So what were some of those creative choices from the original Aladdin that come off as cringeworthy today? The first—and most controversial—came right in the opening credits. “Arabian Nights” described the fictional city of Agrabah as a place “where they cut off your ear when they don’t like your face/It’s barbaric, but hey! It’s home.” After the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee decried the lyrics as racist, they were changed to “where it’s flat and immense and the heat is intense/It’s barbaric, but hey! It’s home” for the home video release. Still, when Jasmine takes food from a market stall to feed some hungry children, a merchant grabs her by the wrist and threatens to cut off her hand for stealing. The film also makes a stark delineation between characters with thicker accents, darker skin tones, and beards (villains or garden-variety, low-born boors) and those with good ole American accents and more traditional European features (the protagonists). Going into the new film, which was directed by Guy Ritchie with a script he cowrote with John August, I didn’t have high expectations. The trailers were lackluster, the sets looked like sets, and Will Smith’s Genie looked, well, preposterous. In reality, the film is no disaster…. Read full this story
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