The Aladdin of 2019 comes with some updates. There’s now a Swedish(ish) idiot played by Billy Magnussen; Aladdin’s parkour gets the Guy Ritchie slow-mo treatment; there are resolutely no scenes in which a monkey maybe swears or the main character maybe says some creepy stuff about teenagers; and Jasmine, once an object that everyone simply wanted to claim, is given some much-needed agency, and goals that go beyond earning the affection of men. All of these changes are welcome. Sure, it’s a little weird to watch a remake of a childhood classic and realize deep within your soul that your emotions have been exploited for profit by a global conglomerate for three-plus decades now, but at least I finally know how old people felt about War of the Worlds in 2005.
But there is one update in Aladdin that I can’t abide, and that I unfortunately haven’t been able to stop thinking about: The Genie, as played by Will Smith in blue paint, is very much interested in having sex with humans.
This is an actual plot point in the movie: After turning Aladdin into Prince Ali and presenting him to the city of Agrabah, Genie, who has turned himself into a human aide to Prince Ali, lays eyes on Jasmine’s handmaiden, Dalia (Nasim Pedrad). Right away he’s super DTF. And so is she—understandably, because who wouldn’t be attracted to a guy who looks like this:
In order to distract Dalia so that Aladdin can take Jasmine on a magic carpet ride and sing “A Whole New World” to her, Genie volunteers to take Dalia on a walk. He brings her flowers; he stammers, presumably because after a thousand years of living inside a lamp, he’s rusty—BUT ALSO BECAUSE HE’S A GENIE. She is smitten.
Now, here’s where things get messy: Jafar, the Linus Caldwell of Agrabah, eventually gets his hands on the magic lamp, and thus becomes Genie’s master. When he unleashes Genie in front of everyone in the palace—a plume of blue fog spilling out of a lamp to reveal a disconcertedly blue, muscly Will Smith—Dalia is crushed, and I assume, irreparably damaged. You never suspect that your boyfriend is gonna be the one who turns out to be a mythical genie. And on top of all that, Jafar is hypnotizing people, turning his parrot into a gargantuan monster, staging a coup in Agrabah, and saying some really denigrating stuff about women. It’s not until, after much jostling, Aladdin finally gets the magic lamp back that the day is saved. But that’s when Genie’s sex saga really takes off.
Aladdin frees Genie, which cures him of his blueness and turns him into the aforementioned human-looking version of the character. This is another departure from the 1992 film, in which the freed Genie stays blue and … altogether genie-like. Now basically human, Genie turns to Dalia and proposes a life together. “Yes!” she says immediately. “And I want children.” Genie doesn’t say anything, but just chuckles in a way that perhaps says, Well, yeah, that’s what happens when you have sex.
So, OK, let’s pump the brakes. This is a woman who literally just watched a blue entity transform into Will Smith with a topknot, and she has zero qualms about starting a relationship with him. Shouldn’t she be more curious about his life? Or about his job prospects? Or, ya know, if he has all of the necessary body parts? Thirty seconds ago he was GASEOUS MATTER. And what about Genie? Why did he need a love interest? Shouldn’t he be more bummed about how he can’t fly anymore? Why is he so very thirsty?
You might accuse me of slut-shaming Genie from Aladdin, and you know—maybe I am! What of it? I liked it better when I could watch this movie and not be forced to think about Genie having sex—how that would even work; how a child between a woman and a genie could ever come out looking normal.
The new Aladdin begins with a scene in which Smith is a sailor with a very unkempt beard (it also has beads in it), who tells his two children the story of Aladdin to convince them that actually their boat isn’t a piece of crap. By the end of the movie, we learn that this sailor is Genie, in his new life with Dalia. They had sex, at least twice, and they had the kids—who by all accounts seem to have all of their limbs. They got a boat. They’re traveling the world, living their dreams. I’m glad they’re happy. Because I’m not.