Sometimes there's choices in life that define you as a human being.  Whether it's Yankees vs. Mets, Betty vs. Veronica, or Jm. J Bullock vs. Richard Simmons, you're either strongly passionate for one or the other.  Perhaps no choice has divided mankind more than Ginger vs. Maryann.  Some prefer the sultry redheaded Tina Louise, who's Marilyn Monroesque sexiness made a nation of millions wish they were stranded with her instead of Gilligan.  While others were more smitten with the girl next door charms of Dawn Wells as Maryann.  We had a poll here not too long ago, and after over 8,000 votes it was 65% for Maryann and 35% for Ginger. But the debate may never truly end.

I was lucky enough to get an email from Brian Anderson who pointed out a great point/counterpoint piece he and his pal Bill Furlow did on the whole Ginger vs. Maryann debate.  I was going to link it up, but since it was on Geocities, they let me reprint it here.  Enjoy.  All of the pictures below will link to a bigger version, so enjoy the trip!

Ginger: Cream pies and creamy lips

By "Taco" Bill Furlow

03.jpg (53688 bytes)Forget about written exams and outward bound programs. You want a quick rule of thumb? You want to size up your buddies instantly, and determine who’s a winner and who’s an also-ran? All the answers can be found in one simple question: Ginger or Mary Ann? It goes without saying that if they don’t know what you’re talking about you shouldn’t be associating with this person in the first place. The rest of the male population, you will quickly learn, is clearly divided along this central theme.

12.jpg (15799 bytes)It is remarkable how many guys will say Mary Ann. What’s with that? How could a healthy heterosexual look at those pasty thighs, painted-on freckles, and Lil’ Abner outfit and say, “Oh, yeah, gimme’ some of that!”? Especially in light of what’s behind door number three. Ginger: Movie star, sex symbol. Those lips, that hair, those eyes .... The producers didn’t seem to think there was any gray area here. You’ll note in the now-famous theme song that Mary Ann and that dullard the Professor aren’t even mentioned by name. On the other hand, everything comes to a screeching halt to introduce the “Mooooovie Star.” Ask yourself: who was always featured nude behind that little camp shower? Who had an evening dress made out of the sail form the Minnow? Talk about symbolism. That sail could be used to cover the giant hole in the side of the boat, but hey, who cares? It looks so much better covering Ginger’s hole.

28.jpg (31226 bytes)So it comes down to a question of self-esteem. A guy’s gotta ask himself, “Can I handle a woman like Ginger?” Sadly, for many the answer is going to be no. Sure you may be hot shit on the island, but back in Hollywood she’ll start running with her old crowd, Bill Holden, Judy Garland, Errol Flynn. There will be all night orgies, drunken cruises, lots of pills, lots of booze, and very little time for one-on-one sexual fulfillment.

35.jpg (30942 bytes)It’s life in the fastlane, Hollywood style, either you hold on or you fall off, and you know deep down it’s just a matter of time ‘til she moves on to the next guy. Still, you’ll always have the island, and there’s really no such thing as a bad drunken Hollywood orgy on a Yacht. Who knows, maybe you’ll get a pilot out of the deal. The point is you took your turn at bat.

16.jpg (55843 bytes)On the other hand, you’ve got the country bumpkin. Dumb and loyal as an old hound dog, and about as sexy. Sure she’s got the whole pigtail thing going for her and she can cook those coconut cream pies, but how long do you think she’ll be able to get her fat country ass into those short-shorts? Once you get her off that island and she discovers Wal Mart sells caramel-coated popcorn and malted milk balls in economy milk cartons, you can count the days on your feed store calendar.

20.jpg (24398 bytes)So the Skipper marries you on the island, because it’s a sure thing you ain’t getting’ no ass ‘til she gets a ring, on loan from Mrs. Howell no doubt. She moves into your hut, which is really no big deal since she only has the one outfit. It goes without saying she’ll have dinner on the table at 6 o’clock, but after a week or two her mindless comments and longing for Kansas will have you swimming for Hawaii.

09.jpg (21212 bytes)One has to wonders if anything in Mary Anne’s life would really change once the castaways were rescued. Think about it, she would be back on the farm, isolated from the world, she would struggle to eke out a living, growing her own food and relying on the radio for news of the outside world.

