Cinderella, Cinderella, do the laundry, do the dishes, yadda yadda. I’m sure quite a few children pictured themselves Cinderella at some point. Of course, then these little girls grow up and they really DO have to do all the work, while children cry “Mommy, Mommy” instead of Cinderella and Prince Charming hides under his car.
But I digress. The story of Cinderella begins much the same way as Snow White. Mom promptly drops dead of “Disney and/or fairy tales in general hate mom syndrome.” Cinderella is left with dumb Dad, who once again gets her an evil stepmother and then drops dead. Thanks, Dad. This time, it’s worse, though, because Cinderella also gets two mean stepsisters to go with the mean stepmother. Instant dysfunctional family!
And like Snow White, Cinderella is made a servant in her own home. Only difference is she’s some sort of nobility instead of a princess. And she likes to sit by the cinders in the fireplace, so they call her “Cinder-ella.” Good thing she didn’t like sitting by the cow chips.
Cinderella puts up with the abuse with a happy smile, just like all women should. She sings while she cleans (Wtf with the singing while you clean? I never once was tempted to sing while I cleaned.) Also, she has help with her work. From the vermin. Yes, that’s right, even the disease infested rats love Cinderella. She feeds them and protects them from Lucifer (uh huh) the cat and knits them tiny clothes in all her spare time, and in return they keep her company. Reminds me a little of that show “Infested”.
So her miserable life goes on, with stepmom and stepsisters (who the story points out are ugly, which automatically equals evil in fairy tale logic) loading chores on her while they lay around being ugly and whatnot. Until one day they get this invitation to the prince’s ball. He’s bride shopping, and any girl who shows up gets a chance at the bidding block. Woot! Stepmother decides that her daughters are going to attract the prince, because she’s somewhat delusional. We’re talking an episode of “The Bachelor” here, not “Beauty and the Beast.”
Cinderella wants to go too, and so stepmom says that sure she can go, as long as she finds herself suitable clothes and finishes the impossible list of chores she gives her. What a saint. So Cinderella cleans and cleans. The vermin realize she’s never gonna get her chores done, so after wasting time singing a song about how mean everyone is to her “Cinderelly, Cinderelly” (oh how I hate that song) they get down to business and together they fix up this old dress for her with cast offs the stepsisters toss down.
Now I hate mice, but if I found some that could sing and sew, I would say “Heck with you stepmom, I’m goin’ on the road.” She could have made a bloomin’ fortune! Oh, well. Cinderella is sooo happy when she gets back and realizes the dress is all ready. She puts it on and rushes to join her stepfamily. They promptly rip her dress to shreds when they realize part of her dress once belonged to them. At this point, you’re beginning to think these guys might not be very nice people.
Heck, even Cinderella has finally figured this out, and breaks down and cries in the garden. But never fear, her fairy godmother appears out of nowhere and gives her a heart attack. She’s there to help the girl go to the ball! So now we’re in an episode of “What not to Wear” combined with “Pimp my Car” and “Say Yes to the Dress.” This is one big freaking reality show.
If I were Cinderella, I might be asking why this lady didn’t show up like ten years ago when all this mess started. But better late than never, I guess. She creates a coach out of a pumpkin, and makes the mice and dog into horses and coachmen (talk about identity crisis) and then makes Cinderella a brand new dress complete with glass slippers. Wow, talk about – freaking uncomfortable. In case you didn’t know, many believe that the glass slippers come from a mistranslation of the original and Cinderella was supposed to be wearing fur slippers. But what woman would wear fur when she could destroy her feet with breakable high heels, huh?
She gets to the ball, with the warning that the magic will end at midnight STAT. The prince sees her, and BAM instant love connection. He’s found his bachelorette. They dance and forget the time and then Cinderella realizes and runs away so he won’t know that she really wears rags and drives a pumpkin. Good choice, there. On the way, she loses a slipper (plot point!). The other slipper stays in her pocket. So she got to keep the most uncomfortable part of the magic. Thanks, FG!
The prince finds the slipper, but no girl. Word gets out that the prince will marry the girl whose foot fits the slipper. So he’s betting on there being only one size 0 in the entire kingdom. What if some other girl wore the same size? Then what? Would they put them in a line up and see if Prince Genius can remember which one he danced with?
Honestly, I’m pretty sure Cinderella’s prince gets the prize for most useless. He’s not even given a name, unless he really is named “Charming” which is the lamest name ever. It’s his father who, unlike the prince, is short and dumpy and freaky looking, who gets all the screen time. He wants grandchildren, so he’s ready to force his son into picking a wife right away. No word from what the son thinks about all this. Eh, who cares. In this story, the prince is not the rescuer but the prize! He’s so pretty, and look at all the ways you can pose him, Cindy!
