Race and Ethnicity in Aladdin

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As a group we decided to focus on the Disney film Aladdin. Aladdin was created from a westernised perspective which is clearly portrayed throughout the film. However the main characters were Americanised which suggests there is something wrong with how Arabs are stereotyped.

Aladdin (Hero)

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At the beginning of the story when Aladdin is poor, he is depicted as Arabic. He is a thief and wears patched up clothes. He also has no shoes on which suggests the poverty within the Arabic culture and a Fez, which was fashionable for Arabic men in the 17th Century. It is seen as an ‘oriental’ cultural identity. When he is royalty he becomes white which connotes him being more dominant in society. Aladdin’s character is meant to be based on the famous actor Tom Cruise.

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Edward Said – People from the east (Aladdin) is the orient, which is what Said would call the other. With his transformation from Arab to white is him turning from one of ‘them’ to one of ‘us’. This suggests that Disney is following the stereotypical roles.

Jasmine (princess)

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 Jasmines is dressed as stereotypical Arabian princess by wearing her harem costume and her gold jewellery to represent her royalty.  Jasmine was based on the actress Jennifer Connolly who is a white american actress. Her race is represented through physical features for example her long black hair and tanned skin. It also presented through her headscarf showing she is a practising muslim.

Jafar (Villain) 

Jafar

Jafar is an evil character during the film and uses his dark magic to manipulate the Sultan. Jafars’ intelligance is a constrast with his guards stupidity suggesting that in order to be a clever arabic, you need the help of magic. His outfit is a black robe and a turban. The colours of black and red connate danger and evil which fits his character.

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