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Transcript of Aladdin
One of the first Disney movies with a male lead character to have succeeded with the audience (along with
2 sequels, comics, video games and won 2 oscars
“One thousand and one nights” was a story translated from an Arabic manuscript by French Orientalist Antoine Galland in the early 18th century. Interestingly enough "Aladdin and the magic lamp" wasn't in the original manuscript but appeared in the French version.
What is the cultural/social significance of this film?
Daughters are a pain
Oh, I come from a land, From a faraway place, Where the caravan camels roam, Where they cut off your ear If they don‘t like your face, It‘s Barbaric, but hey, it‘s home.
” ( old version)
Disney's pattern of the representation of the 'villain
Physical distinctions: tall, dark, thin, angular, with a long face and twisted beard - ' and beware of old ugly people- contrary to the Sultan. He does in fact look more Arab than the Sultan or Aladdin (turban, beard, big black eyebrows...)
His outfit red and black, with rubis
The association to the snake and the parrot
"No one lives happily ever after until the chosen one rules"
When Jafar rules (as Scar) everything is dark, his reign is "disastrous and temporary". As Jafar is, in fact, a metaphor representing Saddam Hussein, his reign represents Hussein's attack on Kuwait in 1990.
His waist is small, his clothes look like a long dress, his eyes are "feminine" - they look like he put eyeliner on them: he in fact uses them to manipulate people around. Feminine eyes: ability for women to use them to manipulate people but also lack of masculinity. "American stereotypes often suggest that Arab men are not real men because they lack machismo."
Malfroid, Kirsten. "Gender Class and Ethnicity in Disney Princess Series." (n.d.): n. pag. 2015. Web. 03 May 2015.
Rönz, Anika. "'The Representation of "the Orient' in Walt Disney's Aladdin." Academia. Web. 4 May 2015.
Nelson, Alyssa. "4 Aladdin Disney Movies and Racism." Disney and movies. Web. 4 May 2015.
"Aladdin." The Dark Side Of Disney. The Matala Theme, 22 Mar. 2012. Web. 04 May 2015.
"Disney's Aladdin: Insightful or Detrimental Perspective of Arab Culture? A Feminist Critique." Feminist Disney, Disney's Aladdin: Insightful or Detrimental... Tumblr, 2011. Web. 05 May 2015.
These lyrics have been described as insulting and offensive. It pictures the Arabic culture in a negative light. This gives a cruel and ruthless image;which may influence children's’ thoughts and opinions of Arabian people. This has lead to a development of negative feelings towards them.
Violence in Aladdin
Razoul: “I’ll have your hands for a trophy, street rat!” He also slaps the princess and calls her a street mouse.
When the street vendor sees that Princess Jasmine "steal" an apple from his cart
The whipping of the poor.
Masochistic behaviors for entertainment.
Gazeem slit throats for scarab piece
Unfair trial and execution seems to be a regular occurrence.
"Allah forbid that you should have any daughters."
You can't trust women
Reaction from Arab American Community
All secondary characters have strong "arabic" accents, although Jasmine, Aladdin and the Sultan do not have any and are in fact more anglicized.
Ethnicity and Body Types in Aladdin
In the movie Aladdin we notice that the main type of ethnicity we see is Arab people.
The only other types of ethnicity we see is the Egyptian guy while he's working on the pyramid -his facial features are different than all the other characters, he has a bigger nose than everyone- and we also see European and American representations through the genie's song.
The guards in the movie are based on the same character type, the only thing that changes is that some are either either built big and muscular or skinny and scrawny. They follow the pattern of Disney's representation of the villains.
Power + Class
Aladdin: Realizes his only options to move up in social class in order to marry a princess are through the use of magic or through acquiring of lots of gold (which brings power). Aladdin is an archetype of one who achieves the American dream.
Jafar: Is also dependent on the use of magic or marrying up to move up to Saltan.
Jasmine: Realizes the power of becoming Queen by marrying is what she needs to get rid of Jafar. She will no longer be a princess who gets ignored but will be second to the King. She is also in fact not interested into succeeding her father but more into marrying for love
Genie: Knows and accepts his role as Slave/Servant to the master of the lamp. His freedom (and movement in class) is completely dependent on others and he doubts it will change.
The Damsel in Distress
Feeding of the Poor
Aladdin and Jasmine are the only 2
giving food to the poor. This may portray the encouragement of private response to poverty as opposed to the public call for redistribution of wealth.
