People Who See Aladdin Through the Spectrum of Race are Brainwashed Nihilistic Killjoys

Published August 14th, 2017 - 10:37 GMT
Ugh, did he just offer me his hand? (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Ugh, did he just offer me his hand? (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Are you offended that Disney’s Aladdin perpetuates neo-colonial stereotypes of the Middle East - from the eroticised Princess Jasmine, to the evil hook-nosed Jafar, to the eccentric Sultan, to the trader in the market who threatens to cut the hands off any unwitting thief? Even if that thief happens to be a cute monkey called Abu?

Wait, the monkey is called “Abu”? Oh, this is bad... 

And that’s just getting started; isn’t Jasmine’s femininity a little problematical? Aren’t Aladdin’s efforts to win her hand a little patriarchal? Let’s be honest, essentially the entire story is an orientalist fable about men fighting about access to a woman's body.

Ugh, how can we show this stuff to our kids?

Here’s some truth: if you buy into this narrative you are either naive, lacking in imagination or tiresome. You lack basic critical thinking abilities. There are no other options. So read on... 

Aladdin is a classic, beautiful and wonderful movie. Why? Because guess what, dear snowflake millennials; it’s not about race, it's not about gender and it’s not about the Middle East. It’s not even about the hot Princess in the blue sari, either. 

Aladdin, surprisingly enough, is a coming of age story about a peasant boy called “Aladdin." Who knew? It’s what Jungian story analysts would refer to as an archetypal story, found in almost all cultures and historical epochs; a beautifully animated tale of a street-kid conspiring against class, wealth and power to win the hand of a Princess, aided by a secret helper (genie), tested by external forces (the dark arts), social censure (“street-rat, riff raff”) but above all, the limitations of his own character.

The individuals who criticise Aladdin and other Disney movies are not naive. They understand the power of story as a rite of passage, and as a way to encode values which no longer align with the nihilistic belief that have created political and cultural stagnation in the West.

Over the past three decades Europe and the United States have become more politically corrupt, but also far more unequal in the distribution of class and opportunity. Less fun, more serious, and less hopeful. We need movies like Aladdin—after all, its 2017 and we have Aladdin’s on every street corner now.

So to all the saccharine finishing school brats who love to knock Disney movies: you’re the problem, kids. Aladdin is a classic.


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