Disney is under fire for reportedly using makeup to darken the skin of light-skinned extras while filming the live-action version of “Aladdin.”
The Daily Mail reports Disney said that out of the 500 background performers in “Aladdin,” 400 are “Indian, Middle Eastern, African, Mediterranean and Asian.” However, that still leaves 100 actors who are presumably white—thus causing outrage.
According to BBC’s Newsbeat, Extra Kaushal Odedra told the Sunday Times that he personally saw “around 20” actors receive makeup in order to darken their skin.
He told the Sunday Times, “Aladdin was the perfect time to show diversity but also be accurate.”
“They're being out of touch with what's going on around them,” he added.
A Disney spokesperson told Deadline, “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,” the spokesperson continued.
Despite Disney’s statement, actor Kal Penn said that because it is 2018, Disney needs to do “do better”:
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
Disney made great strides in order to be diverse in their casting for “Aladdin.” Egyptian actor Mena Massoud will play “Aladdin” while Indian actress Naomi Scott will play Jasmine. Marwan Kenzari, who was born to Tunisian immigrants, will play Jafar. Will Smith will be the Genie.
Iranian-born Navid Negahban, who plays the sultan, told the Huffington Post there is not any whitewashing in the film.
“The thing is that the garden should be filled with flowers of different kinds,” he told the Huffington Post. “If not, the garden is going to be very boring. So you’re gonna go and see this beautiful garden with colorful flowers, and I just hope that you enjoy the journey.”
Despite the main roles in the film being filled with minorities, and despite the fact that the vast majority of the background extras are also “people of color,” it appears that some find the inclusion of any white people to be problematic.
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