The whitewashing klaxon has sounded again.
This time it’s Disney’s upcoming live action remake of Aladdin that has got some folks upset. Specifically the news that Tom Hardy is set to play villain Jafar in Guy Ritchie’s upcoming movie.
People are as angry about a white actor portraying the Arabic sorcerer as they were about Scarlett Johansson appearing in the flop remake of manga movie Ghost in the Shell and Netflix for perceived ‘whitewashing’ in their series Iron Fist and Death Note.
“Recent news that director Guy Ritchie is hoping to cast white actor Tom Hardy as Jafar is infuriating. It’s another example of the whitewashing which is rife in Hollywood,” prominent Asian feminist Taran Bassi wrote in UK’s Metro newspaper.
“Let’s be clear, the character of Jafar is of Middle Eastern or South Asian origin, so I’m a little confused as to why Hardy, a white, English actor, is being touted as the next Jafar,” she continued.
“What’s next? Casting a pale blonde starlet to play Jasmine? Swapping Jasmine’s pet tiger Rajah for a dog? Taking away the Eastern backdrop and swapping it for Beverly Hills?”
Addressing Ritchie directly in her column, she wrote: “You are in danger of whitewashing this movie and ruining it.
“So Guy, please cast actors that a connection with the narrative, and not a white cast telling a story about a world which they know nothing about.”
When John Freeman voiced Jafar in the 1992 Disney animated movie, nobody complained at all but this is a “whole new world”, you might say:
Tom Hardy as Jafar? Fucking really? Can we not have a live action Aladdin cast that’s, I dunno, Arabic?
— Bevis Musson (@bevismusson) June 10, 2017
— Cally Yaxley (@queenofthelab) June 12, 2017
Of course the irony is that if Ritchie’s spectacular recent flops King Arthur and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. are anything to go by, the whitewashing avengers won’t have to worry about people staying away from Aladdin.