As I’ve previously written in the first installment of this series long ‘editorial’ (if you will), the following posts are created to air out more or less, ‘adult’ grievances and flush out underlying (as well as obvious) themes that I’ve found while watching these childhood movies over again.
*Please Note: I do not ‘blame’ Disney for any of my findings, as these are films based on very old fairy tales, however, as Disney has animated them I will continue to say ‘Disney’ as a reference. **Also, not all cartoons animations of childhood fairy tales were the brain child of Disney, so I will attribute the production companies accordingly.*
This month’s installment includes my head scratching questions and off the wall theories about Disney’s diamond in the rough Aladdin.
Another one of my all-time favorite Disney movies, Aladdin is just another enchanted musical film based off of one of the many stories of 1001 Arabian Nights. In the original story, it’s said that Aladdin may have actually been Asian, as the story does take place in the Middle East, which is… near Asia. Either way, one of the many reasons I adore this movie is because of how ‘street’ it feels. While I’m not at all a fan of movies that are set in a country with its inhabitants speaking in another dialect or accent, I let Aladdin slide for his somewhat Brooklyn-esque demeanor though he should sound more like a Habib from Pakistan.
I also liked the idea that Jasmine was kind of tough-as-nails to counter with Aladdin’s diamond-in-the-rough persona. While I did think that Disney was sipping on some Shakespearean ‘Taming of the Shrew’ for his picture of Jasmine, the fact that I believed Jasmine could hold her own in a male dominated world made me respect her. Though I do wish she got more sassy when that man was about to chop her hand off. She should’ve known better though, nothing’s free. They didn’t build the palace for free… or maybe they did (shrugs)… One of my many quirks with this movie is how Jafar played the role of a mafioso, but not to its fullest potential. I say that because he was constantly glamoring the Sultan with his snake staff and never once thought to glamour Jasmine into marrying him. I think that would’ve made things 101 times easier for him, no? But I guess he just liked things the hard way.
Another problem I had: why were the royal guards of Agraba so damn stupid? Not only could they NOT capture Aladdin, I’m quite certain he wasn’t the only person doing his dirt in the city.Was there not enough crime to sharpen their ability to actually capture someone? And how stupid or sheltered rather, were they to not recognize Princess Jasmine when they found Aladdin in his little roof-top shanty house? I mean, even Superman had a bit of disguise with glasses and a curly bang, but she had a hood over her head. You can’t tell me she looks that much different with a HOOD on her head?! And since when is the royal Vizier more important than the Princess? I mean, her saying ‘release him’ should’ve been ten times more important that Jafar calling him in, no? And was it just me wondering or did you ever question how crusty, dusty and calloused Aladdin’s feet actually were, running around barefoot day and night? He must’ve had some serious hobbit feet cause in that hot sun, I don’t know how he did it. Also, I don’t understand how these people just accepted a guy with a flying carpet into their palace without even asking where the hell he got it from. I mean the Sultan asked for a ride on the thing (which I might have asked for too), but didn’t ask “where did you get it from? how old is it? how is it alive?” These people were some kind of slack.Then again, I couldn’t expect any better from a Middle Eastern Sultan who let his daughter walk around in a crop top. Are you kidding me? Okay, sure Jasmine’s body was banging, but she wasn’t a part of some harem. Arabic dudes these days ain’t standing for that hot mess… especially with a girl with that kind of temper… oh HELL no. OH and did I mention, another Disney princess without a mother? Yeah. Now you’re seeing the pattern, aren’t you.
Now we all know that one of the many characters that made this movie was Robin William’s Genie, but this also made me question that actual nature of the genie. Think about it, if a Genie can only grant you three wishes, what good is he to you when your three wishes are up? Do you throw him away until the next person comes to find him or is he like a slave that can only do menial labor that does require a wish like a slave? Can I tell Genie to pick cotton without “I wish” and he’ll do it? I mean, if you can’t wish for more wishes, what good is he afterwards? And so we’re onto to the educational part of this lecture:
Theme One: Not All Homeless People Are Crazy Alcoholic Crackheads
This movie makes a great point of showing children that not all bums and poor people are stinky, nasty alcoholic fueled low lives that sell their bodies for crack. We meet Aladdin who is a bum and a thief, but a kind-hearted one who shares his bread with his (possibly rabid) monkey friend Abu and stray children left to die in the streets. He was a victim of circumstance, not having any parents (again a would be ‘prince’ without parents) or any money to support himself in his adulthood. Aladdin also had tons of sense for a young man who probably never went to school. He was able to secure clothes, food and shelter for him and his pet without breaking much laws, maintain a decent relationship with some of the people in the neighborhood and was able to walk around the streets without people wanting to gag at his odor which MUST have been exacerbated by the hot Middle Eastern heat.
