Can all the misinformed Americans and Brits pipe down for a second? I’m rolling out the historical carpet from the perspective of someone who’s actually grown up in the Middle East and why none of this matters.
I heard Aladdin or as I knew it, as ‘The Magic Lamp of Alaa el-Din’. It is one of the most popular tales from the region, next to Sindbad, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and but guess what?
It’s a trainwreck of a tale, so is Disney’s adaptation. Why? Because it makes no sense, culturally or historically. Why? It’s not authentic. It’s not actually a real part of the stories Schehrezade/Shahrazad told to King Shahrayar in One Thousand and One Nights.
It was added in by a European translator, Antoine Galland, then later accepted as part of canon.
BRIEF HISTORY LESSON:
One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of folktales presented in a story-within-a-story context. King Shahrayar of Persia’s wife cheated on him, he then had her and her lover put to death, but her infidelity drove him mad with paranoia. He decided to marry every virgin in the kingdom them put her to death come morning so she wouldn’t have the chance to cheat on him.
Alas, he ran out of virgins, all except for his grand-vizier’s daughter Shahrazad. She agreed to marry the king, assuring her father she had a plan. After their wedding night, Shahrazad began the distraction plot to end all plots. She asked the king if he wanted to hear a story and spent the whole night entertaining him with it, making sure to end with the start of another tale. Once he’s ask “What happened?” she’d tell him, “Wait for tomorrow,” and restart the same process.
She kept him on the episodic hook for a thousand and one nights, spinning so many tales and retelling many until she finally ran out. But, by the time she did, they had developed a good relationship, had children, and he no longer cared about his kill-come-sunrise rule, and they lived happily ever after.
So, why is Aladdin a trainwreck? For starters, it’s set in CHINA. And China is for some reason ruled by a sultan. Sultans are the titles of Ottoman kings, as in Turks. Aladdin is recruited by a sorcerer/Jafar from the Maghreb, which is typically used to refer to Morocco (literally called El Maghreb in Arabic) or all of NA sans Egypt. The Princess is called Badroulbadour not Jasmine, and while she has an Old Arabic name ‘badr al badour / full moon of full moons’, she is described as being from the FAR EAST. She was never an Arab, neither was Aladdin!
Can you tell this was made up by a confused foreigner?
So, we have a Turkish king in China, Aladdin is Chinese, Jafar is Moroccan and Jasmine is Japanese. It’s the same in the Disney movie. The style of the characters and background in Disney’s Aladdin is unmistakably an Persian-Indian fusion with some Ottoman sprinkled in. The concept of a genie/djinni is literally the only Arab part of the tale.
1. Jasmine’s headpiece/tiara, appearance, and pet tiger point to Indian. But she wears harem pants/şalvar, which are Turkish (Indian version shalwar).
Actually, she’s a toned-down version of a belly-dancer. Belly dancing is practiced from Egypt to Lebanon to Persia and India, it was spread by the Ottomans.
2. The Sultan is styled like a merge between a Sikh maharajah (Indian) and a sultan (Turkish).
3. The magic carpet is also an Indian concept (Prince Husain, son of the Sultan of the Indies in OTaON retrieves a magic carpet from India.)
4. The sultan’s palace is based on the Taj Mahal
5. The Genie/djinni is the lone Arabic concept.
Here’s what lots of Westerners don’t get. All of these cultures have bled on one another. From the Maghreb to Egypt, to the Levant, to Turkey, to the Arabian Peninsula, to Iraq, to Persia and India we all share so many traits because of trade, history or, you guessed it, invasion. Cultural exchange is pretty common, I grew up with a lot of Persian stories, Indian products and Bollywood movies in theatres, leftover Turkish culture and food from Ottomans, Arab culture from prior invasions, interaction and language, and so, so many Lebanese pop stars.
It’s actually pretty smart to amass a cast from different parts of the Near, Middle and South East, so to include everyone who likely grew up with Shahrazad and her many, many tales.
If there’s anyone you should have a problem with, it’s Will Smith as the genie. It’s pretty transparent how you all ignored how this is the second time a black man plays the genie (first on Once Upon A Time) but sling hate at Naomi Scott for being Indian.
Oh, and Disney fucked up by blaring Arabian Nights at the start and end of the movie, because One Thousand and One Nights is NOT called Arabian Nights. It’s called Alf Leyla w Leyla - literally ‘A Thousand Nights and One’.
It’s a collection of Persian, Indian, Egyptian, Arabic, Mesopotamian and Jewish folklore that was compiled in Arabic.
Aladdin is being played by the Egyptian Mena Massoud, Jasmine is by the Indian Naomi Scott and the rest of the cultures involved should be cast.
Oh, and to all people saying Naomi is ‘too light’ and ‘half-whitewashing’. Take your racial purity and stick it up your nose. Middle Eastern, Indian and North African girls come in all shades, even if both sets of grandparents are native to the region.
PS. Avan Jogia is seriously out there saying him playing Aladdin would have ‘been wrong’ because ‘he should be Middle Eastern’ but he had no problem playing King Tut, who is EGYPTIAN? As in Middle Eastern??
Quit your virtue-signaling, Rami Malek is still the only Egyptian to ever play one in Western media.
“Óscar Arístides de la Renta Fiallo, born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, De la Renta was trained by Cristóbal Balenciaga and Antonio del Castillo, he became internationally known in the 1960s as one of the couturiers to dress Jacqueline Kennedy. An award-winning designer, he worked for Lanvin and Balmain; his eponymous fashion house continues to dress leading figures, from film stars to royalty, into the 2010s. De la Renta is particularly known for his red carpet gowns and evening wear.”
Nurbanu Sultan (styled Haseki Afife Nûr-Banû Vâlide Sultân Aliyyetü'ş-Şân Hazretleri; Ottoman Turkish: نور بانو سلطان; c. 1525 – 7 December 1583) was the favourite consort and later wife of Sultan Selim II of the Ottoman Empire, mother of Sultan Murad III, and de facto co-ruler as the Valide Sultan for nine years from 1574 until 1583.
Humasah Sultan on my opinion one of the most stylish woman in The Magnificent Century saga. Yes, perhaps she’s can’t to compete with Hurrem Sultan or Kosem Sultan with numbers of costumes “in her closet”, but she’s obviously can to compete with Hurrem Sultan from the second half of season 3 and later from season 4, for the place of most stylish woman in her middle-age in show. I also, found Humasah’s style interesting by the fact, that in her costumes was used characteristic features of the costumes of other characters not only from The Magnificent Century: Kosem, but also from original The Magnificent Century. Humasah Sultan in show it’s the quintessential "features” of characters from the saga, she actually combines style in clothes of all her family, such as we saw them in the show, but makes it fitting is only for her with small details and color combinations.