With the release of the new Cinderella movie, I want to take the opportunity to talk about this incredible character and what I love about her. But to illustrate why I love her, I think I need to talk about the arguments that many have used against her. Back in my teen years, I used to love the Cheetah Girls movies. I loved their music and their sisterhood. One of the songs from their first movie was Cinderella, and although I still like parts of it, it does illustrate the flaws that many in today’s culture find in Cinderella’s character.
This song is very much in line with feminist arguments that we can do it all ourselves and don’t need a man. I have a problem with people blaming Cinderella for creating the problem. I don’t see that in her at all. In fact, she is probably one of the strongest heroines Disney has made to date, especially with the way she is portrayed in the new movie. There is so much more to her than her love story or her happily ever after, more than most people realize. As I watch the original movie as well as the new one (I went on opening day!), I have come up with a list of five qualities she has that make me want to be like her.
It was important for her to have a selfless heart when she was faced with loving those that were difficult to love. He continued to be kind and selfless, even when she received no kindness in return and when those receiving her kindness did not deserve it. This kindness she had towards all was inspiring to those who knew her, and it should be inspiring to us too.
Something that stands out to be about Cinderella’s courage is that she was not necessarily bold or brave. These tracts are sometimes made synonymous with courage, but that may not be completely true. She had the courage to stand up for herself but chose not to on many occasions. It reminds of the quote about courage from The Princess Diaries, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear.” In this way, Cinderella almost showed more courage by not standing up to her stepmother, because she overcame her fears and sadness but made the judgment that honoring her parents’ wishes was more important that being right. That’s an important lesson for all of us.
Although I don’t completely agree with the line of the song “No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish will come true,” I do think there is a grain of truth in it. As Christians, we should never assume that God will always fulfill our greatest wishes. That’s just not true. There are some dreams that will probably never be fulfilled in this life. However, I think that what a Christian should do is put their hope and trust in the Lord, not in their dreams. Because once your heart is in line with the Lord, He will give you dreams that are in line with His will. Those are the ones He’s more likely to fulfill. But even if he doesn't He will teach you to be satisfied in His hope, and that is so much better than any dream that can be fulfilled in this life.
The word submit is properly defined in the military sense, choosing to put yourself under the authority of your commanding officer. Even if you don’t agree with what they are doing, you keep yourself under that authority because that is what is being asked of you. This is exactly what Cinderella does. Out of respect for her parents, she places herself under her stepmother’s authority, even though she proves to be less that deserving of that authority. Cinderella has to purpose herself to obey, even when it was hard. We should all learn to do likewise.
When I did the same Disney Character Challenge for myself, I listed Cinderella as the one of two characters I wanted to be the most like (the other one I've save for another post). After saying I wanted a heart like Cinderella, I said, “I hope and pray to have a testimony that not only reflects a good heart, but that also brings glory and honor to my Savior, and I hope that is a story worth telling someday.” I still hoping and praying this will is true of my own life story. Despite what the Cheetah Girls tried to tell us, Cinderella would be a great person to be like (although I hope to do a little better job of making sure my shoes stay on my feet during special occasions! haha). I hope that some of you are able to follow her example.
Life can been exceptional amusing at times, especially when great things happen to you unexpectedly. That was the exact position I found myself in last Friday, when I was looking around Facebook and stumbled upon this.
Needless to say, with my love of musicals, I jumped at the opportunity. One minute I’m doing nothing, and the next, I’m planning to go into Chicago for the evening! What an experience that was! I have been to several Broadway shows, but I’ve never had such great seats to a show before. Plus, it’s always fun to go see these plays in groups. I had a good time that night.
However, since I had not even heard of First Wives Club before that day, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew prior to leaving that night is that there had been a movie released in 1996 and that this was its premiere on Broadway, even before it will hit New York. There was a lot of the story that made me uncomfortable, and part of me questions if I would have chosen to see it if I had known more about it. But in the end, I concluded that this is an opportunity for me to learn of those that have these perspectives and to share what I have learned with others, so that’s what I’m going to do.
Since I want to start getting into reviewing entertainment, this experience gives me the opportunity to get into a corner of entertainment that is often left un-reviewed in Christian circles: Broadway musicals. I was quite surprised by this, because there is so much depth to these musicals that we as Christian should be seeking to find. But I guess that many conservatives can also see much that is inappropriate on Broadway and the lifestyles often associated with working in that environment.
