Jasmine

Fourth in the Character Review whining series is Jasmine, the princess from Aladdin and the only one who isn’t the main character of her film. And whom I don’t like either now that we’re at it, she’s probably my fourth least favourite.

Screen shots from disneyscreencaps.com.

Who she is

Jasmine is the princess in Aladdin. She is faced with a difficult situation when the law orders her to marry a prince within three days, but she hasn’t found anyone she’d want to marry, and the suitor candidates don’t please her. She decides to run away, and ends up meeting a street rat Aladdin, with whom she has an adventure and falls in love. Once the villain is defeated the two lovebirds must also conquer the problem that Aladdin is not a prince and thus ineligible to marry the princess.

jasmine

Appearance

Jasmine has a moderately more interesting face than the usual generic pretty face Disney has for many of their female characters. It’s hardly ground breakingly unique and still firmly built mostly of parts that are ‘acceptable’ for a woman that’s supposed to be beautiful to the audience, but at least her nose is different from most of the Disney girls. I hear people complaining that her eyes make her look like an alien, but I don’t mind them that much (or maybe I’ve watched too much anime that her eyes look pretty normal in comparison to some of the more bizarre stuff the East can offer). Maybe it’s because the competition isn’t too hard, but overall I find her face intriguing enough to watch.

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In the movie I really love Jasmine’s hair. In the merchandise images and on the theme park actresses her hair looks really weird and unnatural, but in the movie it’s just so poofy and bouncy and lovely. And in the scene where she’s brushing her hair it looks so soft and silky and I really want to touch it.

Jasmine joins Ariel in the group of stupidly skinny princesses. It’s still kind of disturbing, but in Aladdin it’s a bit less of a problem when everything is drawn in a more cartoony way than the Little Mermaid, so Jasmine having odd proportions doesn’t really stand out. But really, the “Basic Shapes of the Principal Characters” sheet is a bit depressing; every character has their unique shape, and, surprise surprise, the woman gets the exaggerated hourglass figure. Gee, that’s incredibly inventive, there’s such an oversupply of pear, square and round shaped pretty women in cartoons that the hourglass shape is such a nice and fresh change! Though to be fair Aladdin himself didn’t get any of the ‘odder’ shapes either and is kind of a generic pretty boy so I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on Jasmine either.

For a movie that takes place within something like a three-day time span Jasmine gets a satisfactory amount of outfits. Though are her outfits accurate at all for a princess in her time? Why does she dress like a harem girl? Did princesses really dress like that, or did the designers just go “an Arabic setting gives us harem girls, so we’ll use that so we can get the girl to show a lot of skin!“? Well, the Historically Accurate Jasmine fanart has an outfit showing her midriff, so I guess the movie isn’t totally off then?

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But anyway, not counting the possibly annoying fanservice aspect her wardrobe is pretty ok. The main blue outfit is distinct and memorable enough, though the other ones are a bit too similar to it so I can’t remember them too well. The one she wears at the end is pretty good too, but it’s on screen for so little time that I usually forget that it even exists.

Jasmine is the only of the Disney Princesses to wear pants, so she gets points for that (or well, Mulan wears pants too, but not really voluntarily). Sadly she changes to a skirt/dress a few times in her movie, which isn’t really bad per se, but I’d just love to have a Disney lead (human) female who doesn’t wear a skirt in her movie even once. Aaaaand right now I can’t think of any really. But Jasmine got so close!

Redesigns weren’t too kind towards Jasmine. Not gonna go into the sparkle vomit all over her since that’s a problem with all the redesigns, but what did they do to her beautiful bouncy hair!? Now it looks like a really weird ponytail when the middle “ball” of hair isn’t there! And the short stray strand at the front is just ugly. And she gets a skirt-like thing too, she’s supposed to be the princess who wears pants, don’t try to put anything that looks like a skirt on her main outfit!

jasmineRedesign

What I don’t like about her

Since Jasmine is not the main character of her film it’s not entirely fair to hold her up to the same standards as those princesses who are, so I’ll try to remember that.

