Gender Roles - Men
Gender Roles - Men: 3 Stars
Aladdin is a fine example of a sensitive, compassionate male hero. He cares for the children that share the filthy streets with him and throughout the film we see evidence of his insecurities and kind heart. He’s also unafraid of expressing his feelings for Jasmine, and even makes winning her heart the basis of his very first wish.
Love: 4 Stars
The love story between Aladdin and Jasmine is convincing and a bit more substantive than that found in similar fairy tales. Jasmine is never called upon to give up pieces of herself, or sacrifice her own ambitions (whatever those ambitions might be). She soundly calls him out for lying to her and eventually receives a heartfelt apology. At one point, Aladdin even agrees with her that she isn't just "some prize to be won" and that she should be free to make her own choices. He clearly respects and admires her, it's just unfortunate that we don't know more about who she is.
Friendship: 3 Stars
Aladdin does a wonderful job of establishing a heartfelt friendship between Aladdin and the Genie. Their conversations are often humorous, but also interspersed with serious dialogue on honesty, loyalty and being yourself. The genuine emotion between these two characters show us that men also share deep, personal relationships with their pals.
Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles - Women
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Gender Roles - Women: 3 Stars
Jasmine is a fiery, independent young woman who runs away from her father's palace to escape a forced marriage. While this is a great start, the problem with this storyline is that it only tells audiences what this young woman doesn't want out of life - without bothering to tell us what she does want. Jasmine is certainly bold enough to stand up for herself, but doesn't seem to have any goals or ambitions other than getting away from her father.
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 2 Stars
With the exception of the few brief scenes when she is masquerading as a commoner, Jasmine is a beautiful princess with a jeweled crown and fine bright clothing. Most of her costumes feature an exposed midriff and shoulders (the only Disney princess to show more skin is Ariel). Aladdin also includes a number of female dancers in musical numbers, most of whom are similarly dressed and conform to the same exotic body type. Aladdin does score some diversity points, however, by showing audiences that princesses can also come from non-European cultures and ethnicities.
Plot: 2 Stars (Spoilers)
While Jasmine is a fairly strong character with a memorable role, this is ultimately Aladdin’s story. She makes it clear that she does not consider herself “a prize to be won,” and yet she really isn’t much more than that. She’s given a few minor opportunities to insert herself into the action (i.e., sneaking away from the palace and coming to Aladdin’s rescue when he’s taken captive by the castle guards), but neither of these pursuits are very successful. At one point, as Aladdin is battling Jafar, he tells Jasmine to run for the lamp and we’re teased with the idea that she might play a larger role in freeing her kingdom. But unfortunately, she’s locked away before she can get to the Genie, and left to wait for Aladdin to rescue her.
Character Development: 2 Stars
Jasmine has a fair amount of screen time, but little of it is spent developing her character. We aren’t given any backstory to explain why such a rebellious young woman has never left the palace walls. She's
completely unaware of the plight of the hungry children in the streets, and even when she does learn of their horrible treatment, she doesn’t do anything to improve their circumstances when she returns to the palace. She clearly understands that her position gives her power, and doesn’t hesitate to give orders to the palace guards or to threaten Jafar with exile when she becomes queen. And yet the only time she uses this power is when she’s concerned over Aladdin’s fate. Her character, while often bold and smart, is also repeatedly disappointing.
Family: 1 Star
Jasmine’s relationship with her father is loaded with stereotypical father-daughter dynamics. Not only is the Sultan anxious to marry off his daughter in order to ensure that she is “taken care of” and “provided for,” but it eventually becomes clear that it will be her husband who inherits the throne once she marries. Even after all the spark and promise Jasmine has shown, the Sultan intends to lay the hopes and future of his kingdom at the feet of a young man that he’s never met rather than place this trust in his own daughter.
An orphaned boy, Aladdin, finds a magical lamp and releases a powerful genie that will grant him three wishes. With the help of the genie, Aladdin becomes a prince, wins the heart of the princess Jasmine and saves the city of Agrabah from the evil Jafar.
Kelly is a labor law