my journey with truth

Archive for the ‘Disney’ Category

So I was watching the Disney channel the other night (judge all you want, I’m not ashamed).  Sometimes I’m shocked in my adult-ness by childhood reminders to tell the truth.  They’re usually obvious, simple, funny and through these qualities become compelling.  I think the appreciation for this simplicity and humor only becomes more acute with age, and somehow what’s meant for a kid becomes more affective/effective as an adult.  No, I’m not thinking of that most famous of famous-yet-made-up stories about truth, George Washington, and a cherry tree.  I’m thinking of the classic Disney full-length animated feature released in November of 1992, Aladdin.

I remember vividly the first time I saw Aladdin.  My family went for my sister’s birthday – she had a few friends from school come along, and I got to sit with them, too, even though I was 4 years younger, a fact that usually makes all the difference in the world to a brand new 11-year-old carving out her identity with friends in a new place/school.  Just to be honest on a tangent with you real quick, I will always be grateful for my sister’s treatment of me in our childhood.  (Our teenage years were a little more strained, but we have moved away from arguing over hair-ties since then).  She had such faith and trust in me as my own person, allowing me to be a part of her world and not just a younger sibling who was not as old and therefore not good enough for her, her time, her friends.  She believed in me and cared for me.  She tried to teach me Algebra when I was in the 4th grade, partly because she was so excited as an 8th grader to grasp the  “if 2X+5=9  then X=2” concept and partly because she thought, though I was 4 years younger, that I could handle it.  I couldn’t and we both ended up tearing out some of our hair that night, but it sticks with me as a touching example of her confidence in me.

Anyway, Aladdin.  So, if you don’t know the plot, we probably can’t be friends.  But I’ll uber-recap in order to get on with things: street-rat Aladdin and Princess Jasmine meet in the market after she runs away, blah blah, they almost smooch because it’s clear they’re meant to be, blah blah, Jasmine is told that the boy in the market was punished with “DEATH… by beheading” (I guess Jafar – the bad guy – has to clarify the beheading part to make it super irreversible?), Aladdin finds the lamp, Genie says he can’t make anybody fall in love with anybody else so Aladdin wishes to become a prince (by law, the only class of people who can marry the princess), Jasmine asserts she is not some prize to be won (while prancing around in what my mom would definitely call a “titty top”) after this “Prince Ali Ababwa” (ohmygoshit’sactuallyAladdin) rolls into town to seek her hand in marriage.  Forlorn about his first impression as a prince in front of J., A. paces around outside the palace where he and Genie end up having a little heart-to-heart.  We now pick up with the official script:

ALADDIN:    What am I going to do?  Jasmine won't even let me
        talk to her.  I should have known I couldn't pull
        off this stupid prince wish.  (ABU struggles with
        his elephant paws to open a banana.  He squishes
        it, and the banana squirts into his eye.  He then
        tosses the banana peel into a heaping pile of the
        same.)
GENIE:  (to carpet, playing chess) So move!  (CARPET does,
        knocking a black piece off the board.)  Hey.
        That's a good move.  (As Rodney Dangerfield) I
        can't believe it--I'm losing to a rug.
ALADDIN:    Genie, I need help.
GENIE:  (as Jack Nicholson) All right, sparky, here's the
        deal.  You wanna court the little lady, you gotta
        be a straight shooter, do ya follow me?
ALADDIN:    What?
GENIE:  (Back to normal, wearing a mortarboard. He points
        out his words on a blackboard)  Tell her
        the...TRUTH!!!

To which Aladdin replies, “No Way!  If Jasmine found out I was really some crummy street rat, she’d laugh at me.”  Genie gives it one more shot, saying Aladdin really ought to be himself (echoed later in the form of a bee saying “Beeeee yourself.”  Remember, I said this kid truth stuff is humorous).  There are 2 ironies in all of this that were striking to me this billionth time around viewing the film.  Obvious, and yet acute in adulthood, Aladdin is so worried about what someone else might think of him that he completely changes his identity, to his great detriment.  The very thing he desires most is hampered by his life-lie.  All Jasmine wants is to find that boy from the marketplace, the one who was more extraordinary than any prince with 75 golden camels and purple peacocks (of which Ali Ababwa has 53).

And now for ironic realization #2: Aladdin is so worried about not being seen as some street-rat to be laughed at that he wastes a wish on becoming a prince despite having sung his self-assertion no more than 10 minutes into the film.  After being condescended to by a prince who calls him worthless, Aladdin walks away singing “Riffraff, street-rat/ I don’t buy that./ If only they’d look closer./ No siree, they’d find out/ there’s so much more to me.”  It’s true!  He’s clever, charitable, fair (keeping his promise to use his last wish to set the Genie free).  The movie even tries to clue us into this even more, since for Aladdin to have claimed the lamp from the Cave of Wonders in the first place he had to be “one whose worth lies far within, a diamond in the rough.”

I’ve seen this movie (seriously) at least 200 times.  It came out while I was still entranced by Disney’s films, I was a consistent babysitter through middle and high school, and as I’ve mentioned I currently watch the Disney channel.  This was the first time I have ever felt this sad for Aladdin.  As a kid I understood the tension of Jasmine thinking the market-boy was dead, yet there he is in front of her offering a magic carpet ride.  I could be frustrated, thinking “Come ON, Aladdin.  She’s SICK of princes, you dum-dum, and she thinks you’re dead.  Like Genie said, TELL HER THE TRUTH!”  But this was the first time I have ever felt this sad.  How had he gone from knowing there is so much more to him than anyone on the street can tell to denying his core identity in pursuit of love?  It was heartbreaking.  Gilding a diamond in the rough is nonsensical.  It becomes not just garish but grotesque.

There’s so much more to me than meets the eye, than what anyone can assume.  I have worth which lies far within.  ‘Bee’ yourself.  These are the truths which Disney once tried to help kids internalize.  As an adult, I think I’m starting to not only get some of the jokes that once went over my head, but to get the truth that once went over my head as well.

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  • myjourneywithtruth: i had it in my office at my internship in Corpus Christi two summers ago. ellen davis is brilliant and glows with an aura of holy.
  • amy h: i love this quote. i think i may need it hanging on my wall where i'll see it daily. perhaps in front of the toilet? by the door? bedside table? i'll
  • chaz: That post made me really sad too. Mostly because I want to take young Lizzie by the shoulders and shake her (gently?) into sublime realization that sh

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