Disney Has Admitted To "Browning Up" Actors For "Aladdin" And People Are Furious
9 January 2018, 12:24 | Updated: 9 January 2018, 12:47
This is not ok. Not ok at all.
It's safe to say that Guy Ritchie's live-action Aladdin has been a liiiiiittle bit of a mess so far. It's been hit with more criticism in the past twelve months than we've had hot dinners in our entire lifetime.
Back in 2017, the film caught heavy criticism after casting half-British, half-Gurjarati Indian actress Naomi Scott as Jasmine. While people were thrilled that a woman of colour got the role, some thought the decision to not actually cast an actual Middle Eastern actress, of which the original casting call asked specifically for, in the role was a mistake.
A few months later, it was revealed that they would be inventing a new character for the film called Prince Anders. A white Prince. The likes of which never existed or needed to exist in the already successful, immensely popular and literally perfect original Disney movie. That didn't go down well at all.
And now, there's... this. Disney has admitted to "browning up" white actors to play certain background roles in the film.
According to the Sunday Times, an actor on set said that Disney has been tanning white actors to play extras in certain scenes.
Actor Kaushal Odedra said that he was working on set as a stand-in for one of the lead actors in September and saw a line of around 20 “very fair-skinned” actors who were “waiting to have their skin darkened.”
Odedra asked another man on set about the line of white actors and they both ultimately decided against complaining: “I asked a Saudi cast member what he made of having these extras being tanned so heavily and he said it’s unfortunate but this is how the industry works, and there’s no point complaining about it since it isn’t going to change.”
“Disney are sending out a message that your skin colour, your identity, your life experiences amount to nothing that can be powered on and washed off,” Odedra said.
Disney has now responded to Odedra's comments with a statement of their own, in which they admit to darkening the skin of certain actors.
“Great care was taken to put together one of the largest most diverse casts ever seen on screen. Diversity of our cast and background performers was a requirement and only in a handful of instances when it was a matter of specialty skills, safety and control (special effects rigs, stunt performers and handling of animals) were crew made up to blend in,” said a Disney spokesperson.
It's absolutely understandable that the importance of having the very best and highly trained stunt actors and professionals working on a large scale production is paramount but if you were SO committed to having the largest most diverse cast, then sweetie... why didn't you actively go out of your way to hire these people? Middle-eastern stunt actors DO exist. Middle-eastern animal handlers DO exist. You're just not looking hard enough.
I love @Disney so much. But when a PR person says they decided to put 100 people in Brownface in 2018 because not enough of us are qualified, that’s bs, someone just didn’t want to spend the $ to do it right. Let’s all expect more & do better this year.https://t.co/MzZJp6jvPB— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) January 7, 2018