Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cinderella and Subliminal Messaging

Cliché Message: Dreams come true

Problem Message: Women cannot accomplish anything on their own

            Cinderella is a very much-celebrated children’s movie. It is a timeless classic that many children have seen many times. I will admit; I love Cinderella. It is a cutesy movie that makes every little girl want to become a princess. Looking back on the film now, we have to consider that there might be some subliminal messaging going on in this Disney classic.

            First, I will start with the obvious, the cliché message in Cinderella. This is a classic romantic Disney princess film that teaches young girls that their dreams will come true, no matter what walk of life you come from. It teaches young girls that good conquers evil, purity prevails, and that everyone deserves a “prince charming”. This message is winning young girls over with its emotional appeal. Who would not watch this movie and think about finding their own prince charming. These stories are the reason the term “prince charming” has been coined! This message uses the pathos appeal to make its argument. When viewers watch the film, they are whisked away to their dream about happiness and the perfect love life. This film makes girls feel warm and fuzzy. Because this is a children’s movie, it tends to play up the cliché message more than the average film because children grasp messages better when they are presented in an overt manner rather than in any other way. Also, Cinderella is a classic Disney princess, which makes an ethos argument in the way that the little girls watching her want to be like her, which makes her credible in their eyes. In her book, Everything’s An Argument, Andrea Lunsford says, “ethos creates quick…irresistible connections between audience and arguments” (Lunsford 44). This is exemplifying the fact that girls watch this film, create an instant connection to the character of Cinderella, and the argument that they can have the fairy tale life that she does no matter where they come from.
The film focuses so much on the fairy tale factor (obviously because it is a Disney movie) and the “Cinderella story”, that it also includes a major problematic issue.

            We all know and love the friends of Cinderella in this film, those super cute mice that are her best friends, the birds that help make her clothing, and of course, her fairy godmother. The film plays up how cute and loving all these characters are (don’t get me wrong, I love these characters; they make the film) but the addition of these characters takes away from the Cinderella story of Cinderella. When I think of the term ‘Cinderella story’, I think of an individual or a team who overcomes the unthinkable in order to succeed; the person or persons are the underdog. In this film, where that phrase originated, Cinderella does that, BUT she does it with a lot of help from other characters. This film is subliminally teaching young girls that they cannot accomplish anything on their own. I have included clips below of the animals making her clothes, and of the fairy godmother. These clips demonstrate their want for Cinderella's dreams to come true more than Cinderella's want for her dreams to come true. For example, in the clip with the mice, they are complaining about how Cinderella's family does not treat her very well, so they are going to do something to fix it. They have the backbone to stand up to the other women in Cinderella's family (note all the mice are men) that Cinderella doesn't have. The lack of a logos appeal in the message this film relays to young people is a problem. The fact that Cinderella ends up with everything she could have ever wanted, and she becomes a princess is all fine and dandy, but it is not logical. There is no logos appeal existing in the argument made by the message in the film. It is not logical, or a good message to relay to young people. This film subliminally teaches viewers that others will do everything for you in order to help you achieve what you really want. While these characters are placed there for entertainment value, they are blocking Cinderella from doing things for herself. It is fine to rely on friends or others to help achieve your goals, but to fully rely on them is an issue, and this film teaches young girls to do that.

Because the film makes viewers cherish the extra characters like the mice and the godmother and the bippity boppity booing, viewers have the wool pulled over their eyes when it comes to Cinderella’s actual capabilities. In Louis Giannetti’s book, Understanding Movies, he talks about how “every film has a slant, a given ideological perspective that privileges certain characters…and downgrades [other aspects]” (Giannetti 403). I think this can be applied to Cinderella because this film downplays the fact that she isn’t self-sufficient or a self-starter, and glorifies the other characters in the film in order to make it more appealing. This works for this film even though it isn’t practical. (Let’s be honest though…it can’t be practical with talking animals that sew.)
 I think because of this, the cliché message outweighs the problem message. The viewers of this film are too young to recognize that Cinderella does not actually do anything for herself; she has to have others do everything for her! Due to this, I give this film 2 tickets.

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