Given his choice, only a coward with low self esteem would choose fresh air over Times Square, which brings up the question, Zsa Zsa, or Eva? Hmmmm…

Mary Ann and the Rest

By Brian "We Like Short-Shorts" Anderson

My worthy colleague is obviously stuck in an adolescent time-warp of retarded sexuality and primal breast fixation. With all due respect due to him and his mother, who I wish would quit calling me in the middle of the night, Mr. Furlow needs to rethink his reasoning and perhaps consult more serious and thoughtful sources for insight into this matter.

09.jpg (36852 bytes)In The Lay of the Land: Metaphor As Experience and History in American Life and Letters, literary critic Annette Kolodny argues that the central theme in American literature has been a sometimes tacit, sometimes jarring de facto sexualization of the landscape. Such a sexualization through passionate, metaphorical language can be discerned in such divergent works as Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn (in which the muddy, forceful river appears as a rather obvious symbol of heavy virginal flow), and Stephen King’s The Lawnmower Man. Through these works, and indeed throughout the canon of American arts and literature, the American experience reveals itself to be primarily a romance with the land, whether that romance manifests itself in the quiet, nurturing relationship of sustenance farming or the violent raping of environmentally unsound industrial development.

Thus, while the voluptuous and highly sexualized Ginger would seem an obvious choice for companionship on a desert isle, it is a bit disingenuous of my colleague to not see that Mary Ann is the clearer choice in the context of American metaphor. And the story about seven castaways, representing a rather weak cross-section of American culture ca. 1960, deserted on a island is a metaphor by definition.

06.jpg (38082 bytes)Webster’s dictionary, a source I would point my worthy colleague to for future reference, since his vocabulary seems to be primarily gleaned from surfing pornography websites, defines metaphor as a “figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison.” Vis-à-vis, it would seem that “Gilligan’s Island” is not a metaphor at all, since it is supposed to represent an island with seven people on it and that is exactly what it appears to be. Yet a deeper metaphysical examination does not this bear this out. On the contrary, Gilligan’s Island is a TV show, and the central characters are too broadly defined as too be taken seriously as three-dimensional, fully developed dramatic characters in their own right.

Even over the course of a three-year run, some 98 full half-hour episodes, the audience is barely clued in to any darker aspect of Gilligan’s familial relationships (although he does mention in one episode that his brother will be angry that he’s wearing his shirt; it is perhaps one of the show’s subtler points of raw irony that the red shirt Gilligan wears for some 20 years, through the full run of the series and several TV movies, does not even belong to him. And what of the black-and-white episodes? Can we say with certainty that the red shirt was in fact red during those shows, or that any of the castaways' outfits were the same?). Nor are we cognizant of any deep-seated angst of the Skipper’s, which would be an obvious psychological manifestation in a 19th-century sea captain confined to the suburban tidiness of 20th century island life. We see nothing of the professor’s anxiety over tenure review (although his penchant for repairing small appliances rather than conducting serious research would seem to lend itself more to a staid career as a community college instructor), or Mrs. Howell’s frightening post-menopausal frigidity.

07.jpg (36471 bytes)No, the characters are not characters at all, but rather represent daring stereotypes of American life in a contentious and uncertain times: Young Gilligan, the radical and restless youth; the Skipper, the hard-working blue-collar father figure who possesses not even the ambition to rise to middle-class status in spite of the fact that his three-hour tour business seems to attract movie stars and millionaires; Mr. Howell himself, a rather glib representation of the egregious, early 20th century robber-baron type business ethic; the dilettantish and emotionally flat Professor Roy Hinkley, an academician at a time when the secure and noble profession faced an uncertain future due to the loss of tenured positions and an increasing emphasis on instruction quality over research; the shallow and vapid Ginger Grant, whose shaky status as a old-time movie star made a dramatic and politically courageous statement about the collapse of the Hollywood studio system during the early 1960s; and Mary Ann, whose obvious affection for the agrarian lifestyle even led her to wear a farm outfit on a Hawaiian ocean tour.

