WTFAW: Aladdin

Anyone who has read my last post, where I wrote about the 1992 Disney movie Aladdin, will be fairly unsurprised about this post.

Then again, even if you haven’t, you’re probably not all that surprised I’m writing about Aladdin fan theories anyway. After all, they are not only very stupid, but also, inexplicably, very popular.

So, Dave, what spawn of madness have you got for me today?

Dave: I have a couple of theories. Firstly that the Genie and the Merchant in the opening are the same person. This explains their likeness.

Actually, that’s not a theory. That was a proposed alternate ending, with the merchant turning into the Genie, but they went with the other ending. But they had Robin Williams ad lib most of the descriptions of the merchants goods, so it seemed a shame to waste it.

Dave: Oh, ok….Then how about this: The merchant is just making this story up to sell a lamp!

Right… stupid question, but how would a random merchant in an ancient middle eastern city know who Groucho Marx and Roger Dangerfield were? I mean, he would have to know who they were, if he’s making references to them.

Dave: Maybe he’s just incredibly lucky about his guesses….

Please don’t tell me I have to explain why that sentence is stupid…

Dave: Ok, fine! let’s get to the main event. This is probably the most popular theory there is about any disney movie!

Oh, joy…

Dave: In the movie, when the Genie makes Aladdin a prince, he says that Aladdins clothes are “much too third century”, right?


Dave: But when released from the lamp, he claims he has been locked inside for 10.000 years. That means that he can’t be aware of fashion trends during that time.


Dave: So how is that possible, unless Aladdin actually lives in the future? Specifically, a post apocalyptic future, presumably after 10300 AD. At some point, some huge cataclysm occurred, turning the world into a blasted wasteland, with the middle east being the only civilized area left. “Agrabah” is actually a corrupted form of the word “Arabia”. This also explains why the Genie knows popular culture like Groucho Marx, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jack Nicholson!

OK, this is more like it! I got worried you’d gone sane for a moment… Silly question, but what about the magic we see in the movie?

Dave: Aha! I knew you’d ask that! I refer you to Clarkes Third law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic! The “magic carpet” is actually a type of hover vehicle rather than a magic entity. And Iago is genetically mutated or engineered to understand human speech, rather than just mimicking it!

I see…

Well, let’s go over this, shall we?

Firstly, I do agree that it’s strange that the Genie would know of fashion trends of the third century…

Dave: You see!

Unless, of course, he is lying about being in the lamp for 10.000 years. After all, in the animated series, we meet his previous master at one point! Speaking of which, there was also the crossover Aladdin had with Hercules, and-

Dave: Woah, what are you doing?

I’m debunking the theory. I’m surprised you’re not familiar with the routine. After all, isn’t that usually how our conversations go?

Dave: That’s not what I mean! Don’t drag the animated series into this!

What? Why not?

Dave: It doesn’t count! The tv-show wasn’t written when the movie was made! It doesn’t count as canon!

Oh, of course. I forgot this theory was made just a week after the 1992 movie was made, wasn’t it… The only reason I’m not allowed to use the tv-show is because when you think about that, the entire theory falls apart, isn’t it?

What about the sequels? Can I use them?

Dave: This theory is about the movie! Leave the sequels and the TV-show out of it!

Fair enough. I’m feeling generous, so I’ll play along with that little stipulation. After all, we wouldn’t want to crush the theory too quickly, would we?

So let’s go over the whole “Clarkes Law” argument. What about the Genies magic? The magic he is using can be chalked up to being technology… up to a point. His changing in size and shape could be because he’s some holographic construct, I agree.

But then you have to look at what he actually DOES! He changes clothes, makes objects appear and disappear at will, he changes the shape and size of other creatures, like Abu, Jafar and Aladdin and goes on to bestow similar powers to Jafar.

Dave: Well, like I said! It’s just technology we don’t understand!

Yeah, maybe.

Maybe the genie being capable of doing things that are basically giving the fundamental laws of physics the middle finger is because of non-explained advanced technology….