A lackey is sent around with the enviable task of trying shoes on millions of stinky women’s feet. Joy. The stepmother figures out it is Cinderella the prince is looking for, and locks her up in her room when the shoe guys show up. The stepsisters try on the shoes, but they don’t fit. True fact: In the original fairy tale, the stepsisters are so eager to fit into the shoes, they actually chop their toes off. No lie. I’m guessing the shoe guys noticed all the blood building up in the shoes, because it didn’t work. Later, birds come and peck out the eyes of the sisters. Cinderella’s like “see ya suckers” and takes off with the prince. I like that version, personally.
In the Disney version, we can’t have blood or any of that fun violence, so the mice get the key and free Cinderella. The stepmother destroys the glass slipper, but Cinderella has the other one. That right there pretty much proves who she is, but they try the shoe on anyway, it fits, and Cinderella has won her man. It pays to have size 0 feet, ladies.
So Cinderella marries the prince, and lives happily ever after with trophy man and creepy grandpa who I can only assume sits outside their bedroom until word of an impending grandchild arrives. Oh, and the mice apparently come along and infest the castle, probably infecting the entire populace with the plague, but it was good while it lasted.
Next up, everyone’s favorite narcoleptic, Sleeping Beauty.
Our first princess is Snow White. This was Disney’s first feature-length fairy tale movie. Like most Disney films, characters would break out into song at random times. Who doesn’t remember “Some day my prince will come.”, “Whistle while you work.” (this one sort of breaks the princess code), or “Hi-ho.” The dwarfs definitely got more of a role in Disney’s movie, with each dwarf being given a respectful name regarding some personality quirk. Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Bashful, Dopey, Doc. I’m not sure what the Doc one meant. And I forget the seventh one at the moment – Stinky? I’m just glad most of us aren’t given names in that matter. Pretty sure I’d be “Lazy”.
Now Snow suffers from some of the themes I mentioned last time. Her mom dies right after giving her that pretentious name, and stupid dad decides to marry again. Keeping in mind that he has a kingdom to run and a young daughter to raise, he seeks a queen using the best prerequisites ever. Is she a hottie? Yes. Hurray, welcome to the family! Oops, time to die. And as soon as he’s toast (it was natural causes right?) stepmother reveals her true colors, which are black, black, and black.
So right off the bat, we’ve got the princess affected by parents who were kind of stupid and now dead, and a stepmother who is alive and evil. But Snow White is beautiful and sweet and innocent (cough, dumb). The evil queen has her priorities straight. She must be the most beautiful woman in the land. I wouldn’t think that too hard, since as far as I can tell, she’s one of the only women in the land. You never see any other subjects, with the exception of the dwarfs and the huntsman. It would also have to make ruling much easier.
So she talks to this mirror all the time, and the mirror talks back. Schizophrenia? No, silly, it’s magic. She could probably ask it anything, but only asks it if she is still top model. This has to be boring as heck for the mirror, which is why he finally says “Nope, it ain’t you, sweetheart, it’s the kid.” I can’t think of any other reason why Snow White was not the fairest one day and then the next day suddenly was the fairest.
So this is bad news for Snow. The queen decides to destroy her beauty by – gasp – making her do chores. But this doesn’t work, because Snow just goes out and happily mops the concrete while singing. Not only that, her singing attracts some prince who was out wandering around and of course immediately falls in love with her. I find this a little creepy, since in the Disney version she looks about twelve while the prince looks more like 22 or so. But anyway, they sing and Snow acts all scared and he leaves and the queen gets really cheesed off and decides Snow White must die.
She doesn’t do it herself, though, which is the downfall of every villain. Instead she sends her wimpy huntsman with the simple task of cutting out the heart of a child and bringing it back to her. Easy peasy. He fails cause she’s just so gosh darn cute, and tells her to run away into the scary forest where she can die slowly. She does, has a major panic attack thinking the trees are out to get her, and then passes out. When she wakes, all these animals show up and decide to eat her for dinner. Just kidding. They think she’s cute too, and so lead her to a nice little cottage.
This cottage isn’t abandoned – it’s owned by little children, she thinks. Awww. She takes the liberty of cleaning it for them. I wish Snow would show up at my house. Anyway, the dwarfs, who happen to be actual men though she continues to treat them like children (way to empower little people, Disney) also fall in love with her and let her stay. But the queen realizes Snow’s still alive cause she is still not top model, so she decides, finally, to do the job herself.
She disguises herself as a kindly old lady selling door to door apples. Though she doesn’t quite get the “kindly” part right, because she is seriously disturbing. Snow is stupid, though, and lets her in anyway, and eats some of the apple, and bam, drops dead. Well, not totally dead, just asleep until some true love wakes her up but like that’s gonna happen when she’s buried, right? Well, no, cause the dwarfs can’t bear to shove her in the ground! Instead they make her a glass coffin so they can watch her body decompose in real time. Cool. They chase the queen off a mountain and she falls to a typical Disney plummet death so no one has to see blood.
