Tell me if this sounds familiar: a studio casts a white person and the internet loses its mind. Yeah, it’s a tale as old as time, and we’re starting to grow weary of it as well. That being said, the pattern is unmistakable, and we can’t help but also bring attention to a problem when we see it.
Studios have a terrible history of whitewashing roles, or leaving roles open to minorities only when it has relevance to the story. For example, if Mexicans often get drug-related roles, black actors tend to get roles when their identity as an African-American is central to the story, etc. Most other roles are reserved for white actors, in general.
However, to push things even further, Hollywood also has a tendency to skew existing properties so that they can have a white cast (see Ghost in the Shell).
For the longest time, audiences were worried this would be the same fate to befall Disney’s live-action fare like Mulan and Aladdin. Mulan even had a script where it had a white lead at one point. Disney has since refuted that they had any intention of actually continuing in that direction, but it does seem to point towards a trend.
Then, when casting for Aladdin seemed to hit a stalemate, with the studio having trouble casting Indian or Middle-Eastern actors who could sing or dance, it seemed like they may throw in the towel and cast white anyways.
Luckily, they did not, but it sounds like they may have gone around that. According to a release from Disney, Aladdin has officially finished up casting and started production, as shown via a press release and cast photo
This is great news for Aladdin fans, but there was one noteworthy aspect: the inclusion of a new character. This new character is named Prince Anders (played by Billy Magnusson), and he would be a suitor from Skanland and potential husband of Princess Jasmine.
Now that in itself is relatively harmless, but here is the thought from a certain perspective. Despite having a cast with people of color, it still seemed they didn’t have the confidence to actually allow this movie exist with brown people in it.
Of course, the flip side here is that we haven’t read the script. Perhaps it’s a great character, and I’ll eat my own words, but as it stands, it seems like the latest in an annoying trend.
We’ll have to wait and see how the advertising plays out. If Prince Anders ends up getting plastered all over the banners and posters, we’ll know the real reason he was cast.
But we would never wish the worst. We love us some Disney and hope this to be another home run for their live-action fare, and we also hope the studio gives people of color the confidence they deserve.
Of course, a lot of that is just my own opinion and perspective as a Mexican-American, but that doesn’t mean it should be yours. What do you think about all this. Do you think I’m overreacting? Let us know down below!
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