Shrek if it was reimagined in 2021

As a young child growing up in the early 2000s, there were only a few things my mother had to provide for me to be satisfied. In no correct order, my daily needs included food, water, a roof over my head, and a movie being played on our television. I have vivid memories of coming home from kindergarten, sitting down with a bowl of ramen, and watching The Emperor’s New Groove. I remember on every road trip that my family and I took that The Incredibles had to be watched at least once. Lastly, I’ll never forget that it used to be a yearly tradition to watch Shrek on Christmas Eve. As a toddler, this movie was amongst my favorites. The plot that is set in a magical world was something a little kid can only dream of. However, after watching Shrek the Musical, I’ve realized this fantasy is not too far off from reality.

Shrek the Musical was directed by Michael John Warren. It drew inspiration from David Lindsay-Abaire, William Steig, and Ted Elliot’s books and movies. Lastly, the musical came to life through the prominent performances of Brian D’Arcy James, Sutton Foster, Christopher Sieber, and many others. The musical does not stray away from the same plot I grew up watching as a child. Shrek is a green ogre that has lived almost his entire life on his own in a swamp. He carries a massive reputation of being a horrible beast that all should avoid. However, deep inside, he is just like every other individual that resides in this fantasy land. Being an adolescent, it is very easy to overlook the themes presented in the musical. Your common person may view the lesson from all this as “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Though this may be true, I believe there is deeper meaning within. If the musical was played out in the 21st century, Shrek could be seen as a black individual living in America. The same struggles, stereotypes, and discrimination that Shrek faces is extremely similar to those that African Americans go through in present day.

Shrek’s childhood was vastly different from almost every other character presented in the musical. At the early age of 7, his parents were forced to kick him out their house as is tradition of the ogres. In a sentimental moment such as this, you would think that the last words exchanged between parents and child would be wholesome. However, when describing the world ahead of him, his father and mother sang in sync, “And every dream comes true, But not for you.” Shrek being an ogre limits him from achieving the things that a regular person could accomplish. Society was not built to accommodate creatures such as an ogre. Instead, they are outlawed from living within regular civilization. I find Shrek’s parents last words similar to the “talk” a black child may receive from their parents. From personal experience, I remember being around the age of Shrek as a child and my mom having to sit me down in our kitchen. There, she expressed that I am not like the majority of my grade school class. Because of my skin color, I am naturally treated differently by peers. She stated that it’ll most likely be like this for the rest of my existence. Shrek and the African American race is similar as we are both treated differently due to something we cannot control: our appearance.

What naturally comes when you look different from the majority of society is stereotypes. Without truly knowing an individual’s heart, the public decides a whole people group acts the same. Most of the time, the described behavior is reported in a negative manner. For example, in the musical, even the fairytale creatures were terrified of Shrek solely based off of the reputation an ogre has received from the rest of society. Because it is taught that an ogre is big, scary, and tough, the fairytale creatures believed that Shrek is the only individual capable of standing up to Lord Farquaad. Matter of fact, in the musical number that shortly follows this scene, the group of creatures described him as their “only hope.” The fairytale beings would not have so much confidence in Shrek if the stereotypes of ogres did not exist. If a person actually took the time to get to know the ogre, they would realize that Shrek is truly tender at his core. Just like Shrek has been given a terrible reputation, so have African Americans in the United States. For example, it is a well-known stereotype of black people to be naturally violent and aggressive. If you take a look at history, African Americans do not give off any indications of hurting people for no apparent reason. However, the people in power gave our race this notoriety for no other reason than to be hateful. An entire people group cannot possibly act the same. In an existing race, every individual has a different character from somebody else.

At the end of the musical, Shrek becomes one of the most favored people in all of Duloc. Everything that he thought he could never achieve became a reality for him. He’s found a home surrounded by a community, he’s made friends, and he’s found true love. All of these possibilities stemmed from characters such as Donkey and Princess Fiona truly getting to know the heart of Shrek. African Americans still struggle today to overcome the social stigma placed on us. Just like Shrek did in the beginning of his fairytale, we face discrimination for the color of our skin. However, hardly any of us are inherently evil people. I’m looking forward to the day where any people of color can exist in America and be judged by their character rather than their outward appearance.