In the original fairy tale, Snow is even stupider. The queen comes by THREE times to kill her. Once she laces her up too tight and nearly suffocates her, but the dwarfs come by and unlace her. Another time she gives her a poison comb, but the dwarfs remove it. Then she gives her the apple. And she doesn’t wake with a kiss either. Nope, the prince shows up, falls in love with the DEAD BODY and decides to drag it along behind him.
The coffin bumps, and she upchucks the apple and comes back to life. WTF? I mean, first off what was he going to do with the body if she hadn’t woken up? And second, I’m pretty sure if the oxygen is blocked off to your brain that long, you’re gonna be dead even if someone gives you the Heimlich. But still, Snow decides to marry this guy anyway. So maybe she DID lose a lot more oxygen to her brain, which is bad since she didn’t have much to begin with. Oh, well, happily ever after!
But back to the Disney version, which isn’t nearly as disturbing now, is it? The prince shows up, decides to kiss the body (ew) and she wakes up. Yay! He picks her up in his arms and they ride away to his castle, the end. No word on what happens when they get there. Or what happens to the castle where the queen lived. I wonder if the prince has anybody to rule over or if they just sit and twiddle their thumbs as well. And what about the dwarfs? Do they just go back to digging in the mines for gold and rubies which they then – what – eat? What the heck do they do with all that stuff? You’d think the queen would forget Snow White and just steal all the jewels they have buried in the back yard. Priorities, people, priorities.
So one fairy tale down, dozens to go. Stay tuned for Cinderella and The Bachelor.
I’ve always loved fairy tales and princesses. So does Disney. It might surprise you, but the “Disney Princess” line really hasn’t been around that long. It just seems that way. My Thing One, who a few years ago was content enough to let her mother dress her up in pretty, pretty princess costumes, now thinks princesses and pink are yuck. She also thinks all the princesses in the “Disney Princess” line are like replicas of each other. Well, okay, she has a point there. Which is interesting, considering that the actual princesses (some of them aren’t even princesses in their stories) do have personalities in the movies. As Thing One said, “What the heck happened to Jasmine? She was kinda tough before.”
The answer is “marketing”. Little girls like being princesses. People are critical of this and often try to steer their kids away from such sexist notions. But I think it makes just as much sense as little boys wanting to be dinosaurs. Think about it – a princess gets to wear some awesome bling and have other people do all her chores for her. What kid wouldn’t like that gig? Also, just like dinosaurs, princesses probably get to go to bed whenever they darn well please because, well, they’re freaking princesses. I know I would still like to be a princess but my dinosaur husband is too busy stomping around to listen to me.
This is not to say that little girls can’t be dinosaurs (hello Rara!) or little boys princesses. At Thing Two’s fifth birthday party, we tried to give her boy buddy a more manly crown instead of the tiara all the girls got. He cried. So I gave him a tiara. He promptly slapped that thing on and chased the girls around with his magic wand he had transformed into a ray gun. Some things are just kind of ingrained, sorry.
Anyway, what I wanted to address was Disney’s fairy tales. (I got distracted by the princessy shiny things, so sue me!) How bad are they for little kids? Are they any better, or worse, than the original fairy tales themselves? I think a lot of people miss this part. Most fairy tales were originally told as warnings. For instance, in the original Little Red Riding Hood, she’s eaten by the wolf. The end. No kindly woodsman who just happened to be hanging around grandma’s house (which is sorta creeper). Nope, she’s dead. Because if you talk to strange wolves, you get dead. Lesson: Don’t talk to strangers. Sweet dreams, honey.
I loved the Disney fairy tale movies. They had incredible animation, great songs, and beautiful characters and scenery. No one looked like Spongebob and friends. I liked that. Now note I’m talking about the cartoon feature length movies, not the sequels or most of their live action stuff, which almost always sucks. But is this a good thing for kids to watch? Guess what? I’m here to give you my reviews. Keep in mind I also read the entire 50 Shades series, so what I find appropriate might not match what you find appropriate. You never can tell. But I think we’ll have fun.
Now most of these tales have certain themes in common.
Dead Parents: at least one of the parents is six feet under for some reason. Usually the mother. Disney hates mothers.
Bad Parenting: If the parents are alive, they aren’t that great. Either they marry stupidly (see Evil Stepmother Syndrome) or they are abusive, neglectful, or just plain stupid (see the Miller in Rumplestiltskin).
Good vs. Evil: Good is the innocent (ie dumb) princess. Bad is the parent, dragon, etc.
Cute Animal Friends: she’s almost always scarily good with animals who repay her kindness by making her clothes, cleaning her house, and not eating her.
The “Prince”: Either this guy comes in and rescues the princess, or in other cases, is the prize the girl gets for a lifetime of crap.
Happily Ever After: This usually comes in the form of a marriage. Cause everyone knows that marriage solves everything!
I’m sure there are more themes we’ll explore as I get into the stories. If you can think of others, let me know! Stay tuned for our first tale next time: Snow White and all those short guys.