But for starters, what is her character arc? How does she change? Her life sucks, but then a cute guy appears and her dad removes the sucky law, and then her life doesn’t suck any more? The most I can gather from her is that she learns to trust Aladdin and follow her heart, but… following her heart was the first thing she did really, escaping the palace, so even that wasn’t much of a change.

Jasmine suffers from the same problem as Ariel in that she starts out as an active lady who gets stuff done, but kind of fades into a passive character who mostly reacts to what other characters do. At first she takes action and leaves the palace herself because she wants to see the world, but that’s it. She doesn’t try to leave the palace any more, and while she does oppose the sultan and Jafar’s plans to marry her off she’s only complaining and not really doing anything about it. The huge ‘falling in love’ scene is about Aladdin dragging her out, all she has to do is say “okay” and sit.

Jasmine’s problem with the arranged marriage is so-so to me. On one hand, yeah, I wouldn’t like being a trophy wife either, but on the other hand… I don’t know, if they had shown the sexist environment more I would probably be more with her, but now she’s dangerously close to being a privileged whiner. The movie shows her having one responsibility (arranged marriage), but in the end she doesn’t have to do even that so she gets both her way AND continue to live in her fancy palace. Maybe they could have shown that she still has other responsibilities she has to deal with even if she did get her dream guy?

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How the issue about Aladdin being ineligible to marry Jasmine due to not being a prince was resolved in the most anticlimatic way I can think of. The sultan just cancels the law, and that’s that? I’ve seen arguments that it’s good for the sultan’s character development, since he’d been a passive ninny for most of the movie yet now he finally takes action, but that’s not nearly good an explanation enough for me not to have a problem with it. Jasmine is a completely passive player in this, so she just gets the solution handed to her. Which is incredibly boring for her character. As for the sultan, at least some of his inaction was due to Jafar putting spells on him, where I can’t really blame him for not getting more stuff done. And through the whole film he’s very nice towards Jasmine and the friction in their relationship is just because he’s too dumb to do anything useful.

My suggestions on how the ending solution would work better would include having the sultan and Jasmine have legitimate problems in their relationship (such as the sultan being outright sexist or something) and the sultan’s choice would reflect how his view of his daughter has changed. Or have Jasmine do some actual work to get the law changed, it’s a political decision so surely someone in the kingdom or sultan-dom or whatever it’s called would have something to say about the sultan just going “lol, I’ll just change this tradition because I feel like it!

Jasmine does depressingly little in the finale. She distracts Jafar with a kiss, which is great, but it didn’t really accomplish anything because Aladdin was spotted anyway. And then she gets trapped in a magic hourglass and needs to be rescued. I’ve read that she was supposed to break out herself with her sharp tiara, but noooo, the hero needs to save the damsel in distress in the climax! I could deal with it if she did something useful after being saved, but since she didn’t the scene really didn’t do anything else for me besides making Jasmine a damsel in distress. She already was a slave to Jafar who only got stronger and stronger all the time so it’s not like there wasn’t a lot of tension already even without making the female lead useless baggage.

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The previous problems are something I’m more willing to let slide (a bit at least) because she isn’t the main character. But I have other issues with her, and with them it’s irrelevant whether she’s the main character or not.

A lot of people seem to cite her lines “If I marry, I want it to be for love” or “I am not a prize to be won!” as her best lines or something like that. I kind of hate them. First, we’re in 2013, is a woman who doesn’t want to be a prize to be won somehow special? How many characters, female or otherwise, are there who don’t marry for love? Are these supposed to be some brand-new encouraging life lessons for me?

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Second and more importantly, it really bothers me when the authors feel the need to push their own values to places where they don’t belong. Such as Mulan 2: Gosh, the daughters of the Emperor of China must marry for political reasons! That is horrible! Wouldn’t it be so much better if the ancient Chinese people realised that the modern Western way of doing things is so much cooler and the princesses could choose who to marry!?! Now that is an idea indeed, but golly those ancient Chinese people were stupid!

….Aaaand Jasmine kind of falls in the same group. A political marriage in ancient Middle East? That is horrible! We can’t show kids how people used to live back then, let’s make the characters have conveniently modern values and then we can pat ourselves on the back for being such feminists! Next Jasmine should start to campaign for democracy and Christianity!