03.jpg (56437 bytes)In Mary Ann, perhaps the island's most important walking metaphor, we find a manifestation, a veritable bodily and spiritual awakening of America’s love affair with the landscape. If America wants to lay the land, then in Mary Ann we find the perfect medium for such a metaphorical transaction. To fall for Mary Ann is to fall in love with America’s farming culture, which is the most central of American themes. For in American Gothic, William Faulkner, and Gone with the Wind, it is farming that shapes and redefines the American vision. (On another, unrelated point, I would note that the theme song was actually changed from “and the rest” to “the Professor and Mary Ann” after the first season, not because of any stellar rise to popularity or the realized practical value of the Professor, but rather because Dawn Wells had begun to receive an inordinate amount of fan mail. (*Further studies revealed that the mail received was directly proportional to how much Mary Ann’s blue jeans inched up into unmentionable areas. A study in progress will examine the statistical influence of Mary Ann’s “I’m as easy as a farm girl” tied-up shirt, if any.)

Mr. Furlow’s argument seems to rest primarily on several misguided notions as to the speculative future worthiness of these two female specimens (i.e., Mary Ann would get fat on junk food bought at Wal-Mart). Yet a survey of the entire three-season run reveals that the castaways have very little reasonable expectation of escaping their tropical island abode. And why would they want to? The island is, after all, only a metaphor. It is perhaps also worth noting that in later TV-movie installments, the Ginger character did not even resemble her former self, calling into question the Cartesian validity of her very existence.

02.jpg (20988 bytes)Mary Ann oozes sweetness and sincerity, and watching her blue-jeaned backside sashay into the jungle just seems to scream, at least to every red-white-and-blue blooded American boy that I know, “Please take me into the hay loft and deflower me now!” One can just imagine Mary Ann straddling a cold metal tractor seat on a hot summer day, as a radio plays a warbling version of Loretta Lynn’s “There She Goes.”

08.jpg (27206 bytes)The pigtails, while perhaps appealing to a more distasteful, prurient side of American male sexual interest (that of the too-ignorant-to-know-what’s-bad young girl), nonetheless give Mary Ann a rapturous, explosive representation of innocent sexuality (see R. Clark and B. Owens, “Hee-Haw,” for more on the sexualization of grown-up girls in pigtails and blue-jean shorts). Granted, Mary Ann is misrepresented as a bit younger than the actress actually was, a tradition that continues to this day (as evidenced by the geriatric cast of Beverly Hills, 90210). Still, as a metaphorical manifiestation of the farm girl-next-door, Mary Ann easily inserts herself in any number of idyllic fantasies of American life: Mary Ann softly snapping the red-checkered table cloth down on the picnic table; Mary Ann placing a plate of fried chicken and a steaming apple pie (or coconut cream pie) next to a pitcher of fresh lemonade; Mary Ann bent over said picnic table on a hot Fourth of July afternoon to receive the full power of 200 years of pent-up American male virility.

04.jpg (27142 bytes)But back to the here and now. We are stuck on an island, with no prospect of getting back to civilization. Who will help you survive. Mary Ann can cook. Mary Ann can sew. Mary Ann can gather wood. The first thing Ginger does when she finds herself on an island is make a freakin’ dress. One imagines her stumbling through the bamboo trees in her entirely inappropriate high heels. I invite the kind reader to simply feel Mary Ann’s soles for evidence: hard calluses developed from years of frolicking in the corn fields and very well-suited to bouncing down the lagoon trail to fill up the water gourd. I for one would rather rely on the self-confident, self-reliant (see Emerson) Mary Ann Summers, who would bring me tropical drinks in coconut shells as I napped each afternoon away in my swaying hammock, all the while resting sure that Mary Ann would keep my red shirt clean and my white hat well-starched.05.jpg (84742 bytes)

The theme song to our beloved show intones, “Like Robinson Crusoe, it’s primitive as can be.” Yet Robinson Crusoe, in that first English significant English novel which no less significantly became the first English-language island narrative form, created a veritable island paradise for himself over 20 years of being stranded on an island. One imagines his island vacation being all the more serene if he had been accompanied by a certain strong-limbed, pig-tailed, cheerful young Kansas farm girl.

As an American (not to impugn my colleague’s allegedly dubious patriotic allegiance), I say give me liberty, give me freedom, give me rolling fields of wheat and spacious skies, give me the shapely and virginal Mary Ann. As to the question of Zsa Zsa (note correct spelling) or Eva, the choice is obvious. One of them is dead.