The traditional fairy tales have undergone a huge transition in the popular culture to adopt a more liberal approach. This has been attributed to the concepts of poaching and relevance. The popular culture has modified the traditional fairy tales to fit into their own personalized comprehension with a view of making them more relevant. Poaching and relevance are two concepts that are closely intertwined in the popular culture (Sensoy and Marshall 194).
This is attributed to the fact that they both play a vital role in fostering a cultural creation that is known as the ‘popular’. Poaching entails the act of taking a traditional folk tale in an attempt to create some relevance by altering the original work. The concepts of poaching and relevance are applied by different writers who possess diverse authorial agenda with the main aim of transforming the fairy story.
The fairy tale needs to have a social relevance to the target audience. The writers apply the motifs and elements of traditional folk tales to come up with stories that either relate directly or indirectly with their own occurrences and ideologies. This has expanded to internalize the desires of the new audience.
This paper will focus on the folk tale Cinderella as depicted in Mark Rosman’s ‘A Cinderella Story’ (2004) to illustrate the concepts of poaching and relevance in the popular culture and how the two tales differ from each other.
Cinderella As Depicted In Mark Rosman’s ‘A Cinderella Story’
Cinderella is a traditional folk tale that has been used to elaborate and bring to fore the element of unjust oppression that is overcome with a triumphant reward. The traditional folk tale tells the story of a beautiful title character named Cinderella who lives a happy life as a child before the death of her father (Dundes 14).
The circumstances surrounding her life under the custody of her mean stepmother and stepsisters are unfortunate as she is subjected to forcefully serve them. However, her life takes a drastic turn when the prince holds a ball in a view to acquire a bride. Cinderella attends the ball with the help of the godmother and she dances with prince the whole night to the envy of every girl who attended the ball.
She loses her glass slipper in a bid to beat the deadline set by the godmother. The prince finds the slipper and uses it to trace Cinderella to the shock of her stepmother and stepsisters. Just like any fairy tale, the prince marries Cinderella and both the stepmother and stepsisters are welcomed to live in the castle hence everybody living happily ever after.
In the 2004 film, ‘A Cinderella Story’ by Mark Rosman, the story takes a similar approach as the traditional folk tale with the exception of some added elements in the modified story (Haase 207). In this film, Rosman, changes the setting from an old cottage to a diner. He also changes the name of the character from Cinderella to a more popular name, Sam. Sam’s father dies leaving Sam in the custody of her mean stepmother and daughters.
The stepmother forces Sam to work as a servant in the diner. The prince role is played by a character named ‘Austin’, who is a popular lad in the school. Sam confides to Austin while chatting on the internet about her willingness to attend Princeton University but without the knowledge of who she was talking to. Austin invites Sam to the school dance but on the night of the dance, Fiona forces Sam to work in the diner.
However, Sam’s friends who work in the diner convince her to go to the dance and find her a dress. They promise to cover up for her and she promises to be back by midnight before her stepmother gets back to the diner. Sam has a good time at the dance but before she could reveal who she was to Austin, the alarm on her phone goes off and she hurriedly get back to the diner. She runs out fast and in the process drops her phone.
Austin traces her with the phone, a process which is hard at first as every other girl claims ownership to the phone. In the meanwhile, Sam finds a box that had been hidden by her father. The box contains documents that name her as the sole owner of the diner.
The film ends with Sam and Austin leaving for Princeton University as a couple and Sam’s stepmother and stepsisters being forced to work in the diner in a bid to recoup all the money that they had stolen from Sam’s father.
Surface Elements Incorporated In Mike Rosman’s Tale To Make It Relevant
As the concept of poaching requires, the modified story need to incorporate some elements that distinguishes it from the traditional folk tale so as to make it more relevant. The first element that is considered is the setting of the story. It is noted that the settings of both stories take different perspectives. The traditional folk story adopts a traditional setting while Rodman adopts a modern setting to create some relevance.
He adopts the use of a diner and a school as opposed to the traditional setting. The additional element helps the target audience in the popular culture to relate to the story.
This creates some sort of familiarity as the settings can be related with day to day social experiences of any target audience watching the story. It would be irrelevant if Rosman had adopted the traditional setting element as the popular culture is not familiarized with such settings such as a castle and kingdoms.
The other element revolves around the characters. In the traditional oral tale, there is only one protagonist, Cinderella who everybody hopes that she will emerge successful and happy (Helt 20). The villains are the stepmother and her two daughters. Rosman’s story has added an element in the characters by using more than one protagonist and few villains hence adding a twist to the story.
The protagonists in Rosman’s story are Sam, the main hero, her best friends in the diner and Austin himself. The villains in this story include the stepmother, her stepsisters and Austin’s ex-girlfriend who gives Sam a hard time in school. Just like in any fairy tale, all the protagonists succeed in defeating the antagonists hence living happily ever after.
A notable element that Rosman integrates to create relevance is the fact that the villains in his story are subjected to a hardship life that had prior been subjected to the protagonists. Sam’s stepmother and stepsisters resume duties in the diner and one of Sam’s best friends, who worked as a servant before, resumes the role of the supervisor.
This is relevant to the popular culture where most people believe in revenge for wrongs done. The elements applied in the traditional fairy tales emphasize on the need of all characters, both the protagonists and the antagonists to live a ‘happy ever after’ kind of life.
