Here's Why Aladdin Is Not The Hero You Remember
Everybody has their favorite animated Disney movie. Whether it's the undersea magic of The Little Mermaid, the courageous tale of The Lion King, the majestic splendor of Beauty and the Beast, the show-stopping tunes of Frozen, or the old school charm of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, there's a Disney movie for every taste. My personal favorite has always been Aladdin. It's funny, it has great songs, and the classic story is engaging. But it's time I faced a hard truth: Aladdin himself isn't that great.
This is kind of a problem since, ostensibly, he's the hero of the film. And I will admit that Aladdin doesn't start out bad. Sure, he's making his living as a thief when he's first introduced to the audience, but he was dealt a difficult hand in life and only steals to survive. He also sacrifices his own wellbeing to feed a starving child, and puts his neck out to rescue a stranger who turns out to be Jasmine when she's about to get her hand chopped off. In fact, I would say that Aladdin is a pretty decent human being until he comes into possession of Genie, because as the saying goes, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
The first thing Aladdin does when Genie pledges himself to him is steal a wish from him. He tricks Genie into freeing him from the cave without using one of his three wishes. His reason for doing so had nothing to do with survival, like his earlier questionable behavior, but instead was due solely to his selfishness. He wanted to be free to use all three of his wishes, and went about preserving them in a dishonest way. This turn ends up becoming a trend for Aladdin, as his dishonesty only increases throughout the film.
Genie immediately informs Aladdin that he wants his freedom, but Aladdin is both too selfish and too comfortable with the idea of owning a slave to grant it to him until the end of the film. Instead, he wishes to be turned into a prince so he can impress Jasmine, a woman he's mainly interested in because she's super hot. As Prince Ali, Aladdin shows his true colors. He becomes extremely arrogant and flamboyant, while also treating Jasmine like a piece of property, which naturally turns her off.
She eventually sees through his facade and correctly guesses that he's the "street rat" she met previously, but instead of listening to Jasmine's wants and needs and admitting the truth, Aladdin lies to her again and tells her what he thinks she wants to hear. He claims that he only dresses as a peasant to get away from his duties as a prince, knowing that she will relate to this because of their earlier interaction. In fact, he never even reveals the truth about his identity to Jasmine — it is instead revealed to her by Jafar.
After using his first two wishes, Aladdin reneges on his promise to free Genie with his third wish. Faced with the prospect of becoming Sultan should he marry Jasmine, he decides that keeping Genie as a slave just in case is more important than releasing him. In fact, he only decides to release Genie after Jafar is defeated and it becomes clear that Jasmine is in love with him, eliminating any reason for him to keep his slave anyway.
Time and time again, Aladdin's dishonesty, selfishness, and tendency to treat others as his own property show that he's not quite the hero I remember... but I guess he's not any worse than Simba.
Images: Walt Disney Pictures; Giphy