Thursday, October 27, 2011
Follow up on dress up
Paper Doll Dress-Up got some attention on Twitter. The concept of a 2D representation of Mary Wollstonecraft and her wardrobe seems to have sparked controversy: Oxford Classics called it an "absolute gem / atrocity of a find", which about sums it up. Lots of people have retweeted the link; I can't judge the proportion amused or horrified.
Nor do I know which side of the fence I come down on. But I have to remember that the paper dolls were not made for me; I am merely peering over the fence. "Think of the [intended] audience." Presumably, little girls. (And irony-clad hipsters?) So, it comes down to this: is it better that children be exposed to names and images that they otherwise would not experience, even if there's nothing but the bare name, and the images are dubious? We can hope that their curiosity might be tweaked, to find out more. And of course Wikipedia is only clicks away (and the Mary Wollstonecraft cycle is stuffed full of Featured Articles). Or is it essentially misleading, to provide impressionable young minds with a bland doll who doesn't look Mary, with clothes that I doubt she ever wore, and a bizarre context? I mean, a fan,of all possible items to carry? No books or writing implements? No biography, however sanitised? Visual representations of her do exist, after all.
Paper Doll Heaven got in touch and offered to let me use the image. I think that defines graciousness. (Or, you know, "no publicity is bad publicity". I can be so cynical. Sigh.) It is gracious to allow others to use one's work, when they have expressed less than adulation. So: tips to popularisers - with your pared-down info, include a way to find out more. And take some trouble over accuracy.