After the success of Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, fans were understandably excited for Aladdin to get the same live-action treatment. But a number of announcements about the upcoming film have left fans skeptical to say the least.
First, there was the news that Jasmine would be played by Naomi Scott, an actor who is British and Indian rather than Middle Eastern like all the characters in the original story. Aladdin will be played by Egyptian actor Mena Massoud, which seems to have helped smooth things over with fans who were disappointed in Jasmine’s casting.
But now, The Hollywood Reporter has announced that there will be a completely new character in the live-action version of the story. This new character will be played by actor Billy Magnussen, who is clearly white. What makes the news even harder for fans to swallow is that Magnussen’s character’s name is “Prince Anders.” We don’t know any plot details yet, but you know that sounds like he’s a rival prince who is also competing for Jasmine’s heart, which doesn’t sound like the Aladdin many of us grew up with.
The announcement of Magnussen’s casting has left fans feeling very upset; it’s totally understandable. For a movie that’s set in the ancient Middle East where white people literally don’t exist and furthermore to add what might well be a white character into a cast that’s clearly focused on staying true to casting actors of color, as the logic of Aladdin dictates, is as confusing as it is frustrating.
"The story of Aladdin is almost perfect. But you know what it's missing? A white prince that wasn't in the original…"
— Said Nobody Ever
— Jay Thomas (@ThisJayThomas) September 6, 2017
Did disney just create an entire different plot for Aladdin so they can have a white character
— 𝐢𝐟𝐟𝐲¹²⁷ (@joonsmarveI) September 6, 2017
Lol that's nice how white people will make up new jobs just to hire and pay another white person. Maybe one day they do that for poc too.
— skim (@skimcasual) September 6, 2017
Look, the fans have a point here. There was no need to add a white actor to Aladdin, a story that should be a space for people of color since it focuses on the lives of people of color. Those spaces are already so lacking in Hollywood, and at the moment, it still seems completely unnecessary that an arbitrary white character was added into this precious film for no reason.