The sultan tells Jasmine she must choose a suitor by her next birthday ( 16th). Since she has rejected all her suitors, the Sultan tells his daughter that he will not be around forever. He is worried because he wants Jasmine to be taken care of and provided for .
Jasmine is an object of social exchange. The first line about her shows this. Although she rebels against her social expectations, she still finds her way back from the streets to her role as the submissive daughter when she could have left after hearing of Aladdin's execution. She is shown as a clumsy woman who runs into people in the market place with no common sense to bring money when she ran away. Even out on her own she is still heavily reliant on others. She escapes punishment only by pretending to be mentally handicap all the while being easily seduced into trusting the smooth talking Aladdin who she falls in love with without learning his name. Her concept of freedom is limited to freedom of choice in marriage and she is reliant on a man to "show her the world".
Disney Movies rarely have their characters move down in social class or stay there by the end of the story. A counter example to the Disney cliche would be Princess Fiona leaving her chances of a royal life to live with Shrek in what would be perceived as poverty.
The sexuality between the characters promote Aladdin and Jasmine as a heterosexual couple.
The main representation of women in the movie are sexualized: Jasmine and the three girls' shoulders and midriffs are exposed. In fact, the three dancers offered to Aladdin as objects are even dressed worse. We don't hear those women talking because they are considered as sexual objects. It shows that women in Orient are there to be eroticized as following the concept of Exoticism.
For Jasmine, the slave outfit and her natural one only differ in color and in fact Jafar later wishes for her to fall madly in love with him purely out of lust. Jasmine uses her body for sexual seduction but it is shown as "okay" because she is actually doing all she can to save her kingdom and her lover from Jafar.
The movie Aladdin was distributed by Buena Vista Pictures.
Directed and produced by John Musker and Ron Clements
The cast of Aladdin was all white
The budget for the movie Aladdin was estimated to be $28 million
Aladdin was also made into a musical and was first performed on July 7, 2011 in Seattle
Princess Jasmine disagrees with the idea of an arranged marriage.
Jasmine only wants to be queen in order to have the power to get rid of Jafar.
When Aladdin enters randomly into a house three women see that he is only a "poor" man with rags of clothes on so they are repelled by him. However, one of Aladdin's wishes was to become a Prince. When the exact three girls see "Prince Ali"; they are impressed because now they see a man from an upper class.
Also, the Genie said he could not make women fall in love but he offered three belly dancers as a wish, as if women would stay with him because now he is powerful. It is implying that women are only interested in money and power and not in who men truly are. As mentioned earlier, we in fact never hear those women talking as if they were not worthy enough to hear in the movie.
Arab Americans found this film perpetuating to the tied stereotypes of Arabia as a place filled with camels and deserts, filled with cruelty and barbarism
The Arab Americans created a protest regarding the movie Aladdin, they formed a committee called the (ADC) The American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee.
The Committee tried to persuade the Disney studio to change a phrase in the lyrics instead of saying "Oh, I come from a land, From a faraway place, Where the caravan camels roam, Where they cut off your ear If they don‘t like your face, It‘s Barbaric, but hey, it‘s home." They wanted the lyrics to say “It‘s flat and immense, and the heat is intense. It‘s barbaric, but hey‘ it‘s home." Although problems still remained, it was an improvement.
Aladdin debuted in 1,131 theaters on November 25, 1992, grossing $19.2 million in its opening weekend, leading up to number 2 in the box office
Aladdin was the most successful film in 1992, it was the biggest gross for an animated film until the movie Lion King
Aladdin promotes the Western -American- superiority over Eastern countries. As we said before, Aladdin represents the American dream: a person who starts from nothing and succeds to climb the social ladder. He is destined to succeed and he is in fact "the chosen one". However, as Jafar represents Saddam Hussein and does not share the same values of the American people -He is not interested into helping others but he wants power and domination- he is hence destined to fail.
This movie also alienates the people from Eastern countries. The only true representations of Arabic people are through grotesque physical features or same type of clothing and are meant to make all Arab people look the same. They also all act the same: they are either represented as greedy merchants, violent guards or female sexual objects. The only characters we are forced to "like" are the Westernized heterosexual couple Aladdin and Jasmine who want to help and save the people of Agrabah from the influence of Jafar.