The title sounds like I’m race baiting, I’m not. While I think all the actors cast as actually great actors, I have a problem with a British man, (who will inherently bring his own colonial views to this movie) Guy Ritchie, who isn’t exactly known for the diversity in his film, nor showing people of colour in a great light. If you don’t believe me please feel free to watch any and all of his movies!
I’m going to keep this short, because this casting of Mena Massoud, and Naomi Scott as the leads Will Smith as the Genie, all have one problem in common. They are all the fairest examples of their race. Mena is a light skinned Egyptian, Naomi is part British, and the other part of her is Northern Indian (most Northern Indians are mixed with British, as someone of Northern Indian descent I am mixed with British, Bulgarian and Italian via a 23 and me DNA test) and Will Smith who is very much a light skinned black man.
All of this leads to a major problem for young children who are going to watch this movie after seeing the original cartoon version. Do you know what they will first notice? That the characters are no longer dark skinned. They may not voice this, they may instead internalize it like so many children do, and that is the sad part of all it. There is a billion dollar industry of skin bleaching products, South Asian, East Asian, African, Middle Eastern and basically all people of colour are targeted by the idea that the more white your skin is the more pure you are and the better you are. Now this movie with this casting will only perpetuate this problem.
I’m sure Guy Ritchie will cast the darkest person he can find to be Jafar, but Dark Skinned people are only good enough for the roles of villians.