Orientalism is present in Disney movies like Aladdin. In these types of children movies you would not expect an underlying subject of things like Orientalism to be brought to your attention, but there are clear signs in each movie that Orientalism is in fact shown.
Orientalism can be defined in many ways, but when it comes in regards to these types of movies, it is when the East is represented in a stereotypical way.
In Aladdin‘s original opening song the lyrics caused many people to speak up because they stated that the town was going to hurt you if they didn’t like how you looked. This was seen as a huge stereotype and was later taken down because of the outrage it caused. “Orientals” are seen in this movie as aggressive, for example, Aladdin almost getting his arm cut off when he tries to steal. They also make the belly dancers in the movie have minimal clothing. The different types of clothes on characters make the subject cross a fine line of being offensive.
When movies like Aladdin falsely represent certain groups of people, it affects our society because kids grow up to believe the things they see on social media. This movie can teach kids incorrect information regarding people in the East, and can create a major divide in our society. Harsh words like these and false representations can be created to seem lighthearted to children because they do not know better than to listen to the happy music in the background and what the hero will do in the end.
If movies like Aladdin aren’t talked about, it will become our norm is listen to things like this and believe they are true.
One thought on “Disney Movies”
You make great points here, Alex, about the power of these stereotypes for children. You might check out Emily’s post on Aladdin from a few weeks back as well: https://storypower.criticsandbuilders.com/2020/04/07/aladdins-unrealistic-portrayal-of-the-arab-world/