Disney is one of the most beloved entertainment companies in the world, known for creating magical stories and bringing them to life on the big and small screens. However, in recent months, the company has faced a wave of backlash over its casting choices for upcoming TV shows and movies. From accusations of whitewashing to lack of diversity, Disney has been accused of failing to represent the communities it claims to serve.
One of the most notable instances of this backlash came in the form of the live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid.” As soon as the project was made public, there was backlash against it. The news that 22-year-old Halle Bailey would play Ariel in 2019 sparked an immediate backlash online from some who felt a Black woman shouldn’t portray the famous mermaid princess.
The announcement that Melissa McCarthy, a white actress, would be playing the role of Ursula, a character originally based on a Black drag queen, led to accusations of whitewashing and erasure of queer culture. Many fans took to social media to express their disappointment, with the hashtag #NotMyUrsula trending on Twitter.
Similar criticisms have been levied against other Disney projects, including the upcoming “Aladdin” spinoff “Prince Anders.” The show, which will be exclusive to Disney+, has been accused of tokenizing Middle Eastern and North African cultures by centering the story around a white character. Fans have also expressed frustration over the casting of non-Arab actors in Middle Eastern roles, perpetuating a long-standing issue of whitewashing in Hollywood.
Disney’s lack of diversity and representation has also been brought into question with the casting of the upcoming “Peter Pan & Wendy” film. The decision to cast white actors in the roles of Tiger Lily and her tribe, characters originally based on Indigenous people, has been met with criticism and accusations of cultural appropriation.
In response to the backlash, Disney has released statements defending their casting choices and reiterating their commitment to diversity and representation. However, many fans remain unconvinced and have called for the company to do better.
So, what can be done to address these issues? First and foremost, Disney needs to listen to the communities they are representing in their stories. This means actively seeking out feedback and criticism, and taking steps to address any problematic issues that arise.
Additionally, Disney needs to prioritize diversity in their casting decisions. This means casting actors who accurately represent the characters they are portraying and making an effort to seek out underrepresented communities in the industry.