Joie (hymnia) wrote,

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The Cinderella Effect

This is especially for antbee.

I noticed the discussion of the “Cinderella Effect” at FAP, both on the H/G thread and on one of the debate threads. *suddenly realizes there are getting to be an awful lot of ship debate threads at FAP lately* Anyway, antbee a.k.a. peas and carrots mentioned being torn about loving The Breakfast Club, because it has that “Cinderella Effect” formula, where the guy finally falls for the girl only after she’s had a makeover.

Well, I see the problem. And I must also register my pleasure that it looks like JKR is going to be too good for the Cinderella Effect with H/G (she has of course already circumvented it with R/Hr). *nods in general agreement to the discussion on the OC thread*

Now, as to the reason why I am not posting about this at FAP—basically, because I would be terribly OT. I don’t want to talk about HP tonight, I want to talk about one of my favorite movies of all time: The Breakfast Club. Why? ‘Cause I don’t think there’s any need to be torn in your love for this movie. I’m certainly not. Superficially, what happens with Andy/Allison at the end looks like the Cinderella Effect, but I think that there is something about it that is fundamentally different from the fairy tales and the clichéd fanfics.

The Cinderella Effect is when a person impresses her LI by getting dressed up. Essentially, she is putting on a mask of something that she is not. If it’s reasonably well-written, her LI will ultimately love her for who she is—but only after the gimmick of the makeover has caught his attention. (Note: I recognize that the genders can be reversed, but there were too many pronouns in that paragraph to use “him/her”.)

But Allison’s makeover in The Breakfast Club is not a mere gimmick to get Andy to notice her. Sure, it has that effect, but there is a lot more going on. Instead, I think it is used to signify a real change in her, and to symbolize one of the themes of the film. The difference is that instead of the makeover putting on an impressive mask, it is instead taking away a mask and showing who she really is.

First, think about what the makeover consists of. In the film we see Claire taking Allison aside and then it cuts to Claire putting makeup on her. But something important happens first: Claire makes Allison take her makeup off.

CLAIRE: You know you really do look a lot better without all that black sh*t on your eyes...
ALLISON: Hey...I like that black sh*t...
CLAIRE: This looks a lot better...

So first Clarie has Allison take off her mask. Yes, she then proceeds to put makeup on her, but it’s a much more natural look. It’s the real Allison. What other changes does Claire make? Well, I was going to watch it tonight to refresh my memory, but I am having trouble finding my tape of it, so I have to go on what I can remember off the top of my head. IIRC, there are two other noticeable changes, besides the more natural makeup. The first is that Allison’s hair is pulled back off her face in a headband. The second is that she is wearing a simple white blouse instead of her baggy black sweater. All of these changes are much more for the purpose of unveiling what really is there than for “making over” flaws. Really, when you think about it, post-makeover!Allison doesn’t look all that different from how she looked the rest of the movie. All she has lost is her pseudo-goth/“nymphomaniac”/“basketcase” mask, making it clear that underneath she is a “normal” girl (or only as bizarre as anyone else).

The makeover is thematic. The whole movie is about stripping away the “masks” the students wear and the stereotypes they are forced into, so that they can see each other’s true selves—and that they are really not so different.

By the time of the makeover, Andy is already aware of who Allison really is—in fact, he was the first of the other four to begin to understand her, as she was the first to understand him. The makeover scene just drives the point home, perhaps even more for the audience than for Andy, that we sometimes have trouble seeing each other clearly—but when we finally do, the differences tend to melt away.

Last but not least, I want to remind you of Andy’s reaction to Allison. Andy also seems to think he’s seeing the real Allison when she enters the library in that final scene. (Emphasis mine.)

ANDREW: What happened to you?
ALLISON: Why? Claire did it! What's wrong?
ANDREW: Nothing's wrong, it's just so different. I can see your face.
ALLISON: Is that good or bad?
ANDREW: (laughing) It's good!

He can see her face—the real her. He’s already seen her other masks come off. (My parents ignore me, I’m not a nymphomaniac—I’m a compulsive liar, When you grow up your heart dies—I care, I didn’t have anything better to do today, etc.). Allison just had one last mask to take off for their connection to be complete, that’s all.

Anyway, as I said, I love this movie and I also love Allison/Andy (even more than John/Claire, which is odd ‘cause I normally go for the antagonistic lovers more than anything else) without reservations. I hope this has maybe put some of your reservations to rest.

Okay, I’m done gushing now.


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