Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pearl + Pearle (for Pearle or Pearl)

I wrote the other day about the Pearle Vision commercial in which the "Naughty Librarian" fantasy was, I thought, rather expertly sent up. I found it witty and ironic and full of attitude. But it's a fine line, sometimes, between offensiveness and satire, and we ladies can be a mysterious and contentious bunch. Another pearl, Ms. Nancy Pearl, generated a similar, if sort of opposite, reaction with her 2003 librarian action figure, created by the novelty outlet Archie McPhee. According to a vocal minority at the time, the image represented by the Nancy Pearl doll was also stereotypical and therefore wrong—although, in fact, it's a near-exact replica of Pearl herself, one of the most charming, well-read, activist librarians you would ever want to meet. And I did meet her once. She had given a wonderful talk about her life and bibliomania at the local university and when it was over, I got to tag along on a tour of the new library, involving the university president's wife, one or two other people, Nancy Pearl, and me! It takes all kinds and no matter what we look like, none of us are "stereotypes," so long as we're free to be who we are, not afraid to take chances, and willing to keep a sense of humor. Twelve cases of Pearl + Pearle (for Pearle or Pearl) in OhioLINK and 59 in WorldCat.

(Nancy Pearl librarian action figure, from the Archie McPhee website.)

Carol Reid

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