UPDATED on July 17, 2017:
To the joy of fans and dismay of Twitter trolls, Disney has finally cast Aladdin and Jasmine for Guy Ritchie’s upcoming live-action reboot of Aladdin.
After an extensive search, it was revealed at D23 that Aladdin will be played by newcomer Mena Massoud and Power Rangers star Naomi Scott will play Jasmine.
However, early concerns voiced over the potential casting and the superfluous boundaries around ethnicity haven’t actually been resolved, as fans are discussing the decision to cast Naomi Scott, who is half British, half Indian.
This is Naomi Scott. She is Indian, and white.
— Hamza Mussé (@HamzaMusse) July 15, 2017
The original story is set in the fictional town of Agrabah in the Middle East. Users are slightly pissed to say the least that this boundary hasn’t quite been respected in terms of casting. Let’s see what Disney has to say about this one…
Original article below:
There seems to be trouble in paradise, as the newest Disney live-action offering is hitting a bump in the road. The upcoming Aladdin remake is still yet to find its leading stars.
Director Guy Ritchie and the movie’s producers are still on the hunt for their perfect Aladdin and Jasmine, after a month long search already and over 2,000 auditionees. The creative team remains determined to cast actors of Indian or Middle Eastern descent, as the story is set in the fictional town of Agrabah in the Middle East.
Fans around the world are becoming increasingly impatient and somewhat surprised by the lengthy process. So, naturally, the world took to Twitter to share their thoughts and lend a helping hand.
Disney: Guy Ritchie is perfect to direct Aladdin.
Guy Ritchie: IDK how to find a Middle-Eastern man who can sing. https://t.co/oPagPdPO1F
— Gavia Baker-Whitelaw (@Hello_Tailor) July 11, 2017
— Jenny Yang (@jennyyangtv) July 11, 2017
Priyanka Chopra as Princess Jasmine and Dev Patel as Aladdin would have the whole world shooK! pic.twitter.com/uDh03KE5QL
— Black Bill Gates. (@WrittenByTerry) July 11, 2017
While some are dubious on the legitimacy of the struggle in casting, some fans have already made their mind up, with former Miss World and current Baywatch star Priyanka Chopra and Hollywood sweetheart Dev Patel in mind as the leading pair. But while Patel’s name has been teased a lot, there does seem to be one clear fan favorite — enter Avan Jogia.
How is Disney having a hard time casting Aladdin when Avan Jogia is the spitting image???? pic.twitter.com/7ZEonVnK9n
— jess solomøn (@jsolomon12) July 13, 2017
Disney: we can't find anyone to play Aladdin
— Typical Girl (@SoDamnTrue) July 14, 2017
Nickelodeon veteran Avan Jogia has been singled out incessantly on Twitter as the perfect candidate to play Aladdin. The Canadian actor starred alongside Ariana Grande in Victorious, and fans are confident on his singing, dancing and acting abilities — and of course are elated by his looks too.
However, others pointed out the glitch which also highlights Disney’s perhaps misjudged leniency. While the studios were determined on casting Indian or Middle Eastern actors, the fact remains that those are still two firmly distinct ethnic groups. And the original 1922 animation was indeed set in the Middle East, not India.
Although Jogia may seem picture-perfect for the role, he is in fact half Indian, and not of Middle Eastern descent — so technically this would make him as unsuited for the part as a white Hollywood actor.
avan jogia is half indian and half white NOT ARAB therefore he isn't the """""perfect aladdin"""""
— izzy (@irjswest) July 14, 2017
Indian actors auditioning for Aladdin like pic.twitter.com/tIiKBA5kDn
— Jumah (@WokeMutant) July 14, 2017
The issues around Jogia’s suitability for the part are somewhat reminiscent of the cultural cleansing backlash that the critically-acclaimed Get Out received for casting a black British actor as its lead earlier this year. While many highlighted that an actor’s ability was more important than their ethnicity, others have detailed the problems of just lumping together and brushing off entire ethnic groups.
Y'all fancast a Korean for Mulan and an Indian for Aladdin did y'all fail geography or
— rawan (@msmvrvel) July 12, 2017
While the time and care Disney is taking over the casting for Aladdin is promising for a strong final decision, fears of cultural cleansing aren’t exactly putting minds at ease or even completely ruling out any more potential whitewashing in Hollywood.
However since the news emerged, the internet has considerably shaken up the casting framework, even prompting fan favorite Jogia to actually audition for the part. It seems that anything could happen ahead of the movie’s scheduled shoot, set to begin this August.
And if the current options aren’t satisfying your casting desires, thankfully Twitter has come up with some slightly more unconventional candidates too.
I can't wait for Scarlett Johansson to be cast as Aladdin
— Germ(an) (@SkreechyBat) July 14, 2017
disney, look no further for a new aladdin! pic.twitter.com/B7r3pvtwm6
— finn (@finnawemple) July 14, 2017
Think we've just found our Aladdin pic.twitter.com/LFrzX0QiOs
— .paak (@_raavz) July 13, 2017
Perhaps the problem with all potential auditionees is simply the fact that they all have nipples where our beloved hero never did. We’ll sit tight as Disney tries to find a solution for that one…