Aug 9, 2014

Aladdin: the Musical is More Homoerotic than the Movie

Aladdin, the Chinese boy who finds a magic lamp, does not appear in the original Arabic stories of The Thousand and One Nights.  He was apparently invented for the French translation (1704-1717), which added the same heteronormative plotline as fairytales of the era: Aladdin wins the hand of a princess.

Modern adaptions of the story tend to emphasize the heterosexist angle, centering the plot on a rich girl-poor boy romance.

The worst offender is Disney's Aladdin (1992), which crams hetero-romance down your throat, and tops it off by giving the Genie (Robin Williams) a few homophobic gay-stereotype characters to riff on.


But at least it has inspired a lot of live-action Aladdins with pecs popping out of their sleveless vests.  They wander around in Disneyland and Disney World; they appear in pantomimines and on Broadway (such as Adam Jacobs, left), and in high schools, community colleges, and little theaters all over the world (such as Dom Domenich, top photo).













There's even a children's version, with Aladdin, singing and dancing with funny animals.

But the 2011 musical version of Aladdin has something that the movie never did: friends.

When the Genie is played by a human-sized person, his bond with Aladdin has more homoerotic potential:

Our bond will last like Mutt and Boomer's
OMG the guys are BFFs!
Say ain't it great to know that somebody's got your back!






Plus Aladdin has a gang of buddies who appear at various points in the plot:

Good pals, blood brothers,
Me and three others
Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim

They don't form the pairs necessary for a gay subtext, but they at least form a masculine counterpoint to the excessive girl-craziness that mars this fairy tale.

And they're just as shirtless as Aladdin himself (left: Andrew Keenan-Bolger, the first Omar).