Disney just can’t seem to pull off its live-action remake of Aladdin without being problematic as heck. First, there was the choice to cast an Indian woman as Princess Jasmine, which caused backlash claiming Disney saw people of color as one and the same since all the characters in the story are of Middle Eastern origin. Then, there was more backlash over the casting of a new character that never existed in the original Disney animated version of Aladdin: a second prince who is white. God forbid a movie set in the Middle East should have a Middle Eastern cast and no white people, right?
Now, Disney is embroiled in yet another scandal for its treatment of the racial casting and realities integral to the story of Aladdin. Actor Kaushal Odedra, an extra on the set, told the Sunday Times that he saw a line of 20 white extras waiting to be spray tanned to look like they had darker skin.
“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,” Odedra said. That statement is painful enough to read just because of how hopeless people of color in the industry have become that standards can change and they can be valued like white actors. But what Odedra said next might be even worse.
“Also, if I’d wanted to discuss it, speaking to the almost entirely white crew seemed somewhat intimidating,” he added.
So Disney resorted to Brown face make up for extras on the set of Aladdin. Ok.😐😒
— BadBot006 (@BadBot006) January 10, 2018
— Rodney Blackwell (@SamoanBlack) January 10, 2018
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Disney claimed in a statement that 400 of the 500 background performers cast in the film were people of color. But that’s not enough. In a film about Middle Easterners that is set in the Middle East, spray-tanned white people aren’t going to cut it. These are roles for people of color, not white people in brown face.