by Aubrey Aikens
The Rise of “Rockerella”-Cinderella’s Release and Female Self Image
In 1950, Walt Disney Studios released one of its most iconic princess movies, Cinderella. With its whimsical nature and lilting lady lead, the movie was a hit and has remained a classic ever since, serving as a standard for many women to compare themselves to. The character herself has a high, sweet, and innocently feminine voice that floats gracefully over the polished orchestra, reminiscent (almost symbolic) of the stereotypical 50’s housewife of the time. Dressing to the nines for the sake of a man, embracing the supposed weakness of womanhood, serving others obediently, all while retaining that distinct sense of femininity defined what many average women experienced on a daily basis. Although there are many connections to the precursor to the young male rocker through building anger and frustration, I believe that women in fact swung the opposite way. Many ladies to this day still look down upon female rockers, and one way to do that was by commenting on their lack of feminine qualities (as if it were insulting to try and move outside the norm). Rock music in the women’s circles aren’t necessarily limited to the “angry, active” person like in Reynolds’ and Press’ piece The Sex Revolts, but perhaps more to the silently suffering princess. In being forced to fit such a constraining mold, women chose to reject the image of the perfect women within characters like Cinderella and slowly move from that pious state, to one that is more vocal and free.
There is an underlying to romanticize everything. We look to classify things and create hierarchies of overall quality to determine positions of “better” or “worse” art, which, like Gracyk says in his article “Romanticizing Rock Music” that most people consider rock to be “popular art, rather than fine art”. The comparison to Cinderella comes from her image of girlish innocence and submission, rather than the boyish brashness of Rock and Roll. In the 50’s, the term “fine arts” is naturally exclusive and highly regarded as the pinnacle of musical achievement, while everything else was simply pedestrian or low-brow. Gracyk also mentions that “[t]he pioneers of rock music were freaks, dreamers and malcontents”, which furthers the idea of the “Anti-Cinderella” woman…a lady dreaming of personal freedom and a better self-image, thusly considered to be freakish by society and fostering sentiments of malcontent. The rock woman faced a challenge of redefining womanhood, unlike the rock man, who simply channeled their masculinity and expressed themselves through roguish music. I believe the question I came to after reading all these different articles and looking at the environment that bred Rock and Roll is “how rebellious is male rock if it was considered “popular”, and is it in fact more rebellious to be a female rocker simply because those women had to compete with images like Cinderella?”