Theme Two: When You’re A Woman, It’s Okay to Be a Bit Bitchy!
So if it’s one thing that Princess Jasmine taught me, I must say that it’s okay to be a bit of a bitch from time to time. Jasmine went through what most females go through on a daily basis with dudes trying to get all up in her pockets and her va-jay-jay and she wasn’t having it. And she held no restraint when it came to telling these guys off. She even let Raja get in on the action and bite a man’s ass because she wasn’t just going to let any swarthy looking ‘ooh baby I’m hot & I got money’ foolio come into her midst without coming correct. She didn’t even like Aladdin in the beginning when he was trying to be Mr. Fancy-Pants with her. If it’s one thing I have to admire about Jasmine, is that she wasn’t standing for any man’s bs. I mean, she caught Aladdin in his lie (even though she didn’t know how deep it went) and made sure to give Jafar a piece of her mind. Atta girl!
Theme Three: There’s Always Corruption in Politics
No matter where you go, there is ALWAYS corruption when it comes to politics and Aladdin is the #1 case in which we blatantly see abuse of power and ambivalence to the needs of the common people. Let me dig into the Sultan really quickly- while in my mind he is meant to be one of the “good” characters, the fact still remains that this man was the ruler of a kingdom where he would rather spend more time playing with miniature dolls and feeding a pretty bird crackers, than figuring out what to do with these homeless people on the street. Why are there no orphanages or workhouses? Why does Aladdin, who’s already poor as it is and has to contend with a (possible lice-ridden & rabid) monkey for a pet, have to give his food away to poor starving kids? Bad Sultan, very bad!
Next you have the fact that the Sultan’s second-in-command is running shit under the Sultan’s nose. Not only does he use his little snake staff to hypnotize the Sultan in order to get what the wants, he runs the palace guards to search for Aladdin, not once but TWICE! The first time, he has them lock him in prison and fakes his death, and the second time they threw “Prince Abooboo” over the cliff! Some SERIOUS mafioso “sleeps with the fishes” shizzz! I have to admit, I gave Jafar his props for that one – the shiz was GANGSTA! THEN he tries to force the princess to be his chick?! That screams scandal! Makes me think of all those politicians with side-piece chicks, or prostitutes… If that isn’t an abuse of power (forcing a woman who hates you to love you), I don’t know WHAT is. BUT my point is that even in cartoons, politics are a risky and often messy business.
Theme Four: Knowing Your Geography is Tantamount
Prince Ali of Babwa? Are you kidding me? And why is it that no one in the palace thinks to look on a map for Babwa? I find it really ridiculous that they would allow a Prince from an unknown country, village, community or whatever roll up in the palace and say I’m here to marry your daughter. What if they wanted to travel to Babwa or join the kingdoms? What would’ve happened then? I mean, when a foreigner marries nobility, usually the woman goes to his kingdom and the territories are merged. Jafar was the only one thinking. Really though, Babwa? This is why as kids, we are taught geography – so when some dude comes in your house from a made up place, you can call his ass out on it and send him packing!
Theme Five: Be Careful What You Wish For
So of course, there is the element (as with ANY genie tale) to ‘be careful of what you wish for.’ Though Aladdin wished for money and a title, he was given a heap load of trouble with almost ‘sleeping with the fishes’ and well, being revealed as a poor hack. Then we had Princess Jasmine who wanted to be free and live a life without restrictions and found her hand nearly chopped off. Seems that if you want to be free and uninhibited, you end up poor and even then you’re not free from the law in your ass for stealing. And things also got worse when it came to Jafar who initially wished to be sultan, then a powerful sorcerer and then finally a genie. When asking for power, we see here in this Disney tale, it’s something that always leads to a serious downfall. This touches again on the subject of corruption in politics and ultimately the idea of power being the root of evil. But then we also think of what happens when you ask for simplicity – Jasmine may have found a guy she liked but what was she gonna do? Live the rest of her life as the common-law bride of a street rat? Hmm…
Theme Six: You Can Change Your Life, No Matter Your Circumstances
Now this is a serious rags-to-riches tale that can probably do a world of good to anyone out there who is looking to better their life. Not only did Aladdin come from nothing, he came from being one of the most disliked street urchins of Agraba to the princess’s main squeeze (WOOT)! Sure he lied, but what rags-to-riches story doesn’t have a little fib, here and there? A lot of people make themselves out to seem more than they appear. And that’s all that it comes down to right? Faking it ’til you make it! But on a serious note, it does give those out there with nothing to them the hope that maybe some day, they will find a banging rich girl bored with life to be their sugar mama.