Disney Defends Their Decision To Darken Some Extras For The Live-Action “Aladdin”

So far, Disney and Guy Ritchie have been slammed for a couple of decisions they’ve made while making the live-action Aladdin. They got slammed for casting a non-Arab Princess Jasmine and for throwing in a random new white character. And now Disney is being accused of making up extras to look more brown.

BBC Newsbeat reports the accusations of darkening come from a 32-year-old background actor named Kaushal Odedra. Kaushal tells Newsbeat that once he got to the U.K. set, he realized that there were a lot of white background actors. He then noticed that about 20 of those white actors were getting turned into brown actors with the help of some dark makeup. Kaushal accused Disney of being out of touch:

“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.”

One time, back when I worked in the world of advertising, I was in charge of the makeup on a very small commercial. Everyone got put in the same shade of foundation, because I was A) dumb and B) an idiot and C) extremely new and had no idea what I was doing. But Disney is a huge corporation with decades of experience. So what’s their excuse? They claim it was a matter of “safety.” Okay, Mickey.

“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.”

It’s so diverse! Look, we have all the colors of the rainbow: brown people, and white people, and white people who are painted to look like brown people. Plus, there’s all the colors on the parrot, so….

Kaushal explains to Newsbeat that he’s not sure what Disney talking about, saying: “I can understand it if it comes to stunt people and animal handling but I think they did have a choice.

In 2018 (or 2017 when filming started), it’s crazy that anyone would paint extras a different color. If Hollywood can hire the right people to make Tom Cruise look tall in every single movie, they can hire people that look like the people they’re supposed to be. But we can’t really blame Guy Ritchie here. He probably didn’t see anything wrong with it. He watched Madonna acting on set of Swept Away every day, and he still released the movie. He obviously has vision problems.

Pic: Facebook


  1. Dear Disney and also people of the world, please learn more about your history. People from all kinds of countries and races mingled long before globalism emerged thanks to economic trade and slavery (barbary slave trade anyone?). There was no need for Disney to paint them darker as there were fair skinned people in the Middle East. And this dude apparently has never paid attention during history class in school and also jeopardized is job. Good job both of you. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

  2. I spent a little while living on the Persian/Arabian Gulf and even though I was living on the Arab side there were lots of Persians there. (hell, there’s lots of Persians everywhere…a good education system and family culture plus shitty government equals lots of people with skills getting jobs outside the country.)

    I found the diversity of skin, hair and eye colouring amongst my Persian colleagues really fascinating. One of them had the distinctive pale blue eyes with dark blue rings around the iris that I saw on a number of people from there. They were mesmerising.

  3. I didn’t know that. Thanks! It’s sad the Nazis distorted it. Just like the Swastika. Nazis are Asshats in so many ways.

  4. European in general? Yeah, I got it. Anglo-saxon = yt people in general (in America, and a quickie research just told me it’s one of those “meaning depends on culture” terms).

    Thanks for clearing your perspective. It’s like we agree with the same book, but concerning ourselves with different parts.

    For me, it’s not the categorization with skin color that’s the issue: Visual representation IS one of the issues afterall (and appropriate for the time period, that I know of). It’s the fact that they are faking it (blackfacing rather than hiring) that’s the issue for me.

  5. Meh, this is taking about extras. It’s illegal to cast people based on their actual age or race. People are cast on what they are portrable as. If they couldn’t find enough extras they did what they had to do. I’m American, my family is Irish, English, German and Polish but I’ve been in like a dozen Swedish commercials.

  6. I agree with all that you say, although I was referring to Europeans in general- not Anglo Saxons. The ultimate point in my own comment was to stress that people shouldn’t immediately be categorized for their skin color. This is what Disney is doing. Disney thinks it’s casting ethnically appropriate people by painting them brown. They think that putting dark makeup on someone automatically makes him or her look Arab and that he or she will somehow blend in. Because, ya know, all us dark people look alike..

  7. The Infamous 001

    Really… they hired Will Smith to play the genie…. wasn’t it over then!?
    The number of background “actors” I know that know what the fuck is actually going on is like 5…. so he should probably have keep quiet. Also, this dude is never working again. Hope he knows that. Don’t give your name if you’re an extra and want to be a little snitch.

  8. And not all Middle Eastern ethnicities are light skinned. It’s still very disproportionate concerning melanin rich folk being represented/hired/in major roles (non villainous), etc.. And you really bring up the shades of Anglo-saxon as if that’s EVER been a concern in representation. You dodged the point like the matrix.

    The point, is that Disney, worth billions, try to claim diversity, but turn around and not hire said diversity and using an old practice that contributed to said disproportions.

  9. TrundleBundle

    Mmm, it’s because Jon Favreau directed it.

    He’s also doing “The Lion King”, of which I’m baffled as to why they would pick Yawnce to play Nala, but other than that, eh.

  10. Craigypants

    Disney destroy everything. Its all about profit. Why they hired Guy Ritchie for this after the disastrous King Arthur I have no idea.

  11. newcitycoast

    Does anyone really think ABC/Disney is ever gonna do normal shit? They have made up a whole odd world of imagery that is supposed to be “American” but I’m like, that’s other-planet alien life.

  12. Exactly. It drives me nuts when people expect everyone to fit a stereotyped image.

    I understand the actor’s frustration, but as a Mexican that is white passing, I still side eyed him for that comment.

  13. careful not to conflate ‘aryan’ the origin of the name Iran, with ‘aryan race’, the nazi racial ideology

    not accusing you of having that ideology, obviously, but they’re two different things and it looks like it’s a word that got distorted over time, so going backwards by saying iranian = having blue eyes and fair skin doesn’t quite work.

    (thanks wikipedia, i spent way too long reading about this)

  14. Just anti-white enough!

  15. HAHAHAHA was my first response to this entire post as well…

  16. Norma in Lakewood

    Makeup is not diversity.

  17. And i heard it’s actually a Chinese story….

  18. ??

  19. jerry fabin

    All Lives Matter!

  20. Not all people of Middle Eastern descent are dark just like not all “white” people are fair.

  21. I wasn’t going to spend a cent to see it in the first place.

    I’m a weirdo who enjoyed GR’s Sherlock Holmes movies, but remaking Aladdin is a total meh to me.

  22. Mrs. Buttloaves

    good ol’ black (arab?) face.

    great thinking Disney.

  23. Tits 4 Tats

    Welcome to the 1930s Disney. Please don’t change just because the rest of the world has. Just do what you do best: being blind and behind the times.

  24. ReverseUniverse-(FKA R.Albino)

    Dragged? Poor Will?

  25. And his loose affiliation with Scientology. That’s what finished him for me.

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