We cannot hide it that Perl code is littered with the $ characters and, compared to the original well rounded Latin letters, that went through the thousands of years of tweaking to please the human eye, compared to them, $ is just an ugly hack. Unfortunately this is what people see when they first look at Perl code - lots of $ signs (by the way @ looks a bit better - maybe we should use more arrays?) - and this is how unconsciously they form the first impression about our language. This is not fair, this is so superficial - but the way the human mind works dictates that this first impression colours every information about Perl that comes later. People don't like to change their minds, and they always will find something to support what they thought initially, even if, or maybe the more so when, that initial thought was just an unconscious impression.
What can we do then? Changing the typeface of $ in the most popular web and editor fonts does not seem like a practical solution, but maybe if we show the sheer shallowness of judging the language by the shape of the typeface of some used character - maybe this would have some impact?
Update: Bear in mind that I don't advocate to get rid of $ in Perl - I find it very useful. The point is that the type face ugliness of $ can project a shadow on the whole language completely independently from it's usefulness as language construct.