Aladdin: A Glorified Depiction Of The Middle East

1202 words - 5 pages

A Disney feature animation is a classic piece of children’s entertainment, but also possesses poisonous stereotypes. Edward Said’s Theory of Orientalism examines the idea that the West has created a homogeneous view of the Orient in the animated feature film, Aladdin. The film unfolds through the eyes of a kind-hearted thief named Aladdin, who dreams of a life of riches. As Aladdin continues to pursue a life of prosperity, three powerful, stereotypical themes permeate the film: gender, culture, and ethnicity.
Men and women’s identities infuse the viewer with multiple stereotypes. Males are almost always tall, with big noses, handsome and in very good shape; having chiselled abs, a barrel chest, and huge arms. The protagonist Aladdin is a street beggar, and is portrayed to be athletic-looking, filled out, and a young leading man who ultimately wins the love of Jasmine and her father, the Sultan. The female body is portrayed in quite the opposite manner; Disney glorifies a body type of extreme attractiveness over all others, representing a female of ideal beauty. The females are seen as objects, to merely satisfy the men sexually. The beautiful and charming princess, Jasmine, stands as a blatant illustration of this. This is exemplified in one of the final scenes of the movie where Jasmine must use her sexuality to become a seductress to subdue Aladdin’s aggressor, Jafar: “And your hair, is so… wicked.” Jafar, being the sultan by overthrowing the predecessor, wants Jasmine to fall in love with him. Jasmine, as an act to distract him from Aladdin, coquets Jafar. Her big breasts, tiny waist, tanned skin, and low-cut belly shirt gives the idea that the female body’s use is to manipulate people (specifically men) to get what women want. Gender roles are portrayed in a similar manner. Aladdin demonstrates the typical behaviour of a male as he states: “Look, these streets can be dangerous. You’ll need a guide…” In the animated motion picture, the issue of quick-wittedness and power is centered primarily on the role of the young street tramp, Aladdin. He accidentally meets Jasmine, while she is posing as a vagrant to escape palace life, when she takes an apple from a merchant in the city and gives it to a peasant boy without paying. The merchant suddenly tries to chop off her hand, but Aladdin soon rescues her and persuades Jasmine to follow him to protect her.
In Aladdin, females are represented as very dependent on the male, however strong they may be. This creates a pseudofeminist notion that children often interpret as normal, where the male figure is needed to guide and ultimately save them from any danger. The men played dynamic roles, being the initiators of the main action and events: being light-hearted, acting decisive, courageous, aggressive, muscular, and engages in violent behaviour. In contrast, women such as Jasmine play a very minor role, as Wikipedia states: “The film reduces a woman's worth or role in society to that of an instrument...

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