they did allow him to keep the mustache. It is a disappointment, and a shock. And I guess I can't fault Feministing for getting up in arms over Strawberry Shortcake, because I'm willing to storm the castle on behalf of my Candy Land characters.

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