Over the weekend my girlfriend and I went to see the new Cinderella movie. It isn’t the usual kind of movie I would pick but there wasn’t much else out that looked exciting and my girlfriend thought it might be good so off we went. I did enjoy the movie but it’s not like it was a new telling of Cinderella’s story. It was exactly what I thought it was going to be, cute and sweet and cheesy.
This isn’t a full review, instead I want to focus on one big problem I had with the story. I want to focus on the central message of the film which was a bit of advice Cinderella’s mother gave her before she passed away. She told young “Ella” that in all things she must only “have courage and be kind”. I liked that and I identified with it. I do my best to be kind, and I am learning to have more courage.
The problem here is that in the movie, Cinderella seemed to interpret “be kind” as “be passive” and she showed no courage at all in dealing with her step-mother and step-sisters. She seemed content to just let people walk all over her and take her home and her belongings. She let them talk down to her and make her into their own live-in servant without even one word of protest, telling herself that her mother would want her to be kind.
And this illustrates my biggest issue with just about all Disney movies. They perpetuate the idea that girls should do as they are told simply because it is the right thing to do. Who says it is right to be a doormat? She should have told them no. No, no, no, you cannot take my room, or rip apart my mother’s dress, or forbid me from going to the ball. She said nothing and acted passive with everyone around her.
I think the message could be presented in a better way though. I would argue that, in the movie, as much as Cinderella tried to follow her mother’s advice in her dealings with other people, one thing I noticed was that she never applied the advice to herself. She was not kind to herself by allowing her step-mother and step-sisters to treat her so badly, and she never had to courage to tell them so.
I wish they had tried to teach a better lesson. We must be kind to ourselves and not let ourselves be used as a means to other ends. We must have courage to stand up for ourselves and let other people know how they must treat us. I also think we can be kind in the way we do this and that others will respond to our courage and kindness. I think I rather have seen a movie with that message.
So instead I am telling you here and now to go forth, and have courage and be kind. First for yourself, and secondly for others. Do not let others tell you how you should be or what you ought to do, that is not courage. Do not let yourself be taken advantage of, that is not kindness.
And I would also add, do not wait on some prince to come save you from your crappy life, go out and find your own happiness.