Of late, quite a few Hollywood movies have received flak for what is popularly known as ‘whitewashing’—right from a Japanese anime-based film ‘Ghost in the Shell’ that chose to cast Scarlett Johansson as their lead actress, to the more recent ‘Doctor Strange’ that made a white Scottish woman play the role of the ‘Ancient One.’ Marvel responded with a statement saying they were trying to avoid racism by moving past the stereotype of an Asian Tibetan monk being the Ancient One. It all sounded fairly reasonable, until critics and fans watched the film. In an article by Bustle, they say, “While it’s true that the white, female Ancient One seen in the film avoids stereotype, the elimination of a cliched Asian character causes Doctor Strange to reinforce a different stereotype: that of the invisible Asian.”
However, in a move that came as a surprise to several in the industry, and society in general, Disney opened up their casting calls to the public for the live-adaptation of Aladdin, a major international motion picture. But that wasn’t the only surprising factor—they’re only accepting applications from those with Middle Eastern or Indian (from the country, India) heritage. Being able to sing at a ‘Broadway level’ is another requirement, to audition. Both roles of Aladdin and Jasmine are up for grabs till June 10.
As Scroll.in points out, the casting call may have come as a response as such, to all the allegations of the whitewashing of Asian characters—but hey, no one is complaining here. This could just be the first step towards a more inclusive film industry! Plus, when you consider that its been a good 15 years since the original version of Aladdin came out, we could all use a bit of nostalgia in the form of a great movie.