In doing reviews, I don’t want to tell you “this is good” or “this is bad and you shouldn’t like if you’re a Christian.” I want to bring to light positive elements and negative elements from the plot in hopes that it will help you discern what is right or wrong. That’s what we should be doing anyway. These are the messages that this play teaches:
Female Friendship is Valuable for Women
I think that most women don’t realize how important it is to have girlfriends that have your back, especially after they’re married. Although investing in your family should be a top priority, investing in friendships shouldn’t be very far behind. Our community is meant to extend beyond our family unit, especially during times of trial. With the craziness of life, it can be difficult to invest in past friendships that used to be close if you have lost touch. But if you had those kinds of friendships, chances are that if you reconnected with those friends, you could pick up right where you left off. That what Brenda, Elise, and Annie discover. One of my favorite songs they performed in the show was the 60’s hit “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” which is a great reminder of what loyal friendship looks like.
We are also reminded of the consequences of not keeping up with these kind of friendships in the death of Cynthia. On one hand, since this play was set in the early 90’s, they didn’t have many of the technological advancements that make it easier than ever to keep up friendships over long distances. But I can’t help but wonder if Cynthia would not have ended her life if the girls had been there to help her through her darkest hour. Although good came out of it in the end, I think the girls get the sense that maybe they should have been there for Cynthia before it was too late. Don’t take any relationship for granted, because it’s quite true that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something
Sometimes, we do need a wake up call. We need a push in the right direction, or a reminder of what we know we should have been doing all along. In this case, it was the death of a friend. But it is true that sometimes, we just need a swift kick in the pants! However, there are times especially in the life of a Christian when we need to take the initiative to figure out what the Lord wants us to do and just do it. For someone like me, this is easier said than done. But we should at least be aware that when we know what we should do, we need to do it!
A Wife Getting Ditched for a Younger Woman is Normal
However, I was also frustrated at how this musical tried to normalize this behavior. They didn’t necessarily condone it, but they didn’t say it was wrong either. It’s just the way that it is and we have to accept it. We are living in a generation that does not know how to be responsible when it comes to their sexual desires. They are continually telling us that we can have our desires fulfilled any way we want and no one can judge you for it.
But there is no way that I can accept that. We need to remember that God has an incredible design for our sexuality, and a huge part of God’s design is fidelity. Even if a husband is dissatisfied sexually, it is wrong to seek out any other source of sexual fulfillment. That’s the way that God sees it, and it’s the way that Christians should see it too
Revenge Is Acceptable When You Have Been Cheated
As a Christian, I know that people are going to hurt me in this life, both physically and emotionally. There is no way around it. I have been hurt by people I trusted and probably will be again at some point in my life. However, I also know that I serve a just God that will deliver justice in His time, so that I don’t have to take revenge on those who have hurt me. This is what gives me the ability to forgive, even if they don’t deserve it. The last thing I want to do is take justice into my own hands. I wish Brenda, Elise, and Annie would had known that.
Other Things I Noticed in First Wives Club
Two other things stood out positively:
- Brenda was able to reconcile with her husband. I was honestly shocked when this happened, but I was glad that some good came out of these women taking their husbands’ companies. After Morty signs the company away to Brenda, he acknowledges that Brenda was the brains behind the company and what he did was wrong. He forgives and asks him to come home. It was very sweet moment.
- The music and the production itself was great! The sets were clean and slick, and the music lives up to the quality of Broadway. It was very well done!
- Drinking – Elise struggles with drinking to drown her sorrows.
- Mocking God's Moral Standards - In the picture shown above is a sculpture of Adam and Eve. Aside from the fact they are in an awkward pose, they are under a tree that has the serpent at the top with an apple in its mouth. What does that mean? I think it was meant to symbolize forbidden love, and it shows that at least the writers where aware that the affairs portrayed in this story were forbidden love. One of the other mistresses (the one who's a minor) is talked about having taking some sort of purity pledge and is made fun of as being "Jesus' girlfriend." She mentions how she didn't plan to fall in love and had ask God to forgive her, but still continued to sleep with Bill.
- Homosexual Agenda – There are two gay characters in the play that are in-your-face with their sexual preferences. One is Brenda’s interior designer Duane, who makes a statement early that his boyfriend dumped him because he was “too gay.” He is instrumental in parts of the girls’ plot to get their husbands back. The other is Annie’s lesbian daughter Alex, who is instrumental in helping her mom buy out her dad’s business partners. When he gets upset after he finds out, Alex makes the comment, “I’m a lesbian, Dad. A big one.” Her mom gives her a check to participate in a gay pride parade. Early in the play, Annie makes a comment about the world being so much more accepting of lesbians than they used to be.
(DISCLAIMER: I disagree with homosexuality, but I do not hate or condone hating those who are gay. However, I get frustrated when they try to shove their lifestyle and agenda in our throats as being normality we must accept, which is what I felt like they tried to do in this play)
Gratitude for Friendship
The main thing I will take away from First Wives Club is that friendship is important to move us forward when we need it the most. Although I do not agree with everything they did and I disliked the sexual content of the play, I am reminded of the power of the steadfast friendships I have had in my own life, and of the times that those friends moved me forward when I needed it. I hope that each and every one of you has the opportunity that have those kind of friendships. That’s part of what God’s design for friendship and community is all about.
