Nostalgia 101 - Wonders of the '90s: Disney teaches it’s the inside that counts
Published: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 4, 2013 13:03
This column is dedicated to the wonderful decade of the 1990s, an age where boy bands ruled the world and TV shows still used segments to say “We now return to…” before the network sold that space to advertisements.
Many college students here at UConn and across America proudly wave the flag of being a ’90s kid. If you were born between the late ‘80s or the mid ‘90s, you probably remember the culture of the time: Nickelodeon shows such as “Hey Arnold” and “Kenan and Kel,” films starring Shaquille O’Neal and general confusion about what that “Internet” thing was.
Every Monday I’ll be reviewing a throwback piece or two of nostalgia ranging from music, laughable and wonderful, to favorite childhood TV shows, toys, video games, fashion and technology.
If for no other reason than the simple “Aww, I miss that” effect this column aims to resurge an interest for our generation to evaluate what we loved about these things, where our culture has gone since then and hopefully inspire people to incorporate them into the future.
This week I’ll start off with possibly one of my favorite movies of all time, regardless of nostalgia, Disney’s “Aladdin.” Written and directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, the 1992 classic and its wonderful animation would go on to receive five Academy Award nominations and two awards.
The film features the famous Robin Williams as Aladdin’s magic Genie, Scott Weinger as the titular hero and Gilbert Gottfried as everyone’s favorite trouble-making parrot Iago.
Protagonists Aladdin and Princess Jasmine, as well as the Genie, all share the theme of feeling or being trapped, either inside or out. This is a very relatable theme for most kids searching for identity, doubly so now in the stressful, uncertain world of college. The writers resolve the issue using compassion and teamwork to overcome obstacles set by the malicious Jafar, “trusted” advisor to the Sultan of Agrabah.
The film also preaches the line “It’s not what’s on the outside, but what’s on the inside, that counts.” The line is an allusion to the magic lamp where the Genie lives and of course to Aladdin himself, being much stronger and smarter than his “street-rat” appearance, but also taught viewers confidence in themselves despite the adversity they may have faced, an important lesson for kids to learn.
Not only is the film a wonderful fable but a masterpiece of a musical. The soundtrack, written by Alan Menken, includes favorites such as the unforgettable award-winning “A Whole New World,” “One Jump Ahead” performed by Brad Kane, and “Prince Ali” and “Friend Like Me” performed by Robin Williams himself, backed by the full Disney orchestra.
The tunes are simple and endearing but the intricacy of the symphonies is something only a true musician could compose and the lyrics are alternatively inspiring, insightful and full of Williams’ spot-on humor, making “Aladdin” into a thrill-ride of a musical.
“Aladdin” earns an A for its story structure, message, music, relatability and the incredible job done by the cast to bring the characters to life, but there’s no question that its important and well-told themes were important lessons for young kids to learn, even if they didn’t know they were learning them.
We all love different things about the 90’s. If there’s something you really want to hear about, or just want it in the paper so other people can hear about it, feel free to send me an email or tweet me, @Mattthew305.