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Prince Charming- is perfect just a little boring?

After seeing the latest reincarnation of Cinderella last week (very pretty, not so much with any interesting backstory added, which was what I was hoping for) it’s made me wonder: Why must we beautify our princes?

This isn’t a post about masculinity or any of that crap, it’s literally the fact that a very handsome, and very (usually) talented actor Richard Madden (The One True King of the North) was stripped of any rough edges or…dare I say it…personality. We often have a whinge about the feminist issues surrounding princesses and fairytales, and when I work with kids I think it’s my responsibility to make sure the main character is something more than just beautiful. She’s kind, or she’s clever, or she’s determined. But why aren’t we doing this for our princes?

Teeth whitened, eyes brightened...personality dulled.
Teeth whitened, eyes brightened…personality dulled.
Here, rugged and not perfect but certainly more interesting.
Here, rugged and not perfect but certainly more interesting.

Charming (Or Kit, as he’s actually given a name) exists as the answer to Cinders’ problems. Sure, he’s got a little drama going on with his dad wanting him to marry a princess instead of a commoner, but really, we all know the old dude’s gonna cave in, in the face of True Wuv.

I know it’s a fairytale, and that the love story is really just the icing on the cake, and I know I was probably not the main audience for this (considering the alarming number of Disney store toys that this movie has created) BUT where is the drama? Even in Enchanted, a delightful cinderella-esque story, the Prince started out as a little bit of a smug ass who had no idea what his kingdom was really like. And we liked him for that because he GREW and CHANGED as a person by the end.

Maybe it’s because Prince Charming doesn’t interest me. Don’t get me wrong, Richard Madden interests me A LOT. But where was he in this? They shaved and shined, and whitened and brightened so much that it was like a living doll version of a human. No flaws, no details, no strangeness.

My current leading lady in my WIP is someone who studied English Literature and then fairytales. She knows they’re false, that they’re stories to teach and amuse, but it’s changed the way she looks at love. No, she doesn’t want the fairytale necessarily, but everything else in the real world looks a lot less dramatic. A lot more plodding. But flaws make us who we are!

This is a lesson I’ve got to take into my own writing, as often my female leads are in a time of transition, and their male counterparts have already had their issues and now (mostly) have their shit together. Is that fair? No, but you try writing two neurosis-filled characters into a love story. You’d spend most of the time with them being awkward and apologising at each other. So I hereby declare, I’m going to allow my leading men to be dicks sometimes. Because that’s real life. And we still love people when they’re idiots.

Let’s try appreciating some flaws, Hollywood. Because that’s where all the interesting stuff is.

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2 thoughts on “Prince Charming- is perfect just a little boring?”

  1. Ah, now you’ve rattled my cage! I think that if your heroine studied fairy tales in any depth, she’d realize that fairy tales (the real deal, not the Disneyed schlock) are not false at all. They weren’t just meant to entertain and amuse; they have far deeper and more mysterious origins. In fact, I think you and the fairy tales are working toward the same ends. Just a thought.

  2. I’m intrigued Laura! Working towards the same ends? My heroine grew up in a shitty town working three jobs, and fairytales were her escape ( as was literature in general). I think the point she reached was that love in real life isn’t like love in literature. The point she’ll learn in the novel is that it can be just as magical if we pay attention to the details. I hope that made sense? Also here I am just judging the disney-ed schlock!

    Rattle away 😀

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