Kal Penn Criticizes Disney's Response To 'Aladdin' Controversy

Disney's live-action Aladdin is already getting caught-up in controversy. UK media outlets are [...]

Kal Penn Criticizes Disney Aladdin Brown Face

Disney's live-action Aladdin is already getting caught-up in controversy. UK media outlets are jumping onto the story of how approximate 100 of the reported 500 extras working on the film are apparently white performers who are being painted in brown face to blend in with the hundreds of actual brown actors also filling out the cast and extras rosters.

As the story circulated through UK news sites, Disney went to work putting out the fire, releasing a statement in which the studio states the following:

"Great care was taken to put together one of the largest most diverse casts ever seen on screen. Diversity of our cast and background performers was a requirement and only in a handful of instances when it was a matter of specialty skills, safety and control (special effects rigs, stunt performers and handling of animals) were crew made up to blend in."

While some may read that as a reasonable response, other are not accepting it as a reasonable explanation for such a questionable move. In fact, Harold & Kumar star Kal Penn took to social media to offer the following politely firm rebuttal to Disney's official statement.

Kal Penn Criticizes Disney Aladdin Brown Face

It's an interesting debate to have: one would think that there would be enough people of color working in the entertainment industry - in exactly the type of jobs that the production required - but it's not something that anyone (other than a film crew staffer) would probably be able to claim with authority. Statements like "There's probably a lot of Middle-Eastern camel handlers out there," would probably lead to other kinds of controversy...

Still, painting white people brown is something that most would agree just seems like a bad idea in 2018 - so maybe Disney should rethink this approach?

Guy Ritchie is directing Aladdin, with a script from longtime Tim Burton collaborator, John August (Corpse Bride, Big Fish). Will Smith plays the Genie, while Mena Massoud will play Aladdin. Princess Jasmine is played by Naomi Scott, while Marwan Kenzari will be the villainous Jafar. Aladdin will be a musical like its animated counterpart, and actor Billy Magnussen was recently cast in a mysterious role that was created for this live-action version.

Disney's Aladdin hits theaters on May 24, 2019.