Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Glass Slipper-y Slope

by Sariah S. Wilson

I love Cinderella.

Scholars are uncertain how many versions of Cinderella exist from all over the world (and yes, there are people who study these things). The earliest recorded version is from the ninth century A.D. in China (hence the whole Cinderella having small feet). Scholars have found versions from Vietnam, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Germany, Australia, Bulgaria, France and the Algonquin Indians, among many others.

So why do modern women hate Cinderella so much?

You know who I’m talking about. The ones who absolutely refuse to ever let their girls wear pink. Who if they actually do read them fairy tales alter the endings so that Cinderella goes to Harvard instead of marrying the prince. Know what happens? Their precious darlings rebel. They want to wear ball gowns and a tiara and watch the Disney Princess DVDs over and over again. Their mothers are dumbfounded. Why despite all their best efforts, do their daughters dream of their own handsome prince and living in a castle?

The moms aren’t the only ones who don’t understand. Hollywood doesn’t either. Two years ago a movie called “The Prince and Me” came out. From the previews alone, I knew I would love this movie.

The movie was pitch perfect. The story built believably and well. The two leads had a great chemistry together. Lots of laughs, great black moment, the perfect proposal. Then the heroine decides she doesn’t really want to be a princess and wants to be a doctor instead. All the women around me gasped, asking why she was so stupid. Not one woman stood up and said, “You go girl!” The heroine came off as a spoiled little brat, who when her fiance had just been crowned king, while his father was dying, when he really needed the woman he loved, she decides she’s more important than anything else. She wasn’t empowering. She was selfish and annoying. I’m watching it thinking, “What, there’s no medical schools in Denmark?” Or if her concern was helping the underprivileged medically in foreign countries, she would have been able to do more good, raise more awareness and more funds for those people as the Queen of freaking Denmark than she would have as just a doctor.

Then the ending leaves you hanging. You sort of assume they’ll get back together, but you’re not really sure. The girl could have another “it’s all about me” moment and leave. (They apparently tried to rectify this situation by creating a mind-numbingly bad sequel, with only the actor who played the prince returning, and based on his performance I have to surmise that someone was holding his mother hostage and forcing him to do it.)

I would like to tell writers to stop screwing up the formula. I know it’s why people dismiss romances - they’re formulaic. Yes, they’re formulaic that in the end the couple is either married or going to get married and they’re happy. But other genres are formulaic too. In a mystery someone dies and the protagonist figures out who did it and why. In a suspense thriller, someone bad wants to do something that will hurt people and the good guy has to race the clock to stop said nefarious plans and emerges triumphant in the end. But the formula ends in the telling of the tale. Everyone has their own take on the formula, and it’s the journey that makes the story the most enjoyable.

Cinderella’s journey has spoken to women for thousands of years. Her influence and stories aren’t going anywhere, which makes a happy ending person like me very, very happy.


At 3/19/2006 2:13 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

As a reader who loves happy endings, I say Amen, Sister!

And I'm glad to know the way the small-feet thing started, because that's the part of the Cinderella story that always bugged me--how her feet were so tiny and that was the ultimate in beauty (as you might guess, my feet are NOT tiny. I want the prince to say, wow, what a shoe, let me find the tall, large-footed woman who fits this shoe and that's the girl for me).

At 3/22/2006 12:45 PM, Anonymous Nannette Patey said...

I couldn't agree more. There is a reason all those women read romances. We want to be taken from our humdrum lives full of mortgage payments and soccer games and for a few hours be swept up into an incredible romance with a handsome prince or nobleman. I don't understand why writers want to stray from the formula. Jude Deveraux (one of my favorite authors) wrote a book called A Knight in Shining Armor. It was a time travel book that had me entranced from the first page, but in the end, the heroine doesn't end up with the hero, she gets his reincarnation instead. I just wanted to cry! I have read and reread all of her books until they're nearly in tatters, but I only read that one once because I was so angry and disappointed. Let's get back to the basics and give the readers that once in a lifetime romance they're so hungry for.

At 3/22/2006 6:15 PM, Anonymous Elizabeth Salisbury said...

Your awesome! I love hearing about the history of things, and you present everything so well.

That movie made me mad too. I thought it was a great romance that was screwed up by the dumb ending(I never saw the second one). It's funny, but no matter how many spins on Cinderella Hollywood does, I still love it. But only if the prince marries the girl.

At 3/22/2006 6:23 PM, Blogger The Wiz said...

I watched 'Princess Diaries 2' with my kids, and when she gets up at her wedding at states that she can be queen 'without a husband' my girls wigged out. Why would she want to be queen without a husband? What kind of princess doesn't want her prince? Bring on the formula - just put some funny lines in it along the way.

At 3/22/2006 6:33 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

Oh, I am so with you on the Princess Diaries 2. They totally ruined that movie in their girl power attempt. I don't know why Hollywood doesn't understand that we wanted to see Mia marry Nicholas. Hello, she had the dress, the church, and the man she was actually in love with was all dressed up with no place to go.

My only hope is that they did this to give us a third movie where she actually marries the guy.

At 3/24/2006 5:20 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

They won't give us a third movie. Anne Hathaway says she doesn't want to do anymore Princess Diary movies. That is why I was so upset with the ending, because there won't be anymore.

At 3/24/2006 5:23 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

There isn't going to be a third movie. Anne Hathaway said she isn't doing anymore Princess Diary movies. So that is why I was so upset with the ending, because you never see them marry. If the do a third movie, it would probably really stink without Anne Hathaway.

At 3/24/2006 5:31 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

Dumb Anne Hathaway.


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