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Disney's "Aladdin": Jafar Didn't Even Need the Genie

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Lee has a bachelor's in English Lit. She loves analyzing fiction and obsessing over books, film, and television.


Disney's 1992 classic, Aladdin, is full of controversial, problematic crap . . . all of which I'm going to ignore to focus on this:

Jafar did not need the genie to take over Agrabah.

Think about it.


The Sultan Was a Dumbass

If Agrabah was rife with poverty, misogyny, violence, and crime, it was because of this guy. Instead of running his kingdom, his main concerns are playing with his toys, eating crackers and juice at snack time, and occasionally toddling around on his short, stubby legs.

True to the Bumbling Dad trope, the sultan is basically an infant in a turban. His contemporaries include Belle's father from Beauty and the Beast, Jane's father from Tarzan, Homer Simpson, and Mr. Magoo.


Given that Jafar hypnotizes him on a regular basis, the villain is basically already running Agrabah (guess it's not surprising that it's such a crap-kingdom. No wonder Aladdin has no shoes).

But that still leaves the question . . . why does Jafar need the genie?

Simply because he wasn't content with running everything from the shadows? Doing so was actually smart, because the second he tried to run things legit, he exposed himself and was ousted.

Jafar got screwed over by Aladdin because he didn't embrace the magic of believing in himself. He didn't need the genie to take over Agrabah!

Let's look at the facts here.


Jafar Was a Genius

Jafar basically lives in a fantasy version of "Arabia" where no one has electricity or running water. And yet, this guy has huge machinery hidden away in the palace that runs on electricity.

I think it's safe to say this brilliant contraption is Jafar's invention.

Ironically enough, he uses this incredible machine to find Aladdin, who he believes he can use to get the lamp.

But . . . why didn't Jafar just use his magnificent brain to stage a coup? He could have easily hypnotized the guards—or hell, bought them off. We see how dirty they are when they eagerly agree to kill Aladdin by leaving him to drown in the lake.

Why weren't the guards charged after this?

Why weren't the guards charged after this?

Instead of wasting all his time and energy hunting down Aladdin and setting him up to be arrested, all Jafar had to do was use the resources already at his disposal.

Why didn't Iago point out the fallacy here? He's usually so good at doing that.


He Was a Master of Disguises

Instead, Jafar goes through the trouble of slapping on makeup and some smelly rags, then binding himself into a hunchback and slipping inside the palace dungeons. All so he can trick Aladdin into retrieving the lamp for him—which he winds up losing anyway.

In doing all this, he basically ensured that the lamp wound up in the possession of the one person in Agrabah who could stop him.

And again, it's truly ironic how talented he is and how that talent is utterly wasted. I mean, look at his costume! Do you even recognize him? I don't!

He could have made millions as some kind of artist, selling his work to rulers around the world. Or hell, he could have been paid to make costumes for assassins and spies. Instead, he focused his creative energy on stealing a lamp he didn't even need.


He Was a Powerful Magician

When Aladdin busts Jafar for controlling the sultan with his staff, the guards try to arrest Jafar and he disappears in a puff of smoke.

So not only was Jafar competent enough to control the sultan unnoticed for years, but he could also "disappear" on the spot whenever he wished. He could probably have already controlled Jasmine and anyone else in the palace by now. Why did he need to make that gross wish with the genie?


Jafar Basically Had Low Self-Esteem

It wasn't until Aladdin tricked him that Jafar even thought of becoming an all-powerful genie. Before that, he just wanted to be a sorcerer, like every bright-eyed boy.

He didn't believe his parlor tricks and brainpower were enough, even though real coups have happened with less. And when Aladdin still bested him (then goaded him on top of that) he decided he needed to be an all-powerful GENIEEEE.

Naturally, it was his undoing.



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© 2018 Lee