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Critical analysis of the film Aladdin

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  • Pages: 8
  • Word count: 1866
  • Category: Racism

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Disney movies have a target audience of young impressionable children. Many young children grow up watching Disney films, because they are regarded as ideal family movies to educate our new generation. However, although some movies on first glance are entertaining and educational for the young minds, it actually has many hidden messages that children do not realize are negative and believe that what they see is true. Disney movie contain a negative representation that are racist toward ethnic groups, sexism toward behavior and treatment of woman, and construct false realities that are destructive to the human dignity. In this case, there is no better example than Aladdin that disregarded the obvious depiction of careless racism toward Arabs seen in the illustration of the characters. In the film Aladdin, Arabs are portrayed as charlatans and thief who lean on violent or conniving artifices to sustain their living,and through countless scene depicted in the film, Arabs are stereotyped as a racial group have not advanced culturally, nor could they afford to because of their poverty stricken lives.

When children watch film this, their minds are open, absorbing information as a sponge. The media captivate their attention on mediums as movies and tell them what the world like. In this case what they would believe about Arabs when they are watching Aladdin? According to the research of Lippi-Green in her essay Teaching Children How To Discriminate, we can find evidence that film and TV have a heavy impact how children viewing people. She claims “ television and movies industries have became a major avenue of contact to the world outside our home and communities. For many, especially for children, it is the only view they have of people of other races or national origins.” Therefore, just as the name of her article, Disney film like Aladdin teaches children how to discriminate among different people, even most of time it teaches children in a negative way.

The song “Arabian Night” that plays at the opening credit went through a change because it describes Arab people as barbaric. The original
song described Arabian lands as a place ”where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face. It’s barbaric, but hey it’ home” After much controversy and protest by Arabs, the song changed to “where it’s flat and immense and that heat is intense. It’s barbaric but it’s home” Unfortunately, the stereotype do not stop at the beginning of the film as far as there incorporation of it through the whole film. As we will see, the film portrays Arab in various scenes as a violent, dishonest race living in primitive society. Comparing to the living of royalty, these plots contains a implicit message that Arabs people are living in a social turmoil without any care or protect form the government, which imply the corruption of the Arabian government.

For example, the first “thief” stereotype the viewer is introduced to is the deceiving salesman, the bootlegger. He sells worthless objects, finding dozens of uses for his product just to convince the view to buy it so that he can make money. Everything he sells is fake or useless; he is out to rip people off. Just from this scene, has the Middle Eastern people being depicted as untrustworthy and conniving. In this case, millions of people across the world who have watched Aladdin will be viewing the Arab man as a character of dishonest, manipulating businessman who preys on the unaware. Nor only the merchants are depicted negatively in the film. The Arabian police, who supposed to be the represent of justice against evil, also are defaced and unreasonably lose their repute in the eyes of the audiences from the entire world. There is a scene that Aladdin trying to escape the guards/police.

You see that he police keep screaming at Aladdin how they desire to chop his head off and all sorts of dire demises. These words coming from the police all helps to bring to mind how bloodthirsty and irrational their conception of justice is. If you have seen the movie, you would be given a sense that Arabic people solve everything by violence. There is another scene where Jasmine takes an apple for a poor little boy in the marketplace, the street vendor grabs her violently and threatens to cut off her hand for stealing. Therefore by watching scenes like this, one is given images that people in the Middle East are greedy and bloodthirsty, which lead to a conclusion that Arabs people have violent nature, and if we analyze this negative consequences deeply, it would cause confusion for the children when they relate these scenes to the whole Middle East area. After watching the film, all the violent swindle scenes have already found root in their minds that Middle East is a place full of dangerous and evil, and Arabian people are all cruel and selfish without any sympathy or consideration for others.

Children become aware of the race at a very young age. So by watching Disney film like Aladdin, which contains racial stereotype, they may get wrong ideas about certain races. This racism of a particular group of people depicted in Disney film not only reflect on distorting the behavior of them, but also due to the stereotype of their physical features, as we see form the contrasting physical feature of the roles of Aladdin. Jafar is the grand vizier to the Sultan of Agrabah. He is clever, conniving, and self-absorbed. Disney want to make the appearance of this character perfectly match his personality, therefore portraying him as an dark, tall, thin and unattractive man. His unattractiveness, in this case, also reflects upon the whole Arabian ethnicity. His features are over exaggerated such as his hooked nose, large eyes and elongated neck. Especially his eyes are designed extremely big and appear to have makeup. This feminine feature of Jarfar essentially serves to poke fun of his Arbian identity and depreciate it value of man. Every aspect of Jarfar is dark. He wars dark clothing and has a dark shadowy outline to his persona as he carrying an evil aura.

