To date my two favorite movie versions are Drew Barrymore’s Ever After and Hillary Duff`s A Cinderella Story. These movies, in my humble opinion, kept the ‘magic’ of Cinderella alive. Also it spoke to the modern adolescent slash woman in me. In the face of adversity, Cinderella in these versions wasn`t a timid girl just waiting around for her Fairy Godmother to show up.
And I`ve noticed that this as a recurrent theme in later day Disney and Warner versions of “A Cinderella Story”, because like the title of these movies, they`ve moved away from the Fairy Godmother saving the day (great feminist paragon that she is) and the latest Cinderella Story featuring Lucy Hale, literally personifies this with her final song at the showcase “Bless Myself”. The notion that you couldn`t blame others for your circumstances, “I can bless myself, there`s no need for someone’s help, there`s no one to blame, there`s no one to save you, but yourself…”
If you thought of the original Cinderella, she needed a lot of help from so many different sources. I remembered a childhood Cinderella who had mice working on her dress, mice carting a pumpkin on their shoulders for the Fairy Godmother to touch with her wand. Then there was the friendships she made with those around her, motivating her to ‘go for it’, that was picked up in the modern versions with fever.
And I wondered as I watched Lucy Hale`s performance (great voice by the way), that today`s Cinderella`s still need a village. As much as you believed in yourself, as much as you wanted to “Bless Yourself”, sometimes ‘you’ just weren`t enough, and as we say in Africa, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. For Cinderella it took a ‘team’ to get her in front of the Prince and then of course, the Prince and his merry brigade to get to her (he also didn`t work alone).
As much as I love my bra burning sisters and our modern views on how strong women should be it had become a logical fallacy to believe that ‘you can save yourself’. Yes there`s a moment when you have to pick yourself up because to be honest not a lot of people would do that for you. But until you believe that you deserved better, that you would achieve whatever it was you wanted in life, you would never “Bless Yourself.” And sometimes before you could believe in yourself, you have to take in the words of those who love you and want the best for you. This we all know, isn`t easy.
As a writer I watched these changing trends, I saw them reflected in my stories, but I also realized that a heroine needed her ‘village’, the same as any hero. (Don`t get me started on The Amazing Spiderman and Superman.) And after all of that encouragement, your heroine would stand on the shoulders of giants. She would now be able to say “I will bless myself” because her support system gave her the strength to become anything, be anything.
- Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (robinmccraw.wordpress.com)
- Snow White and Cinderella (reshapingreality.wordpress.com)