Aladdin

Year : 1994

Conservative nature of Islam or Arab culture and the American fascination with the exotic woman.

Category : Animation/ Children/
Language : English/
Production : Disney/
Target : Islamophobia/ Sex & Lust/

Walt Disney has movies based off of various exotic cultures one of which is Aladdin. To a child, the movie seems harmless and tells a timeless love story about a pauper with a golden heart who saves the princess and wins her heart. When separating the main plot from the background characters, subplot, and lyrics, it is quote obvious that there are some prominent stereotypes displayed. Starting from the beginning of the film the song Arabian Nights shown in the clip below has many racist statements. The clip currently states, “Oh, I come from a land- from a faraway place- Where the caravan camels roam. Where its flat and immense and the heat is intense. It’s barbaric, but hey, its home”, but it originally stated “Oh, I come from a land- from a faraway place- Where the caravan camels roam. Where they cut off your ear- if they don’t like your face. It’s barbaric, but hey, its home”.

The original lyrics described unnecessary discriminatory torture for irrational reasons, but these were changed after much protest. The current lyrics still describe the Arab nations as “barbaric”. These lyrics also mention racially stigmatized statements such as “Hop a carpet and fly” demonstrating the American fascination with the “exotic other”. Jack Shaheen writes that generalizing an entire culture as “barbaric is to show prejudice and accept stereotype.” Moreover, “the lyrics and successive scenes inform the viewers that Arabs are not like us: They are uncouth.” When considering background characters, good Arabs like Aladdin are given American accents. Meanwhile, shopkeepers, poor Arabs, and other are given Arabic accents. Additionally, Aladdin and Jasmine are lighter skinned than Jafar, the villain, and all other Arabs. This film also dehumanizes Arabs by calling poor humans “street rats” and transforming Jafar, the villain, into a snake. In addition, to the lyrics and perception of background characters, the clothing that women wear also demonstrates the xenophobic nature of Disney. Women are either clothed in belly dancer costumes or overly covered garb.

This seems to display the conservative nature of Islam or Arab culture and the American fascination with the exotic woman. Many characters also make statements that show women as a secondary population that needs men to care for them. The sultan says, “heaven forbid you ever have a daughter”, which demonstrates that women in this society are a burden to men. In the end, the Americanized Aladdin rescues the “good” and “exotic” Arabic princess Jasmine from the “bad”, “dark-skinned Arab” villain Jafar. Overall, the film displays many Islamaphobic concepts discussed in class and examined in our readings. The concept of Orientalism as displayed by skin color, clothing, and accent is one of the most prevalent themes in the film. Additionally, Aladdin, the main character, possess the American man’s burden of saving the Arabic, exotic women from her culture and male oppression. These two themes along with subtle other racist references to the barbaric nature of Arabs demonstrates the American perspective on Islam and Arabs and influences the younger generations to share the sentiment.

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URL : Title song which presents Islamophobia
Keywords : Islamophobia, barbarism of muslims, seduction
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