I enjoy ‘Aladdin’. I saw it in the theaters when it came out. In fact it was Mr. Mouse & my first date (insert awwww here). We had the soundtrack and the video tape and to this day we have been known to watch it on the anniversary of the event. I didn’t think about its place in the Disney canon much until The Princess came along. It was then that I discovered that ‘Aladdin’ is considered a Princess movie. I was confused.
This is obviously a movie about a man. It is called ‘Aladdin’. He is the main character. The story is his. Jasmine exists only to further his plot and be, in her words, “A prize to be won.” She is not only the one woman in the movie with a name, she is the single woman that isn’t merely part of a crowd. To call this a ‘Princess Movie’ is to imply that this is all she is worth. To say that this is Jasmine’s movie does her a woeful injustice. It says that it is her role to exist in a world full of men who set her rules, whose attention she must seek, and who determine her fate. She has no power or authority outside of the role of daughter or wife. This is NOT a Princess movie. This is Aladdin’s movie. Jasmine is an object in his story but plays no part in the decision making. Not only does this do her a disservice, but does one to Aladdin as well.
What does it say that Aladdin has no significant contact with women other than Jasmine? Most men go through their lives encountering more than one woman. In fact I would be willing to bet that most men encounter multiple women in a single day. If it is true that life and art imitate each other, what image are we sending our children about what life looks like? Are we comfortable with that message? I believe our girls and our boys deserve a better representation of what the world is and what their role is in it.
The evaluation results are no surprise.
Bechdel test*: There is Jasmine. That is all. Result: FAIL
Percent of words spoken by women**: 10%. This is a movie about Aladdin and his genie. Jasmine exists as a love interest. The numbers reflect that.
*The Bechdel Test evaluates film based on whether there are at least two named women who talk to each other about something other than a man.
** The data comes from linguists Carmen Fought and Karen Eisenhauer, who have been working on a project to analyze all the dialogue from the Disney princess movies. The project was reported in The Washington Post by Jeff Guo.