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My Dissertation | Aladdin

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Out of the five Princesses I wrote about for this chapter, I probably wrote my section on Jasmine the quickest. I knew straight away what scenes I was going to analyse and once I had started writing I found it incredibly easy to discuss her character. I love Jasmine as a Princess, she truly stands up for what she believes in and she has my favorite animal as a pet. I have titled this Aladdin and not Jasmine because I wanted to make sure I referred to the film and not just the Princess, even though I will only be talking about Jasmine.

How has the representation of the female gender in the Disney Princess movies progressed during the Disney Renaissance in relation to Snow White?

Aladdin. Similarly to the other two princesses they held extremely similar personality traits and characteristics, as “The Walt Disney Company continues to create Disney Princess films where the princesses uphold generally the same characteristics.” (Matyas, 2010, p.13) Not only was Jasmine the fifth princess to be brought into the line-up of Disney Princesses but she was also the first non-white princess. The attributes which Jasmine acquired were completely opposed to those Snow White had. She could be seen as not adhering to the traditional feminine traits that women were believed to have, as she is demanding, bossy and smart and is also portrayed as being exceptionally dominant. In order to establish the princess’s dominance a long shot has been used to display her positioned in an extremely open space with her pet tiger Rajah, who is lying beside her and a zoom has then been used to illustrate the tiger becoming aggravated once Jasmine’s father walks into frame. Tigers are “renowned for their power and strength,” (OneKind, 2010) therefore by providing Jasmine with such an authoritative animal as a pet it portrays the power and superiority which the princess holds in a patriarchal run society. Condis and Austin stated that princesses are often “depicted as being of equal stature with their animal friends,” (2015, p.1) which reinforces The Walt Disney Studios progression in their portrayal of the female gender. As Jasmine’s father is shown as weak in comparison to the animal, whereas the princess is portrayed as being in control and superior. 


The use of visual imagery in Aladdin assists in the portrayal of “the fulfillment of Jasmine’s desire to see the world and have her own choice of consort.” (Do Rozario, 2004, p.55) Jasmine gently takes a dove out of its cage and cradles it up to her face. Her father then proceeds to take it from her and place it back into its cage. Jasmine’s body language portrays her authoritarian nature and her longing for freedom, as she walks out of frame. Similar to Ariel and Belle, the use of visual imagery portrays Jasmines need for lack of restriction and a sense of independence, as the dove could be seen as a portrayal of her longing to be set free. A medium shot is used as she later goes on to release the birds from their cage, in order to establish the joy on her face as she watches them set out into the world she so desperately also wants to see. However, “Jasmine rebels against the traditional role of women” (Garabedian, 2014, p. 23) in a way in which the previous princesses did not. Jasmine states that “if I do marry, I want it to be for love,” (Aladdin, 1992) as a close up has been used to illustrate the smile that crosses her face and passion that fills her eyes. Unlike her predecessors, Jasmine is portrayed in a way that represents her running away from marriage rather than towards it, as she makes it apparent that she is to decide her own fate. Dissimilar to Snow White, Jasmine does not propose to fall in love at first sight and be swept off of her feet by a prince; she intends to fall in love when she is ready. She strongly retaliates against female gender ideologies because “traits such as...independence and desire to explore are coded masculine.” (Stover, 2013, p.3)

However, like the princesses before her Jasmine’s appearance has been portrayed in a beautiful manner but her physical appearance does not inevitably drive the plot forward – the princess only “uses overt sexuality and exaggerated femininity in order to aid in Aladdin’s rescue.” (England, Descartes and Colliermeek, 2011, p.564) The princess can be seen wearing a red low cut belly top which accentuates her breasts and hips; this could represent the notion of being sexually alluring due to the colour red denoting passion and desire. Jasmine’s body language also becomes sensual and arousing in order to subdue and distract Jafar – the male gaze theory suggests that “when a female’s body is the focus of attention the action is aimed at the male viewers.” (Smith, 1999, p.17) Although Jasmine’s beauty is exceptionally dominant throughout this particular scene, it still portrays Disney’s progression in the way in which they represent their female characters. “It’s no question that all Disney princesses are beautiful characters” (Maity, 2014, p.30) but it could be argued that Jasmine is celebrating her sexuality and using her beauty for the positive intention of saving Aladdin and Genie. Instead of being represented in a way in which portrays her beauty as being her only characteristic that helps drive the plot of Aladdin forward, she uses it in a way that is beneficial for the safety of other characters. 


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