There are a lot of theories surrounding the Disney movies, and Aladdin in particular. Specifically, no one really knows what to make of the Genie. He is one of those characters that fascinates just about everyone. Despite being a slave trapped in a lamp for over ten thousand years, he’s still upbeat and eager to help our hero out, even at the cost of his own freedom. While his mental state alone could be a post in and of itself, what really gets to people are all his pop culture references and how he seems to know so much. Coming to the rescue of all of us theorists, however, are Ron Clements and John Musker, co-directors of the movie, who recently revealed that one of the more popular theories—that Genie and the peddler are the same person—is true. While this is certainly big news indeed, it unfortunately doesn’t explain everything, specifically how Genie knows all those aforementioned pop culture references. Aladdin takes place c. 300 CE, so as Lady Geek Girl posits, Genie must have some form of omniscience, or at the very least, some form of precognition.
Another popular and plausible theory is that Aladdin takes place in the distant future, sometime after the rest of the world is wiped out by a nuclear apocalypse.
What we know about the world of Aladdin is that it takes place on Earth, and not some alternate reality version of Earth. Genie’s references to popular modern-day icons only support this. What we also know about Genie is that he’s been trapped in the lamp for around 10,000 years, but considering that oil lamps like the one he lives in weren’t invented until 100 CE, it would be kind of impossible for Aladdin to take place during the 3rd century. After Aladdin first discovers Genie, Genie then makes an off comment. He tells Aladdin that his clothes are “too 3rd century”. If this theory that Aladdin takes place in the future were true, that would put the current date at 10,300 CE at the earliest. Unfortunately, that would mean Genie was trapped in the lamp during the 20th century as well, and if he didn’t have omniscience, then he wouldn’t know all those pop culture icons he keeps bringing up.
This means that the last time Genie was out of the lamp had to be in the late 20th century, which then puts the current date at c. 12,000 CE. And the reason why Genie doesn’t bring up anything between 300 CE and 1992 CE is because he was once again trapped in the lamp during that period.
Since in the world of fiction, nuclear radiation gives people awesome abilities and not horrible cancerous illnesses, a nuclear fallout could also explain why the world is now populated with talking animals, and also why some people have magical abilities. Nuclear radiation could also potentially tell us why Mozenrath’s gauntlet is both so powerful and dangerous—it literally decays the flesh off his bones and has made him terminally ill. Another plausible explanation for all of this is that what people assume to be magic is simply advanced technology that people either take for granted or call magic. Iago is the result of genetic engineering and things like flying carpets are just leftover technology that was stored in the Cave of Wonders to protect it.
Over all the years, Arabia become Agrabah, and while we see references to Islam—people praise Allah in moments of happiness—there are no mosques and we never see anyone making use of prayer mats. Potentially, the religion has simply fallen out of practice. Further supporting this theory, littered throughout the desert are bones and skeletons.
Furthermore, as DisneyTheory.com also points out, the video game for Aladdin also supports this. At one level, we see a stop sign buried in the sand, and on another level there’s a nuclear warhead lying discarded in the background.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t know which theories regarding Genie I actually subscribe to—does Aladdin take place in the future, or is Genie just omniscient? One of the reasons I like the future theory more than I do the omniscience theory is because otherwise, Genie comes off as a cosmic asshole. Aladdin takes place in the real world—Agrabah does not exist in the real world, which means that at some point it would have gotten wiped off the map and Genie would’ve known about it before it happened.
But putting those moral quandaries aside, I still think both theories are fun. I’m also one of those people who believes all animated Disney movies take place in the same universe, and as such, I have always enjoyed reading about all the theories other Disney fans have come up with. Let me know what you guys think in the comments.