Now I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t I already discuss why Jasmine was bad in the last CG? Yes. Yes, I did. But to my everlasting shame and eternal regret I did not manage to effectively communicate my humongously big buggaboo for the 2019 Jasmine. You see, poor Analyze fell asleep during my five hour lively conversation about why this new Jasmine is the perfect microcosm for everything that is wrong with this movie. So I decided to write an individual article about the lesson we can learn from this… character. It’s a very simple one, so simple even little ol’ me can learn from it: “show, don’t tell.”
Every new writer and aspiring novelist gets to hear that phrase sooner or later. Whether you’re getting your work critiqued, attending a class about literature or are talking to a fellow literature enthousiast, eventually you’ll be told that it is better to show something in your work than it is to just say it. And that makes sense. You can use atmosphere, symbolism, chains of events, dialogue and every other plot element to demonstrate something. You can talk about the scents of the bacon sizzling in the pan, spreading love, and cancer, into everyone’s gaping maw. How the lettuce and cheese cuddle with each other as they are put in a sandwich together. How the wonderful and adorable male protagonist caresses the bread and give it a wonderful little kissy before he put the condiments between it, a bit of grease quickly spreading the bread as if to give it a big ol’ hug. And then the ma-protagonist takes a small bite, uncertain, yet very ready for the foodgasm he is about to receive. Then, after the sparkles appear in his eye he starts chomping down on the sandwich, obliterating it to pieces while its bread siblings are forced to watch and await in horror as the sweet guy stands up and walks to the furnace. Much more entertaining than: “I was hungry, so I ate a yummy sandwich .”
Taking Away The Seasoning
Now take this literary device, add a heavy dose of salty irony, allow it to marinate and you get the 2019 Jasmine. Because the biggest problem with this character is that her flavour is insulting. It’s insulting to the viewers, it’s insulting to the literary analysists (like dear ol’ me) and it’s even insulting to the adult audience this movie was obviously intended for. The people who adored the hiffle out of the 1992 movie and who’s taste buds have grown beyond what this Jasmine can deliver. You see, she is meant to be a strong female character, one who has agency (as we state in the CG), but who is so passive that she comes across as a bigger disappointment than Iago and Jafar combined. ESPECIALLY compared to the cartoon Jasmine, who, while still mostly serving as a damsel in distress, was far more active, charismatic and actually human. Basically, we were promised a wonderful potato salad and we were only given some salad.
The difference between the two characters lies in the nuances. In how both characters deal in a different way with the events around them. Cartoon Jasmine takes charge of the situation, putting on some battle belly dancer armour and charging her opponent. When her father tells her she must marry, she tells him off. 2019 Jasmine passively accepts it. Cartoon Jasmine rebels against potential suitors because she hates that they’re only there for her wealth. 2019 Jasmine dislikes when they’re socially awkward. Cartoon Jasmine runs away after suffering so many suitors and being kept in the castle without being allowed to grow her hair long enough her suitors can climb the tower and save her. 2019 Jasmine… is just in the market. Really awkward set-up honestly.
Cartoon Jasmine is more willing to use guile than 2019 princess Jasmine. Remember how she went along with Aladdin’s trick after she gave away an apple that wasn’t hers? She didn’t know him, just saw him saying she was his sister and that she was ready for the crazy girl house. What did she do? Understand what he was doing and play along. Even going a bit overboard with it. What does 2019 Jasmine do? Allow Aladdin to steal her bracelet and then steal it back to return to her. Over and over again in the 2019 movie Jasmine is portrayed as passive and just being there, waiting for her Aladdin charming to say “sup.”
Better to Taste Than to Tell
Now, keep in mind that at no point in the 1992 movie the writers, characters or anything else says all of these things. Nobody ever says that she’s active, that she’s clever, guile, her own person. We see all of it, using the old eyes we were given by the gods at birth. We can infer it by judging her actions. We can see her trying to fool Jafar near the end of the movie, using fake seduction to distract him with a big old holy-crap-that-kiss-is-so-disturbing-even-Iago-wants-to-vomit trick while Aladdin tries to get the lamp. Yes, afterwards she gets locked into an hourglass to smother to death so Aladdin can save her, but she plays an active role in the climax of the movie. 2019 Jasmine’s confrontation with Jafar has her literally rely on a piece of scenery, Hakim, to save her. And if your first reaction is “who?”, yeah that’s another problem. But again: we are shown over and over again that 2019 Jasmine is a passive woman who relies on others to fix her problems.
But that is why her flavours are spoilt. The problem is that the movie also gently takes us by the hands, looks into our beautiful eyes and tells us something else entirely. I know that the movie is very subtle about it when it pauses the story to have her sing it, but Jasmine gets a new song in this movie. A song called “Speechless”, which is essentially about how people try to keep her silent, but how she will take a bold stand and tell those people “No! I will not be silenced! In fact, I will now spend hours talking about what I love! My people, whom I will rule over gently, kindly and fairly as the new sultan after my beloved daddy croaks. Excuse me, I need to visit a poison salesman!” That is noble. It is a strong message. It even is in character for a medieval Arabic society where members of the royal family routinely killed off unwanted family members. But problem is, we don’t see any element of it.
That’s where the very heavy dose of salty irony comes in. We are shown she is weak while told she’s actually a strong female character. The movie cannot show in any other way that she is, supposedly, a strong female character than to have her sing about it and then absolutely never mention it again. Again, she interrupts Jafar seizing power to sing this song and then TALK TO HER GUARD HAKIM TO SAVE HER! How is this is not the most ironic thing you’ve ever tasted?
Throwing The Sandwich in The Garbage Can and Starting Over
And this is why this character doesn’t work. Because she isn’t a character. She has no personality traits. We don’t see any personality traits. We don’t see her act. We see her react to the events unfolding around her. We are just told over and over again that she is a strong person. This is lazy and very weak writing and a complete insult if you compare it to the 1992 version of the character. Whom was based on a flat character that essentially served as a prize for the Aladdin of that story to win.
And this is why this character gives me flatulant gas every time I look at her. Because in an attempt to deal with the fact that 1992 Jasmine is still a damsel in distress to some extent they made the character so much worse. Like, I can’t even lick her anymore! That’s how bad this is! I don’t even want to save this character, who is so much more a damsel in distress than her cartoon counterpart. I’m just going to say it: 2019 Jasmine is a Mary Sue and nothing more than a message to the audience. It’s weak writing, it’s lazy writing, it’s writing that someone like me would do for goodness’ sake. And I’m not a good writer! So yeah, burn this movie, burn the producer, burn the writers and burn the actors. BURN EVERYTHING THAT IS ASSOCIATED WITH THIS MOVIE AND EVERYONE WHO HAS EVER TALKED ABOUT IT! INCLUDING ME! I AM GOING TO BURN MYSELF NOW! GOODBYE!
- Be Careful What You Wish For – Why the Aladdin Remake is Terrible
- The Rise of the Mad Queen – Discussing Cersei’s Character Arc in Game of Thrones
- Groundhog Die – Why Hell is Other People is the Best Vampire Diaries Episode of Season 7
Copyright: The images used in this article are screenshots taken from the Aladdin (1993) and the official trailer of Aladdin (2019). The first image is an official promotional image for Aladdin (2019). We are allowed to use them under section 107 of the US Copyright Act of 1976. Aladdin (2019) and Aladdin (1993) and all promotional images are owned by Walt Disney Pictures.