I met Cecily von Ziegesar (author of the Gossip Girl Series), at a Brooklyn Public Library event. The event consisted of me, my librarian friend, and Cecily getting our pictures taken (Maybe I was late for the actual event…hard to remember). This was right when The It Girl series came out, and Cecily seemed impressed that I could tell the series was “created” but not written by her. I mean, it said “created” on the cover, but I am guessing she hadn’t met too many adult fans who knew things like that. Or any adult fans really.
As a future school librarian we talk a lot about what is “appropriate” for a school library. Obviously, a public library does not and should not have the same restrictions. However, in my experience, very few school libraries have Gossip Girl. The books do have sex, drugs, alcohol, smoking, eating disorders, and all the other things that lead to banning/purposeful exclusion. However, I really think they are well written. You can see a huge difference between what von Ziegsar wrote and what those that follow in her “creator” footsteps write (i.e. Gossip Girl: The Carlyles). She has major insights into NYC subcultures and landscapes, and a true voice that reports with accurate detail on the lives of both Upper Eastsiders and Brooklynites. The characters in the book are much more unique and interesting than they are in the show…well, at least the “poor” characters are more interesting. Also, Chuck acts as a one-note foil in the books, always perverted and carrying his pet monkey around.
The books also have one of my favorite YA characters of all time: Serena. In the books, everything is easy for her. She gets whatever she wants and never even has to think about it. It is just so relaxing to read about Serena and how everything is perfect for her. She never whines, or complains, or fails at anything. She never gets punished for any of her bad deeds either. Then Blair comes along and hates her for it, and the reader just feels bad for poor, eating disordered, always-suffering, virgin Blair. This is why Blair has such love/hate for Serena: in Blair’s world everything is calculated and planned, and usually a failure.
As for the show, I don’t think it represents the subcultures/various neighborhoods in NYC as well as the books. The characters are way more normal than they are in the book, and as I said before, the “poor” characters are hardly as interesting. Also, I think Serena gets punished a bit more in the show. Maybe TV isn’t ready for a woman (girl?) who always gets what she wants and never suffers the consequences. That said, I love the casting, and I love the show. It is a lot of fun to watch, but I do wish the whole Dan/Jenny/Vanessa trio was cooler. Even von Ziegsar agrees.
Also, can I just say that the producers of the Gossip Girl show need to incorporate the fact that Nate is a major stoner (like in the books). On the show, he goes around acting like a total stoner, but they never explain why. Instead his erratic behavior on the show comes across as naive and confusing.
Anyway, with the whole banning and exclusion from libraries thing… maybe the problem with Gossip Girl is that it gets too much media attention resulting from the show, and then the censors come out because they see some segment on the 10:00 news. Or they read some article about teenagers smoking cigarettes in the books (Dan!). BTW, when are all the gay plots coming to the TV show? Hilary Duff does NOT count.
Don’t forget to enter your reviews of frequently banned or challenged books in our Banned Books Month giveaway!