“Aladdin” is Problematic
The Disney movie “Aladdin” is probably my favorite, however
you can’t love it without being critical and realizing that it’s a racist
portrayal of the Middle East and Middle Easterns from a white male point of
Here are a few of the problems I found in “Aladdin”.
is one of the four Disney POC (Princesses of Color) and is the only Disney
princess who’s not the lead in her movie. Women of color barely get representation in Disney movies, but
when they finally do it’s as supporting characters.
2. During the “One
Jump Ahead” song, Aladdin runs from the lawmen and stops at a room with
three women who are dressed in revealing clothes who move around him
seductively, and there’s an older woman who’s dressed more conservatively and
seemed to be the boss.
This “room” is usually assumed to be a brothel by Disney fans, but could also be a harem (a part of the palace that’s used for residence of the king’s wives and concubines).
This is not the first time Disney mentions concubines on a POC (Princess of Color) movie; in “Mulan”, the soldiers dress up as women to break into the palace in order to save the Emperor, the Huns see them and assume that they’re the Emperor’s concubines.
3. Besides Aladdin, Jasmine and maybe even the Sultan, all characters in Aladdin look almost non human (for example, the salesman has a giant, unrealistic head), usually have non American accents (unlike the leading characters) and are portrayed as crooks.
4. The first scene on which
we see Aladdin is when he’s being chased after by lawmen for stealing a loaf of
bread. A lawman threatens Aladdin as he is waving his sword; “I will have
your hands for a trophy, streetrat!”.
When Jasmine first arrives at the marketplace in disguise, she sees a little boy next to an apple stand. She assumes he’s hungry, grabs an apple and hands it to the boy. The salesman calls Jasmine a thief, tells her “You know what the penalty is for stealing?”, grabs her hand and raises his sword, though Aladdin stops him from cutting Jasmine’s hand.
The movie “Aladdin” takes place in Agrabah, a fictional place that’s supposed to generalize the entire Middle East. It should be noted that the only place in the Middle East where the hand cutting punishment is carried out is Saudi Arabia, and it happens very rarely, usually after the person has committed several robberies and not when the person steals due to hunger and poverty.
5. Princess Jasmine is the only female character who says more than one sentence in “Aladdin”, she’s probably the most oversexualised Disney princess, and uses her sexuality several times. Throughout the movie, Jasmine’s dressed in revealing clothes unfitting of the pre Islamic world and seduces the villain, Jafar (he responds by calling her “pussycat”) and even has to kiss him to distract from Aladdin coming to stop him.
6. The Disney merchandise of
“Aladdin” isn’t as common as the white princesses’ at Disney stores,
Princess Jasmine doesn’t have as much merchandise and when she does, it’s often
very whitewashed; Jasmine and Aladdin usually just look white, like in the “Art of Jasmine” collection.