However, The sultan and princess Jasmine are much lighter in skin complexion than the rest of the characters in the movie. The Sultan is fair-skinned and Jasmine is slightly darker than him. Their “white” feature against the dark skin of Jarfar seems to signalize their pure, white and rich character. In contrast to the dark skin of evil Jarfar, being that they are the whitest symbolizing the epitome of goodness, one can automatically assume that they would be in charge of leading the people, guiding them. As we see from the villain and upright roles in the film Aladdin, Disney trying to show children that being white is considered to be the dominant race and all other races are standing of evil and inferior. Other examples can be seen from other films such as Cinderella, Ariel, Aurora, and snow white, which all portrayed beautiful princess with extremely white skin. It would give children a sense that being white is better than ant other race because children would naturally associate what they see in the film to reality. Therefore, it seems that the problem of pervasive, internalized privileging of whiteness has been intensified by the Disney representation of fairy tale princess and prince, which consistently reinforce the ideology of white supremacy. For children, they are easily pick up on small thing such as the skin “color” of the roles and when they do they would associate that racial stereotype with the skin color. This can lead to children having a negative opinion of someone who is of a race that have been portrayed in a negative light in these films.

So far I have argued the racism that portrayed in the film Aladdin through negatively stereotype the behavior and physical feature of the characters. Another major aspect that has been found to be present in this film is gender stereotype and roles, particular for girls. The women in this movie are overly sexualized. They are portrayed as beautiful, exotic, sexual creatures that are “to be own”. In the scene where Aladdin is trying to escape the royal guards after stealing a loaf of bread, he somehow ends up in a room full of half dressed women. It is immediately assumed that Aladdin has landed in a brothel. The women are dressed in figure-accentuating clothing that reveals their midriff. However, they do not flock to him because they can tell from his appearance that he does not have money to ay for their service, which is the complete opposite after Aladdin becomes a prince.

The negative portrayal of Arabic women does not match up with the historical description of Arabic women. According to history, Arabah is a Muslim city. Women are supposed to be fully clothed to avoid sexual output. Although Disney not depicted the character of Arabic women based on history, it is almost become a commonsense that Disney underwrite it female characters in the film. Lippi-Green, in her article, “teaching children ho to discriminate” says that female characters are almost never shown at work outside their home; where they do show up, they are mothers and princess, devoted or rebellious daughter” If what Lippi-Green saying is right, it seems not a big deal that the women in Aladdin depicted in a way to send a sexual connotation, because all female characters in Disney film are shown as powerless, dependent, and subordinate features. compared to men, women have very limited life style and life choices (mostly importantly mothers and lovers)

Writer’s Memo for MP1

OutcomesDoes your paper include…?| What do you think your paper deserves? Outstanding StrongGoodAdequateInadequate| Your own reflectionCan you provide an example and explain how it achieve the outcome?| a complex claim that entails representation patterns of certain social groups (claim of fact), an argument (claim of value), which includes stake statement?| Strong| It includes all of the information written in the following paragraph, so I think it serves as a good summery and state of the whole article.| the stakes of the argument, why what is being argued matters (consequences) over the course of the paper?| Outstanding| By briefly describing the scenes in the movie, directly shows how and why the film would cause negative stereotype for children and What impact would pose on them| engagement in a conversation with Lippi-Green’s article?(e.g. does your paper summarize, paraphrase or quote Lippi-Green?)| Strong| Using to sources from Lippi-Green’s article to demonstrate that Disney film teaches children how to view and discriminate people, so that the negative stereotype of characters in Aladdin would send a wrong message to them.| proper MLA movie and article citation?| outstanding| Correctly using MLA to cite the sources.


[ 1 ]. Lippi-Green, Rosina. “Teaching Children How to Discriminate.” English with an Accent: Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United States. London: Routledge, 1997. 79-102. Print. Psychology Press. [ 2 ]. Lippi-Green, Rosina. “Teaching Children How to Discriminate.” English with an Accent: Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United States. London: Routledge, 1997. 79-102. Print. Psychology Press.

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