After reading the manga “A Bride’s Story” by Kaoru Mori Jasmine’s story feels even more shallow. A Bride’s Story tells about the life on the Silk Road in the 1800s, and depicts many arranged marriages. The author doesn’t write STRONG FEMYLE CHARICTERS who rebel against tradition and fight for their right to marry who their heart has chosen. Instead the characters just ~deal with it~ because that’s what was normal for the time (?), and the author doesn’t feel the need to judge the culture.

otoyomegatari

Jasmine’s rebellion doesn’t really fit in the context of Aladdin’s fictional kind-of-Arabic-but-not-really world either. We see that a thief can have their arms cut off just like that, but a princess throwing visiting prince suitors out of her room and having her tiger attack them? Shouldn’t the sultan be at war with every country out there if this is a regular occurrence? But nope, this is never addressed again, and Jasmine doesn’t have to worry her little head off with the political consequences of her actions. Brave does an infinitely better job at this for example.

What I do like about her

I’ve written a lot of whining about Jasmine, and now that I’ve finally entered the positive section I find that I don’t really have too much to say… But even with that I still place her well above my bottom three (Belle, Aurora and Ariel), because the fact that she somehow doesn’t annoy me to that extent even if I can find more positive things to say about Belle for example.

I believe the main reason for this is simply the fact that she’s not the protagonist of her movie. Aladdin the movie is Aladdin the character’s story (duh), and while I obviously have expectations for the lead female as well, it’s still easier to give Jasmine a pass on cases where the princesses who are the main character of their films get a lot more whining. Aladdin is the one I absolutely expect to learn from his shortcomings and have a central part in the climax of the movie, which he does, but not every side character and their mother needs to have an earth-shattering character arc.

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But anyway. Jasmine starts alright. Even if I’m not fully with her with her motives, at least she does something to achieve her dream and doesn’t just sing how her life sucks like Belle. And I have less problem with her running away than what I have with Ariel, because at least Jasmine is running away from what seems to be an imprisonment in her palace and an impending… arranged marriage, while Ariel gets to do whatever she wants under the sea but she thinks the grass is greener on the other side.

I’m not sure what to think of her randomly being super athletic (or a “fast learner”), but since the complaint section grew pretty long and I don’t really hate her that much (at least compared to the bottom three) let’s rather focus on what’s positive about it. It’s good for Aladdin and Jasmine’s relationship because it gives more reason for Aladdin to like Jasmine outside that she’s hot. Her quick wits in the scene where she pretends to be Aladdin’s crazy sister are a lot of fun too, and I find that a lot more believable for the character.

I sometimes see people complaining about the fact that Jasmine lets Aladdin off too easily for his lying, but that has never bothered me too much. Aladdin WAS a street rat, and as far as he knew the only way he really could get into the palace and marry the princess was to pretend to be a prince. I guess she could have cared a bit more, but considering the reason why Aladdin had to lie in the first place I find it unreasonable to expect that Jasmine should throw a huge tantrum on why he didn’t tell the truth in the first 24 hours of meeting her.

jasmineAladdin

Speaking of Aladdin, he and Jasmine do have a believable chemistry, so I guess that’s a plus too. And “A Whole New World” is a great song too.

Palace Pets

With Palace Pets Jasmine is lucky enough to only have one, a tiger called Sultan. Interestingly, it is the only male Palace Pet so far. I wonder why that is; sure, females are easier to sell since it is easier to vomit pink and sparkles on them, but why one male pet then? Why aren’t they all females? Why Jasmine out of all princesses has a male pet and not some of the others? If you want to have males can’t you then have like three out of fourteen of them? Now the gender distribution is a lot sillier than if all were females.

Back to the tiger itself, it’s not too bad on Palace Pet standards. Since it’s a male it doesn’t have a stupendous amount of jewelry thrown at it even if the headdress thing looks pretty bad. But remove that and it’s almost ok.

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Gallery

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Pixiv links that require a Pixiv account to be viewed properly:

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3 Responses to “Jasmine”

  1. Anon Says:

    I pretty much agree with you. Who is next?

  2. Jenny Says:

    I would really.like to read your meaning about Cinderella after Aurora and Snowwhite. Will you continue you princess reviews?

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