Insufferable Girls of the 1950s

6 Oct

Well, I was all set to mock today’s book when I decided to do a bit of librarian detective work on its author: Teen Sensation and Braggart Betty Betz. Betty Betz is, well, you can read later all about how bitchin’ and awesome she is below. Turns out she has a slight following of folks who LOVE cheesy 1950s stuff (like the wastebaskets and pencil holders covered in Miss Betz’s drawings.). You know, those people who like to recall a more simpler time when women and non-white people knew their places. Anyway, someone claiming to be Miss Betz’s grandchild posted something about her having Alzheimer’s now and living in Bermuda. Which kinda made me feel like a jerk. Until I looked closer and said grandchild posted that they were unfamiliar with major pieces in the Betz canon. Which I guess is an excuse used successfully before, the idea of not being familiar with something intimately connected to you (“I had no idea we were exchanging arms for hostages then paying hot chicks to shred the evidence of it.”) So I’m suspicious and I think y’all deserve to see this groan-worthy book that should teach you a lot about being a teen in Asia.

Just who is Betty Betz? Apparently the Second Coming in sensible heels.

Just who is Betty Betz? Apparently the Second Coming in sensible heels.

I can picture Betty, waving a Beauty Queen Wave, as this smug, self-satisfied flap copy was written. I don’t even think Megan Fox thinks she’s as awesome as Betty paints herself. Who describes themselves as a “whirlwind”?! The reek of desperation and “please like me” slathered throughout this bio is creating a whirlwind of sad stank in my apartment. Also, be suspicious of the quality of any book that feels the need to describe its author as “attractive,” (unless it’s a book by Kadir Nelson. But really, duh.) Okay, we’ll just let this do the work for itself.



Just put it in its context when vague racism was okay.

Just put it in its context when vague racism was okay.

I am sure Betty’s grandchild is cursing me now. I am sure Miss Betz meant well and was truly interested in the teens she met. So why did she draw them all kinda stereotypically? If she wanted us to understand that teens all over the world are just like us and normal, then why did she dress them in pajamas and elf shoes? Why do they have possum faces? And why the heck are they flying a kite with her senior picture on it? The superiority symbolism is slightly uncomfortable for me. I’m going to look at something else now.


Here, read this pamphlet and I'll give you a bag of rice.

Here, read this pamphlet and I'll give you a bag of rice.

Keep that frozen smile in place for the next 60 years, Betty.

Ohhh, everyone just LOVES Betty. Betty is worthy of our best clothes. Betty looks us over like she’s sizing us up for her Mail Order Bride business. Yeah, Betty is just so great. You don’t have to tell her, she already knows. Did you read her resume? Her objective includes: “Unbelievably attractive, well-dressed and fantastically talented teen typhoon seeks position that will make use of my Christ-like attributes and hostessing skills. My saliva can cure cancer.”


Well, I’ll bet Betty was actually a really nice girl who was kinda insecure like all of us and let herself be swept away by media moguls who took advantage of an articulate, poised girl because who wouldn’t want to be plucked out of obscurity from Indiana and become a teen sensation?  And now her family is suffering watching her waste away with Alzheimer’s. And I’ve just earned a ticket to hell for mocking her. Well, nothing new here.


4 Responses to “Insufferable Girls of the 1950s”

  1. Wendy October 6, 2009 at 10:06 am #

    “She entertains young fans at Coke-and-cookie parties in her own penthouse studio located in New York City”–

    DO I SENSE A THEME PARTY IN OUR FUTURE? (also, what does it say about ME that my typing fingers automatically capitalized the P in Penthouse? I’ll join you in hell, miss.)

  2. Melody October 6, 2009 at 11:05 am #

    Why, just yesterday I described myself as a whirlwind whilst converting the sk8rbois into MHL readers, dusting the azaleas, teaching the cat to ice skate and satisfying my thirst for knowledge at the well of iniquity. Simultaneously, natch.

  3. Kelly October 6, 2009 at 11:35 am #

    She was voted most popular girl in her class in HAMMOND INDIANA? There’s your problem right there.

    Maybe it’s because I spent all day Saturday in Youth Protection Training, but the Coke-and-Cookie parties in the penthouse raised some red flags for me.

  4. Devin October 6, 2009 at 12:31 pm #

    Well, what could be more collegial and less patronizing than a self-assumed title of “Big Sister?” To both America and Japan, no less. Ah, what a burden she must have shouldered.

    btw, I love that she’s sitting in a “Japanese-style house” in Tokyo. Really? They have those there?

    Also, I saw an earlier(1920’s) version of this sort of book at a friend’s grandparents’ house this summer. They had similar depictions of little boys and girls all over the world, and yet Africa was somehow absent from the world tour. It was *shocking* to see such an oversight on the part of the authors & editors.

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