Remember at the end of Aladdin?
Jafar finally gets the lamp and stuff goes downhill real quick. He goes from super-creepy dude with a mild hypnotic power to being a sultan to being a sorceror to being an all-powerful genie in the space of, I dunno, five minutes of movie time? And it’s like, quickly apparent to everybody that he’s overstepped, got in over his head in his race and rage for power, and just like that, it’s over?
I keep thinking about that moment lately.
Not because of Jafar, in particular — although Jafar is interesting enough as a comparison to *ahem* certain figures in current events. (Lies a lot, power-hungry, more than a little skeevy, more focused on having power than actually wielding it.)
No, I keep thinking about Iago.
Jafar’s accomplice, Iago. His parrot. You know, voiced — annoyingly, yet somehow, iconically — by Gilbert Gottfried? (Yes, obviously, I’m talking about the animated version, but honestly, this little detour works just as well in the live-action remake.)
Jafar gets sucked into the lamp at the end — rightfully so, as anybody in the audience would conclude — and out of, what? Spite? Rage? An unwillingness to go down alone? He drags Iago into the lamp with him.
I’m not arguing Iago did no wrong. He did. He was Jafar’s accomplice throughout the whole thing; he even — if I’m remembering rightly (though it’s been a while) — helps to sabotage Aladdin and Jasmine at a few points. And he is certainly happy to avail himself of Jafar’s status and power along the way.
But Iago is not, in and of himself, evil. And certainly not as evil as Jafar. And certainly certainly not doomed to a practical eternity in a lamp with the now power-mad and raging Jafar evil.
Iago was a patsy. A henchman. He was the tool of Jafar, not because he wanted to do evil himself, but by dint of being slave to an evil master.
Had Iago belonged to another master, he would almost certainly have turned out differently. Iago didn’t choose his evil, he was driven to it, and would as easily be driven to good, had things gone differently for him.
So Iago being dragged into the lamp to suffer for millenia just because Jafar is a sore loser?
Doesn’t quite sit right.
But Jafar is who he is, and he can’t stomach losing alone, so he’s determined to drag somebody — anybody — down with him.
So, obviously, the parallel I’m making here is between Jafar — who is beaten and he knows it, and drags down his loyal henchman into the abyss with him — and a certain somebody in American politics — who is beaten and he knows it, and is stubbornly allowing his henchmen to self-immolate in the national media on his behalf, because he can’t stand the truth.
The difference, of course, is that Iago tries to flee in the end — he just can’t escape Jafar’s grasp.
The Iagos of the current day do not seem to be fleeing all that hard.