What If There Had Been No Magic?

I have seen a great abomination upon the earth. I have also seen a very common smaller sort of abomination: the making of children's cartoon sequels like Aladdin II and Fern Gully CCXXI. The great abomination fits in that smaller sort of abomination neatly, but somehow, through some sort of space-fold, manages grow out past all the walls of decency that civilized man has built up. Cinderella III is coming out in 2007, and in it, the viewer is asked "what if...," as in, "what if there had been no magic?" Isn't that enough to turn you off right there?

I'm not a huge Cinderella fan, although I appreciate the story, especially in older versions. I am, however, a huge fairy tale fan, and therefore a big fan of magic. Magic is, first of all, personal. Magic is done by persons, for or to other persons. And magic in storytelling emphasizes the connections all of the world has to itself, that is, the onenesses ("onenesses" a word copyright Joffre Swait 2006) of multiplicity (thus "magical thinking").

We all know that if there's a Cinderella in which magic fails to work its wonders with our heroine (there's magic in the story, since the preview I saw showed the wicked step-mother working a timebackasswarding spell, like Superman did when he pushed the world in reverse), everything will still work out wonderfully. In fact, this time it will be true love, since the fairy godmother didn't rig the whole thing from the beginning. Instead, it will just be a huge coincidence. A wonderful, huge coincidence; or the incomprehensible workings of the force we call Love.

What Disney means to tell you, little girls, is that life sucks, but you might get lucky. Maybe love will find you filthy cleaning the flue, and throw your prince at you. But don't count on anyone acting behind the scenes to take care of you. You're on your own.

There's no fairy godmother, there's no knight in shining armor.

One of the most interesting aspects of this to me is that Cinderella Disney version is a model of strength and perkiness. She's not some walkover ditz, she's a true victim, and true survivor. You would think that would be attractive to contemporary Disney. It's true that she's been submissive to her oppressors for a long time, but as soon as she gets an opportunity to take something of what's rightfully hers, she takes it. The problem is, she's defeated, just as happens to people in real life. And that's one of the morals of the story: do everything righteously, humbly, and confidently, and you will be redeemed from defeat. Somebody will send you a fairy godmother.