Controversy has struck at Disney as the studio issues a defense for tanning extras on the set of its new Guy Ritchie directed-Aladdin film. After actor Kaushal Odedra spoke to the UK’s “The Times” explaining he witnessed about 20 “very fair-skinned” actors line up to get darkened for the scenes, Disney admitted to its occurrence. But the admission wasn’t met with praise.
“I asked a Saudi cast member what he made of having these extras being tanned so heavily,” Odedra told the newspaper Sunday, Jan. 7 of the movie which features Will Smith as the genie. “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.”
“Disney [is] sending out a message that your skin color, your identity, your life experiences amount to nothing that can’t be powered on and washed off,” Odedra added. “Also, if I’d wanted to discuss it, speaking to the almost entirely white crew seemed somewhat intimidating.”
Disney didn’t deny the tanning, either. Rather, the Mouse House told BBC’s Newsbeat that “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 added.
Disney Isn’t The Only One Guilty of Darkening Folks Up
But the excuse hasn’t gone over well with social media users.
Disney owned up to brown-facing extras for the Aladdin remake and moved on like it was nothing pic.twitter.com/xkvfyJHv15
— Martin Fisher (@OnlyMcFisherMan) January 9, 2018
Disney admits to darkening up the skin of white extras in their live-action Aladdin to make them look Arab. It’s 2018 – how about hire some Arab actors? We deserve better representation than this. https://t.co/m7CM2C8UB9
— Samar Ziadat | سمر زيادات (@samarziadat) January 9, 2018
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
Except, one person seemed to side with the company.