I’ve been ailing for the past week, and although I did manage to drag myself out of my sickbed yesterday for the St. Patrick’s Day festivities, I was quickly back in it by 8:30 last night. While chicken soup, tea, and extra vitamin C is on my flu curing regimen, no fluid, antibacterial serum, or medication can dispel the blues that come with languishing in bed for hours at a time. That funk I fall into when I am miserably ill can only be cured by popping in a feel-good movie, or a Disney cartoon. Last night, the prescription was for Cinderella.
While I do love all of the Disney princess movies best of all, I’ve never been that attached to Cinderella. This particular movie has always fallen to the bottom of the heap with Snow White while The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Sleeping Beauty have dominated the top slots. I’ve never thought too much about it, but last night, while watching one of these classics that I have not seen in at least ten years, I had an epiphany about why some of the Disney fairy tales never appealed to me that much.
In Cinderella at least, the prince doesn’t do anything. Prince Charming is in the movie for all of five minutes and doesn’t do one thing to make himself sympathetic to the audience. There isn’t anything he does to ingratiate himself to Cinderella, besides looking nice and dancing well. At the time, Cinderella doesn’t even know that Prince Charming is a prince, so the title isn’t even a factor. It is Disney after all though, and a fairy tale, so I’ll fall for the Love-At-First-Sight bit, but even after the fateful moment of eye contact and waltzing, the prince does not do anything to woo Cinderella. He doesn’t even search for the mysterious woman with the glass shoe himself. He sends his father’s right hand man out to try physically impossible and dangerous footwear on ladies’ feet. At this point in the movie, I was quite mad at our dark haired prince. If you want Cinderella so badly, GO LOOK FOR HER YOURSELF! It’s the LEAST you can do.
After all, the princes of my favorite Disney movies actually do something to win the heroine’s favor. Prince Phillip endures imprisonment, slays a dragon/evil fairy, and hacks through thorny vegetation to get to the castle where he eventually kisses Aurora awake. Prince Eric jumps overboard and tries to save Ariel from Ursula’s clutches (underwater, mind you, where he can not breathe), then commandeers a ship and stabs Ursula, making her screech as she becomes fried calamari. Finally, the Beast, who I hope has a real name, especially after he transforms back into a human, saves Belle’s life from a pack of hungry wolves, GIVES HER A LIBRARY, lets her go to tend to her father and lead a happy life, placing her happiness over his own, and then kills the village tool, making him scream like a little girl.
Even the Prince of Snow White seeks Snow White out in the forest himself and kisses her back to life. Prince Charming just comes off as lazy. This is, what I’ve realized, exactly what I never liked about Cinderella and similar movies. I generally like the songs in Cinderella, the adorable subplot with the mice, Gus being my favorite, and Cinderella as a character. It is the relationship, or lack thereof, with the leading man that turns me off. Prince Charming doesn’t have to work for anything. Cinderella overcomes the loss of her family, forced servitude, a horrible stepmother, and a feline incarnation of Satan. She deserves a happy ending, unlike the entitled, two-dimensional prince. Prince Charming rescues Cinderella with his money and title, but only at the altar. Cinderella has to rescue herself up until then, both out from her prison made from her tower bedroom, and by producing the other glass slipper. While I can admire her strength of mind and optimism during her miserable life, I think the fact that Cinderella rescues herself is the part about the movie that makes me hesitant in fully enjoying it. No woman wants to shoulder all of the responsibility and work of a relationship and personally, I’d like to be rescued by a handsome prince. We all need to be rescued from something, and it is nice to know that there is someone out there who will one day be our pillar of strength.
The other epiphany I had in bed while viewing the movie was that the reasons why I like certain Disney princes are also the reasons I have unrealistic expectations about dating.
I have just pointed out that my three favorite movies include physical feats of strength, grand gestures, displays of heroism, and sacrifices. Being realistic, I know that a man with all of these qualities plus a job, sense of humor, normal mental health, and at least average looks does not exist. But who doesn’t want the fairy tale? Aren’t we all hoping to find a man with at least one of these attributes that we hold in high esteem: bravery, loyalty, sensitivity, and tenacity? I know I can admit to wanting it, and until I find someone with just the right measure of fairy tale magic, I won’t settle for less and I’ll keep dreaming. After all, a dream is a wish your heart makes.