…you knew I had a huge thing for Aladdin.
Before Aladdin was released in November 1992, I wasn’t a huge Disney kid. In fact, to this day I have yet to see The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast (I can hear your collective gasps right now), but there was something about Aladdin that changed things for me.
Back then, I wasn’t aware of what that something was, but as I got older it became more obvious.
On its surface, Aladdin was colorful, funny, smart, and full of pop culture references (something that no animated films were doing at the time, let alone Disney animated films). But beneath all of that, something much more substantial was present. For me, Aladdin was an epiphany, a revelation that creative people could actually make a living making cool shit.
Before its release, I just assumed I’d graduate high school, then go on and graduate college and earn a degree in something I had no passion for, then get a shitty job doing something I hated/resented, and then (eventually, hopefully after a few decades of living life) die.
But Aladdin changed all of that. I can honestly say that it was because of Aladdin that I pursued art school, that I ended up in Ohio, that I have many of the friends I still cherish today, and that I now find myself in the career I’m in. Of course, I’m not the Disney animator I was positive I would be when I was 16 years old, but it’s all connected.
Up until today, I never fully appreciated what role Robin Williams played in that as well. Sure, he was just a voice talent—Disney animated films have hundreds of them—but he was the Genie incarnate, and most definitely responsible for much of the film’s humor and voice.
I’m in no way a card-carrying member of The Robin Williams Fan Club (that hat is worn by my great buddy Latta… whom I met in Ohio because I moved there to become a Disney animator), but the man was most definitely one of the most gifted talents of our time. The World According to Garp. Good Morning, Vietnam. The Fisher King. Awakenings. Hook. What Dreams May Come. Dead Poets Society. Being Human. Jumanji. One Hour Photo. Toys. Mrs. Doubtfire. The Birdcage. And on, and on, and on.
But most importantly (at least for me), Aladdin.
Unlike nearly all other celebrity deaths, this one feels a bit personal because, back in 1992, Robin Williams had a creative hand in something that changed my life forever. Even if he never knew it.
The world is slightly less creative today than it was yesterday.
I usually sign off with a final thought that reads as a “sincerely” (something I admit stealing from Dwellephant), but instead I’ll leave you with these two awesome photos.