Just to highlight my point about how dangerous the mainstream media can be in regards to hidden racism or racism presented as matter of fact or as lighthearted banter I would like to share this video. It’s a short segment taken from the Disney film Aladdin, which we are all familiar with.
Watching Disney films as a child was always fun for me, especially because of all the songs that were featured in them. Yet, not once did I ever actually -listen- to the songs and realise that those catchy songs sung by those lovable characters actually helped to portray negative stereotypes about men and women from the middle east. Now, I’m not saying that Disney has done this intentionally, but as Adults we can clearly see the harm of these hidden messages, especially how it may influence children’s thought. Yes, we may have laughed and sang along to these songs before but just be aware of the messages being spread.
The video focuses on the character Jafar. His long beard, dark eyes, turban and long dark gown not only play on his bad image as the villain in the film but represent a negative stereotype of Arabs as evil, barbaric people. Not only do they “cut off your ear” but they sing about it, why? Because it’s a norm where they call “home”! – What?? – Immediately when I saw this clip and heard those words I just remembered 911 and all the terrorist films and crude jokes that followed. After that horrific event everyone who was seen with a rucksack or big bag, with a full beard and ‘looked muslim’ was feared and hated. What I’m trying to emphasize is the point that stereotypes from the media do reflect back on society, and can change the behaviour and attitudes of individuals for the worst. The original poster of this video (hasanhd28 on youtube) made another interesting argument about how accents are used to convey good and evil and smart and dumb in Disney.