OR it could have something to do with him being an ancient, magical entity sprung from islamic and pre-islamic folklore. See, there’s only so far you can point at Clarkes law before the argument becomes ridiculous. I mean, what about the Cave of Wonders, with it’s impossible dimensions and literal mountains of treasures? That’s more gold than there is on the planet! And sure, the carpet might be a type of hover vehicle… except it clearly shows it’s intelligent! Tell me, what is the point of a vehicle that can feel sorrow, fear, alarm and joy? I’ve never built a car, but somehow, having a car that can be insulted seems like a recipe for disaster!

And then, let’s talk some more about the Genie, shall we? Suppose the reason for the temporal issues and references to popular culture is because he doesn’t perceive time the same way we do? Perhaps his magic allows him to perceive time differently?

Or it could be because The Genie IS AWARE HE IS IN A MOVIE!

Dave: Wait, what?

Remember the ending? The movie ends with him lifting the screen away, looking straight at the viewer and saying “made you look!” before the credits roll. He knows he is in a movie, which is why he is familiar with popular culture. He does not perceive reality in the same way as Aladdin and the rest of the characters.

Dave: That seems a bit-

Oh, and remember the first line in the song “A Friend Like Me”?

Ali Baba had the forty thieves, Scheherazade had a thousand tales.

He is referencing the book “A Thousand and One Nights”….


See, either he is aware that he is in a movie, or you’re suggesting this is just the worlds greatest coincidence, with a completely unrelated person named Aladdin finding a magic lamp.

Which one sounds more likely?

Dave: Oh, no you don’t! Don’t you go all meta on this theory!

Why? Because I’m right? But fine, by all means. I’ll disprove this theory without the sequels, the animated show OR by using meta-writing.

Are you paying attention? The idea is that the entire world has been wiped out in some disaster, right?

Dave: Yeah!

And only the middle east is still around, with Agrabah being the only major settlement?

Dave: Precisely!

Well then. Answer me this.

Where do the apples come from?

Dave: What?

Jasmine almost got her hand chopped off by an angry merchant for stealing an apple. Where did it come from, if there are no other major settlements, like farming communities? And for that matter, where do the princes come from, if there’s nothing except a blasted wasteland beyond the city? Remember, prince Achmed from the beginning of the movie is just the latest in a long line of suitors.

Dave: Well, Agrabah might not be the ONLY settlement… there could be others…

Oh, but you said the word Agrabah is a corrupted form of “Arabia”. It seems strange to me that “Agrabah” is just referring to one random city among many, instead of the whole country.

(Let’s ignore the fact that “Agrabah” is harder to both spell and pronounce than “Arabia”, making the whole “corruption” idea a bit unlikely)

Dave: Uhm…

But let’s say that there are in fact many settlements around, and Agrabah, with it’s incredibly huge palace, is only the biggest.

Dave: Aha! In that case, there’s still merit to the theory that the arabic world is the only one that survived the non-specific apocalypse!

Yeah… except that we see other civilizations too.

Dave: I told you! Don’t bring the sequels or the tv-show into this!

Oh, but I’m not! My arguments are only from the movie. See for yourself.

An ancient Egyptian putting the finishing touches on the Great Sphinx

Greece, looking very lush and green.
Greece, looking very lush and green indeed.

The forbidden city in china, during a great celebration.
The Forbidden City in China, during a great celebration.
Isn’t that funny, seeing as all of these places are supposed to not only be much older than they appear to be in this movie, but also be ever so slightly COMPLETELY FUCKING WIPED OUT IN A NON-SPECIFIC HOLOCAUST!?

Dave: Oh.. uhm.. well, I guess the theory might be less than accurate….

Well, colour me surprised…

You know, as brain-numbingly stupid as this have been, I suppose I ought to thank you, Dave. With this post, I’ve hopefully redeemed myself a bit in the eyes of Disney-lovers for my nitpicking of Aladdin, while also managing to piss off fan-theorists…

And if that’s not the textbook definition of a happy ending, I don’t know what is.

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