Rosman has also added some elements in the plot of the story to create some relevance. In his exposition, he starts the story with Sam and his father who runs a very popular diner in their town. He marries the wicked and self-absorbed stepmother and the scene is given some relevance when he dies whilst saving the self-absorbed stepmother from death. In the exposition, the writer is keen to note that no will is left.
This is relevant to the audience as the rest of the story would have been irrelevant if a will had been left at the time of his death. Rosman also creates a common conflict for the hero at home, work and in school. This element is relevant as it encompasses the daily modern experience of the target audience relating to the story.
As it is with any fairy story, the conflict is the epitome of the tale as it is what that makes the tale more interesting with the audience keen to see how the conflict will be resolved. The writer expounds the conflict to apply to different perspectives of life as opposed to the traditional folk tale which only concentrate with the conflict at home. This brings us to the additional elements adopted in the plot’s climax and resolution of the conflict.
Rosman takes a different approach. It is evident that most characters used in the story have unresolved conflicts unlike the traditional oral folk tale. The conflict range from the conflict at home, workplace and school. The writer in his climax resolves all the conflict and brings in an entirely new perspective in his story.
The villains adopt the struggling lives that they had subjected the protagonists. Austin, who also had a conflict with his father regarding his choice of career abandons what the father was subjecting him to, football, and is seen leaving with Sam to pursue his dream of going to Princeton University.
The Relevance Of The Rosman’s Tale To The Popular Culture
Though the oral tradition fork tales are considered as myths, they play a key role to develop the textual structures of our lives. The non-oral tales, such as Rosman’s story is derived from this oral traditional folk tales. The only distinctive feature is its inclusion of additional elements that is premised upon the culture and genetics of the popular culture (Booker 290).
Just like any other transitioned fairy tale, Rosman’s tale has been consumed with the main aim of diverting the audience from the reality world to that of fantasy. This is because the tale in most cases retains its root from the oral traditional folk tale. The audience crave for a more important and instinctual knowledge that the fairy tale delivers to them.
By picking what he liked about the Cinderella oral tradition tale, Rosman spins the story to create a new masterpiece that fits into his culture or beliefs. By studying his audience and change in culture beliefs and ideologies, Rosman modifies the story by eliminating the irrelevant original parts of the story and subsequently incorporating his own that he deems relevant to his audience.
For example, the popular culture does not relate to being governed by kings and queens hence using a prince to be Cinderella’s savior would have been irrelevant to his target audience. He therefore adopts a different setting that revolves around the modern world, and to which the audience relate with. He nevertheless retains the basic themes of the story which are relevant to the audience.
The theme of kindness and compassion is inherent throughout the masterpiece. This gives a relevant teaching to the audience that no matter the circumstances, kindness and compassion will always triumph over the evil.
The audience also find Rosman’s story to be more credible in comparison with the oral traditional fairy tale which is clearly metaphorical. This is relevant as the transitioned story validates and justifies the cultural beliefs and aspects that the audience relate to. The transitioned story has also been used in the popular culture for purposes of maintaining conformity. This is relevant as it takes up the function of an icebreaker in expressing social acceptance.
It is also relevant as it provides compensation for the sense of realism lacking in the oral fairy tale. The author brings the fairy tale to reality and replaces the imaginary characters in the audience minds with a real picture. Rosman’s story is also relevant as it serves both the educative and entertaining purposes.
The audiences who are undergoing difficult times are able to relate with the story with the hopes of triumphing over the difficult times whilst at the same time enjoying the humor side of it.
How Do The Two Tales Differ?
Though the two stories share the same theme and structure, they are distinct in one way or another. First, Ramson’s story discards some elements of the original tale as illustrated in the discussion above. However, it is noted that the author introduces some significant elements in the story to make it more relevant. Further, the oral story mirrors an everyday occurrence with no specific reference to any culture.
The poached story on the other hand has been modified to adapt and fit into the modern lifestyle. The word content also differs as the contemporary version incorporates new content to fit with the culture audience to which it is targeted. The two tales also relay different messages to the target audience.
While the oral folk tales only relay the message regarding determination and success, the contemporary one relay additional messages through its modified elements. The first message is the need to leave a will. The story emphasizes on the lack of Sam’s father to leave a will that entitled Sam to take over the diner.
Secondly, the story focuses on the importance of education whereby both Sam and Austin are determined to attend the best university to further their education. Lastly, it embodies the theme of determination and success as a bid to retain some elements inherent in the older version.
The Cinderella story has been retold many times with each story creating some relevance while at the same time retaining a similar story line. From the above discussion, it is therefore evident that poached stories like Ramson’s ‘Another Cinderella story, possess a strong connection with the oral traditional Cinderella fairy tale.
Though both tales differ in one way or another, they are strongly intertwined so as to encompass the original theme from the original tale. It is also evident that both tales tend to share the same target audience, the children, though they both contain different content in both their themes and structure.
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Dundes, Alan. Cinderella and The Glass Slippers, London: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1982. Print.
Haase, Donald. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales, New York: Greenwood Press, 2008. Print.
Helt, Jamey. Vader, Voldemort and Other Villains: Essays on Evil in Popular Media, North Carolina: MacFarland Publishers, 2011. Print.
Sensoy, Ozlem and E. Marshall. Rethinking Popular Culture and Media, New York: Rethinking Schools Press, 2011. Print.