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NO KILL I
27 May 2010 @ 08:40 am
Day 16 - A song that makes you cry (or nearly)

There was a time in my life when 'Never Had a Friend Like Me' from Aladdin was guaranteed to make me cry.  For those who saw it - you remember that scene?  There's Aladdin, stuck in the cave with a monkey, and doing a half-hearted job trying to clean the stupid lamp he stole from the stupid cavern to give to that stupid old man - when lo and behold, Mrs Doubtfire pops out and proceeds to do bizarre character impressions from her comic routine that she's been practicing for the past, say, 3000 years.  It might be a tad dated.

Now Aladdin is savvy and has his doubts about Dr Patch Adams. Is he really a genie? Can he do more than hokey impressions of tv celebrities? What exactly IS a genie anyway? Undaunted, Patch is determined to demonstrate to the puny mortal, not just his interweb-sized familiarity of entertaining facts, but also that he happens to have AWESOME COSMIC POWERS. And even better, that he's inherently tied to Aladdin's plot fate (although this is an Arabic story and Islamic faith can be a little meh about predestination and fortune-telling...but Aladdin is a good lad and listens politely anyway).

So, Jumanji launches into the kick-starter song, typical to Disney animated features - songs like 'Under the Sea' or 'Be Our Guest' or 'Just Can't Wait to be King', which utilize peppy, energetic-bordering-on-frenetic singing and choreography to propel the protagonist into a life-changing decision.  Jumanji spares no expense in creating an affectionate fanfare, a tribute to a potentially long-lasting BFF relationship with puny mortal Aladdin.

The song 'Never Had a Friend Like Me' earnestly and desperately tries to convince Aladdin just how much the genie needs and loves him (Aladdin, for the record, remains unimpressed and dupes poor Teddy Roosevelt...but Teddy is a sport and gets over it, for the sake of friendship) - and beneath all the hilarious in-jokes and rapid-fire pop culture references, 'Never Had a Friend Like Me' hums plea of loneliness, something sweet and intent on showing one creature trying all sorts to assure a puny mortal that they are, indeed, worthy of a friendship.

Is this song really about friensdship though? Aladdin, being a good little diamond in the rough, of course sees that friendship is a two-way street - but the idea that with every single puny mortal (some with debatable morals) John Keating has to haul out this song and dance routine and say self-esteem-damaging things like: What will your pleasure be?/Let me take your order, jot it down/You ain't never had a friend like me, no no no and You're the boss, the king, the shah/Say what you wish, it's yours...it's rather heart-rending and painful to see Keating deliver such a debasing song, with such earnest hope.

It's not easy the other way either.  For Aladdin - who is living in a very stringent classist empire - the very notion of having someone - anyone - who immediately purports support, love and loyalty  (not the mention that they happen to have AWESOME COSMIC POWERS) can be overwhelming. True to his upbringing, he initially treats the genie with a combination of suspicion and nonchalance. But underneath his street-sense, you know Aladdin is thrilled to see that someone - even someone like Mork - wants to be his friend.

And yeah, sometimes I cry thinking about this and their attempt at something real, honest, affectionate, initiated immediately by the theme that 'You ain't never had a friend like me'. What a wonderful idea, true friendship is.

ETA: people may think I'm thinking WAY too much about a Disney song I'd heard a thousand times before but then suddenly found it oh, so Spechul - but you gotta understand that I tend to get extremely emotional about themes of camaraderie, family, loyalty and trust. I attribute it to a past life or something.


Read the lyrics: Never Had A Friend Like MeCollapse )




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