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A woke new world: Who deemed the ‘outdated attitudes’ on display in 2019’s ‘Aladdin’ movie unacceptable in 2020?

Guy Birchall
Guy Birchall

Guy Birchall, British journalist covering current affairs, politics and free speech issues. Recently published in The Sun and Spiked Online. Follow him on Twitter @guybirchall

Guy Birchall, British journalist covering current affairs, politics and free speech issues. Recently published in The Sun and Spiked Online. Follow him on Twitter @guybirchall

A woke new world: Who deemed the ‘outdated attitudes’ on display in 2019’s ‘Aladdin’ movie unacceptable in 2020?
Sky Movies placed a warning on the Disney remake letting viewers know that they might be offended by a children’s film. If I had three wishes for corporate wokeness they would be “stop, stop and please, please, please stop”.

Life comes at you fast, as the kids say, but it apparently hurtles towards you at the speed of sound, if you’re Sky Movies. The entertainment provider has taken to putting warnings on films that display “outdated attitudes” and “cultural depictions which may cause offence today” – and this apparently includes the ‘Aladdin’ adaptation that came out… last year.

I’m just about old enough to remember the dim and distant days of May 2019, when the Guy Ritchie offering received its cinematic release. A very dark time for the movie industry, replete with hideous racism. I mean how could anyone watching this remake of the 1992 animation, with its virtually entirely ethnic-minority casting, not conclude it was an obvious racist dog whistle? 

Will Smith can only have taken the role of the genie because he wanted to mock the Middle East. Ritchie himself was clearly trying to sneak his deep-seated contempt for Arabs into the cultural zeitgeist by implying they all ride magic carpets, believe in jinn, and frequently and spontaneously burst into song.  Frankly, how Disney ever signed off on the project is staggering, now we view it through the enlightened eyes of 2020. How anyone can look back on what we thought was acceptable 13 months ago with anything but a mixture of horror and disgust is beyond me. 

Personally, I’m shocked that it got away with a PG (Parental Guidance) rating at the time. How on earth could the British Board of Film Classification possibly have thought it acceptable for children to watch a blue Will Smith dance around in a spangly turban? Those poor kids must either have been scarred for life or will have to undergo extensive re-education. I mean, the only appropriate solution for any child whose parents took them to the cinema to see ‘Aladdin’ is that they should be immediately taken into care to stop them from growing up to be white supremacists. 

And ‘Aladdin’ isn’t the only movie that Sky is warning us has “outdated attitudes”. ‘Aliens’ obviously does (though those views are presumably outdated because it’s set in the future, so humanity hasn’t had a chance to develop them yet), and ‘The Jungle Book’ remake from 2016 carries the warning, too, as do ‘Flash Gordon’ and ‘Trading Places’. ‘Tropic Thunder’ and ‘White Chicks’ also both bear the advisory, perhaps for more obvious reasons, but both of those movies are still less than 20 years old and stirred up no controversy at the time, being widely praised as great comedies. 

Obviously, this all started with the ‘Gone with the Wind’ debacle, which also fell foul of the “outdated attitudes” warning on Sky, having been pulled altogether by HBO last week for the same reason. But while that movie – which, incidentally, provided the role that earned the first Oscar for a black actress, in the shape of Hattie McDaniel – was made in 1939, whereas ‘Aladdin’ was made last year. Woke madness is currently rocketing through time at a rate previously achieved only by Marty McFly.

Bizarrely, neither ‘12 Years a Slave’ nor ‘Django Unchained’ have been slapped with this warning, despite literally being about slavery and both containing dialogue that virtually uses the n-word as a form of punctuation.

This nonsense needs to stop. It makes the entire woke brigade look ridiculous. How can you expect anyone to believe your movement isn’t operating some kind of “year zero” approach to the world when it’s terrifying corporations into slapping “outdated attitudes” trigger warnings on children’s films from the previous calendar year? ‘Aladdin’ is a light-hearted Disney musical, not ‘Birth of a Nation’ or ‘Triumph of the Will’, and even if it were, watching movies doesn’t make someone a racist. Erasing the past is bad enough – erasing yesterday is completely insane.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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