by Cleopatra Parnell
Help! I double-featured Cinderella and 50 Shades of Grey, but I forgot which film is which! Will you help me figure it out?
Let’s see…a woman gives in to suffering at the hands of those around her. This suffering has no rhyme or reason, but after she gives up her agency and allows herself to be abused, she is rewarded with a handsome man who covets her after only one brief meeting where he barely gets to know her. That was definitely…which one? Damn, I’ll need to be more specific.
OK, in one the hero is forced to wear bondage gear that was so tight the actress could only eat liquid foods while shooting the movie. That has to be 50 Shades, right?
OK, in one the hero is definitely locked away in a life of slavery and unrealized dreams. Every day, she does backbreaking chores that please her master, who wishes nothing less than to dominate her and remind her of her place. I remember in one, the hero asks questions and learns about why this is before making her decision. In the other, the hero shuts up, accepts it, and cries alone to herself.
That MUST have been 50 Shades.
I’m so bad at this!
Hmm. Cinderella is all about women, right? The evil stepmother, her older stepsisters, a fairy godmother, and Cinderella herself. So the one that spends the most time focusing on the relationships between men must be 50 Shades. It’s all about domination and ownership, right? It must really focus on men.
Oh gosh no what a surprise!
Cinderella pushes Cinderella herself to the side to talk about how awesome men are at being men with each other. But if Cinderella invents new characters in order to create healthy relationships among men who are patient and grow to understand each other, then it must invent characters with whom Cinderella can develop healthy, communicative relationships, right? It can’t just turn a movie about Cinderella’s struggle into an ode to how awesome and understanding men are, can it?
The movie that offered its female hero a confidant and equal who was willing to talk to her about difficult decisions couldn’t have been…
Whaaaaat? That…that doesn’t look like Cinderella! She’s wearing jeans and eating something that’s NOT LIQUID. Now I’ll never be able to tell these movies apart!
Wait, I think I’ve got it! In one, the hero has a job and educates herself. She has friends and a family life. She gives into a potentially harmful relationship, but at least she’s worked hard enough for herself to have options. That relationship is her own choice, one which she educates herself about, and it’s not a choice made for her.
In the other, the hero scrubs floors, and she’s taught if she shuts up and scrubs floors extra hard then magic will happen and reward her for shutting up so good! What’s the reward? A man likes you! Fuck yeah!
I think I’ve almost figured out which is which now. The one that’s somehow more feminist, I remember that one! That’s 50 Shades. The one that makes you look at the big house in the nice neighborhood and tells you if you don’t rock the boat or try to change anything for the better, maybe one day you’ll live there? That’s Cinderella. Cinderella is the one where she doesn’t even put up as much fight as she did as a 1950s cartoon.
DISCLOSURE: Both BDSM and Disney movies are fine. Shitty representations of either aren’t.