Dubai: The first look of the live-action film Aladdin by Disney was revealed last week and audiences were not happy with the appearance.
Skin colours became a battleground as people found Naomi Scott’s Jasmine not brown enough and Will Smith’s Genie not blue at all.
Disney’s animated rags-to-riches 1992 film was based on the beloved children’s story from the One Thousand and One Nights. With iconic musical numbers such as ‘A whole new World’, the film was the highest grossing animation of all time until the mantle was taken by Disney’s 1995 release, The Lion King.
Will Smith received flak for failing to sport the genie’s iconic blue skin in the released photos. However, the character’s outfit is still blue, reminiscent of the original animated character.
Several social media users were dissatisfied with the take, with Twitter user @SarahNickfm saying : “All we wanted was a blue CGI [Computer Generated Imagery] genie, but instead we have Will Smith with a man bun and jewellery.”
And other tweeps reacted in a series of memes.
Will Smith himself, however, stepped in with a response on Instagram, clarifying that the genie would mostly be CGI and blue. The released images were of the Genie in human disguise.
The issue of representation had individuals up in arms. Some defended the casting choices as much more well-thought-out than at any other time in Hollywood, while others insisted that Naomi Scott was a poor representative choice as Jasmine (the actor is of part-Indian descent).
Twitter users such as @blueb214 supported the decision commenting: “I am so relieved that they chose an Indian-British actress to play Jasmine in the 2019 Aladdin movie, as opposed to whitewashing it.”
Others such as @CalebSaysStuff did not find any issue, tweeting : “Okay, I agree that the #Aladdin images look bad but now people are complaining about whitewashing? Are we looking at the same photo?”
User @SerratedSkies agreed, tweeting “We have all been laughing at some of the casting of the new Aladdin but honestly it seems to be doing a good job of avoiding Hollywood whitewashing (at least from the promotional stuff I have seen) so, good for her [Naomi Scott] on that at least.”
Reactions at the other end of the spectrum, accusing the movie of whitewashing, were also prominent with social media users such as @mariasplsn finding the casting efforts sub-par. She tweeted: “As talented and beautiful as Naomi Scott is, no we should not just ‘be happy the actress isn’t White’. The bar shouldn’t be held SO low that we should just hope for no whitewashing. Jasmine should have been played by an actress of Arab descent like #Aladdin. Disney is lazy.”
Easy on the Eyes
Marwan Kenzari’s appearance as arch-nemesis Jafar took the positive centre stage, with many believing that he would overshadow Mena Massoud as Aladdin.
Those taken with Jafar’s new appearance included @TamaraAisha2, who had a hard time pledging her allegiance to Aladdin: “How am I supposed to root for Aladdin with Jafar looking like this?”