Since the release of the Fifty Shades movies, I have found myself increasingly frustrated with the lack of movies that really teach what love really is. Most romantic movies today are either inappropriate, because they concentrate too much on the physical side of love, or they are unrealistic, because they concentrate too much on the emotional side of love. Many are in both camps. And from the perspective of a Christian, I believe that many of these films are an insult to the way that God designed love and romance. But we view them as merely “entertainment” or “romantic comedies.” Now, I’m not saying that we can’t enjoy some of these movies within reason, but they should not be where we learn to define love or where we should find edification for our relationships. It's rare to find movies that do either of these jobs correctly.
To help with this problem, I have come up with a list of five romantic movies that do a much better job of portraying love and relationships as God intended it. Each one has different concepts about love that defy the cultural expectations of what it is meant to be. I don’t want to spoil these movies if you haven’t seen them, but I want to highlight the different aspect of love they emphasize.
Old Fashioned – Love that is Chivalrous
Our culture tries to sell us romance that has very little respect or courtesy involved. Love and the fuzzy feelings come first, then you figure out how you relate to each other. This should not be. The respect needs to come first and be part of the foundation on which the relationship is built. If it’s not in the foundation of the relationship, it very difficult to put it in later. Old Fashioned reminds us how to put that into the foundation of a relationship, and is a great movie, especially if you are dating or married. I would recommend it to teens and adults.
The Song – Love that is Passionate and Forgiving
However, it should not be the foundation of what the relationship is about. Movies and books like Fifty Shades portray sex as the primary source of character development. How messed up is that? Aside from inappropriate implications, sex isn't the only way we should get to know someone! If your spouse is only there to fulfill a sexual need, then there’s a problem. The Song portrays the consequences of this, but gives hope in the end about how to restore it.
We also learn that love forgives. Even if you haven’t seen the movie, most people know that Solomon messed up big time when it came to relationships. One point in which the film differs from the original story is that Jed and Rose have reconciliation at the end of the movie. I won’t reveal exactly how for those that haven’t seen it, but it is a beautiful picture of the forgiveness that God gave us through His Son. The Song is a great Christian film that I would recommend (although it may not be as appropriate for children).
Fireproof – Love that Endures the Fire
Those who are married shouldn't have to divorce because just don’t love each other or they can't get along anymore. During those kinds of trials, they have to purpose themselves to love each other, even if the other one don’t deserve to be loved. That’s what Christ did for us. When we are aware of how much Christ loved us, it compels us to love others in the same way, especially spouses and families. Fireproof is an excellent reminder of this truth and I would recommend this movie to anyone.
Love Comes Softly – Love that Grows Over Time
Love Comes Softly teaches its title as the main moral. Despite the popular romances we love in our favorite chick flicks, love develops over time. It does not happen instantly. I personally don’t believe that “love at first sight” really exists in romance. I believe in attraction at first sight, but that is not enough to merit a romance. Love is something that grows over time if you choose to work on it, because its a decision, not a feeling. Sometimes, you might be working on it when you don’t realize it. But it’s something that has to be worked on, not something that you can fall in or out of. It’s a matter a choice. Love Comes Softly is a great example of this and I would recommend it to anyone
The Swan Princess – Love that Endures a Lifetime
What I love about this movie is not the happily ever after, but the fact that they declare that their love for each other will endure longer than life itself. That's powerful! The love they have for each other is not conditional on the other’s actions, but on the vow that they made to love each other, no matter what. The feature song of the film, Far Longer Than Forever, is a powerful reminder of the comfort and peace one can find in knowing that the one you love has an enduring loyalty to you and you alone. You can't find that in the fuzzy romance or the physical intimacy of a relationship. That’s what makes The Swan Princess stand out from all other fairy tales. This is a film I would recommend to anyone.
Our culture has sold us so many versions of love that are messed up, we have brought into them. The couples that are so popular from our favorite chick flicks are usually in relationships that are about the fulfillment of personal needs – physical, emotional, spiritual, or a combination. Even if they are “in love,” it is often more about fulfilling the personal need than about the other’s needs. It becomes a love that is very selfish in its nature. To me, it's very disheartening.
The characters in these five movies are different. They are the ones that learned to give up themselves for the one they loved. They all made mistakes to get there, but through their trials and adventures, they learned to love the other as only Christ could through them, and that is so much more beautiful than any romance our culture tries to sell us. As we watch these and other romantic movies, let us do our best to praise those that portray love as God intended it, and discern when love is not portrayed correctly. Hopefully, it will change the way we see everything.