Thursday, July 28, 2011


Aladdin: Early Eisner-era cartoon, and a good example of that period's key traits: postmodernism (between the heavy borrowing from The Thief of Baghdad and Robin Williams' potrayal of the Genie as a 1990s standup comic) and casual multiculturalism. Arabian mythology is given the same playful treatment as classic Disney gave European mythology-- and as such, I would argue that the film tacitly acknowledges that Muslim identity has as much place in American culture as any other. Critics have argued that the fact that the central couple have conventional Western good looks while the supporting characters are paunchy, big-nosed caricatures is racist, though I think that is a slightly problematic claim as the pretty-leads-caricatured-supporting-cast is a staple of all Disney fairytale movies (q.v. the near-contemporary Beauty and the Beast); however, context is everything, and it does have to be said that some of the descriptions of the fictional Arabic kingdom as being barbaric, and the guards' gleeful focus on corporal punishment, are not exactly striking a blow for tolerance and understanding. The sad thing is that, flawed or not, I can't see them making a cartoon even this sympathetic to Islamic cultures now-- however, the good thing is that it's out there, and maybe they'll do a better one someday.

Movie count for 2011: 89