Today my sons and I watched the Disney classic, ‘Cinderella’. Cinderella was a favourite mine as a little girl – I was definitely a Disney girl – and it’s lovely to share these movies with my own children.
Obviously the Disney version of the story is different to the original, recorded by the brother’s Grimm. In the original story the stepmother and her two daughters are forced to dance to their death in iron shoes…yikes! Revenge isn’t something I would encourage my children to embrace. But today, watching the far more sugary Disney version, I was also forced to wonder whether the ideas and values playing out on the screen were ones I wanted my children to subscribe to.
Now, maybe I’m over thinking. People have accused me of that before. And I certainly wouldn’t scratch Cinderella or her ilk from my watch list. But, as a mother and a writer, I’m aware that children’s books and movies all have a message within them – intentionally or not. They have to, because their audience is highly impressionable.
Cinderella claimed that all you needed was belief in your dream and, eventually, that dream would come true. She didn’t pack up her bags and creep out of the house in the dead of night. She didn’t go to the ball dressed in her tattered clothes and take the risk that the prince might fall in love with her regardless. She didn’t start-up her own cleaning business, make her fortune, and buy the chalet next door (ok, I know they didn’t have cleaning businesses back then). She did as she was told, she hoped and dreamed and relied on fate and luck to change her life.
I’m all for dreams and hope and faith. These are some of the most precious of all human emotions and they are certainly ones I would want my children to experience. But, in my experience, dreams also require hard work and perseverance and commitment to come true.
I still love Cinderella. I love her for the way she shows us that dreams do come true, that love is for everyone and that magic is worth believing in. All these things are true and worthwhile…
I’ll just be backing it up by showing my kids that they have to bring other things to the table too.
What do you think? Am I over thinking things?