Disney has just announced the leading cast members of its upcoming live-action remake of Aladdin, and many people across social media are now criticizing the company for its decision to cast Naomi Scott in the starring role of Jasmine.
The source of the online criticism stems from the fact that Scott herself is not Arabian, despite Disney’s decision to cast her as such for the film. Scott is of British and Indian heritage, and droves of angry commentators have taken to Twitter and other social media sites to point out as much.
Though Jasmine, the character, hails from the fictional country of Agrabah, the general assumption (at least as implied by the Disney version of the story) is that this country exists within the Arab world and that Jasmine is of Arabian descent.
In the wake of Disney’s hiring Scott for the role, some users have accused Disney of broadcasting the message that all “brown people” are interchangeable, while others have faulted the company for passing over actresses who are actually Arabian, in favor of one who is not.
Yet the casting of Aladdin himself has received more favorable reactions, as the actor who is slated to play him, Mena Massoud, is of Egyptian background and thus technically Arabian like his character. Nonetheless, there remains some debate about this point as well.
Disney’s announcement that Massoud would be cast as Aladdin still came as a shock to people, as the fan favorite on social media had been 25-year-old Avan Jogia.
But some users pointed out that Jogia would have been a poor choice to play Aladdin due to his non-Arabic background. These users were quick to mention that it’s wrong for people to criticize Disney’s decision to cast Naomi Scott as Jasmine, while at the same time expressing disappointment that Jogia did not receive the titular role.
Disney also announced that the Genie character, who had been voiced by Robin Williams in the 1992 animated version of Aladdin, will be played by Will Smith in the live-action film.
With the casting of Scott, Smith, and Massoud, the three major roles are now filled for the film. What remains to be seen are the supporting cast members who will also appear in this Guy Ritchie remake of the classic Disney musical.
[Featured Image by Chris Pizzello/AP Images]