“‘If you don’t want to be boiled in oil,’ she said very reasonably, ‘what are you doing here?'” (Langley, 54).
I love the little details in the opening – how the guards Sulkpot enlists gets Thursday off and how the one guard, Kublai Snoo, wants more than anything to catch a suitor. Admittedly, that’s an odd name, but I’m getting used to it.
As he’s minding his own business, Kublai Snoo is knocked into a bed of hollyhock. By Abu Ali who climbed over the wall. Who helps him out of the hollyhock. Who says he’s the forty thieves (since Kublai Snoo’s cap is over his eyes).
What the heck, Abu Ali? Why are you pretending you’re one of the forty thieves? Also, nice attempt at authenticity by talking to yourself in different voices.
Him doing that reminds me of how in Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Aladdin’s father is the King of thieves, and if Cassim visited his grandkids in Agrabah, he could have told them about the other thieves. How they talked, and acted, et. al. Which could totally fit with Abu Ali’s behavior. Like what if he actually had heard stories about them, for reals? Amusing!
Then Silver Bud finds him at it and is all what the heck are you doing? And, oh my god, Silver Bud! So many words describing her as rational and smart and fearless. Her initial trait is beauty, which, I guess, is to be expected, but I like her sensible character. Also love how sincere Abu Ali is in getting her out (and her own “yeah, let’s leave” attitude).
Of course her father and the Princes appear before they can escape. Here are some quick responses to that:
- “bunioned feet” (55). Nice detail about her father’s feet. Makes me think of someone worrisome but nasty (sorry bunions).
- okay, how did the two princes get inside if there’s guards? But maybe because they’re princes it’s okay to let them in?
Returning to the matter of being a prince — Sulkpot automatically codes Tintac and Rubdub as “gentlemen”, while Abu Ali is a no good “cutthroat” (57). Does that mean the visual codes of being a prince or upper class are dressing fancy, looking snooty, or just having a general air of dislikability?
Actually, Aladdin follows the same pattern. The only prince we see is cruel and snooty, and Jasmine later eludes to the fact that most of the princes she’s met have been nothing but “swaggering peacocks” (Aladdin). So they’re fancily dressed, short-tempered, and conceited.
There’s also a lot of strange visual cues about what being a prince or well-to-do means in the Aladdin TV Series. Like there’s a late prince suitor for Jasmine who is cruel to animals (he tries to slice a rat), decadently dressed, and incredibly insulting to practically everyone.
And then there’s the time when Aladdin wants to be cultured, so he slicks back his hair and tries to act snooty. Like really? That’s what princes are like here, too? With the exception of Abu Ali. And no one even believes he’s a prince.
Being true to their nature, the Princes are creeps when they ogle Silver Bud.
“’My!’ said Ping Foo with a smirk.
‘Yum yum!’ said Rubdub vulgarly (57).
The two princes are also childish and churlish when Silver Bud declares she’ll only marry the bravest suitor. Which means danger. Which makes the Princes whine about their “mummie” and not talking to strangers (58). I thinks its supposed to add to their dislikability.
Initially when Sulkpot began to set tasks for Silver Bud’s suitors (to prove their bravery), I automatically thought of a very specific plot.
I mean, suitors who have to go on a quest to get fabulous stuff for a princess? And the first one is a Magic Carpet? Is this going to be the first part of “Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Paribanou“? Where he and his brothers have to get three amazing items and whoever brings the best one gets to marry their cousin.
It’s a popular story trope in Orientalist film. For example, it’s a central part of the plot in 1924’s Thief of Bagdad. Different suitors arrive to marry the princess, but she doesn’t want to marry any of them, so she sends them go off and get various amazing items (which usually include a magic carpet, a omnipotent spyglass, and a healing fruit or water). In The Thief of Bagdad, a jewel from an idol replaces the spyglass, I think.
Anyway, I feel like I’ve seen it a lot. it’s a pretty common trope. (Also, surprisingly, The Thief of Bagdad features an unwanted obese suitor.)
But then, nope, this story swipes that prediction out from under me. Sulkpot tells the OTHER PRINCE to get a Magic Carpet too! That prediction is kaput!
So, instead of a Magic Carpet, Sulkpot tells Abu Ali to get Three Tail Feathers from a Magic Phoenix Bird.
And then the story gives me this when Abu Ali is leaving: “to avoid any display of unheroic feeling, [he] jumped over the wall at a bound” (60). What does “unheroic” mean? Like not crying? I just thought it was an odd choice of word.
Furthermore, it had the scent of heavily binary gender implications – men are heroes and so have all the associated traits: stalwart, brave, strong. Unto themselves, those aren’t bad traits. The trouble is when they’re enforced and coded onto cis male bodies. Which leads to instants where they have to avoid being “unheroic.” Bah!
On to better things, like the sixth chapter, next week.
- rapacious: adj
- balefully: adj
Silver Bud: “‘I claim the right to chose the bravest for my husband!'” (57)
Aladdin. Dir. Ron Clements and John Musker. Walt Disney Studios Buena Vista Pictures, 25 Nov. 1992. DVD.
Langley, Noel. The Land of Green Ginger. Jeffrey, NH: David R. Godine Publisher, 1975. Print.