Hashtag #ArabianNights

When I began ‘A Thousand And One Recaps’ I created a dedicated Twitter account for the project: @1001recaps. I post links to each of the recaps and the other blog posts on this site, and share other people’s tweets about The Arabian Nights.

To that end, I have a saved search for ‘Arabian Nights’ on Tweetdeck. It presents a stream of tweets that use that phrase, which in turn has revealed many interesting thoughts, articles and artworks about Shahrazad and her stories.

But I have also noticed four major recurring themes. They are:

  • Disney’s Aladdin films
  • Magic The Gathering
  • Justin Trudeau
  • Porn

The first of these is pretty self-explanatory. Disney’s Aladdin (1992) was one of the studio’s renaissance era box-office hits. It broke the record for the highest-grossing animated movie, and I suppose it now represents at (most?) people’s first encounter with the world of The Arabian Nights. Robin Williams voiced the genie.

There was a live-action remake in released in 2019, with Will Smith playing the role of the genie. A lot of the discussion on Twitter about The Arabian Nights is actually about ‘Arabian Nights,’ the song.

Magic: The Gathering

This is a card game, released in 1993. I have never played it, but I know it is internationally popular. Last year the Imaginary Worlds podcast produced a fantastic episode about the game:

Eric Molisky looks at why this handheld card game has survived the onslaught of competition from digital games, and how the designers at Wizards of the Coast create a sense of story and world-building within a non-sequential card game.

The very first expansion pack for Magic: The Gathering, released in December 1993, was a set of Arabian Nights themed cards. A significant portion of the ‘Arabian Nights’ is therefore discussions about or pictures of that set of cards. Some mint condition cards sell to collectors for hundreds of dollars.

Justin Trudeau

The Prime Minister of Canada is known for his progressive politics. But in 2001 he, regrettably, dressed up in ‘brownface’ to attend a fancy dress gala. Now his detractors frequently mention the infamous ‘Arabian Nights’ party as a way of calling Trudeau a hypocrite.

Justin Trudeau, second from right.


It seems that #ArabianNights is a genre of erotica and porn. This is unsurprising, given the erotic nature of many of the stories, and the prevalence of concubines throughout the book. But what is interesting about the images posted on Twitter (see, for example, @ZaraXplicit, NSFW) is that they do not seem to offer a version of Shahrazad, or play out any kind of Aladdin or caliphate fantasy. The hashtag is nothing more than a synonym for a woman of Middle Eastern origin.

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