The Modernized Cinderella

Nate Clifton

The story of Cinderella has been remade numerous of times. Since its first Disney animated version dating back to 1950, a total of twelve other remakes have been released, one even being televised this year. Personally, I grew up with the original edition. Even though it had been about for over half a century by the time I was born, its social impact carried on for over all those years. Anyone with eyes could tell you who Cinderella was by simply seeing her glass slippers. I vividly remember long road trips from when I was a toddler and this exceptional film being played from the car’s TV. So you’d understand my excitement when I was given the opportunity to watch a remake of this story.

The 1997 version of Cinderella was composed by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, directed by Robert Iscove, and came to life through prominent actors such as Brandy, Whitney Houston, and Whoopi Goldberg. The story stays in its traditional course with Cinderella, performed by Brandy, falling in love with the Prince of her kingdom. However, Brandy’s Cinderella is the key contributor to what makes this film truly amazing. Through her astonishing singing, her intriguing lyrics, and her dialogue with other characters, Brandy interrupts the status-quo that other women present. Instead of being the stereotypical girl who is petite and has their every need taken care of for them, Brandy simply wishes to be treated as a regular human.

We are first introduced to Brandy’s character in the setting of a marketplace. In this musical number, “The Sweetest Sounds,” Cinderella sings to her heart’s content about true love that is somewhere out there waiting for her. The upbeat tone in her voice drowns out the insults that her sisters hurl at her. In the middle of her number, one of them state, “Have you ever seen such a lazy girl in your life?” Despite her literally carrying their entire family’s shopping expenses, Cinderella continues on with her song. Already, Brandy breaks what a traditional woman would do in this setting. In this society, the girl is the prize. They take special care of their clothing and beauty to be appealing to men. However, she’s doing quite the opposite. While her sisters and step-mother are dressed in elegant dresses, Cinderella is wearing old, tattered garments. Despite this fact, she continues to sing all across the marketplace as if no one else is present. In the same musical act, she is late joined by the Prince played by Paolo Montalban. Instead of overtaking her melody, Brandy continues to perform right alongside him. Men usually get first priority to everything. In typical circumstances, they speak first. However, Brandy sets her own rules. Though they are practically inches away from each other while singing, both Brandy and the Prince shuffle while looking towards the heavens telling about their wildest dreams of love. At the end of their number, the Prince is without a doubt enraptured by the beauty of Cinderella. Following her across the marketplace, he is practically begging to know more about her. Instead of succumbing to his wishes, Brandy actually moves away from the man. If it was any other woman that the Prince was interacting with in his kingdom, they’d be throwing themselves at him. However, in this case, Brandy is the one being chased. When he states that a girl should be treated like a princess, Brandy responds with, “No. Like a person with kindness and respect.” She does not wish to be a man’s prized possession. She simply wants appreciation for being another human being.

“In my Own Little Corner” is by far my favorite musical number from this film. By the fire is Cinderella’s only quite place in the entire house she resides in. Because it is not by no means pretty and fancy, none of their relatives dare to venture into her private area. However, this does not stop them from yelling from upstairs to demand something from Cinderella. Here, Brandy tells of all her dreams that she wish could come true. The music completely matches the rhythm of Brandy’s singing. In one particular line, Cinderella wishes to be hunting on an African safari. The music does its job very well by seemingly placing watchers onto the campus of Africa as well. In this image, Brandy points her “gun” as if she was actually hunting. While her sisters are getting their beauty rest to be presentable for the Prince at the ball, Cinderella is vividly acting out her imagination. Their thoughts are on their appearance. Brandy does not have a care in the world for such a superficial thing. Her world does not revolve around men. She has goals and dreams that she wants to accomplish that would bring her joy in their own regard.

It is official that I have a new favorite version of Cinderella. Brandy’s character is one that breaks gender norms. Her character is one that is not afraid to speak her mind. Her character is very different from the version of Cinderella that I grew up with. She exemplifies everything that a women in today’s time would be proud of.