Cinderella – The Gold Standard of Fairy Tales

Old, Old Fairy Tales:
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The Romance Plot Thread

Enjoy them or despise them, a romantic plot thread, as long as it’s not gratuitous, enhances most stories. Otherwise, Top Gun wouldn’t have had the guy get the girl in the end.  An Officer and A Gentlemen was the same story simply written for a female audience.  

What makes a romance work?  Tension.  Sexual, emotional, or intellectual, in whatever combination the audience demands.  A timeless romance conquers all three.  But, the early fairy tales were largely confined to the emotional sphere, restricted from offering any sexual images, the intellectual reduced to symbolic mysticism.  The tension was by necessity all emotional.

Face Time

In the earliest versions, Cinderella attends three balls, seeing the prince each time.  Afterward she runs home with him chasing her in vain.  In Snow White there was no interaction with the prince until he’s attracted to her when she’s in a glass coffin.  I’d hate to examine the psychological meaning of that symbol.  For Sleeping Beauty, her prince charming was a mercenary lured by the promise of riches, never having set eyes on her.  By comparison, Cinderella’s prince knew who she was and sought after her desperately.  Being desired for who you are is a powerful emotion, and resonates beyond gender definitions.  It’s a more complex concept adding heft to the feelings evoked.  That’s the appeal, and the reason Cinderella has been co-opted as a modern story more often than all the other fairy tales taken together.

Foreground vs. Background

In the original version, Cinderella had no fairy godmother; it was the little critters who helped her.  She worked her tail off for that wicked stepmother.  By contrast Snow White was a silent symbol of purity and submissiveness.  The evil Queen and the amusing dwarfs dominated the stage.  Snow White’s one effort was to eat the poisoned apple and fall into a coma.  It was about the same with Sleeping Beauty.  She pricked her finger and fell asleep.  A comatose heroine isn’t much of a role model, or much of a role.

Cinderella is a cultural icon, an action figure who sets the baseline for feminine aspirations and desires.  That’s why she’s eternal, appearing in one form or another in every generation.

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Rogue desserts

Isn’t cheesecake really pie?  And isn’t Boston cream pie really cake?

Writing is Cake!

Welcome!  I suppose an initial post should cover a little of the reason behind a given blog.  Why Writing?  No mystery here, I just enjoy doing it.  I am fascinated (and a little awed) by the creative process, and writing is one of the few creative hands where the Fates seem to have dealt me at least a low pair.  As such, I’m giving this a whirl on all things writing, and trying to rope a few friends and associates into helping out.


Why Cake? I’m of a growing opinion that Cake is the purest and greatest of things in the world.  Has cake ever done anything but bring happiness? Filled the world with fluffy, frosted goodness? I briefly ran a video podcast with a coworker called Video Podcasting For World Domination With Cake. The cake was an afterthought, but I think it was my subconscious starting to speak to me. I then played the most marvelous game, Portal, which quite beautifully incorporated cake into the storyline.  The game tried to convince me that the cake was a lie, but I saw that really cake was truth. When I explored why the Portal team decided to use such an odd thing as cake in their game, I discovered even more truth.  Quoting from Wikipedia:

“at the beginning of the Portal development process, we sat down as a group to decide what philosopher or school of philosophy our game would be based on. That was followed by about fifteen minutes of silence and then someone mentioned that a lot of people like cake.” — Eric Wolpaw

Damned right.

Writing is good. Cake is good. Writing is Cake. QED.