Why Disney films are misunderstood: Cinderella
The prince in Cinderella is never named. He shows up looking bored about 48 minutes into the film and sticks around only long enough to sing a duet and waltz with Cinderella. The next time we see him, he is running down the stairs with his wife as they leave on their honeymoon. Yet, this prince, known as Prince Charming in the Disney canon if not in the film, and his fellow Disney princes are blamed for a slew of atrocities committed against feminism.
The reality of it is that the prince can in no way be said to save Cinderella from her circumstances. At worst, he provides a place for a money-grubbing Cinderella to get out of dodge. That interpretation is taking it too far as well. Cinderella is living in what we would now consider an abusive household. Though she is never beaten, she is constantly ordered about and made to feel worthless. She never actually says what her dreams are, but when she thinks about going to the palace, it isn’t specifically to meet the prince.
In fact, when she gets to the palace, she doesn’t wait to be introduced to the prince, presumably because she wouldn’t have the self-esteem to consider any possible association. Instead, she is looking around the palace in awe. The prince sees her from afar, and with nary an onscreen word, the two waltz the night away. Cinderella leaves the ball not knowing who she danced with but struck by how handsome he is.
Up until this point, no one can truly be said to have saved Cinderella. The Fairy Godmother and the animal friends helped, but the result was that she got out of the house. It isn’t until Cinderella’s stepmother locks Cinderella in the tower that the animal friends can be said to have rescued her when they deliver the key. Cinderella produces the shoe, which saves her from her situation and which she could totally have held on to. In the end, Cinderella is able to choose between the two circumstances, and she chooses to be in love with someone she just met. Kristoff would not approve, but romance for men and women in recent Western Culture has a strong element of spontaneity and first-sightedness.
Rather than a story of a prince saving a girl, Cinderella looks more like a girl saving herself while the prince had to deal with an overbearing father who wants grandchildren. Fortunately, true love, based for both on looks, dancing skill and whatever they said during the dance – but mostly looks – wins out in the end and miracles do happen. There is nothing wrong with choosing love.
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