'A Cinderella Story' Doesn't Age Well: A Story of Rewatching Childhood Favorites
I'm sorry Hilary Duff, but I don't love your later work. After Lizzie McGuire ended, I couldn't support your sappy, hetero, white relationship fantasies any longer. Although the "I want a bra" incident was a beautiful moment for pubescent girls everywhere, Lizzie's cinematic life afterward kind of fell off for me. I couldn't relate to her naivete on film, and I can't get behind the lack of diversity in her films. I'm sorry Hilary, but I couldn't wait for you to grow beyond the turn of the millennium ten years ago, and I definitely don't want to relive your tired princess fantasy now. It's time to retire A Cinderella Story.
When I first saw A Cinderella Story as a 13-year-old, I loved it. I ate it up. I refused to admit that the big kiss was really a 22-year-old actor sucking face with a 16-year-old starlet. Although I was never the princess-obsessed child, but Hilary's weird coming-of-age story hit home with me. I liked that she held a job, had an imperfect family situation, and somehow managed to be smart enough to get into Princeton. And as an adolescent girl, the dangling bait of Chad Michael Murray's perfectly sunkissed skin made up for the sometimes stilted dialog and generally awful soundtrack.
But with age comes the knowledge that rewatching your childhood favorites might lead to their ruin. I now loathe the idea promoted in the film's "Homecoming dance" scene that you're more likely to hook up with someone "out of your league" if you wear a disguise. This has icky implications for beauty standards, and it teaches teens that they'll be liked better if their love interests don't have to know their family situation, likes, dislikes, or even face shape. Lame.
Also, let's all remember the reason Sam wants to go to Princeton so badly: her father tells her that princesses go to Princeton to follow princes. What a terrible way to convince your child to strive for an Ivy League education.
But what really bothers me the most about this film now is the racial stereotypes. Yes, they are few and well-hidden, but nonetheless: the only people of color in the film work in the diner. Rhonda is mocked by Hilary's only friend in the film, and he never truly gets his comeuppance for stereotyping her speech patterns. Originally I thought nothing of that brief moment, but looking back now, it makes me squirm.
So here's your friendly all-time reminder to take care when revisiting childhood movies. Some hold up to the test of time, but A Cinderella Story isn't one of them.